Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-29

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Third Session

THURSDAY, MAY 8, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Commun. Serv.: RRSS - Fund, Mr. J. Pye 2382
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report,
Hon. M. Baker 2382
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report,
Hon. M. Baker 2382
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1165, Health - LPNs: Dedication - Recognize, (by Hon. J. Muir),
Hon. J. Purves 2384
Vote - Affirmative 2384
Res. 1166, EMO - Wall of Honour: Red Cross/Coast Guard Aux. -
Addition Congrats., Hon. T. Olive 2384
Vote - Affirmative 2385
Res. 1167, Red Cross/Red Cres. Socs.: Vols./Staff - Congrats.,
The Premier 2385
Vote - Affirmative 2386
Res. 1168, Bennett, Renate - S. Shore Dist. Health Auth.:
Recruitment - Commend, (by Hon. J. Muir), Hon. J. Purves 2386
Vote - Affirmative 2387
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 47, Associated Alumni of Acadia College Incorporation Act,
Mr. M. Parent 2387
No. 48, Lunenburg Common Lands Act, Hon. M. Baker 2387
No. 49, Elections Act, Mr. D. Dexter 2387
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1169, Environ. & Lbr. - Insurance Portfolio: Min. Assess,
Mr. D. Dexter 2388
Res. 1170, Commun. Serv.: RRSS Strike - Min. Resolve,
Mr. W. Gaudet 2388
Res. 1171, Bower, Mrs. Gladys: Birthday (105th) - Congrats.,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 2389
Vote - Affirmative 2390
Res. 1172, Insurance: Publicly-Owned Systems - Study, Mr. F. Corbett 2390
Res. 1173, Insurance - Schreyer Gov't.: Details - NDP Publicize,
Mr. P. MacEwan 2390
Res. 1174, Skanes, Gordon: Gov.-Gen's. Caring Cdn. Award -
Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 2391
Vote - Affirmative 2392
Res. 1175, McDonald, Rev. Dr. P.A. "Sandy" - Presbyterian Church
of Can. Moderator: Appt. - Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 2392
Vote - Affirmative 2392
Res. 1176, Gov't. (N.S.): No-Charge-Back Progs. - Ramifications,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2393
Res. 1177, Hennigar, Dean & Jean: Anniv. (65th) - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 2393
Vote - Affirmative 2394
Res. 1178, Insurance - Rates: Min. - Calculate, Mr. H. Epstein 2394
Res. 1179, Educ. - Min.: Tech. Advice - Seek, Mr. D. Wilson 2394
Res. 1180, McDougall, Tom: Death of - Tribute, Mr. J. Carey 2395
Vote - Affirmative 2396
Res. 1181, Hamm Gov't. - Code of Silence Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 2396
Res. 1182, UCCB Children's Rights Ctr. - Gov't. (Can.): Funding -
Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 2397
Vote - Affirmative 2397
Res. 1183, Barker, William - King's: Pres. - Appt. Congrats.,
(by Hon. J. Muir), Hon. J. Purves 2398
Vote - Affirmative 2398
Res. 1184, Feminists for Just and Equitable Public Policy: Efforts -
Congrats., (by Mr. D. Dexter), Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2398
Vote - Affirmative 2399
Res. 1185, Insurance - Barrett Gov't.: Details - NDP Publicize,
Mr. P. MacEwan 2399
Res. 1186, Smith, Jason: Truro Athletic Award - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 2400
Vote - Affirmative 2400
Res. 1187, Bray, Sister Louise - Religious Profession: Jubilee (50th) -
Best Wishes, Mr. F. Corbett 2401
Vote - Affirmative 2402
Res. 1188, Hamm Gov't. - Code of Silence Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson 2402
Res. 1189, Fest. of Knowledge: Participants - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 2402
Vote - Affirmative 2403
Res. 1190, Dennis, Graham - Hon. Degree: King's - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 2403
Vote - Affirmative 2404
Res. 1191, Sports - Lisette Comeau/Dianne Boudreau:
Badminton Champs - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 2404
Vote - Affirmative 2405
Res. 1192, Hammer, Robert et al - MS Research: Support - Congrats.,
Dr. J. Smith 2405
Vote - Affirmative 2405
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 283, Insurance - Rates: Cabinet - Regulatory Powers,
Mr. D. Dexter 2406
No. 284, Insurance - Last Resort Insurer: Usage - Min. Prevent,
Mr. W. Gaudet 2407
No. 285, Insurance - Citadel/Co-operators: Rate Hikes -^
Omission Explain, Mr. G. Steele 2408
No. 286, Prem. - Sunday Shopping: Plebiscite - Timing Details,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2409
No. 287, Public Sector - Employees: Dep. Prem. - Comments,
Mr. F. Corbett 2410
No. 288, Public Sector - Dep. Prem.: Crown Corps. - Philosophy Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 2412
No. 289, Educ. - Math Assessments: Rept. - Availability, Mr. D. Wilson 2413
No. 290, Insurance - Companies: Discriminatory Practices - Stop,
Mr. H. Epstein 2414
No. 291, Educ. - Northbrook Sch./École Beaufort: Usage -
Similarity Consider, Mr. D. Dexter 2416
No. 292, Energy - Offshore Dev.: Delay - Explain,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2417
No. 293, Prem. - Election: Young Voters - Eligibility, Mr. D. Dexter 2418
No. 294, Health - Psychiatrists: N.S. - Recruitment, Mr. W. Gaudet 2419
No. 295, Fin. - Casino: Smoking Exemption - Decision Explain,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2421
No. 296, Agric. & Fish. - Turkey Marketing Bd.: Concerns - Address,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2422
No. 297, Commun. Serv. - RRSS Strike: Continuation - Min. Details,
Mr. J. Pye 2423
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 45, Insurance Act 2425
Mr. K. MacAskill 2425
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2430
Dr. J. Smith 2446
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2455
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2463
Mr. J. MacDonell 2477
Adjourned debate 2484
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Nursing Homes: Seniors' Costs - Remove:
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2484
Mr. K. Morash 2486
Dr. J. Smith 2488
Mr. J. Pye 2491
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 45, Insurance Act 2492
Mr. B. Boudreau 2492
Mr. D. Wilson 2502
Mr. K. Deveaux 2507
Adjourned debate 2514
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., May 9th at 9:00 a.m. 2515
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1193, Arenburg, David: RRFB Award - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Hurlburt 2516
Res. 1194, Parrsboro Scouts (1st) - Food Bank: Campaign - Congrats.,
The Speaker 2516
Res. 1195, Parrsboro Youth Town Coun. - Food Bank: Campaign -
Congrats., The Speaker 2517
Res. 1196, Patriquin, Joseph: Vol. Work - Congrats, The Speaker 2517
Res. 1197, Handley Page Ryl. Can. Air Cadets - Food Bank:
Campaign - Congrats., The Speaker 2518
Res. 1198, Christie, Steve: NSSAF Badminton Championship -
Congrats., The Speaker 2518
Res. 1199, Ueffing, Joe et al - Polio Eradication: Efforts - Thank,
Mr. M. Parent 2519
Res. 1200, Kentville Rotary Club - Commun. Org.: Support - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 2519
Res. 1201, Crowell, Tanya - Princess Port Williams: Anna. Valley
Apple Blossom Fest. - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 2520
Res. 1202, Smith, Ed - From the Ashes of My Dreams: Publication -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 2520
Res. 1203, Leblanc, Bernadette: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2521
Res. 1204, Lamson, Chris: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2521
Res. 1205, Fogarty, Richard: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2522
Res. 1206, Bates, James: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2522
Res. 1207, Boone, Theresa: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2523
Res. 1208, Buist, Mae: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2523
Res. 1209, Burke, Kathleen: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2524
Res. 1210, Butts, Harvey David: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2524
Res. 1211, Boutilier, Barb: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2525
Res. 1212, Hardy, Jessie: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2525
Res. 1213, Kennedy, Harry: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2526
Res. 1214, Graves, Alice Mary: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2526
Res. 1215, Keigan, Joyce: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2527
Res. 1216, Gillis, Stephanie: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2527
Res. 1217, Keefe, Matt: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2528
Res. 1218, Gillis, Ellen: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2528
Res. 1219, Hutt, William: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2529
Res. 1220, Galanov, Lisa: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2529
Res. 1221, Hunt, Allison: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2530
Res. 1222, Ferguson, Lorraine: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2530
Res. 1223, Hiltz, Teresa: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2531
Res. 1224, Dibbon, Darlene: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2531
Res. 1225, Cross, Richard: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2532
Res. 1226, Carter, Tom: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2532
Res. 1227, Carter, Leo, Jr.: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2533
Res. 1228, Cann, Karen: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2533
Res. 1229, Campbell, William: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2534
Res. 1230, Calder, Patricia: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2534
Res. 1231, White, Fred: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2535
Res. 1232, Doncaster, Muriel: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2535
Res. 1233, Dixon, Adrian: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2536
Res. 1234, McCready, Colin: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2536
Res. 1235, Matheson, Beth: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2537
Res. 1236, MacIntyre, Hughie: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2537
Res. 1237, MacLean, Clare: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2538
Res. 1238, MacSween, Sherry: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2538
Res. 1239, MacQueen, Jean: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2539
Res. 1240, MacDonald, Julie: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2539
Res. 1241, MacPhee, Denise: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2540
Res. 1242, MacDonald, Dennis: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2540
Res. 1243, MacLean, Mike: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2541
Res. 1244, Liebke, Robert: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2541
Res. 1245, MacLean, Claire: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2542
Res. 1246, Leighton, Gail: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2542
Res. 1247, Curry, Rose: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2543
Res. 1248, Wadden, Georgina: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2543
Res. 1249, Vallis, Orlando: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2544
Res. 1250, Vassalo, Elva: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2544
Res. 1251, MacNeil-Ravanello, Janet: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2545
Res. 1252, Trimm, Fabian: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2545
Res. 1253, Porter, Edward: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2546
Res. 1254, Timmons, Bernie: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2546
Res. 1255, Pierre, Tracy: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2547
Res. 1256, Peach, Leroy: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2547
Res. 1257, Peach, Barbara: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2548
Res. 1258, Sorhaitz, John: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2548
Res. 1259, Sorhaitz, Theresa: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2549
Res. 1260, Spencer, Donelda: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2549
Res. 1261, Mrazek, Judith: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2550
Res. 1262, Robertson, Joan: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2550
Res. 1263, Reynolds, Cyril: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2551
Res. 1264, Morrison, Gary: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2551
Res. 1265, Mikkelsen, Elaine: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2552
Res. 1266, Ravanello, Victor: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2552
Res. 1267, McRae, Murdock: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2553
Res. 1268, Forgeron, Francis: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2553
Res. 1269, Spencer, Kevin: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2554
Res. 1270, Campbell, Heather: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2554
Res. 1271, Turner, Lois: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2555

[Page 2381]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 8, 2003

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that the government should immediately end the practice of impoverishing seniors by making them pay for health care in nursing homes.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Reading petitions?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There has been a request to revert back to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions.

2381

[Page 2382]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I do apologize. I beg leave to table a petition with 26 signatures. "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned family members, counsellors and other concerned persons, call on the Hamm government to show that it cares about the residents of the Regional Residential Services Society by giving that agency a mandate and appropriate funding to negotiate wage parity for their residential counsellors as soon as possible." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I'm always appreciative of any occasion when the honourable members assist. I'm very pleased to table the Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report for the period April 1, 2002, to March 31, 2003. The information contained in this report may not make front-page news, it may not appear at the top of the television news tonight. However, this report is brimming with 175 small, positive stories. It contains a year's worth of contributions to deserving community groups, volunteers and non-profit organizations across the province.

This report also provides support to public safety in the province with the delivery of surplus VHF radios to volunteer firefighters, ground search and rescue crews and municipal EMO coordinators. It also represents thousands of computer items. More than 4,000 computers, monitors, laptops and keyboards for schools across the province, part of the government's Computers for Schools Program.

[Page 2383]

Mr. Speaker, this disposal also represents an opportunity to sell surplus items through auctions, the real estate market and public tender. Sales of those items resulted in proceeds of $2.3 million, money that will go towards the provincial debt.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to remind members that non-profit agencies within their constituencies can always apply for surplus items. We are happy to assist, where possible. These groups can contact the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and we would be happy to consider all applications.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for providing his statement in advance. I would also like him - in the future - to provide a copy of this bedtime reading, which would make wonderful reading, particularly in the communities that have the chance to apply. From personal experience, I want you to know that the Department of Transportation and Public Works officials who are in charge of this very worthwhile program do an excellent job. They are extremely attentive to getting back to requests, and in particular when community groups are directed towards them, there is a process in place that is well-received by the community groups and non-profit organizations that I have directed to them. I would like to have the minister pass on that gratitude to the members of your staff. I look forward to continuing to work with them, and thank you for your assistance.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to echo many of the comments with regard to the professional and courteous service that is afforded by the staff over at Transportation and Public Works. What we're seeing here today is obviously the product of the successful individuals, but we're not seeing all those who applied in one way or another and have not been successful, so it's very difficult, at this point, to judge the complete success of the program.

For example, I recall a year ago I sent a letter to the minister's predecessor, who is his seatmate, with regard to a volunteer fire department in my constituency, to see if they could pick up a used vehicle for their fire department, and nothing was made available at that time, yet I see there are some other successful individuals in this process who came after the fact - I am not sure if that's coincidence or what.

I noticed that the hospital lands there in Sydney went for $80,000, but they were purchased for $1 million. I am not sure of the merits of that project, although the optics at first glance would seem to suggest that the government didn't get a great deal there. Other than that, Mr. Speaker, we will have to reserve further comment until we do a complete analysis of this report.

[Page 2384]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1165

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

Whereas tomorrow, Friday, May 9, 2003, is recognized as Licensed Practical Nurses Day; and

Whereas more than 3,000 LPNs provide a valuable and essential role in caring for Nova Scotians when in hospital, nursing homes and in the community; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's LPNs have taken advantage of many opportunities for retraining and professional development, available through the government's nursing strategy, to enhance their contribution to our health care system;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me today in recognizing and applauding the dedication of the 3,000 licensed practical nurses who care for Nova Scotians 365 days each year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1166

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

[Page 2385]

Whereas in 2001, the Emergency Measures Organization unveiled its Wall of Honour, which recognizes contributions to community disaster readiness in Nova Scotia, and it recently added the Red Cross and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary; and

Whereas the Red Cross, staffed mainly by volunteers, is an essential tool in disaster relief and assistance, providing emergency food, clothing, shelter, registration and personal services to those in need, earning them a humanitarian reputation; and

Whereas celebrating its silver jubilee this year, the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, comprised of 750 volunteers and 445 vessels, also received the EMO honour for years of service, patrolling the hundreds of kilometres of Maritime coastline;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Red Cross and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary on being added to the Emergency Measures Organization's Wall of Honour, and wish them continued success in 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 Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1167

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 World Red Cross Red Crescent Day 2003 is marked this year with the launch of Phase II of "The Truth about AIDS" anti-stigma campaign which was launched this day last year; and

Whereas the Red Cross is continuing on the theme of fighting HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, incorporating a series of designs on stamps developed to counter misconceptions about HIV/AIDS transmission; and

[Page 2386]

Whereas the stamps are using simple messages such as, "You cannot get AIDS by . . . being a friend"; "You cannot get AIDS by . . . holding hands"; and "You cannot get AIDS by talking to someone";

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the volunteers and staff worldwide of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for their campaign and for the society's noble idea.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1168

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

Whereas a nurse practitioner is a professional who works with doctors to give people a full range of care, from hands-on to counselling to education; and

Whereas people in communities turn to their doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and others for information, advice, care and referral; and

Whereas enhancing a broad range of services is an important step in improving the overall health of Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the South Shore District Health Authority for recruiting one such professional nurse practitioner, Renate Bennett.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2387]

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, could I do an introduction before I introduce the bill?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. PARENT: In the east gallery, I'd like to introduce Doug and Dawn Coldwell. Doug and Dawn are neighbours of mine, famous for raising duck tollers, have written a book on duck tollers. They were also the teachers for Robert Chisholm, he taught Robert and for many years, supported Robert politically, but I've wooed them over. Doug and Dawn are here to present a tape to Michele McKenzie, the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture of a song he just wrote, Back Home in Nova Scotia. Doug was the winner of the 1995 Centennial Celebration Teachers' Union contest for his song, Minds in Motion. So if you could give them a warm welcome I'd appreciate it. (Applause)

I should mention, if you didn't hear that I have won them over from the other side.

[12:15 p.m.]

Bill No. 47 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 76 of the Acts of 1860. An Act to Incorporate the Associated Alumni of Acadia College. (Mr. Mark Parent)

Bill No. 48 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 72 of the Acts of 1897. The Lunenburg Common Lands Act. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 49 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 32 of the Acts of 2002, An Act to Amend Chapter 140 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Elections Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

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

[Page 2388]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1169

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

Whereas the Minister of Environment and Labour, who is responsible for skyrocketing auto insurance rates, mused yesterday that Nova Scotians would not like a publicly-owned system of auto insurance like that of Manitoba, Saskatchewan or British Columbia; and

Whereas the minister was quoted as saying, "Can you imagine, really, having civil servants look after your insurance right now?", which shows a real appreciation for the hard-working public sector employees of this province like firemen, police officers and paramedics; and

Whereas the minister has ascribed lower insurance rates in Manitoba to being a flatter province, and then contradicting himself yesterday when he opined that anecdotal evidence has convinced him that auto insurance rates in Nova Scotia were actually lower than in Manitoba;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister of skyrocketing insurance rates assess his own willingness to deal with the insurance side of his portfolio rather than slight Nova Scotia's public Civil Service as incapable of running a publicly-owned insurance company.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1170

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

Whereas the Minister of Community Services still refuses to admit that he plays a crucial role in ensuring that the employer and the workers of RRSS settle the strike; and

Whereas every day for almost four weeks now, the hourly wage being paid to replacement staff is just slightly less than what would have been paid out to two RRSS workers; and

[Page 2389]

Whereas the Minister of Community Services is ultimately responsible for the safety and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens who have all but been ignored in this government's cruel game;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services resolve the strike by treating RRSS workers like the professionals they are by offering the same opportunity for labour negotiations that have been offered to other professionals in this province.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1171

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

Whereas reaching your centennial birthday is an event only a few of us are fortunate to experience; and

Whereas Shelburne County resident Mrs. Gladys Bower is celebrating an even more significant milestone today; and

Whereas on this day the Upper Ohio resident turns 105 years of age;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in wishing Mrs. Gladys Bower a very happy birthday and wish her many more happy years ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2390]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1172

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

Whereas the Minister of Environment and Labour, who is responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates, stated yesterday that auto insurance rates are, in most cases, lower here than they are in Manitoba which has a publicly-owned system; and

Whereas the minister admitted his claim was based on three pieces of anecdotal information rather than upon any close scrutiny of the Manitoba system which would have revealed the minister had no idea what he was talking about; and

Whereas the minister should take the time to get his facts straight by visiting the Manitoba Public Insurance Web site at www.mpi.mb.ca/irc/intro.asp;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Minister of Environment and Labour, the champion of skyrocketing insurance rates, to study the publicly-owned insurance system in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia so he will make no more ill-informed comments on their characteristics.

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. 1173

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

[Page 2391]

Whereas the NDP on auto insurance simply state that they want to copy the Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia public plans here in Nova Scotia without any reconsideration or examination; and

Whereas when the Schreyer Government in Manitoba implemented such a plan in their first term in office they had to borrow $350 million to fund it; and

Whereas when the Schreyer Government incurred substantial public unrest by its move, the Legislature in Winnipeg was picketed and shut down by a large number of concerned citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that how the Schreyer Government implemented public auto insurance in Manitoba should be told rather than over-simplified assurances that yes, whatever was done there will be done here without any details of consequences.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1174

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 Governor General's Caring Canadian Award is presented to individuals and groups who provide extraordinary help or care to people in the community through the selfless giving of their time and energy; and

Whereas Gordon Skanes of Middleton has been awarded for his volunteer efforts on behalf of the Twelve Baskets Food Bank; and

Whereas having led the planning and construction for the food bank facilities in 1995, Mr. Skanes, both manager and food purchaser for the food bank, has also put in thousands of hours each year transporting food and has come to be known in his community as Mr. Food Bank;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Gordon Skanes on receiving the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award and applaud his generous efforts on behalf of the Twelve Baskets Food Bank.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2392]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1175

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

Whereas Reverend Sandy McDonald has faithfully served St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Dartmouth for 35 years; and

Whereas he has provided leadership and counsel to his congregation and the entire area as President of the Dartmouth Community Concert Association, board member of the Dartmouth Sportsplex, as well as volunteering as a police chaplain and adviser with Camp Geddie for kids; and

Whereas on June 1st, Reverend Dr. P.A. "Sandy" McDonald will be sworn in as a national moderator of the Presbyterian church;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Reverend Sandy McDonald on this esteemed honour and wish him continued success and best wishes in his new capacity as moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2393]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1176

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

Whereas last year the provincial government introduced a paint recycling program that has a no-charge-back to the consumer; and

Whereas the definition of this government as a no-charge-back to the consumer is to have a 50 cent to $1 charge on every can of paint sold in the province; and

Whereas the cost of recycling paint to private depots has dramatically increased their insurance rates, to the effect that many private depots do not carry liability insurance;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize that when this government introduces a new program with no charge to the consumer, what they really are saying to the consumer is they will have to pay more through hidden taxes and private businesses will be offered no compensation for providing this most vital service.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1177

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

Whereas Sheffield Mills residents Dean and Jean Hennigar celebrated 65 rich and fulfilling years of marriage this year; and

Whereas Mr. Hennigar is a well-known apple grower and pioneer in containerized shipping, and Mrs. Hennigar has been actively involved improving her community; and

Whereas having raised five children, the couple knows the value of a good education, as evidenced by Mr. Hennigar's service as a governor of Acadia University and as a school trustee in South Berwick and Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Dean and Jean Hennigar on their 65th Wedding Anniversary, thank them for their contributions to the community, and wish them many more happy years in the future.

[Page 2394]

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. 1178

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

Whereas one middle-aged Halifax Chebucto resident, with no accidents and only one speeding ticket in the last 10 years, compared rates with Manitoba, as the government has urged; and

Whereas the Manitoba rate, without good driving discounts, is $773 a year for collision and third party liability; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia rate for the same driver and car is $2,232, for third party liability only, a $500 deductible, and $2 million liability in both cases;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Environment and Labour, who is responsible for skyrocketing insurance, and other members of the flat road society should wake up and use the rate calculator instead of acting like a cheerleader for the private insurance companies.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1179

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

[Page 2395]

Whereas the Minister of Education last week rose in this House and spoke on the issue of technology, as if he knew what he was talking about; and

Whereas after reading a recent story that appeared in the Dal Gazette, it was confirmed that the minister had no idea what he was talking about or even what technology is; and

Whereas in response to the question, what is technology, the minister stated, "Computer, essentially. The operations of computers and the capacity of computers and, uh, you know, people . . .";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House strongly encourage the Minister of Education to consult with his department, or even a dictionary, so he can jump into the 21st Century, like the technologically-wise students he's supposed to represent.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1180

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

Whereas veteran Canadian Press writer Tom McDougall died earlier this week; and

Whereas Tom, upon his retirement from Canadian Press, became an active freelance writer, and was an instrumental force in the preparation of writing a report following province-wide hearings by the Legislature's Select Committee on Fire Safety; and

Whereas Tom was an ardent community volunteer in everything from Boy Scouts to the local Lions Club;

[Page 2396]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly offer their sincerest sympathies to Tom's wife, Sheila, and their two sons, Scott and Jack, knowing that many wonderful memories of Tom will prevail.

[12:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1181

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

Whereas the Hamm Government is becoming a perennial front-runner for the Canadian Association of Journalists' Code of Silence Award; and

Whereas the association has nominated the Hamm Government for this notorious award because it instituted the highest fees in Canada for information requests and for denying information on why the Cabinet cut certain programs, a decision overturned by the courts; and

Whereas this tight-lipped Tory stance drew rave reviews from the journalists in 2001 as well, so it appears that the Hammites intend to live by the rule that "tight Tory lips will never sink the ship" of their government;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Hamm Government on yet another nomination for the Canadian Association of Journalists' Code of Silence Award with best wishes for victory.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2397]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1182

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

Whereas the federal government has contributed $29,487 to the Children's Rights Centre of the University College of Cape Breton; and

Whereas this money will help finance the reprint and translation of the centre's Grades 6 and 8 curricula on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, as requested by a number of French language and French immersion schools; and

Whereas making these educational materials available on the Children's Rights Centre Web site ensures their availability to all Canadians across the country;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Children's Rights Centre at UCCB for obtaining the federal government funding to translate their curriculum for French language and French immersion schools to use.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 2398]

RESOLUTION NO. 1183

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

Whereas the University of Kings College has searched for over a year for its 22nd president and has finally found it in former Memorial University English Department Head William Barker; and

Whereas Mr. Barker holds a doctorate in early and modern English text from the University of Toronto and is a distinguished scholar, educator and university administrator; and

Whereas Kings is one of the smallest universities in North America and is well-known for its journalism school and multi-disciplinary programs like Foundation Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature join me in welcoming William Barker to Nova Scotia and congratulate him on his recent appointment to the role of President of the University of Kings College.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1184

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

Whereas the Feminists for Just and Equitable Public Policy is a coalition of equality-seeking, community-based organizations working on public policy; and

[Page 2399]

Whereas this coalition works to put women's issues on the agendas of all political Parties in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas on Thursday, May 8th, the Feminists for Just and Equitable Public Policy will release to all political Parties a document outlining 16 key areas of concern to women and their families;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Feminists for Just and Equitable Public Policy for their efforts on behalf of all women and commit to ensuring today's recommendations by the group are considered when their respective Parties draw up their election platforms.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1185

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

Whereas implementation of public auto insurance was not only done by the Schreyer Government in Manitoba, it was also carried out by the NDP Government of Dave Barrett in British Columbia; and

Whereas the NDP Government of Dave Barrett lasted only one term, from 1972 to 1975, at the end of which they were replaced by the Social Credit Party, led by Bill Bennett; and

Whereas at the end of the single term of Barrett's Government in B.C., the province was in a state of chaos as a result of strikes in the Public Service that brought delivery of the public auto insurance to a halt;

[Page 2400]

Therefore be it resolved that when the NDP says they intend to do the same thing here as Barrett did in B.C., we should get the whole picture to know what that means, rather than being lulled to sleep by platitudinous NDP platitudes, which avoid all historical details.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1186

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

Whereas Jason Smith was named 2002 Outstanding Male Athlete 15 years and under at the Truro Sport Heritage Society 19th Annual Sports Awards Dinner; and

Whereas Jason Smith was a key member of the Truro Blue Bombers peewee football team that captured the provincial and Maritime championships in 2002, a member of the Nova Scotia Schooners provincial football team that earned a Maritime title, and also a member of the Bible Hill Huskies boys volleyball team that went undefeated last year, winning district and regional crowns; and

Whereas in addition to these accomplishments, Jason Smith is a natural leader with a high level of maturity despite being the youngest member on many of the teams on which he played;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jason Smith on being named 2002 Outstanding Male Athlete 15 years and under by the Truro Sport Heritage Society and wish him continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources on an introduction.

[Page 2401]

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I thank all members of the House for allowing me this opportunity. In the east gallery this afternoon, we have members of the Grade 12 political science class from Dartmouth High School. They are accompanied by Don Houle, their teacher. Many members of this House, all sides of this House, have had the opportunity, over a number of years, including the honourable member for Dartmouth North, to participate in a very successful model Parliament that goes on every year at Dartmouth High School.

I must say there has continued be a very active group of students interested in the political goings on in the province. I would hope that some of the people who are sitting up in the gallery today will someday take our place down here, on all sides of the House, to carry on the democratic process that we have in Nova Scotia and in Canada. Having said that, I am very pleased to bring this to the attention of all members of the House, and I would ask them to show their warm welcome to these students. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today. I hope they enjoy the proceedings, if they can hear it. (Interruptions) Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1187

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

Whereas the Sisters of Charity have had a long and distinguished relationship with the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas that beneficial connection has never been more evident than in New Waterford and, in particular, in St. Agnes School; and

Whereas this week, Sister Louise Bray of the Sisters of Charity, a long-time beloved teacher at St. Agnes, celebrates her 50th Jubilee of Religious Profession;

Therefore be it resolved that this House send best wishes to Sister Louise Bray of the Sisters of Charity on her 50th Jubilee of Religious Profession and thank her for her service to the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2402]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1188

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

Whereas the Hamm Government's pattern of secrecy has been nominated for the Canadian Association of Journalists' Code of Silence Award; and

Whereas the Hamm Government has the highest fees in the country for freedom of information enquiries; and

Whereas the winner of this dubious honour will be given the award May 24th;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Hamm Government on its nomination, and make sure we watch the results on May 24th because this government won't tell anybody anything.

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 Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1189

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

[Page 2403]

Whereas the Festival of Knowledge offered visitors the opportunity to experience the Flavours Festival, the Philosopher's Corner, the Lighthouse Publishing Superword Challenge, the O'Regan's South Shore Mental Math Competition and the CKBW World Trivia Challenge, along with many exhibitions; and

Whereas many volunteers were responsible for making the event and competitions a success and for making learning fun;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the organizers, volunteers and competitors of the Festival of Knowledge on a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1190

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

Whereas the University of Kings College will honour newspaper publisher Graham W. Dennis at its convocation ceremonies on May 15th; and

Whereas since 1954 Mr. Dennis has been publisher of The Chronicle-Herald and The Mail-Star, the largest independently owned and operated newspaper in Canada; and

Whereas Mr. Dennis is a member of the Order of Canada who has been a strong and generous supporter of many charities including the IWK Health Centre, cystic fibrosis and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me in congratulating Graham Dennis on the well-earned recognition he will receive at the University of Kings College convocation and wish him well in all his endeavours.

[Page 2404]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1191

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

Whereas Lisette Comeau and Dianne Boudreau participated in the provincial badminton tournament in Sydney on April 26th; and

Whereas Lisette and Dianne were representing l'École Secondaire de Clare at this provincial competition; and

Whereas Lisette and Dianne won the provincial badminton championship in the Girls' Double Junior Division;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Lisette Comeau and Dianne Boudreau on capturing the provincial badminton championship in their division and wish them continued success and best wishes in all 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.

[Page 2405]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1192

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

Whereas May is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month; and

Whereas MS is a common disease of the central nervous system; and

Whereas on Wednesday, May 7, 2003, Robert Hammer, along with his friends, Rammie Hassan, Gordon Simms, Paul Forrest, Craig Madden and Ken McKellar, all students at Prince Andrew High School, raised $1,300 for MS research by shaving their heads;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Robert Hammer, Rammie Hassan, Gordon Simms, Paul Forrest, Craig Madden and Ken McKellar for supporting the research of MS and wish all of them the best in 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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:43 p.m. and end at 1:43 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

[Page 2406]

INSURANCE - RATES:

CABINET - REGULATORY POWERS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour who also happens to be responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates. Yesterday, the minister told Nova Scotians that his legislation will give government the power to stop insurance company abuses. People, frankly, may be making important decisions on the basis of the minister's statements. My question is, why has the minister who allows skyrocketing insurance rates created the impression that Cabinet will gain the power to deal with abuses like rates that are set on the basis of age?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member asked a question that's been asked about 20 times by the same member. The answer is simply this, we have regulatory powers which we intend to exercise.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, if the minister is going to make statements about bills, he ought to really read them. The minister has been making it up, frankly, as he goes along, but someone in his department must have told him that his legislation gives the government very, very limited powers. Cabinet will gain no power to regulate rates, no power to deal with rating categories, no power to deal with discriminatory rates. Any driver who relies on the minister's statements is sadly mistaken. Will the minister explain why the government is seeking only the power for Cabinet to require insurance coverage, but no regulatory power over the cost of insurance?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite is a lawyer, he also used to be a litigation lawyer and I presume maybe he still is. Those people, of course, we are told by some, are responsible for the higher cost of insurance. The regulatory power that we have will be encompassed in regulations, which will be going to Cabinet for approval and they will cover such things as age, et cetera.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is sadly mistaken and his mistakes are misleading Nova Scotia drivers. In explaining its proposed regulations, he shared our concern that senior citizens are being discriminated in the rating of their insurance policies by insurance companies in this province. You can check Page 2306 of Hansard. How can the minister say that he is so concerned about discrimination against seniors when he is not seeking the regulatory powers to deal with the cost of discrimination?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where common sense went, but we have an Act in the House at the present time that will give this government the power to make regulations. They are just wasting the time of the House, playing around with that bill, when

[Page 2407]

the only thing in the bill that's debatable is the principle of the bill. Pass the bill and then we will give you the regulations.

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

INSURANCE - LAST RESORT INSURER: USAGE - MIN. PREVENT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour, the minister responsible for insurance. It appears that the insurance industry has found a way to get around the recent rate freeze, given that four of the largest insurance companies operating in Nova Scotia are holding off on renewing business or writing any new business. Economical, Royal SunAlliance, CGU and ING have served notice on their agents not to renew or write new business until they know what the government's decision on insurance means. This decision will have a drastic effect on Nova Scotia drivers since many of them have to go to the insurer of last resort where their premiums will be substantially higher.

My first question to the minister is, will the minister explain to this House what measures he has in place to ensure that more Nova Scotian drivers won't be forced to use the insurer of last resort for their insurance?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where the honourable member got his information from but, however, I have not been informed and my office has not been informed of the facts which he has presented to the House. I would suggest to him that we will react when a situation such as that actually is on our doorsteps.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, these insurance companies write a bulk of auto insurance business in Nova Scotia and for them to indicate that they won't write new business or renew business will have dire effects for drivers. We have heard all kinds of stories where drivers who were once paying $1,000 per year for insurance are now paying $3,000 or more for insurance once they are forced to seek insurance from the insurer of last resort. The turmoil may be worse for other drivers on the road if more Nova Scotians decide to drive without insurance. In fact, over 2,700 drivers were fined for driving without insurance over the past year alone. My question to the minister is, can the minister explain what he will be doing over the next few days to ensure that these large insurance companies don't leave Nova Scotians in vulnerable, difficult positions when it comes time to get insurance or renew their insurance?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to answer a hypothetical question.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the minister has stated that he hoped that the insurance companies operating in Nova Scotia won't attempt an end run around the government's recent legislation freezing rates, but if they did, he would take action. Given the decision by

[Page 2408]

these major insurance companies, an immediate question that comes to mind is whether these insurance companies may decide to stop writing business in Nova Scotia altogether. Should that happen, we cannot automatically assume that Nova Scotia's other insurance companies will be able to pick up where the large insurance companies leave off. My final question to the minister is, since the freeze may be having the opposite intended effect from what the minister wanted, what further guarantees can the minister give Nova Scotian drivers that their rates won't increase any more than they already have over the last year?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the honourable member to table this piece of fiction in the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

INSURANCE - CITADEL/CO-OPERATORS:

RATE HIKES - OMISSION EXPLAIN

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question also is directed to the minister responsible for insurance, which is skyrocketing. The minister has completely confused Nova Scotians with his misinformation and apparent lack of understanding of auto insurance. He introduced a bill to capture the latest round of increases but the bill leaves the door open for raises by other means and it doesn't even capture all of the most recent increases. For example, in the past two months alone, Citadel and Co-operators have filed rate increases averaging 14 per cent and those rate increases are now in effect. My question to the minister is simple. How could you have missed this?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we captured, I believe it was 13 insurance companies that had applied for rate increases that would have affected probably thousands of Nova Scotians' auto insurance premiums.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the minister just doesn't seem to get it. Citadel and Co-operators are among the biggest insurance companies in the province and yet this minister has let them off the hook. This oversight will cost thousands of Nova Scotians thousands and thousands of dollars. So Nova Scotians are left only to shake their heads at the minister's apparent lack of understanding of what's really happening out there. My question for the minister responsible for insurance, which is skyrocketing, is why don't you bring forward legislation that captures these raises by Citadel and Co-operators, these increases that came into effect just weeks before the minister's May 1st deadline?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't have the list of the 13 companies here so I don't know if those two companies are on that particular list but if they are not on that list, then I would suggest to you they had their premium increases in place before May 1st.

[Page 2409]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the calls have already started coming in to my constituency office from people who are saying I thought there was a freeze, and I have to break the bad news to them that the freeze doesn't apply to their situation. So the minister says that he wanted to stop rate increases made on the eve of the URB decision but the fact is that his deadline misses one by just six weeks and another by two weeks. My question to the minister again is simple. Was this oversight deliberate or was it accidental?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think the honourable member is imputing a motive to the minister. (Interruptions) He is. Order, please. Next question.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh no.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh yes.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South. (Interruptions)

Order, please. If the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has a comment to make, rise in his place, the microphone will make it.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

PREM. - SUNDAY SHOPPING: PLEBISCITE - TIMING DETAILS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Premier. Yesterday the Premier told Nova Scotians that his government is going to take a half-step to bring Nova Scotia in line with every other province in Canada. This in a province where on Sunday you can lose your shirt in a casino but you can't buy one in a store. The Premier announced that the Tory Government is going to attach a plebiscite to the next municipal elections but in HRM, where support for Sunday shopping is greatest, there was only a 37 per cent voter turnout at the polls. In rural areas, where support for Sunday shopping isn't as strong, municipal voter turnout is higher. Across the province, more people vote in provincial elections than in municipal elections. My question to the Premier is, attaching the plebiscite to the municipal election, is this your attempt to control the result of the plebiscite in your favour?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from the good member from Cape Breton. As I have learned in discussion with many thousands of Nova Scotians over the past year, this is an item that is of great interest. A very high percentage of Nova Scotians have a strong position on this particular subject; unfortunately, there isn't a real consensus among all of those opinions. What we will achieve by way of a trial period before Christmas, and what we will achieve with a plebiscite during the time of the municipal elections in 2004, is an opportunity for Nova Scotians to examine this in great depth and detail, so that when the decision is made it will be the right decision.

[Page 2410]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier talks about consensus and states, many times, that it's all about choices. Well, here are some of the government choices: October 2000, Sunday shopping would not be a step forward, but a step backward, says Premier Hamm; November 2000, Tories red tape task force recommends that the government repeal the Retail Uniform Closing Act; March 2000, Michael Baker declares Sunday shopping closed issue until 2005; January 2002, Minister Fage responds to concerns of Amherst businesses by calling on Cabinet to review the Tory position; and in April 2002 - Minister Rodney MacDonald confirms that the Tories will not revisit the Sunday shopping issue until 2005. My first supplementary to the Premier. If the Premier thinks providing Sunday shopping is about listening, why isn't he listening to the choices of Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question is humorous in that I had just related to the member opposite that I have been listening to Nova Scotians for a year on this issue. Nova Scotians have very definite views on this issue. Nova Scotians think that this is a very important issue, and they want a choice. All Nova Scotians deserve a choice, not just the choice of that caucus.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the only thing humorous here are the flip-flops of the Premier and his ministers over the past couple of years.

The Premier has said he conducted his polling and listened to Nova Scotians. Just yesterday the Premier said, "Having heard from thousands of Nova Scotians and many special interest groups . . . I believe it's time to put it to a vote, to give consumers and business people across the province the opportunity to register their choice." My question to the Premier is, why, then, won't you do what's fair and attach the plebiscite to the provincial election, instead of waiting 17 months for a municipal election?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I look back at the situation 10 years ago, when there was a trial period before Christmas and, lo and behold, to the surprise of many, after the trial period, the government of day - of which that particular member was an adherent - decided that it wasn't nearly so good as it appeared. I think we need another trial period, Nova Scotians deserve another trial period, and Nova Scotians, each and every one of them, deserve a choice.

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

PUBLIC SECTOR - EMPLOYEES: DEP. PREM. - COMMENTS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, outside the doors of this Legislature, the Deputy Premier made a statement about public service that I hope all members on the opposite side regret. This minister rekindled the old Tory attack on public sector workers when he raised the question of whether they could manage auto insurance. I want to ask this minister, why is he belittling our teachers, our health care workers and all

[Page 2411]

of our hard-working people who work in the public sector in this province just to hide his ignorance around auto insurance?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have, on many occasions, spoken to public servants at long-service award ceremonies, et cetera, and I like to repeat a story but it's much too long to do in Question Period, as to why I consider the Nova Scotia Civil Service the finest in the world, not just in Canada but in the world. I'll give my remarks to the honourable member as to why I say that but I will do that privately. If, indeed, my remarks were taken in a derogatory fashion, I apologize, because it was not the intent; it was simply that I thought it was ridiculous for the government to be in the insurance business.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that's not what people heard or saw on the electronic media or read in their newspapers. It was a troubled minister lashing out at anything he could to get himself out of the auto insurance mess. This Deputy Premier, as we all know, represents the government when he implies that public servants are not capable. He is simply voicing what every Nova Scotian learned when they watched this government's treatment of paramedics, Bill No. 68, and now his treatment or lack of involvement in the RRSS strike. I want to ask the Premier, why does your government hold our Public Service in such contempt?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are blessed with devoted public sector workers in this province. This government respects the efforts they make on behalf of all citizens and I'm very surprised that the member opposite would come forward with a question that would suggest otherwise.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the facts speak for themselves. This government has attacked public sector employees as its predecessor government, the Liberals, did. You could watch again the Premier's actions during the paramedics' strike, Bill No. 68, and the one that is going on outside these doors now or you could listen to the very words yesterday of the Deputy Premier. Any way you look at it, this government constantly attacks public sector employees. My question back to the minister is, how can you assure Nova Scotians that they can expect lower and fairer auto insurance rates by attacking our hard-working and loyal public sector employees?

MR. RUSSELL: Well, that's quite a stretch, Mr. Speaker. I have already informed the honourable member of my respect for the civil servants of this province. Insofar as the insurance is concerned, however, I do not believe that government should be in the business of competing with the private sector. So we are not looking at a government-run insurance scheme at this time.

[Page 2412]

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

PUBLIC SECTOR - DEP. PREM.:

CROWN CORPS. - PHILOSOPHY EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we are hearing some very surprising things today because the minister talks about not competing with the private sector. The Minister of Environment and Labour, who is responsible for the skyrocketing insurance rates, made his pitch to Nova Scotians yesterday and said they should swallow some of the highest and most unfair auto insurance rates in Canada. He asked, as my colleague pointed out, whether or not they wanted public servants to run their insurance. I would like to ask the Premier this question. Will the Premier explain why, if it is his government's policy that Nova Scotians should not rely on public servants, why is it that his government awarded the natural gas distribution franchise to SaskEnergy, a Crown Corporation run by public servants.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly the philosophy of this government that we should do those things that governments are elected to do. We should be there to provide essential services to the people of Nova Scotia, such things as health care and education. It is not within the realm of the philosophy of this particular government that we will be in business because time after time it has been demonstrated in Nova Scotia, as it has been demonstrated right across Canada, that government does not do a good job in providing those kinds of things that businesses are in the business of doing.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, SaskEnergy makes a profit every year which it returns to the taxpayers of Saskatchewan and when distribution is finally put in place in this province, part of that profit will come from the people of Nova Scotia to the people of Saskatchewan. The Premier has consistently expressed his surprise and amazement at the auto insurance situation, surprised that rates are so high, surprised they keep going higher, surprised that the public insurers discriminate, surprised that so many drivers now go uninsured. The remarks made yesterday by the minister in charge of skyrocketing insurance rates were more surprising. So my question is this, the Premier refused to attend this week's NSGEU convention, is that because the government does not believe that public servants should run anything, including health care?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, in reply to his question, would be well to be reminded that this government does respect workers in the public sector. You know we didn't roll back wages, we didn't freeze wages, we didn't ask them to take wage-free holidays. We respect the public sector, but we are limited in the resources that we have and we are limited in how far we can go in wage negotiations. Having said that, this government has, will, and will continue to respect those in the public sector within the resources that are available to them.

[Page 2413]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government introduced the most draconian piece of legislation in this province's history and maybe in the history of this country in Bill No. 68, that took away collective bargaining from public sector workers in this province and no matter what the Premier says, the record speaks otherwise. Desperate governments say desperate things. The minister, who has let insurance rates skyrocket for the past two years, was pretty desperate when he used the civil servant line after his own government has to rely on SaskEnergy to try to get our own natural gas into our own homes. Will the Premier explain why his government will say anything to try to get Nova Scotia drivers to accept unacceptable auto insurance rates in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges in government is to balance the views of the two Opposition Parties because the Liberal Party is suggesting that Nova Scotians are going to be denied insurance because of what the government has done and the New Democratic Party is suggesting that we haven't done enough, in fact we're simply allowing the insurance companies to continue to raise rates at an unacceptable level.

Mr. Speaker, I know about insurance rates because I got my bill the same as other Nova Scotians and my bill was up. We are in the process of rationalizing an approach that will continue to allow Nova Scotians to receive insurance during this transition period and at the same time work towards a resolution that will allow Nova Scotians to be provided with the appropriate insurance at the appropriate cost.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

EDUC. - MATH ASSESSMENTS: REPT. - AVAILABILITY

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Earlier this year Nova Scotians were concerned when the minister released his report card to parents and that report showed that our Grade 8 students received an average mark of 32 per cent in their math assessments. The Liberal caucus recently discovered that a companion study to that 2002 math report was released on April 30th of this year by the Council of Ministers of Education. The report provides some important information about what influences children's learning in math. My question to the minister is, given the need to do more to help our students improve their performance, can the minister advise this House whether this report has been made widely available to school boards, parents and teachers?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can let the honourable member know that if it has not been made available, it will be. It should be in the process of being made available if it is not already there.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the report released by the Council of Ministers of Education presents the results from students, teachers and school questionnaires that were designed to enhance achievement by providing more comprehensive information on the

[Page 2414]

context of math learning. Now, I'm not surprised that the minister did not draw attention to this report because it continues to raise questions, unfortunately, about our performance and it is also interesting to note that only 50 per cent of Nova Scotia's schools report some or a lot of influence from external tests and examinations or standards on school activities and programs.

So my next question for the minister is, what assurances can the minister give Nova Scotia's parents and students that this report will be taken out of his desk drawer and used for its intended purpose, to enhance achievement results?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the council which released this report and we are very pleased to have provided the information that is included in that report. We are not hiding behind it, we are making sure that Nova Scotians and Canadians know the contents of that report, because previous governments have not addressed the needs of students in this province. We're addressing those needs. We have Learning for Life, we're putting 128 new teachers in classrooms in order to address these priorities. That's what we're doing, and we will continue to do it.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, when is the minister going to wake up and realize he's been in government for four years now, four long years. The information about our school system is something that should be made widely available to teachers and parents and principals and school boards. This report tells us that we are below the national average in several key indicators that impact learning, including math specialists who are teaching our students, but the information is not widely available, Mr. Minister, you know that. My question is, instead of waiting until after the election to act, will the minister agree to post this report on the department's Web site and tell Nova Scotians how this information will be used to help our schools and our students?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, in addition to having been a member of this government for the last three and a half years, I spent 30 years in the classrooms of this province. I can tell you that the results that are evident in the test to which the honourable member refers do not occur in a period of two to three years, they are cumulative results, as a result of severe neglect by that crew when they were in charge of this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

INSURANCE - COMPANIES:

DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES - STOP

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour, also known as the minister responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates. This government's so-called freeze on auto insurance rates will not put an end to the discriminatory practices of insurance companies. No one knows this better than young male

[Page 2415]

drivers in this province. Tony Roeding is an example. He's 20 years old, he's living at home to save money and planning to go to university in the Fall. He doesn't live on a bus route and will need a car to get back and forth to school. He is now paying $3,000 to insure a 1998 Accord. If he wanted to have collision coverage, it would cost him $6,000, in spite of his clean driving record. Will the minister tell us, when do you plan to stop these discriminatory practices?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there are some members across the way, I would suggest, who take advantage of people's misfortune for their own political gain. There are insurance rates in this province which are, indeed, very high. There are probably some people being discriminated against. What this government is doing is working in a systematic way on a plan that will alleviate those problems.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, let me link two issues for the honourable minister. On top of sky-high tuition fees, high insurance rates are making it nearly impossible for people who live some distance from their post-secondary education institutions to go to schools. So Nova Scotians are not only paying the highest tuition fees in the country, they're now paying some of the highest premiums for their auto insurance. Tony Roeding has a clean driving record, yet he's paying more than $3,000 for basic coverage. Mr. Minister, I would like you to know that high insurance rates are having a serious impact on the lives of thousands of people in this province. Mr. Minister, will you roll back auto insurance rates to help young Nova Scotians like Tony Roeding?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that gentleman will be helped when we have our new policies in place. That will be done all the sooner if they were not filibustering on Bill No. 45.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, that answer is "jam tomorrow". Parents and students are telling us that they can't afford to pay for sky-high tuition and at the same time for sky-high insurance premiums. A 65 per cent increase in insurance rates is affecting real lives and preventing young people from pursuing their education. The Canadian Federation of Students says that the insurance rates in Nova Scotia are just an extra barrier for their members. Mr. Minister, how do you plan to address this issue?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it's not only students that are affected by the insurance rate increases, it is the whole population. We're going to resolve that problem.

[Page 2416]

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

EDUC. - NORTHBROOK SCH./ÉCOLE BEAUFORT:

USAGE - SIMILARITY CONSIDER

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, parents of students who attended École Beaufort recently had good news that classes may be able to resume there. An alternative use has been found for the facility which will leave some classroom space for use by the school board. Meanwhile, Northbrook School is just as empty as it was in 2001 after it was closed by the school board, along with two other schools in that community. I'd like to ask the Minister of Education, why can't the same efforts be made to allow classes to resume at Northbrook School?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. A unique set of circumstances presented themselves with respect to École Beaufort. We were able to take advantage of that circumstance, which was precipitated as a result of the needs of the Université Sainte-Anne and the Collège de l'Acadie and as a result of their needs and the availability of that facility, the operation of that facility freed up space which could be used by students who formerly attended that facility.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister of the day refused to get involved with the Northbrook School closure. Her inaction forced parents to fundraise some $25,000 to go to court; unfortunately, they lost and now must pay thousands of dollars in costs to the school board. Parents at École Beaufort didn't have to go this route because they have the good fortune to be in a constituency where a Cabinet Minister faces tough competition in the next election. I would like to ask the Minister of Education why some communities are more important than others when it comes to school closures?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is the situation with respect to École Beaufort was initiated by the Université Sainte-Anne and Collège de l'Acadie. They were looking for space that was suitable to them. As a result of that space being partially used by that organization, then other space became available and we were quite happy to facilitate its use.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, for the parents at Northbrook the story doesn't end there. I would like to table a letter to parents from the school board stating that it will not waive the costs of the legal action to the parents. The letter states: It is important that potential litigants understand that there are risks involved in pursuing litigation, one which is the financial impact of an unsuccessful case. I ask the minister, since it was your department's inaction that led to this situation, will you now put aside political motives and step in to assist the Northbrook parents?

[Page 2417]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with the assumption by the honourable member that there were political motives involved in our decision making.

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

ENERGY - OFFSHORE DEV.: DELAY - EXPLAIN

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Tuesday, in Houston, the British Columbia government announced it would spend $10 million to ensure oil and gas production off British Columbia - compare that to our entire Energy Department, which has a yearly budget of $7 million. What is worse is that the B.C. Energy Minister referred to Nova Scotia as a textbook case on how not to develop its offshore industry. I wish to table the Wednesday, May 7th edition of The Halifax Herald, a story by Judy Myrden, stating that "Nova Scotia's become a textbook case on how not to develop its offshore industry, says British Columbia's Mines and Energy Minister Richard Neufeld at the largest oil and gas event in the world on Tuesday." That statement was made for all the world to listen to and see in Houston.

Mr. Speaker, in four years under this Premier, we have lots of spending commitments but little exploration. We have no new projects except for the second tier of Sable. My question for the Premier is, why is the Premier dragging his feet on the offshore file and has become virtually silent on the issue for the past year?

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

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it is a very good question. I remind the member opposite that in B.C. there is absolutely no offshore exploration and hasn't been for some number of decades. In fact last year at the CORE conference, representatives from the B.C. Government came here to participate in CORE, met with members of my department to talk to me at that time about how Nova Scotia had proceeded. I would remind the member opposite that we have $1.56 billion worth of exploration commitments, that in excess of $5 billion has been expended in this province by the oil and gas industry. It's a large part of the economy and we are poised to move forward aggressively.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, those kinds of statements from the acting minister are the reason why he is no longer the Minister of Energy and was taken out of that portfolio. This is the 86th time the Premier has referred a question in this House since we came here slightly over a month ago. If I wanted to ask the acting minister a question, I would have asked. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 2418]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is doing everything he can to avoid the offshore file because he knows it has been a complete failure under his watch. The Premier has gone so far as to say we don't need the offshore for economic development. He's made that statement a number of times, that Nova Scotia will grow with or without the offshore development. He doesn't say how but that's his statement.

My first supplementary to the Premier is, will you, Mr. Premier, take personal responsibility for your failure to generate any new activity in the offshore and take steps to grow the industry instead of giving up on it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can say to the member opposite, I have great confidence in the Nova Scotia economy now because we do have an economic development policy called Opportunities for Prosperity. I can say with confidence that many sectors of our economy are going to grow in the next couple of decades and we will do well, regardless of the ultimate fortunes of the offshore. But what I can say as well to the member opposite is that what we need now in the offshore is successful drilling. We need the discovery of more gas deposits to allow our industry to grow and we have great confidence that this is going to happen. What is allowing us to have great confidence is the amount of money that companies are prepared to put forward in exploration over the next couple of years in our province.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what Nova Scotians have lost, is confidence in this Premier's ability to govern in this province. The Premier failed in the Campaign for Fairness, he lost the bulk of the Laurentian Sub-Basin to Newfoundland, Deep Panuke is now in big delay and now he is hoping this file will quietly be swept under the rug until after the election. My final supplementary to the Premier, how can you, Mr. Premier, explain your inability to see even one new project move forward under your watch?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what the member for Cape Breton South seems to be accusing the government of is being there to blame for the fact that a number of dry wells have been drilled. In fact, that member knows the opposite. What he is trying to do, of course, is fool the public, but if he was able to fool the public, he'd be here and I'd be there. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

PREM. - ELECTION: YOUNG VOTERS - ELIGIBILITY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The minister knows that on May 28th of this year, Chapter 32 of the Acts of 2002, which lowers the qualifying age for candidates from 19 to 18 will take effect. The minister also knows that if an election is called one day earlier, thousands of young Nova Scotians who

[Page 2419]

are eligible to vote will not be eligible for nomination. What steps has the minister taken to ensure that those young voters are eligible to run if an election is called before May 28th?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would pass that question to the Premier. (Interruptions)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will guarantee the member opposite that his bill will be irrelevant.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, there have been lots of guarantees from this government, many of which have turned out to unfortunately not come to fruition. I must say the government showed a great deal of public spirit when it threw its support behind the legislation introduced by the member for Richmond. Without legislation here and now to give it immediate effect, young people could be denied the historic opportunity. It would take as much as five more years for 18-year-olds to be a candidate in a Nova Scotia election. What steps will the government take to safeguard the newly legislated right for 18-year-old voters in the forthcoming election?

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

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the legislation, as you indicated, takes effect later on this month and the legislation, unless that Party has some intent of raising the age again, which they might very well do, or this Party over here might raise the age again, it's not on our radar screen.

MR. DEXTER: Perhaps it is that the minister doesn't understand the issue. The issue is not whether or not the election will be before that date, but whether or not the election will be called before that date. That would deny the right of 18-year-olds that this minister and this government said was "long overdue". If the Premier would like to qualify that, then I will again ask the question, will the government co-operate with all sides of this House to pass this bill tomorrow?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thought I had made myself clear to the member opposite and this is a serious issue. We believe that 18-year-olds should be able to vote in Nova Scotia and they will be voting in the next provincial election.

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

HEALTH - PSYCHIATRISTS: N.S. - RECRUITMENT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. About three weeks ago during estimates I questioned the minister on her commitment to recruiting psychiatrists to the South West Nova DHA, and the Yarmouth Regional Hospital

[Page 2420]

specifically. At that time the minister indicated that there is a severe shortage of psychiatrists throughout Nova Scotia as well as in Yarmouth. However, even as of today, according to the department's health recruitment Web site, the minister is still attempting to recruit only one psychiatrist. In other areas of the province the department is looking for more than one. My first question to the minister is, why are you still only advertising for one psychiatrist when the region's full complement is seven?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member raises a problem here in Nova Scotia. He's right, it is a problem in the Pictou County area, it's a problem here and it's a problem in his area. I will get back to him on the specifics, but I can say that one would certainly be a good start.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the minister also recently stood in this Chamber and indicated that in actual fact we need 12 to 15 additional psychiatrists in Nova Scotia. I dare say that this is a tall order. Again to the minister, could the minister please elaborate on the specific strategy the Department of Health is going to use to recruit 12 to 15 psychiatrists for Nova Scotia?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly speak to part of the strategy. One of the biggest issues with recruiting psychiatrists to Nova Scotia has been the issue of payment and salaries. Our salaries were below what they should have been. There has been a recently-negotiated contract with psychiatrists which raises their fees substantially, and we believe that this is one of the ways in which practising in Nova Scotia will be made more attractive to psychiatrists.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I wish the minister well and remind her that Nova Scotians deserve only the best when it comes to health care professionals. Given that the minister has recently announced that she is committed to a uniform set of mental health standards throughout the province, my final question to the minister is, could the minister please explain to the professional staff in the mental health unit at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital how she is going to support them until such time as new psychiatrists are recruited for the area.

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, in a couple of ways. One way is that the pilot groups that we've established for young people, these groups of teams of professionals are going to learn more ways in which to help some of the young people who need the help. With that knowledge, they are going to be able to suggest and project what the needs will be in smaller areas with smaller populations, because they may not need as wide an array of professionals. The other way in which people in that area will be helped is the actual new facility here in metro, the beds available there will not just be for people from the metro area but from

[Page 2421]

around the province. This will help in some way to alleviate some of the load psychiatrists in other parts of the province are facing.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

FIN. - CASINO: SMOKING EXEMPTION - DECISION EXPLAIN

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a letter to the Premier from the Canadian Cancer Society. Executive Director Maureen Summers is asking the Premier to reconsider exempting the casino from smoke-free places bylaws. The Cancer Society argues the government should use its power to support public protection from second-hand smoke instead of caving in to the will of casino operators. I want to ask the Premier, how can you proceed so stubbornly on this exemption, given the strong arguments from groups like the Cancer Society?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation to again explain to the member opposite what, in fact, the provision of the Act is.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I should point out the member opposite is appearing to inform the House and Nova Scotians that the amendment we put through basically removes the municipal bylaws. What it actually does is - it is permissive legislation - it allows the government, if in fact a notice is received by government, to act on it. I should also point out that we've indicated, as a government, that we will use the arbitration process that's available to us. Subsequent to that, this is a hypothetical, but it allows us to be responsible to exercise every right we have to protect Nova Scotians and also live within the contract that was signed by the previous government with the casino.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, hand-off number 87. Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada, Smoke-free Nova Scotia, the Lung Association and now the Cancer Society have all pleaded with this government to listen to reason and to protect workers and visitors at the casino. The letter points out that the Legislative Assembly has power to protect Nova Scotian workers, and it has done so in the past. This situation is no different. Again, I would like to ask the Premier, why can't your government use its legislative power as a means of protecting the health of the casino workers, instead of as a way of watering down municipal bylaws?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government takes very seriously the health conditions that affect our working force. We certainly take seriously the issues that affect the environment; or the environment, how it affects the health issues of Nova Scotians in general. We have been very progressive in providing a protection not only for workers, but for Nova Scotians in general, from the harm of tobacco smoke. As a matter of fact, we have the best legislation in Canada.

[Page 2422]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we have chaos around smoke-free legislation in this province because of the faults in this government's smoke-free legislation. This government has repeatedly gone to court to stop the Opposition from viewing a few documents. It's moved Heaven and Earth to pass Bill No. 68 to bully nurses and other health care workers back to work. I'm asking the Premier, why is it you can take decisive action for some issues, but you aren't willing to muster the fortitude to fight on behalf of the health of casino workers?

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

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is saying we're not prepared to challenge the casino. I've indicated in this House in my first answer to this question, that we're prepared to use the process within the contract to bring it forward to resolution, if and when the casino were to put forward a claim. The member opposite doesn't want to listen to the facts. I was very clear. This government introduced anti-smoking legislation, the strongest in the nation. The fact of the matter is that we took the leadership on this, the Opposition is trying to make the appearance that we haven't led the way. Contrary to that, we have.

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

AGRIC. & FISH. - TURKEY MARKETING BD.:

CONCERNS - ADDRESS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Two days ago, representatives from the Turkey Producers' Marketing Board appeared before the Resources Committee of the Legislature and expressed concern about the marketing of their product. My question to the minister is . . .

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

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries is, in view of the fact that his government made a commitment to Buy Nova Scotia First, would he outline as to what specific action has been taken to address concerns of the Turkey Producers' Marketing Board?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. He brings a very good issue to the floor of the House. In terms of the Turkey Producers' Marketing Board and their ability to access, one of the problems and challenges that they face is that the large institutions, which would be a purchaser, need larger, frozen birds because of the storage issue. In Nova Scotia we do not have a processing facility and

[Page 2423]

most of the birds that are being produced are smaller and for the fresh market. It's a challenge, but we are working with that group to try to address the problem.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, this is a $25 million-a-year business for Nova Scotia turkey farmers. They indicated quite explicitly that the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries did nothing to help them in trying to resolve this problem in terms of processing and retailing their product. My question to the minister is, what is he and his government doing to improve the percentage of Nova Scotia-grown turkeys on Nova Scotia store shelves?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the issue he brings forward is one that is a significant challenge. There is no processing facility in this province and that creates a great deal of difficulty. In fact, the industry estimates that there is excess quota and there may need to be a rationalization of the amount of turkey being produced in this province to help address the problem.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, this is absolutely incredible, to hear the minister say Nova Scotia has the highest cost per production of any province in Canada. They've complained at committee about increased user fees, they've complained about not being consulted on the Nova Scotia water strategy. My question to the minister is, what specific action is he going to take to help the Nova Scotia Turkey Producers' Marketing Board and the representatives from that organization to market their product and make them a viable entity in this province?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the department has been working closely with this group to try to address the problem. It has a number of challenges facing it in terms of being able to process within the province the number of producers, accessing the market. We are working with them to try to fix the problem but there is no magic-wand solution in spite of what this member opposite might try to imply.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - RRSS STRIKE:

CONTINUATION - MIN. DETAILS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, here we sit one more day into a strike by care workers of the Regional Residential Services Society. It's yet another day that this government is turning its back on vulnerable residents and their families. It's another day that the Hamm Government is thumbing its nose at collective bargaining. I ask the Minister of Community Services, how many more days are you going to allow this strike to continue?

[Page 2424]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for giving me this opportunity to just sort of go over the collective bargaining process and how it works. In this case, we have an employer, which is RRSS, and we have a union, which is NSGEU, Local 66. They were unable to come to an agreement at the bargaining table and that's regretful. We are very concerned about the impact that has on the residents and the families and we have done all that we can as a government to try to address this. But, I would suggest to you, the ball is in the employer's and the union's court as we are not at the bargaining table.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, this is a government which brought in Bill No. 68, which still hangs over the health care workers in this province. This is a government that will go to any length to protect P3 school operators, the casino, and other big business interests. This is the same government which has placed enormous stress on the residents and the families because they won't allow RRSS to proceed with binding arbitration. I ask the Minister of Community Services, just what is it about binding arbitration that your government is so afraid of?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think, as I've indicated previously, substantial sums have been put into this sector to enhance the wage package to recognize the valuable care that is given by those workers to the residents. I would also like to point out, following my previous comments, that in this process we are not one of the parties at the bargaining table. I would suggest that when the decision was made to withdraw services that it was known by the union that there was no provision for binding arbitration. Thank you.

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

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. In a reply to what I felt was a legitimate question, I believe it was posed by the Leader of the New Democratic Party relative to the bill that he introduced, which would be an amendment to the Elections Act, I misspoke and what I should have said was the word run, rather than vote. You can go back to Hansard and I think that will clear up any confusion he might have had with my answer.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, just for clarification in his answer, was the Premier then saying that no election would be called before May 28th because that's the only way you could ensure that those who are 18 years of age would be able to be candidates?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is extremely intuitive today.

MR. SPEAKER: It's not a point of order but it is obviously a clarification of facts for the House.

[Page 2425]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am just waiting for the hubbub to die down opposite.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 45, the Insurance Act.

Bill No. 45 - Insurance Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria. You have about 55 minutes.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to inform you that I think you are quite generous in giving me 55 minutes. I don't think I will take that much time of the House.

[1:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again and speak on Bill No. 45. The reason that most of us get on our feet to talk about Bill No. 45 is because we see so many flaws in it and we see it as a bill that is not going to help Nova Scotians very much. In speaking on this bill, it goes without saying that this issue is one that all of us in the province have an opinion on since it touches every home and every car driver, and every other person who buys insurance for whatever reason - it touches them and it affects them severely. We are all aware of the stories from Nova Scotians of how their auto insurance rates have risen dramatically in the past year. As I mentioned on Tuesday, not only car insurance, it's almost anything that's insurable in our province today, be it your home, be it your automobile, be it your farm tractor or anything.

Mr. Speaker, this government claims it's committed to protecting consumers in Nova Scotia, and ensuring some stability in the automobile insurance market. Now that's a pretty bold statement. It's a pretty good statement. I don't think what the government has done has created any stability in the automobile insurance market. More must be done, we must do more in this Legislature, and more should have been done. We all know that rising insurance

[Page 2426]

premiums are foremost on the minds of Nova Scotians today. That is probably one of the biggest issues facing Nova Scotians today, and that's why I'm surprised that the minister doesn't address the issue clearly.

Everybody in Nova Scotia isn't receiving increases, but this insurance amendment may leave many Nova Scotians to turn to the insurer of the last resort - if they can even afford insurance of any type. We all know what the problem is, but this government hasn't laid out the full solution to the problem facing drivers in Nova Scotia and, Mr. Speaker, this freezing of rate increases doesn't prevent insurance companies from not renewing or refusing to do business in the province - there is no way we can force insurance companies to deal with their clientele - if that's the case, Nova Scotian drivers will be left in a more difficult position now than they were before this amendment was made.

This government claims that it is taking a careful, considerate, and well-planned approach to managing the insurance issue for Nova Scotia drivers, but they have had over a year to have a plan. It's only when things look bad for the Conservative Government that is when they decide that they should do something.

This legislation is the last in this government's list of inactions on this issue. With this legislation they claim they are putting the prevention initiatives in place. To what? They say to stabilize costs. This government says they want input from consumers, business, and the insurance industry, on auto insurance reform. Guess what? Why didn't they do that last year? This issue has been on the horizon for two years. The government knew this was coming and if they had nipped it in the bud. Then Nova Scotians would believe that they have some plan, be it ever so small, but at least they would show some concern for Nova Scotians faced with these higher premiums and higher rates.

Instead, rates went up last year and this year, and Nova Scotians will have to pay for those higher rates. The cooling-off period for rate increases until the reform process comes to a conclusion, a conclusion I don't think is working. We know that the intent of the legislation is to prohibit auto insurance companies from raising their rates, but that doesn't appear to be working. While the legislation for a rate increase prohibition is from May 1, 2003, to January 2004, are those who received rate increases before going to have to pay?

Another thing wrong with this issue is that this Tory Government is willing to wait until after an election, Mr. Speaker, after an election before drafting legislation for the Fall sitting of the House. While some Nova Scotians may be impacted by the freeze on rates, one has to question where are initiatives to deal with those who had increases last winter or even earlier this Spring. What will happen to post-January 2004? Nova Scotians are also questioning why we are seeing this government take action only until January 2004. Many are concerned with the actions of these insurance companies come January 2nd. Will rates increase so significantly that the freeze that's in place right now won't even cover what customers will have to pay after 2004?

[Page 2427]

Mr. Speaker, one has to wonder about the timing of this legislation in the House on Monday. There is no question that a pending election call has everything to do with this timing and means very little to this government in how little it impacts people. When all of the Tory candidates knock on the doors, they can say we did something, but consumers in Nova Scotia are not going to be fooled. Consumers in Nova Scotia are not excited about this amendment because Nova Scotians are smarter than that bunch across the floor. They know how little this measure will help people who paid high insurance rates last year and they know that this is not going to help them after January 2004.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia expected more from this government. They expect and deserve good insurance coverage, but they also want their coverage with reasonable premiums. According to Statistics Canada, Nova Scotia has the second-highest insurance rates in the entire country. I said earlier that the government could have seen this coming, it was on the horizon for years. We, as a Liberal Party, knew this last year and that's why we asked for an all-Party committee to review the issue and take action or bring some recommendations back to the House and then the government should have taken action. Alas the Tories said no and the NDP also said no. Fast forward one year later and the people are still paying high rates. This issue that we encouraged our caucus colleagues to take action last year, I think a lot could have been achieved by an all-Party committee. An all-Party committee could feel the pulse of Nova Scotians relative to what they felt and where they saw their insurance rate going. Instead, one year later we have two different Parties who have decided that one year later we should consult.

Mr. Speaker, this is exactly what we told the government and the NDP to do last year. They failed to listen and the end result is that Nova Scotians still have no relief. I say that's a shame on both the Parties. While we tried our best as a Liberal caucus to engage government and the Opposition in an all-Party consultation, our neighbours in New Brunswick and Newfoundland did so. For whatever reason, perhaps it was politics, or perhaps it was just an issue of one-upmanship in the case of the Tories and the NDP.

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, who lost? Nova Scotia lost, and they are still losing today. Nova Scotians expect better from their government, they expect action. Consultation with Nova Scotians might have created some action by this government. Now, instead, Nova Scotians will have to wait until the Fall, if legislation will come forward then. At least the government is saying legislation will be brought forward in the Fall. We believe that that's simply too late.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia elect governments to act not to procrastinate. Procrastination is exactly what we are seeing from our government. Because of this government's half-baked half-measure of high rates being frozen and empty regulations, many residents, many rural residents will have to go without auto insurance. We know that there are many drivers out there today who can't afford auto insurance at the high rate.

[Page 2428]

However, maybe there is another reason for this half-baked measure besides the election. Inaction on the part of government also doesn't jeopardize revenues to the government. We all know that. Many would not be aware of the windfall this government is receiving from insurance premiums. Could anyone on that side of the House tell me whether or not the claims of a balanced budget could be made safely because of the 4 per cent tax government collects on insurance premiums? I wonder, can anyone tell us that?

In fact, Mr. Speaker, this government received $7 million more than they expected to receive from insurance premiums in the last fiscal year, $7 million more. One has to wonder whether government has become addicted to the increased revenues from insurance tax so much, that to change the system would interrupt these excess revenues. Government has done nothing here in Bill No. 45 but provide a delaying tactic. It has been government's inaction that has prolonged the problem, and the problem is prolonged.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I didn't address the NDP postcard campaign, once again, a high-profile campaign with nothing to add in terms of a solution. I guess my definition of consultation and the NDP's definition of consultation is completely different. How can any political Party issue a survey with the question, do you feel your insurance rates are too high? Yes or no. That one would be easy for me to answer. How does this constitute consultation? It doesn't. It doesn't engage people in the process whereby options are made available and people can write back, stating the pros and cons of the various options that they might offer.

This is nothing more than NDP propaganda, and the people of Nova Scotia will be able to see right through it. Here's another question from the postcard - if you disagree with high insurance rates, please tell us. As somebody has already mentioned in speaking on this bill, here's a piercing glimpse into the obvious. Everyone is going to tell you yes, our insurance rates are too high. Then what do we do? I would dare say that the all-Party committee that both the government and the NDP vetoed would have provided action by now, not antics like we are seeing from both the government and the Opposition Parties.

[2:00 p.m.]

What happened to the Premier when he came into office in 1999? He said he didn't mind making tough choices. That's what leadership is all about. He didn't mind making tough choices, that's what leadership is all about. What a difference four years makes and the people of Nova Scotia are paying for the abandonment of this Premier's principles.

After our efforts to form a tri-Party committee a year ago, this government decides to do something - or at least make it look like they are doing something - by introducing a bill and delaying the process until the Fall. But we shouldn't be surprised since this is more inaction by a government that's comfortable with inaction. Government seems to be comfortable with inaction, Mr. Speaker. Nova Scotians won't be fooled by this government

[Page 2429]

bringing forward a bill, Bill No. 45, that doesn't address all the issues and won't for some time to come. That won't help Nova Scotians since the results will only come well past the election.

While there is some merit to the element of Bill No. 45, this government should recognize that more needs to be done to address the high insurance rates in this province. It should be done today because much could be done by the government and much could be done by the industry, too. Much could be done by the industry, I believe, about fraudulent claims.

As we drive into the city through Dartmouth, I noticed a sign by the highway offering no deductible on insurance claims for windshield replacement. When we buy insurance, there is a deductible that we understand we must pay. If somebody is advertising that you don't have to pay it, well I wonder who picks up that deductible? That's very obvious who picks it up - it's the insurance company. The insurance companies allow that to go on. If you smash your car or you bang your car, you call in an insurance adjuster. These adjusters, for the most part, are paid by the piece work. The more the cost of the repairs, the more the adjuster gets. Is that not being fraudulent?

Just a few days ago, I had a call from a fisherman, a small operator. He transports fish for bait for the lobster fishermen. He has a one-ton truck, a relatively new truck, probably six or seven years old, which he used to insure for four months of the year, during lobster season and the reason for that is that he trucks fish from Dingwall to Bras d'Or and he does this as a favour to the fishermen so that he can reduce their costs of bait and in turn they will sell him their lobster. This year to insure that truck for four months will cost him $4,200. With that, if he cancels that insurance at the end of the season, he must pay 60 per cent of that $4,200 premium to cancel that insurance for the other eight months. These are conditions that Nova Scotians are facing. These are conditions that people are looking for help with from this government.

So, Mr. Speaker, while Bill No. 45 might help some people through some small measure, I think there's a huge gap out there that needs to be filled. There's a hole that must be filled and consumers in Nova Scotia are expecting their government to act on their behalf, to deal with this issue of insurance rates.

Mr. Speaker, I'm sure they're not pinning their hopes on this half measure that this government is providing for them, but what they expect is complete support from this government, not something just to get the government by the next election. As I stated on a couple occasions before, if we had established an all-Party committee 13 months ago, or 14 months ago, this issue would have been decided and dealt with, hopefully in the best interest of the consumers in Nova Scotia, and it would have been done before now. Again, the time for inaction must pass. Nova Scotians deserve better from their government; they're expecting better from their government.

[Page 2430]

Mr. Speaker, I hope by the time the regulations are introduced in the Fall sitting that this government will bring some relief to this issue, this troubling issue that's affecting every Nova Scotian one way or another. If it's not through their automobile insurance, it's through their house insurance or any other policy that they may have. I was reading this article in The Halifax Herald on May 7th and it talks about oil tanks and the responsibility of homeowners to take responsibility of leaking oil tanks. It goes on to say that some insurance companies are asking their clients to prove their oil tanks are of a certain quality, or they have been installed by qualified installers, or if they're 10 years old or less. If a homeowner can't provide this information to the benefit or to what the insurance companies want, then that's an excuse for them to cancel their insurance.

These are the things that are happening out there, Mr. Speaker, not only car insurance, but with every insurance policy that homeowners have. It goes on to give the cost of a new tank installation. They say a 1,000-litre oil tank weighing about 1,000 kilograms when it's full, the purchase price is $250 to $300. Fiberglass tanks cost close to $2,000. These are issues that all homeowners are facing, every policy holder in Nova Scotia, one way or another. I think it's a vicious attack by insurance companies and I think people are expecting their government to act on their behalf to bring relief or bring some common sense to this high cost of insurance premiums in our province. On that note I will take my seat, hoping that Nova Scotians will receive better from this government.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the opportunity over the next few minutes, when the mood strikes me - it could be 59 minutes probably, because I have lots of important material to bring to your attention and to the attention of the House. I must begin with the fact that the histrionics that I saw the other night here in late debate when Barry Goldwater North, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, stood in his place and demonstrated an attitude that is as far right as Attila the Hun, but it wasn't necessarily just that member. He was followed by Senator McCarthy himself. I mean, Uncle Joe would be proud when the conspiracy theory was brought forward, the conspiracy theory that was brought forward in this House at that time. The topic, of course, was the relevance of skyrocketing car insurance.

That's an issue, Mr. Speaker, I know that you, as the member for your important riding, I know the member for Cape Breton West, but this is no time for histrionics, it's no time to make excuses about the fact of further delays, instead we should be dealing with the issue. That's what I intend to do.

I heard the member for Cape Breton West make reference to this famous document, and I want to go over it now, and I know I will have to table one of them. I think it is truly unfair for that member to say that this would be compared to the infamous postcard campaign from the member for Halifax Citadel. That postcard campaign was an unfortunate

[Page 2431]

one. It was divisive, it pitted one part of this province against another part of this province, that particular document. There is no good reason why Nova Scotians pay more for car insurance, but here's the key thing - and I am going to table this, because the text of my speech is going to be made up of probably the best day that I have ever had as an MLA. I had the chance to respond to over 35 of the 350 responses that I have received thus far and I had the chance to go over. The response says, yes, Darrell, I support the NDP task force.

The members of the Third Party go on at great lengths about these simple questions. I want to bring to the House's attention - and it's going to be of some relevance, Mr. Speaker, and I will take your direction one way or the other, I will take your direction by tabling them as I refer to them, because there is a space on this card where you have the opportunity to write your comments. The member for Cape Breton West is always saying that I'm using names in this House, because there must be some kind of conspiracy theory about it, that I'm using names in this House and I don't have permission. I want you to know that the name of every person I'm going to bring forward today, I have their permission.

So try this one out for starters, Harold Carpenter says in his response, "Thank you, Darrell, for standing up for us small people."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I've had an opportunity to look at the material that the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has requested to table, and I guess it would be permissible and probably required to table these documents at the appropriate time, perhaps at the conclusion of the member's dissertation.

MR. ESTABROOKS: That would be convenient. I know the Pages have many other important things to do. I know they're going to be paying attention, because there are some young people whose quotes I am going to be using, some comments I'm going to be using. I am quite prepared, at the end, to table these reports.

Mr. Carpenter's comment is the first one. I want to try out some comments that I know will be of real significance to members opposite. You know you want to have a good day, Mr. Speaker, you have the opportunity to respond because these people have sent us a message, they've left their telephone numbers, they've left their e-mails, and when you call them back, you want to have a good day as an MLA, it's a wonderful opportunity to hear from Nova Scotians.

I want to thank, in particular, Basil Martin, who lives at 663 Brookside Road. I called Mr. Martin, I thanked him for the time that he took to respond to this survey, this chance for the MLAs from this particular Party and now all MLAs to look at these comments. Mr. Martin writes, "Bill, keep up your good work for the people . . ." of Timberlea-Prospect. Seventy-four years of age, Basil Martin has made a compliment that I will take, one that I've made a copy of that I have at my desk in my constituency office at the BLT Centre in Timberlea.

[Page 2432]

Try this one, "Keep on it, Darrell. Your voice is getting heard." I want to thank those sorts of people for motivating me to be able to stand in my place and share with the House today the response of Nova Scotians on a mail-out that was sent out so that MLAs from this caucus, the NDP caucus, would have an opportunity to listen to what Nova Scotians actually have to say. Are the members of the Third Party interested in this? They certainly would have the opportunity because it's their conspiracy theory by Senator McCarthy himself, the MLA for Cape Breton West who stands in his place and always finds some reason why the NDP - he stood at that time and he mentioned, of all things, the Regina Manifesto of 1933, waved it around, and quoted from it.

[2:15 p.m.]

This is the same country that has socialized medicine, this is the same country that has a social welfare system. Based upon the fact that I know the member for Cape Breton West and I know the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, they say the socialists are at the door, I've got a message for those members - the socialists are sitting in this Legislature. Today, the New Democratic Party, and the socialist member for Timberlea-Prospect is standing in his place and saying that I'm listening to Nova Scotians, unlike the members of the Third Party, unlike the members for the government. I hope they listen to this comment - you want a compliment as a political leader in this province? You try this one out - Rock On, Darrell. Keep up the good work.

Let's have a look at some of the more important, specific examples of people from my constituency of Timberlea-Prospect who have concerns about these skyrocketing insurance rates. You want to have a good day, Mr. Speaker, I encourage you to have a mail- out like this on a topic as important as this and then take the time during the evening to call these people back. These people appreciate the fact that at least some political Party in this province is listening to them and at least some political Party is standing in their place and having their say on their behalf.

Margie Bishop of 22 Richard Street says, "Our rates are ridiculous!"

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member preface his comments by saying that the Nova Scotians he is referencing here have given him permission to use those names in the Legislature? It's not necessary, but I was a bit preoccupied when the honourable member started his dissertation on Bill No. 45 and, just for greater clarity, perhaps the honourable member could tell the House.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I will clarify that again. I know that certain members of the Third Party have accused me of standing in my place and in the past have said that I've used names, mainly the names of ex-students who are current residents of Timberlea-Prospect. Mr. Speaker, I have the permission of the people whose names I'm bringing forth today.

[Page 2433]

Margie Bishop is the past secretary of Sir John A. Macdonald High School, Margie Bishop has said our rates are ridiculous. She lives on Richard Street in Timberlea. J.G. Veinot of Foxberry Lane in Hatchet Lake wrote to me, "1 whole months income goes to auto insurance. Now will I have to sell my home to drive?" I called Mrs. Veinot and had a conversation with her on this topic. This is an example of some of the frustration of people who live in the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect who are not serviced by Metro Transit. There is no Metro Transit on the Prospect Road. People to and from work, to and from the groceries, to and from the bank, to and from university, they must use a vehicle - they must use a vehicle.

The best example that I can use - and he was here in our gallery today - is, of course, Tony Roeding. I want you to know that Tony Roeding - and you will see him this evening, I assume, on the local news - was a student of mine. He's grown since then, let me tell you. Tony Roeding is 20 years of age. Tony said that there's no protection from insurance companies, it's getting out of hand and no one is doing anything about it, especially this government. He's been driving since he was 16. He has no accidents, however, he needs that vehicle to get to and from his place of work and, of course, his studies at university. How is Tony Roeding going to handle skyrocketing insurance? How is he going to handle tuition that continues to grow? I hope tonight that members opposite and the members of the Third Party catch the 6:00 p.m. news, because they will see pictures of the vehicle that Tony Roeding drives. It is absolutely inexcusable that Mr. Roeding would have to have the sort of insurance that he has to have as a 20-year-old, trying to hold down a job, further his education, and after all, make a future for himself.

I also want to bring up the name of J.K. Glaeser. Now Mr. Glaeser is at 4050 Prospect Road in Shad Bay. This is what Mr. Glaeser says to me, and he repeated it when I talked to him. He has had his insurance rates go from $781 to $1,823. "My renewal premium doubled. Why? I had no claims nor violations."

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are people who live in the more rural parts of Timberlea-Prospect who recently have had their postal code changed. They had their postal code changed, and it's important that members understand why this has happened. Because of the growth in the community, there are so many people who have been using the Lakeside Post Office, that they have had to build a new and expanded post office in Tantallon. Because of that, because of the growth in the community of Timberlea, Beechville, Lakeside and towards the Head of St. Margarets Bay, this new post office took on these new postal codes coming out of the Tantallon Post Office. So no longer did the Tantallon Post Office have BOJ as its postal code, now they had B3Z, so these people who live through Bayside, Dover, up the Peggy's Cove Road, and I know the member for Chester-St. Margaret's has heard from these residents, these people had a postal code change and because of their postal code change, their car insurance rates jumped. Their houses didn't move, they didn't change their driving habits, most of these people had no accidents and no claims, but their postal codes changed. Because of that, their insurance rate jumps.

[Page 2434]

Now is that a reasonable way to have your insurance rate doubled? Absolutely inexcusable, inexcusable, and the insurance companies say, that's the way it is. We've decided we are going to change it, the postal code. B3Z, I guess, means that they are within the urban core, as opposed to living in Bayside or Shad Bay. Shad Bay, Bayside, Terence Bay, Lower Prospect are still rural Nova Scotia - those houses haven't moved - yet the insurance rates of these unfortunate Nova Scotians has jumped inexplicably.

But I want to use the example of a neighbour of mine and yes, Mr. Speaker, I have permission, of course, to use this neighbour because I want you to know that on June 19th, I am going to have the wonderful opportunity to go to the 60th Anniversary of Elsie and Allen MacNeil, 60 years together. Elsie lives at 4742 St. Margarets Bay Road, Upper Tantallon. I want you to know that Ms. MacNeil has a concern, because as Elsie wrote to me - and I followed up with a phone call, "I had accident free . . . I have a 2001. . . Toyoto . . ."; my insurance rate jumped by 38 per cent. A senior in our community who has for so many years been involved in volunteer activities; for so many years has been a model citizen in our community; who, for so many years has been one of the biggest supporters of the St. Margarets Bay Lions Club; and a wonderful citizen of the community of Upper Tantallon, now she has to pay, as her husband has to pay, this sort of increased insurance rate.

Well, I had to eventually visit and somehow get over the rotten roads on the road to Terence Bay. I went down over Porcupine Hill where I had a chance to visit the Veters Family at 1060 Terence Bay Road. This is what Yvonne Vaters wrote, and when I called her, she said you tell them exactly what I said, Bill. She wrote, "Insurance is a ripoff . . . especially for seniors and with young people." Now Ms. Vaters is upset. Ms. Vaters of the Terence Bay Road location that I mentioned earlier is upset. There is no Metro Transit in Terence Bay. There is no way for Ms. Vaters and her family to make their way to and from their places of work in metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth. There is no other way for them to get to the bank, for them to go to the local bingo, for them to attend any kind of personal business, they have to drive. They have to drive. Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are frustrated, they are upset, and Yvonne Vaters is a perfect example.

I know that members opposite often say, as do members from the Third Party, that I refer to too many past students, too many of my past students are used in speeches in this House. Well, that's why I guess they call the MLA because they want something that I can bring up, something that they want addressed. I want to bring up the example of Robert Butler. Robert Butler had been insured for $700. He owns a 1991 van. Robert is under 25. Robert is the citizen who had a van that needed a paint job so he repainted it. In fact, he painted it with tiger stripes.

Mr. Speaker, maybe you saw this issue on the news. When Mr. Butler goes to have his insurance renewed, he's told he has a customized van. Robert did the paint job. He has a customized tiger-striped van because it has tiger stripes on it, that he painted on it, which makes it customized. Now, is that the sort of reason? He has been phoning companies and

[Page 2435]

the best that he was offered was $1,900 - from $700 to $1,900. Robert's question for his old teacher, with emphasis on the adjective "old", Robert's question for his old teacher is, is that fair, is that fair, is that how Nova Scotians could be expected to be treated by insurance companies in this province? That certainly is not fair, Robert, and that's one of the reasons that I appreciate the opportunity to bring up his example again in this House today.

Perhaps you've heard this example, too, Mr. Speaker, and, yes, I've had the opportunity to speak to Christine Poirier. Christine Poirier lives on Elmgrove Avenue in Parkdale in Timberlea. Christine has a 20-year-old son who continues to live with her. He wants to get a driver's licence. She had one vehicle that was broken down and she bought another used one. Now, her 20-year-old son wants to go out and get his licence, his full licence. However, the insurance company informs Ms. Poirier that he will be listed as the primary driver on both vehicles even though he will not be. Ms. Poirier has a clean driving record. She's living on a fixed income and she has been told to expect that her insurance rates will increase from $1,300 to over $3,000.

Now, that example is important again and I hope that members opposite know that these are only examples that this MLA has heard back from on this survey that was sent out. I want the members of the Third Party to know this is no postcard. This does not divide Nova Scotians. This is not in any way pitting one part of Nova Scotia against another. This is an opportunity for Nova Scotians to have their say to their MLA on this issue. The members of the Third Party can make light of the questions where you check off yes or no, but I hope they've been listening to what I've been reading into the record because, Mr. Speaker, as you know, I will be tabling all these comments. It says comments here, comments, those are after all the important responses that I've heard from the people in my constituency. Those comments are important. This is no divisive postcard. This is after all containing important information that Nova Scotians have to know about, that to ensure this particular vehicle, it is in Winnipeg, $1,164; in Saskatoon, it's $1,263; in Vancouver, it's $1,630; in Calgary, it's $2,311; in St. John, it's $2,423, and in Halifax, it's $2,574.

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, those are statistics which we can confirm in this caucus. This is not a postcard, this is an informational piece of relevant information that Nova Scotians want to hear about. I want the member for Cumberland South to listen to this - and I will table this document too - included in this particular piece of important information, where car insurance has increased 65 per cent in Nova Scotia, we have a comment from the editor of the Amherst Daily News, March 6, 2003. It's important that the editor of the Amherst Daily News gets this on the record, because it's contained in this particular piece of information that went out to Nova Scotians. Once again, the editor writes, Nova Scotia's New Democratic Party is giving the governing Tories and the floundering Liberals a lesson in basic politics, and they're doing it by example. Now Dexter and the New Democrats have

[Page 2436]

one-upped the Tories and Grits once again. This time, over the issue of rapidly-rising automobile insurance rates.

Mr. Speaker, that's not the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect endorsing the Leader, that's not the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect endorsing this particular piece of insurance campaign, that's the editor of the Amherst Daily News. He says it quite right, the governing Tories and the floundering Liberals - and their Leader who we so seldom see these days - the floundering Liberals and the governing Tories, it's time that they really truly listened to Nova Scotians, that they truly listened to Nova Scotians. That's, after all, what I'm about today, continuing to bring examples that have been mailed back to me, that I'm going to table here in the House so that members can see for themselves some of the comments of the people I have been fortunate enough to contact.

I want to proceed, if I can, Mr. Speaker, to talk about the Reiss family. They live at 30 Raines Mill Road in Lakeside, and yes, I had the opportunity to talk to David, "I pay more for insurance than what my car is worth, and students can't afford that . . ." Here's David, living at 30 Raines Mill Road, living in Lakeside, going to and from the community of Clayton Park, I believe, where he has a part-time job. How is David to get to that job? He uses his vehicle. He uses his vehicle because he is, after all, one of those people dependent upon his own set of wheels so he can go to and from his place of work. Now he is paying more for insurance than his car is worth.

I want to, if I may, turn to Bub Lusby - thank you sir, for correcting my pronunciation on that - "It is a disgrace to our Democratic (sic) country that its elected government is so selfishly irresponsible to the people who elected them . . ." Try that on for size, Mr. Speaker. It is a disgrace to our democratic - in brackets he writes sic, which is a Latin term referring to the fact that maybe he's questioning democratic - country that its duly elected government is so selfishly irresponsible to the people who elected them. If that sounds like a happy voter, I will guarantee you that whoever runs in Timberlea-Prospect for the members of that Party and whoever takes the challenge to run for the Third Party, I would like to have the opportunity to go to the doorstep at the same time and talk to this resident, who has a concern, after all, about an issue that has not been addressed by that government, that has not, under any circumstances, ever had the opportunity to speak to the MLA, other than myself.

Let's try Josh Ellner out. He's 17 years of age. Josh lives at 5 Clare Court in the community of Timberlea. I want you to know that Josh works at the MicMac Mall. How does Josh get from his home in Timberlea Village? This is what Josh wrote to his MLA - and I had the opportunity and the pleasure to talk to him - "Rates are outrageous." I and my brother cannot continue to pay these rates.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, Josh is frustrated, Josh is upset. Josh wants to have the opportunity to make himself a good living, he wants to have the opportunity to get an education, he wants to have the opportunity to make sure that he can get to and from his

[Page 2437]

place of work in a safe vehicle that is insured. Here's the problem, and I'm coming to it because of the fact that I'm going to refer to another constituent that I had a conversation with, and he lives in the maple streets in Timberlea. I want you know that I was a history teacher, but there is a subdivision in my community where all the streets are named Maple. There is Mountain Maple, Tiger Maple, Silver Maple, Sugar Maple.

I want you to know that if you want to see someone, who, when he gets canvassing, especially when it's coming down to dark, has had the embarrassing moment of having his cell phone called a number of times because the other canvassers can't find me, because I don't know what street I'm on. However, I want you to know that at 47 Mountain Maple - a Maple Street that I did not mention before - Wayne Cummings wrote to me and I called Wayne back. Wayne reinforces the fact, this is what Mr. Cummings says, "If something doesn't change it will force us to drive without!" insurance.

My good friend, the member for Cape Breton Centre, on numerous times in this House has brought up the statistic, he's brought up the fact that there has been a 48 per cent increase in charges of people driving without insurance in this province, 2,700 Nova Scotians have been charged for driving without insurance. The reason, I would assume, the huge number of people who are driving without insurance is because they cannot afford it. They cannot afford it.

What other kind of testament do we have to have, when it comes to an issue of this importance? They can't afford it. Wayne says it quite correctly, if something doesn't change it will force us to drive without insurance. Mr. Cummings still has insurance. I want you to be clear on that, Wayne still has insurance. But the inevitable decision is going to be made, will he and other Nova Scotians have to become criminals? Will they have to become criminals because they cannot pay the outrageous insurance rates? Is that what we're coming to, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the fact that Nova Scotians can't pay insurance rates, they're going to make the decision, we won't have insurance, we will drive without it.

I want you to be assured, Nova Scotians such as Wayne Cummings of 47 Mountain Maple Street in Timberlea, they don't want to do that. They want to be law-abiding citizens, but they want to feel that their government is going to take care of their best interests, that their government is going to listen to them. So those people in my community, and the community from Dartmouth North, and the community from Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, and the community from Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, or Lower Sackville, they have relished the opportunity to respond.

Our office is overwhelmed with the number of people who have responded to this survey. This is no divisive postcard. This is no divisive postcard which is pitting one Nova Scotian against another Nova Scotian. How dare the members of the Liberal Party say that that divisive postcard and this informative piece of information can be treated the same way. That is shameful, Mr. Speaker. That is absolutely inexcusable. Those Liberals haven't been

[Page 2438]

listening to Nova Scotians. Those Liberals have not been doing what they should be doing when it comes to the residents in their community. It would be opportune for them to go through the phone book, to go through and have a look and call some numbers. Call some people. Go to the local Tim Hortons there tomorrow morning and say, so what do you think of car insurance, what's car insurance doing for you. Just take a little survey in your own Tim Hortons.

Nova Scotians are talking about it, Mr. Speaker. They are talking about it and in the coffee shops in Timberlea-Prospect, they're talking about this survey. They're talking about the opportunity that they can respond, that they are being listened to, and the few that I've been able to be in contact with - and I had four hours to make these calls, and I know that many people who are probably listening or watching at home are going to say I responded, Bill, I made a comment, you never called me. I couldn't get to them all, but I want you to know something. I have sent a personal thank you card to every one that I have received thus far. That after all says that somebody is listening to Nova Scotians and the comments that are directed to the Leader of the NDP, the comments that he's hearing, well, let's just try a couple of them out for size.

I think you should know, Mr. Speaker, that we might have the attention of the Liberal Party of this province for a change because if you read the Sunday Daily News, and I will table this in a moment, you had the opportunity to read what David Rodenhiser says, "If Hamm, Russell give good news on insurance this week, it's Dexter we have to thank for it." That after all says it. Here is a columnist, a reporter who worked in this House for a number of years, a legislative reporter, David Rodenhiser says it best, " . . . it's Dexter we have to thank." Whether it is that Halifax daily, whether it is the Amherst newspapers, they are saying it like it is and, more importantly, individual Nova Scotians, individual residents of my constituency, are taking the opportunity to have their say.

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out, if I may, the comment from Martin Fraser of 129 Governor's Lake Drive. This is exactly what Martin says: "With the limited transit use in our area . . ." it is impossible to get to and from our place of work. It is hard to pay. It is hard to stay on the road with these insurance rates. I apologize to Martin. As Martin probably knows, the printing is small and the eyesight is weak.

Let me lay this one, if I may, and I will be laying them all here on the table for members opposite. I look forward to reading them. I look forward to seeing them sitting in their place, to taking them from the Clerk, and reading them. Let's try what Pat O'Toole of St. Margarets Bay Road says, "Trying to live on fixed income. Might have to stop driving due to insurance." Mr. O'Toole is saying he doesn't want to break the law, but he also is aware of the fact that there are major concerns when it comes to the skyrocketing insurance that he has to face.

[Page 2439]

Mr. Speaker, I've heard members opposite say that under no circumstances do they want civil servants to run the insurance system in this province. That closed-mindedness without the opportunity to look at the situation in Manitoba - and, you know, we're not in the situation of making glib comments about Manitoba and how flat the roads are, without looking at the Manitoba situation - without looking at the situation in British Columbia, without considering what has been done in Saskatchewan, we do not have all the answers in this province.

I think we only have to turn to the example of the socialized medicine system that began in Saskatchewan and I know that members of the Third Party can refer to the Regina Manifesto of 1933, and perhaps I should have mailed that out because after all they rely on that document. I don't know whether we're going to go back to such nonsense and the revision of history, but I think it's of real consequence that we understand that the Saskatchewan example, the CCF and the NDP example, when it came after all down to socialized medicine, was a valuable one.

It was so valuable that, of course, the great borrowers of ideas, and all you have to do, Mr. Speaker, is look at the history of this country, the great Party of the middle, they have no qualms about taking ideas from this group, or that group, and then using them as a way to get elected. Medicare operates across this country. Socialized medicine operates across this country. Maybe the member for Cape Breton West could stand in his place and do his McCarthy imitation again, maybe he could stand and make comments about pinkos and commies and leftists and socialists because that's, after all, the very sort of nonsense that does nothing when we are having a debate on an important issue such as insurance rates. I say that there is an example to be followed in other provinces.

[2:45 p.m.]

I don't know all the answers, Mr. Speaker, on this particular question, but I am willing to listen to Nova Scotians. I am willing to listen to my friends, the member for Cape Breton Centre, the member for Halifax Chebucto, the member for Halifax Fairview who have been on this task force. Who have been listening to Nova Scotians from one end of this province to another, who met at Saint Mary's University with students and listened to the students with their particular concerns. I am proud to say that a number of the students that I had in school were at that meeting and am proud to see that they stand and have their say when it comes to this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West, by his gesture, would like to know if the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect would take a question?

MR. ESTABROOKS: At this time, Mr. Speaker, I have far more comments to make and I will have to entertain the question at another time.

[Page 2440]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has the floor.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Just for the information of the Page, I know the Pages have heard me say a number of times that I have various comments to table, and I am going to table them all at the end. That was the agreement we had with the Speaker and I appreciate the opportunity to stand in my place and continue to bring these examples to your attention.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that when it comes to the fact that we are talking about an important issue here, Nova Scotians and this particular MLA, we don't have all the answers, I don't have all the answers, but I want you to know yesterday I was very fortunate that an old friend was visiting from Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Ken Sherwin was here at a national convention. Mr. Sherwin was the principal of Yorkton Regional High School. He currently is retired and he serves on one of the credit unions in Saskatchewan and there was a convention here of credit unions across the province. Ken in the middle of his busy schedule gave me a call. I, of course, knew Mr. Sherwin when we were both volleyball coaches and I had the chance to visit Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Now wasn't that a coincidence that when I was the vice-principal and volleyball coach at Sackville High School that we went to Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

I know the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank could probably get a quick history lesson. They used to call it the red triangle because at one time, in Yorkton, Saskatchewan - heaven forbid the member for Cape Breton West is aware of these facts, that they actually elected a communist, a member of that particular Party, to their Legislature. We went to Yorkton just as a coincidence. It was at that time that I met Lorne Nystrom for the first time. It was at that time that I met Roy Romanow and it was at that time that a young man by the name of Neil MacKay, a fine young volleyball player he was, the captain of the team that year. Neil MacKay, of course, is the son of a previous member of this government on that particular stripe and we had the opportunity to meet Lorne Nystrom and Roy Romanow. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I've heard the member in his dissertation expound on the virtues of this publicly-run insurance program that they are advocating, but yet at no point in time did they ever deal with the issue of contingency fees and I'm just wondering if in fact there is a bit of a dichotomy on what they are proposing here. On the one hand there is capitalism, on the other hand it's socialism. Which is it?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That intervention, while it doesn't meet the terms and conditions of a point of order, it does, I guess, pose a question to the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has the floor.

[Page 2441]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I know exactly where I was with Yorkton and Neil MacKay and I will come back to the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank for this.

I want you to know that those sorts of asides are the famous rabbit tracks that I will not entertain, but I would offer to the member opposite a wonderful document that perhaps we can get from the library. The History of Isms in Canada. Isms - I-s-m-s. I don't have the author at hand, but I want you to know that in the middle of socialism and communism, I would like to introduce the member to fatalism. It's fatal when he gets involved in a discussion of this nature, he shows that this is not what we're talking about in this issue. I'm talking about an important issue for Nova Scotians. I'm talking about insurance rates and the fact that this government has been doing nothing.

The issue is this . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. What we're witnessing here is a total misunderstanding and lack of understanding of all the factors contributing to the escalating insurance rates. If he's not prepared to discuss one of the contributing factors, that being contingency rates, then obviously he's misunderstood the entire issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think I would have to suggest to all honourable members that over the course of the last few days we've had lots of interventions and seldom can I remember that an actual point of order was made on the intervention. Perhaps it would be appropriate to read a short couple of sentences out of the Parliamentary Rules & Forms, Beauchesne, 6th Edition, Fraser, Dawson, Holtby - this is for all honourable members - "It has been formally ruled by Speakers that statements by Members respecting themselves and particularly within their own knowledge must be accepted. It is not unparliamentary temperately to criticize statements made by Members as being contrary to the facts; but no imputation of intentional falsehood is permissible. On rare occasions . . ." - I would say on more than rare occasions - ". . . this may result in the House having to accept two contradictory accounts of the same incident."

I think this is clearly what we have here. We have an occasion that has resulted in the House having to accept two contradictory accounts of the same incident. I would caution all members that the member for Timberlea-Prospect does have the floor and he is speaking on, as he knows, I'm sure, Bill No. 45, the Insurance Act.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I plan to continue to introduce a few more of the comments from the people of Timberlea-Prospect. I want you to know that when it comes to insurance, we all have much to learn. I know that when Ken Sherwin placed that call to me last evening, it was with interest that he brought up the fact, of course, because he had picked up the press here - he's still in the city, he's flying out tonight - he picked up the paper. He wanted to know, so how goes it with the insurance issue?

[Page 2442]

I want you to know that I stayed in Ken Sherwin's home as the volleyball coach at Yorkton Regional High School and not at one time did we discuss politics. This was back in the early 1980s - politics was not the topic. I'm not sure how Ken and Meryl Sherwin vote, that's not the issue here, and at this particular point in time I'm not even sure if the MLA for Yorkton is a member of the NDP or not. I hope he is, but this is what Ken Sherwin's take is on it. Ken Sherwin said to me, well, Bill, I hope that you're taking a good look at the Saskatchewan example when it comes to insurance rates. This comes from a friend that I've exchanged Christmas cards with, that I have seen once in the last 15 years and he lives in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

It's an opportunity for us to have an exchange for a few minutes, find out how things are going, and inevitably it comes around to, I hope that Nova Scotia is looking at Saskatchewan's example. He's not saying we have to take it holus-bolus, he's not saying that they have all the answers, but he is saying - and he did bring it to my attention during the comments - I hope you know that Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has insurance rates for $1,263 on the same vehicle that we are paying in Halifax $2,574. Those are cold, hard facts.

Perhaps the member for Cape Breton West might be interested to hear from these constituents. Glenn Moore writes in another response that I've had the opportunity to speak to, "We should look at running our own provincially owned . . ." insurance.

Stephen O'Rouke, 318 Charles Road, "Government must regulate." Now there's an example of two more Nova Scotians who have participated in this very worthwhile exchange that members opposite and members of the Third Party have given such a rough time to. It baffles me why the members of the government or the members of the Third Party wouldn't want to hear from Nova Scotians. It has given me some of the best moments that I've had as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect. These wonderful little responses that were mailed back to the NDP caucus office have kept Katherine Chambers, our receptionist, busy as she sorts them by constituency and makes them available to us as MLAs.

I want members opposite to know and members of the Third Party to know, we've also gotten them from members of your constituencies, and we are going to respond to them. We are going to send them thank you notes, we're going to give them a call, and when the opportunity comes, we're going to use the examples of Nova Scotians who've taken the time to write their comments. So if you want your day made, you send out a survey such as this.

I want to try these on you, because these two have certainly made my day, when I placed these calls over the last couple of evenings. Karl Rafuse of 204 Sandy Cove Road in Terence Bay wrote to me, his MLA - Keep up the good work." Bill, thanks. Mr. Harrie of 3254 Prospect Road in White's Lake - please continue to work for the people, thanks. Is that not, after all, why we are in this place? Are we in this place to listen to Nova Scotians and to bring forth issues that Nova Scotians consider of some import? The answer, of course, is yes. The answer is not to take cheap shots, the answer is not to wave around the Regina

[Page 2443]

Manifesto of 1933. The issue is to make sure that we're not going to go out and play politics with an issue like this.

This issue was mailed to the homes of the people I represent, because I wanted to hear from Nova Scotians. I wanted to hear from them, and I have had the opportunity to hear from them, and I'm going to continue to hear from them. I am going to continue to hear from them, because this is conversation in the hockey dressing room.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member permit an introduction?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry, I couldn't read your lips. Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for yielding the floor. (Interruptions) And I thank the honourable member over there also.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and other members of the House a distinguished member of the Dartmouth community and the president of my constituency association, Mr. Barry O'Keefe, who is up in the east gallery. I would like to have all members of the House wish him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, indeed, welcome to our guest as introduced, and welcome to all our guests in the gallery, including an MLA from one of the caucuses.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I welcome our guests here. Perhaps that president of that local association could use the example which we've been using in Timberlea-Prospect. I want you to know that the president of the association that I am fortunate enough to represent was in my office for a moment this morning, as I was gathering up my things to come here, I want you to know that Chef Rene, and I will call him that because his last name is too long and I know that Hansard always gets upset when I use this Dutch gentleman's name, his name is Marinus (Chef Rene) Van Niewenhuzen. Chef Rene was the chef at Mount Allison University. He is the president of the Timberlea-Prospect NDP Association. He has said that on his street, on Charles Street in Timberlea, people are talking about the mail-out from the NDP. People are talking about the fact that in the communities of Timberlea, the communities of Terence Bay or Prospect, the communities of Hammonds Plains, the communities of Haliburton Hills, that the MLA wants to know what they think about insurance rates. That's why the response has been such as it is. That's, after all, an issue and an example that I would hope that the member for Dartmouth South would take with him, that this is an exercise of real importance of listening to Nova Scotians.

[Page 2444]

[3:00 p.m.]

Why has this happened, Mr. Speaker? Has this happened on the eve of the election because someone, through conspiratorial moves, has decided this is the hot-button issue, we're going to make it the hot-button issue, this will take us over the hump, we are going to use this for election purposes? This Party, this caucus has no idea when the Premier of this province will finally have the courage to call an election. That's not within our purview. That's not the issue that we are talking about.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, there is far, far too much discussion taking place in the Chamber. I would ask members to please try to turn it down a bit. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has approximately eight minutes or so left.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Well, eight minutes goes so quickly, you know. I have to make this very clear, that when it came to the insurance issues and when they surfaced - and I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that a number of the people, particularly the young man with the striped van, he was one of the first people who called me. I remember taking it to the caucus table and saying, with all the things that are going on at the URB, with some of the things that we are dealing with in this caucus as we prepare for this Spring session of the Legislature, we have to have the opportunity to listen to Nova Scotians.

Not that it was my idea, that's not the point, Mr. Speaker, it's not my idea or this caucuses' idea. The opportunity was there, through this piece of information, to send this piece of information out so that Nova Scotians would see what, after all, the facts are when it comes to insurance rates across this country. That's the comparative tone which we wanted in this piece of literature. It isn't that we've been sitting and waiting and holding this back on the eve, or what we hear is on the eve of an election, that's not the issue here. This is an issue for Nova Scotians that has to be dealt with. The timing is, after all, not what is involved when it comes to a particular election issue. Yes, on the doorsteps, because of this half-hearted, "we're going to freeze it until January" approach, there are going to be many, many, many Nova Scotians (Interruption)

I thought my friend, the member for Dartmouth North, was going to speak and ask for some order and to try to get that door closed, but it's beyond my . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has approximately less than six minutes left in his dissertation at this time.

MR. ESTABROOKS: The next six minutes are important and I hope the member for Preston will take his seat and listen for a change, because it would seem to me that this is an example - and I have some required reading here for members opposite, members opposite

[Page 2445]

who could learn from these. I will be tabling them in just a moment, for the Page who has waited so patiently as I have referred to all these. I thank you for your patience.

However, here is the example that Nova Scotians want us, as elected officials, to follow, that we listen to them, that we consider their opinions, and that when they are in contact with us on an issue of this importance, we actually are going to do something about it. We are going to bring in legislation that will address this issue, that will make sure that Nova Scotians pay a fair insurance rate wherever they live, whatever their postal code is, whatever their age is, based upon their driving record. For that Minister of Environment and Labour to hold the ball, to go into the stall routine, of a basketball team that has a two-point lead and trying to eke out a victory, that is crass politics at its worst, crass politics at its worst.

It will backfire because people are saying, as we heard, as my friend, the member for Halifax Needham has heard, as my friend, the member for Dartmouth North has heard, we have heard from Nova Scotians that this freeze isn't going to work and that Bill No. 45 is not going to do the job. It's not going to work because of the exceptions that are going to continue. It's not going to solve the issue. The issue, after all, has been looked at in other jurisdictions. It has been looked at in Saskatchewan - and, yes, Saskatchewan currently has an NDP Government - and it's been looked at in Manitoba. Manitoba currently has an NDP Government. But, the point is, can we not learn from the examples of other provinces? Can we not look at the examples from other provinces? Do we have all the answers here? Of course we don't have all the answers here. It's really important that we look at other examples that would serve us well when it comes to addressing this issue.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that as an elected official - and you know as an elected official - our number one job is to listen to our constituents. When they call us or write us, to get back to them, either by e-mail, or my preference is to knock on their door on a Saturday afternoon and say, you called, I was in the community, I thought I could find out what you're talking about. I want you to know this Saturday, I'm going to take that opportunity again because Saturdays what I do - because Timberlea is a very suburban part of the community - is I go down the Prospect Road and I make my stops. I want you to know that when I sit on the Government Wharf in Terence Bay or when I sit on the Government Wharf in Lower Prospect on this Saturday afternoon and I hear the Blackburns or I hear Reg Knight or I hear Derrick Slaunwhite, do you know what they're going to be talking about? They're not going to be, for a change, giving it to me about my Boston Bruins, they're going to be talking about insurance rates.

They're going to be talking about the fact that they've had the opportunity to have their say. They've had the opportunity to make sure they've been listened to. It's those Nova Scotians that I am proud to say that I've been able to stand in this place to bring their individual cases to your attention. To now be able to table these so that members opposite

[Page 2446]

can look at them, can look at them and say, thankfully, Nova Scotians are being listened to. Those, after all, are just 32, 33 of the Nova Scotians who I had the opportunity to speak to.

I hope that members opposite - and I hope the members of the Third Party, when they have their opportunity - don't get up and make cheap political comments, don't get into the theatrics of doing their Barry Goldwater imitations or, for one reason or another, letting on that they're Senator McCarthy revisited and that they have the latest conspiracy theory which is going to bring the government down. I hope they don't take shots at the Regina Manifesto, they don't take shots at the socialist tradition. But look at the example of other provinces, that when it comes to insurance, we have something to learn, something that Nova Scotians want to be listened to. I'm proud to say that during the recent number of minutes, I've had that opportunity to bring those examples to your attention. I thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thanks for the opportunity to speak to Bill No. 45, An Act to Amend Chapter 231 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Insurance Act.

I've just received advice from the previous speakers as to how to conduct myself and that I should not attack or look for conspiracy theories or whatever with government, and I shan't do that. I shall follow the directions of my learned colleague. My theory that I operate under so far and it's stood me in good stead over the years is as far as the Tories and the NDP go, just leave them alone, they'll take care of themselves. I think this is how they both have acted on this Insurance Act would demonstrate that very clearly.

There's a lot of talk, there's a lot of misinformation floating around, but there's certainly a lack of leadership on the part of the government and there's a lack of a clear position being stated by the NDP. Are they in favour of full government insurance? They have not said that, but they're allowing people to believe they're trying to be all things to all people. I will take the direction of my learned colleague and speak about our position and how I see this legislation before us here today. There's certainly a lack of clarity on position and direction and certainly that of leadership.

Essentially, the bill is before us, as the explanatory notes highlight throughout adjacent to the clauses of this bill. There should be no change in the rates or rules and may be effective until January 1, 2004. On the surface it's always amazing to me, when you first look at legislation, how clear it is and how it seems to be in the right direction, you can certainly agree with it. Something has to be done about the rates of insurance, all insurance.

Automobile insurance gets a lot of attention. I spoke to a woman outside my constituency office Monday morning and she said she had been without insurance on her house for four months. I didn't bring all my stories that I've heard, but certainly there are a few that we shared last evening, Mr. Speaker, as you know, at the IBANS dinner. I thought

[Page 2447]

that was a very good exchange, all Parties were represented there and we had the attention of members in the industry and we had their advice and later informally I found that they were very forthright and open. It was a good way and I wish there was more of that going on.

We have taken the initiative in our caucus. At one juncture we had representatives of the industry, Mr. Forgeron and some colleagues to meet, at the same time that we had lawyers who pursue litigation matters relative particularly to soft-tissue injuries but not only soft-tissue injuries but to other matters. There can be a consensus on certain issues and clarification. But the whole reason on the car insurance rates, that has gained a great deal of attention because of the dramatic increase that has taken place. There are many examples and all MLAs have learned of that.

But looking at the explanatory notes further, Mr. Speaker, and the interpretation of what is before us here, again authorize the Governor in Council to make prescribed regulations for which automobile insurers cannot refuse to issue, to renew, or to terminate insurance or refuse to provide or continue any coverage or endorsement. That, again, seems very clear and forthright and would be appropriate to be there. Yet we hear concerns raised in the Legislature today that in fact there are some companies that will not be adhering to this. I'm sure they have had legal advice and sought those actions to be appropriate on their part so we will have to follow. My point being, at first glance, when you look at legislation such as this, it looks like just what was ordered at least for the time being. It's a bit of a freeze. It's not a solution, neither is it a long-term effect, but at least for those who would be renewing their policies, it would prevent increases at that time, on the surface. How the legislation in fact plays out and actually works is the real telling of how good the legislation is and that other matters cannot override these amendments.

Bill No. 45, goes on, Mr. Speaker, to speak in terms of penalty and also the fact of the retroactive date to May 1st. So essentially it's a very simple piece of legislation and it's certainly a bit of a very small measure on a very large matter that has affected all Nova Scotians. There is a pattern that is evolving with this government, Mr. Speaker, on these matters. I want to comment a little more later on that, but there are matters relative to long-term care. An example would be that when the government is criticized and rightly so, goes on over a period of time and then comes in, probably with great public relations fanfare, you'd think a lot of Nova Scotians are thinking they are going to deal with this issue. They are going to solve this problem. But what they do is a half-measure. We've seen it with long-term care. A half-measure in not only what they do now, but a half-measure in the timeline that they go well beyond the next election time, even several years down the road before the benefits would be realized. They're being very cautious, and they're realizing, and they're testing the waters, I would think, as to how much they can get away with. They're not going to give away the store, even though we know that they have had an extra $1 billion in revenue coming into this government. I guess sometimes one would have to wonder where it has sort of flittered away and disappeared. It certainly has not been effectively used.

[Page 2448]

[3:15 p.m.]

This government is the government that's committed to consult, that it would listen to Nova Scotians, protect consumers and ensure that there would be some stability, at least in the automobile insurance market where most of the problems seem to be arising. What is here today is a half-measure, and more must be done, it should have been done. Were we surprised, Mr. Speaker, that the minister did not really address the issue and deal with it forthrightly? Not at all, because there was a missed opportunity here. The last year or more has been wasted by this government and the other Party, as well, in not involving themselves in the process of an all-Party committee as has been done in other provinces, including New Brunswick, our neighbour.

If you really, truly want to consult with people, that could have been done. That was the way to go. In my time in the Legislature, I have been on those types of committees, I have really enjoyed them and made friendships, long-lasting friendships with members in the other Parties. An all-Party committee often really does improve the function of the adherence to the rules and procedures of this House, friendships develop, and I would like to think that solutions are found by working together in that type of an environment. That would truly be a consultative process, where people wouldn't have to travel long distances and come to the Law Amendments Committee to address Bill No. 45. The all-Party committee would have gone to regions throughout this province.

We certainly know that in rural Nova Scotia, they are being negatively impacted by the increased insurance rates, particularly automobile insurance. An automobile in rural Nova Scotia, in places like Port Mouton where I grew up is certainly a luxury. Many of the necessary services, health services, are only provided in the nearest town that's 12 miles away, but also further, in other parts, actually in other counties. Mr. Speaker, these matters of increased insurance rates, especially relative to the automobile insurance has hit Nova Scotians hard, particularly seniors in rural Nova Scotia.

We're seeing that many people have already received these increases. Even with the retroactive date here, it will not touch or have any impact at all on those who have received increases in the early parts of 2003. This insurance amendment may leave many Nova Scotians turning to the insurer of last resort, and we know that that has happened. That is the group that is threatening - our information is - that they will not renew or they will not offer new insurance. That is problematic and will demand other actions on this government to address that particular issue, particularly if this legislation does not cover that issue.

The full solution is wanting. It's not an easy matter. It's a balance of rights of persons to litigate, to appear before the courts, to feel, if they've been unjustly dealt with in any way, that they have access there. That's the balance. But there are ways around that, Mr. Speaker. There are other matters of a fraudulent nature that demand attention. I think if the issue is the soft-tissue issue, if those large awards are being given and are non-deserving, well that is a

[Page 2449]

matter that, to me, should be able to be addressed, if all parties sincerely wanted to get together. I'm thinking of the lawyers and the industry, consumers, government, everyone who has a part to play in this. If that is truly what the issue is, whether it's a cap on the tort system or however it's done, then these are issues that have to be looked at.

Those are matters that an all-Party committee would have looked at. We would have had a year's information from an all-Party committee, and it would have been very valuable for debate here. I wish I had a report of an all-Party committee in Nova Scotia, like I have the report here of the all-Party committee in New Brunswick. They got on with the issue, and I expect they will be dealing with it in a much more balanced approach because of that.

A freeze in insurance rates doesn't prevent insurance companies from not renewing or refusing to do business in Nova Scotia. That's the other issue, the issue of expanding business or companies coming in. This freeze may well be a negative on that, because they may feel that there is control that's going to be imposed on them, even if they were going to just be very modest in the increases. We understand that from time to time there have to be increases in fees. This government has certainly used it this time, their revenues have increased by $1 billion. A large of part of that is from an increase in fees, taxes and all the others.

While this government would like to give the appearance that it's taking a careful and thoughtful balanced approach that is well-planned and they don't want to rush into anything, that is the image that they would like to give, but it really is a delay and a lack of decision making and a lack of leadership. They have had over a year, Mr. Speaker. This government has had over a year to have a plan. Really, when things get pushed to the wall, this government avoids making the difficult choices. The Premier likes to say, day after day in Question Period, we've made the tough choices and we've made the tough decisions. That's not true. They have not. When they come in, they come in with a half-measure, a delaying tactic, just wait and see, get us over the next election to see if we can sort of transition over the bump in the road that is called the next election.

As I said, they have done that in several areas, long-term care being the one that I noticed the most, where they have addressed part of the issue now but the large part, the real solution to the problem is out to year 2007 or some such time. The anti-smoking legislation would be another example of what this government is doing with this legislation. It just allowed disarray to take place throughout the relationship with the municipal units, and now they're bringing in legalisation in another bill that is before the House, under the Financial Measures (2003) Bill, to override bylaws of municipal units.

When you stall and you don't make the decisions, there's a time when the population is ready or there's a time when the need is there. The consumers, the people of Nova Scotia need decisions made. This was over this past year. This government had the time, and it certainly would have the co-operation of the Parties, all members of this House, to deal with

[Page 2450]

legislation that would, in fact, do the right thing, what's right and just for those persons who are seeing increases, major increases in automobile insurance, and also the cancellation of home insurance packages, threatening the very livelihoods and the well-being of Nova Scotians and their complete families.

This government did say they wanted input from consumers, business and the insurance industry on auto insurance reform. They could have done that over this last year supplemented by the all-Party committee. Instead the rates went up last year, went up this year, and Nova Scotians are going to have to pay for those higher rates on an ongoing basis unless relief is at hand. People are very hopeful that something will be done, that they can't believe the increase is up to $3,000 on automobile insurance from less than $1,000 in some cases.

So the cooling-off period that is here now until the reform process comes in and impacts on out-of-control rates, is it working, will it work? Right now we're already seeing breaks in the armour. Some people are saying the legislation is such you can drive a truck through it and it has not been tested yet. So it would be very interesting to see what happens at the Law Amendments Committee, Mr. Speaker, and the representation, that Nova Scotians will have the opportunity to come forward and speak there, and see what they think of this legislation and if this is what they see will address their particular needs.

A member from the NDP caucus asked if I would share my notes, so maybe they will have a plan eventually, Mr. Speaker, maybe they will tell us where they stand on public auto insurance and all of those things. They refer to their brothers and sisters out West, but they don't seem to want to adopt all their programs. Then again, of course, we know they've lost the moral high ground in this term here in this House. People, particularly in peninsula Halifax that I speak with, are very upset with them passing on the high ground on the 10 per cent tax cut issue. So they're probably looking for new programs. So I will share my notes with the honourable member because I'm sure he reads everything I say in Hansard daily.

Those who received the increases earlier this year though, Mr. Speaker, those people are not going to be happy. It's like the $155 cheque that's going out to some people, $155 is important to all of us, but there are going to be those who do not get that cheque, they're not going to be happy. So these people back in the month of March received a marked increase, maybe over a 100 per cent increase, in their automobile insurance rates through no fault of their own. No at-fault accidents, maybe they're older, maybe their automobile is a little older, but nobody seems to be sharing that information with them. I, personally, find it very difficult to find specifically why these rates are increasing.

Certainly the insurance industry is too smart to tell you, well, it's because of your age. They won't even share their statistics that they have. We talk about openness of government, well, certainly the industry has been very closed on this matter. They've been very sensitive

[Page 2451]

about age not being discriminatory which on the surface looks like they obviously have been, particularly youth and seniors.

So we're waiting, Mr. Speaker, the government said it wanted to consult. It didn't adopt the NDP solution of a postcard that you tick off whether you think your insurance rates are too high or not. I imagine that was a blush at the obvious but, however, this government chose not to do that, but they say they do want to hear from Nova Scotians. We know, even with the Premier's talk today about an election not taking place in May, I think his comments were exactly, or something of that nature, but we know it's very close and daily announcements are leading up to that. You don't have to be too cynical to point out that this stalling, so-called solution, which is not a solution at all, it's a bit of a stalling tactic on auto insurance particularly, will allow the government to get through the next election and with the promises, there's probably some sort of announcements during the election.

So while some Nova Scotians may be impacted by the freeze on rates, one has to question where are the initiatives to deal with those who had increases last winter or even earlier in this Spring and what will happen post-January 1, 2004. What will happen there? Will we hear? Will we hear before the election what exactly is the plan? Again, this is a half-measure, like the anti-smoking legislation and the long-term care solution, so-called solutions to both of those. We've not only just stood still on issues like anti-smoking legislation, but we are just going behind daily as bits and pieces of this bill are chipped away, the Nova Scotia Act, and in addition other provinces such as Prince Edward Island are coming forth with legislation that is comprehensive.

[3:30 p.m.]

They will use this, going door to door during the election campaign to say look, we understand, we've listened to you, we've consulted with you, we've taken your advice, and we are doing something. We are actively doing something. We brought in the legislation and we are telling those bad insurance companies that they can't do this and they can't do that. That, Mr. Speaker, is yet to be proven as to what will be addressed within this legislation. Are Nova Scotians going to buy that when they go door to door and tell them that we've really addressed your concerns?

The people of Nova Scotia expected more from this government. They expected some action and a comprehensive plan. We are not a wealthy province, Mr. Speaker. There are many people on fixed incomes. Cars are not a luxury, not something they have to take vacations in, they are to get to pharmacies, buy their groceries, get to health care. As I say, the service now has moved miles and miles away from them many times. What about the people on dialysis? We have seniors driving each other for services like dialysis. That's very real to those people. They can't do without that automobile. It's not a tax on a luxury, but it is certainly a tax on the poor.

[Page 2452]

These people deserve good insurance, Mr. Speaker. They expect it and they deserve it, but they want it and expect it at reasonable premiums. According to Statistics Canada, this province has the second-highest insurance rates in the entire country. So that's why we ask for the all-Party committee to address this issue, have the barristers and the insurance industry, and have all Nova Scotians appear to review the issue, and following that have the government take some action. That would be supportable by the evidence from an all-Party committee.

That wasn't good enough, Mr. Speaker. The government said no, and the NDP said no. They had no intention of co-operating to address insurance rates, increased premiums for Nova Scotians. So what's the result? The result is what we have today. The result we have is that one year later people are paying out-of-control premiums and there is no hope in sight that they will be decreased. Those prior to May 1st have to sign on the line and there is a very big question mark for after the coming January of the new year as to what they will be dealing with.

So one year later, the two Parties that wouldn't consult on an all-Party committee are still saying that they should be consulting, that they have consulted, and they table this phone call and that phone call and all that, but it is very much of a disorganized, disjointed consultative process for Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians expect better and they deserve better. So this is what we told the government and the NDP to do last year and they failed to listen, and the result is that Nova Scotians essentially still have no relief for their increased, out-of-control premiums, particularly in auto insurance.

I would suspect, and rightly so, that at this juncture Nova Scotians really are saying the time for consultation is over and they want some action. When they look at Bill No. 45, they're going to find that action is wanting. This is a measure to control the flood of criticism this government has received for its inaction. Nova Scotians deserve better.

The people of Nova Scotia are sometimes slow to react, but I think they're very deep in their thoughts, but they elect governments to act. They want to see action and they know when there are stalling tactics, choices aren't being made. Difficult decisions aren't being made. So, when they have a government like this that's given to procrastination, they understand that and that's exactly what we're seeing from this government.

This is what we saw on long-term care. How that was allowed to unfold before last Christmas when seniors were being turfed out of what had become their homes, comfortable, safe environments, turfed out, taken away to other parts of the province, put in with large numbers of people, with their personal safety and their quality of care not anything compared to what they had been receiving earlier. It goes on, I don't want to prolong the debate on long-term care issue, but it's still out there and the effects are still being shown. The people remember that and that's a lack of action by government. It's a lack of commitment by a

[Page 2453]

government that has $1 billion extra in revenues to deal with. They have the money. What they lack is the will and the way and they've lost their way.

The anti-smoking legislation would be another example that I would use in that context. So what we're seeing essentially from this government is half-baked measures, half measures, half solutions. The problem by the time you get around to freezing the rates, many of them have already gone sky high. Already people are being refused. The increased number who have gone to the insurer of last resort has ballooned, has skyrocketed. So, you have a few amendments here that will put a partial brake on, but it's too late for many people. There's no clear indication of what's going to happen there.

I'm afraid and I think all MLAs have concerns about drivers going without insurance and there's increasing evidence that is so. That is not right and it's not fair, apart from the fact that it's also illegal. People do it out of desperation. When you push people so hard, certain things have to give.

Maybe there is another reason for the half-baked measures besides the election. Inaction on the part of this government, one thing it doesn't do is it doesn't jeopardize revenue for the government. One has to ask the question, is this government addicted to VLTs and the increased monies from that? The programs that they brought in that are supposed to stop problem gambling, those initiatives, most people that I've spoken with who have any knowledge on this subject say that the changes that they brought in on VLTs have increased the addiction. With the bells and whistles and taking the money, changing the money and all these other things. It's supposed to be marketing programs, but really, essentially, what has happened, it's added to the addiction.

While the government is addicted to VLTs, are they quickly becoming addicted to that 4 per cent tax on insurance? I think the figure for that is the government received $7 million more than they expected to receive on insurance premiums just in the last fiscal year. Those are still going on. Those aren't rolled back, those aren't adjusted in any way, even with evidence before. You can go to the superintendent of insurance, the superintendent of insurance sends people back to the industry, the industry sends them somewhere else, and the big thing that's coming out of all of this, that strikes me, in my own personal experience, is where does a person go to get the right information on why they have been refused insurance, whether they have had a $1,000 or $2,000 increase, or what? Where do they go for insurance?

Sure, people will tell you, well, it's this and that, but I'm not sure the right information is being given out. There's a role to play there. There is a role for government. If it's fair and it's a justified increase, then so be it. People will have to accept that. But it just seems terribly unfair to people, to all of a sudden be hit over the head with something they thought was a mistake when they opened their bill.

[Page 2454]

This government, Mr. Speaker, has received a windfall of monies, and are able to balance their budget on that, if they wanted to, more than that. The increased $7 million, they probably won't have a surplus in their budget to that extent. Let's hope that this government is not becoming addicted to high insurance rates. Certainly, people have to remember that back in January, February, March and April of this year, those who had increases, they will continue, and the government will reap the benefits, the $7 million extra that they reaped off the tax that government gets from the insurance premiums. An insurance premium addiction problem is facing us, right now. Is that the reason this legislation does not cover a broader range?

Mr. Speaker, in addressing Bill No. 45, the kindest thing we can say is the government has introduced this legislation as a delaying tactic. It's their inaction that has allowed this sore to fester and blister. That's the issue that we have here today. Again, a half-baked measure. Briefly, I want to mention, and I alluded to it earlier, the high-profile campaign that's being run by the NDP with very little substance. It's very interesting. Again, this is the tactic of the NDP, to go very public with a high-powered public relations program, funded, I guess, through the Party, I would imagine. Billboards and brochures, they did that with long-term care. The interesting thing was they brought the issue forward, but really have no real solutions.

They have done the same thing again with insurance. They have asked people, do you think your insurance rates are too high? Yes or no. That sort of thing, et cetera, et cetera. That was really quite challenging. That was to be their consultation. I guess that is their definition of consultation. It's a little different than what we had in mind when we suggested the all-Party committee. How can a Party like that issue a survey with a question like, do you feel your insurance rates are too high? Yes or No, please tick one or the other. How does that constitute consultation? I'm not going to dwell on this, Mr. Speaker. The previous speaker challenged me to take the high road, to stay on the high ground and not turn it into McCarthyism-type search or whatever. I have taken his advice. We don't want to go back to that era.

Mr. Speaker, when you smell something wrong, you have to find out where the smoking gun is. What is the issue here? The government, rather than becoming part of the solution, has really introduced legislation, Bill No. 45, that has created more of a problem. It's a delaying tactic. I don't have a lot more. I can now share my notes with another honourable member. (Interruptions) I had very good advice last evening, at the meeting we attended with IBANS, that the honourable member is referring to. It was a great sharing of information and I think that's the type of information that should be shared more, more of a meaningful consultation. It's accompanied by facts and some knowledge in addressing the issue.

[Page 2455]

[3:45 p.m.]

There is an immediate necessity for a solution now, Mr. Speaker. Nova Scotians can't wait. In closing, I would just say that I thank the House for the opportunity to spend some time this afternoon on this important matter. It's a matter that we know is important to Nova Scotians. It's a matter that is of great concern to our caucus. As caucus chairman, I can say that my folder, I brought it with me today, this is the sort of folder that I've been building over the last few years. Earlier on, when I looked over some of my notes that I made in my constituency office meeting with delegations from either the insurance industry or some of my constituents, I had no idea that this year we would be facing the astronomical increase in premiums, particularly on auto insurance, that we're facing here today.

So it is an emergency. We're not having an emergency debate, but this is an emergency matter that affects particularly people on fixed incomes, seniors and youth and it's extremely important. It's an issue that the whole country is grappling with, but we can be leaders here, Mr. Speaker, we have a lot of catching up to do and Bill No. 45 is not going to put us in a leadership role. It has bought some time for the government for the next election, but when I look back over the issues, let's get this one behind us. Let's deal with this particular issue because on matters of insurance, there are always issues.

I think what the saddest thing for me regarding this whole thing is that when I discuss with either the industry or the consumer regarding insurance, in my office over the last 10 or 20 years, basically there have been many positive stories, families that have lost their home or they've had break-ins, or automobile accidents and injuries, sometimes even death of a family member, generally speaking, people have been quite pleased with that until this breakdown of relationships and breakdown of common sense even, if you will, because if soft tissue injuries are the problem, let's deal with that. If fraud is the problem, let's deal with that. If there's a cost to get your car fixed with insurance, or you pay cash, then there's a difference there, well, deal with that. There's something wrong with that system. We can't have a parallel system.

So all the good stories have been lost. We've had a break-in at our home. We received excellent service from the insurance people, but then you turn around and you have a $2,000 increase in your car insurance premium, then I think the consumer needs some explanations on that and they don't need a lot of political rhetoric. What they need is action, Mr. Speaker, and with that, I will conclude my comments on Bill No. 45.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have an opportunity to stand in my place and speak on Bill No. 45, the Insurance Act. Like most members in this House, I suspect, I'm getting a fair amount of correspondence from people in my constituency who are expressing their views about this particular piece of legislation. People

[Page 2456]

are asking a lot of questions about it and they certainly are expressing the view that they don't want a stop-gap, half-measure, Mr. Speaker, and they are somewhat concerned that this in fact is what this bill is.

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by saying that I'm one of the people who really wishes I didn't need a car. I only own and operate a vehicle grudgingly mostly because, as an MLA, we pack so many events into our daily schedule that it's almost impossible to meet your commitments unless you have your own vehicle. I attempted for a short period of time last year, starting on car-free day, to unload my car and use public transportation, use taxi services and it was very difficult, as you can imagine. Some mornings I might have to be here for an 8:00 o'clock meeting and then back to my constituency at 11:00 a.m. and then back down here for 12:00 noon and back to the constituency at 6:00 or 6:30 p.m. By the time you do this kind of moving around in a day, a vehicle really is the only way to do it.

So that puts you in the situation of having to have a vehicle and I would imagine you, Mr. Speaker, and maybe other members of this House have read that book, "On a Clear Day you can see General Motors". There have been many books written on the automobile industry and the stranglehold, really, that this industry has had on urban planning, on transportation policy, even on environmental policy. So although North Americans and in fact people in the West have quite a love affair with the automobile, it comes with a huge cost and a huge impact to our environment, to our lifestyles. We can see with the situation that people are facing, trying to pay, not just the costs associated with owning and operating the vehicle itself, but insuring the vehicle, it's unbelievable with these skyrocketing insurance rates.

Mr. Speaker, I have a very close family member who is employed in the insurance industry. Some time ago when I was having a conversation with her, she told me that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are among the two most unregulated markets in Canada and that you can go to other provinces, Alberta, Ontario, where there is a great deal of public regulation for auto insurers. Then, of course, you have the Provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, of course you can go to other provinces like Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia and even the Province of Quebec where they have public systems. In Quebec they have a hybrid, public and private. The situation in this province since the Spring of 2001 really has gotten to the point that a crisis is occurring throughout our province for people who are in the position of having to operate motor vehicles.

[Page 2457]

Mr. Speaker, all of us here in the Spring of 2001 had letters - I know I did - in my constituency I had a letter from a member of the insurance industry who wrote me or e-mailed me and introduced herself and said she was a constituent of mine, working in the industry and that she would like an opportunity to come meet with me and that this was a process that the industry was going through. They were matching MLAs to constituents who worked in the industry, so I responded to her request for a meeting. She came and met with me in my constituency office and at that time she told me that there would be some rate increases. They were providing information to MLAs to let us know that rate increases were coming and at that time she indicated that the reason for this was the cost to the insurance industry to settle soft tissue injury claims and that more information would be provided.

Well, at no time in that meeting did I have any inkling of the extent to which insurance costs would be increased. I thought you would see a gradual rate increase, maybe 5 per cent, maybe even 10 per cent, which I would still consider substantial, but in no way did I anticipate a 65 per cent increase in insurance premiums; that wasn't part of the information that was provided to me.

I've thought a lot, as most people have, about what, in fact, is driving the skyrocketing insurance rates. The industry is pushing this line that the reason for insurance rate increases in the automobile sector is this matter of litigation where there is soft tissue claims. The industry would like to see us go to a no-fault system, where the lawyers are removed from the process and soft tissue injury is no longer a mitigating kind of circumstance with respect to insurance rates.

I've thought about this a fair amount, and what I find hard to reconcile in terms of the industry's claims around this rationale for increasing rates is, why then are we seeing the same kinds of rate increases, quite substantial rate increases, in insurance in other areas in property insurance, both commercial and private? I can give you an example from my own situation. My MLA office is in the Bloomfield Centre on Agricola Street. It's in a building that's owned and operated by the Halifax Regional Municipality. It's a building in which there's excellent security. It's a building where there are video cameras on the parking lot at all times and throughout the building and there are people who monitor what's occurring around the building. In the five years that I have had a constituency office at Bloomfield Centre, to my knowledge there has never been a break-in in that building or in any of the other offices in the building.

When I opened my constituency office there, I did as I imagine most people do, I called around and I got some different rates of insurance to insure the contents of my office. For the first three years that I was in the Bloomfield Centre, I paid a little bit more than $400 annually for office insurance. I was flabbergasted when last year I got my renewal for my office and the amount had doubled - it had gone from $420, $425 to $880 in one year.

[Page 2458]

No claims, not only in my office, but in the entire building no break-ins, and I called my broker and I essentially was told that I would not be able to do any better going anywhere else for insurance, that this was happening throughout all of the commercial sector and that people were experiencing these kinds of doubling of their insurance premiums on their office space. Now I have just received my notice for this year, and my office insurance has taken another jump, a significant jump. It's gone from $880 last year to a little more than $1,200 this year. Again, there's no reason for this, there are no claims, there have been no break-ins.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the insurance industry can hardly say that these claims are connected to things like soft-tissue injury and litigation. We have heard of so many instances of people being unable to get their house insurance renewed, because the shingles on their roof are 20 years old or because the property beside them is being used for a particular reason or because they haven't been able to provide a date for when the fuel tank was installed. My neighbour, as a matter of fact, has been told by her insurance company that they will not insure her house unless she moves her oil tank from where it is outside into the house, into the basement. Quite a number of years ago, that's where the oil tank actually was, in her basement. She was told that she had to move it outside. Now she's being told she has to put it back, an extremely costly impact to herself.

There is something happening in the insurance industry. We know that the stock market has tanked, Mr. Speaker. For people who have invested in the stock market and have seen this as a place where they were going to be able to maintain very high rates of return on their investment, this has not come to pass. It's hardly rocket science to be able to connect the dots and to understand that it's more than a coincidence that at a time when the rate of return in the stock market is so bad for large investors, like the insurance industry, that they have gone looking for ways to maintain their profit margin and their returns to their shareholders.

Mr. Speaker, we are a captive market, homeowners and automobile drivers. In this province, as in other provinces, you are required to have insurance on your automobile if you are going to drive, if you are going to operate it and put it on our highways. People have no options. We are at the mercy of this industry, an industry of the largest corporations in the world. This is why the power of government needs to come into play to introduce some fairness and some balance to ensure that people who are at the mercy of the insurance industry are not gouged.

Mr. Speaker, this government has neglected its obligation and its responsibilities to the people of Nova Scotia, and has practically had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to even a nine-month freeze, which, essentially, is a reprieve. I would be the first person to say any measure that you can get out of this government that would give a reprieve is welcome. Nevertheless, it's merely a reprieve until the election occurs.

[Page 2459]

Mr. Speaker, I'm not a lawyer by any stretch of the imagination. I had a look at the Insurance Act. It's quite a hefty piece of legislation, unlike this bill, which is anything but a hefty piece of legislation. The Insurance Act has extensive provisions and I would imagine that the regulations that accompany the Act are probably even more complicated and extensive, never mind what the body of law surrounding the application of the Act and the regulations actually must be.

But as I understand this bill, this bill, in fact, will not prevent people whose insurance is coming up for renewal in this period of time from experiencing some increases in the costs to them for their insurance and there are any variety of ways in which their insurer will be able to continue to take money out of the pockets of Nova Scotians. There is nothing to prohibit an insurance company from no longer insuring an individual but in fact requiring or moving them to facilities insurance, the insurer of last resort.

Mr. Speaker, this is a nightmare for people when they encounter that situation. Many people in my constituency had no idea there was such a beast as facilities insurance. This is becoming, now, common knowledge because it has become an everyday feature of Nova Scotia families. There are people who are moved to facilities insurance who are being asked to pay more than their vehicle is worth. It seems that the decisions that precipitate this move to facilities insurance are quite arbitrary and they rest on some fairly discriminatory practices and ideas.

For example, I've been told that a woman who has turned 80 has been moved to facilities insurance for no other reason than the fact that she has turned 80. She's received notification that her insurer will no longer insure her. She has a clean driving record with the exception of one very minor fender-bender about two years ago. So these kinds of situations are being brought to our attention every day. Each member of this caucus is receiving many calls and e-mails and people are actually dropping into my constituency office, Mr. Speaker, to talk about this.

Another thing that is extremely troubling for me and for members of this caucus is the numbers of people who are driving without insurance because they simply are unable to afford the skyrocketing costs of insurance. I was listening to the member for Halifax Fairview the other day when he spoke and I sort of thought to myself as he was talking, I remembered the day of the by-election - it was a very bad day, there was quite a snowstorm that day and actually I was rear-ended by a woman who was on her way home from work. I'm sure she broke down and she cried when she got out of the car because she begged me not to put the claim through insurance. I'm rather fearful that perhaps she - she was a single mother, it was her first day of employment - was perhaps driving without insurance and I thought to myself we need to do something about these costs, the high costs of automobile insurance.

[Page 2460]

We have more and more people who are trying desperately to make ends meet on minimum wage incomes and, in some cases, holding more than one job, Mr. Speaker, and

sometimes some of these jobs require they have vehicles as a matter of fact, some of the couriers, newspaper carriers. Many, many jobs require automobiles now, especially in service sector industries. Yet salaries are very low, quite often they may be at minimum wage or slightly above. How in the world does anyone afford to cover the skyrocketing insurance rates?

Mr. Speaker, these rates are even worse for people if your vehicle is being used as part of your employment. We all know that we all pay additional money if you're using your vehicle to go back and forth to work every day or if you're in fact using it as part of your employment. So these are all concerns and things that contribute to the crisis that exists out there in the community around this issue of insurance. For years it has been the practice of the insurance industry, certainly in this province, to base their rates on things like age and gender, make and model of automobile and the age of the automobile. But it seems that a much more extreme kind of practice has crept into these discriminatory practices.

I must say, Mr. Speaker, until the NDP task force on insurance started to look at this issue and the first interim report came out with an examination of what existed in other provinces, I did not really understand that in fact there were systems of insurance in this country on which rates were not based on age, based on gender, based on the make and model of the vehicle and the age of the vehicle. I found that to be a new idea and I thought, well, of course, it made a lot of sense, insurance rates really should be based on your driving record and not on these arbitrary ideas. We have eliminated these forms of discrimination in so many other areas of daily life, it only makes sense that we eliminate these discriminatory practices with respect to automobile insurance. This bill doesn't do that and I don't know what the government's plan is with respect to this, other than to stall for time and hope to be re-elected in the meantime.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal caucus has been making a great deal about the NDP campaign not having gone the all-Party committee route. With all due respect to my colleagues in the other Opposition Party, the all-Party committee, as I understand it, in Newfoundland is a committee that has been working for quite a number of years without any conclusion or any action being taken to address the issues in that province. I think it's fair to say that an all-Party committee could in fact be both costly and ineffective in terms of taking any action and can be nothing more than a stall tactic.

What's really required is a concerted effort to put as much pressure on the existing government as you can possibly bring to bear to force them to do something, which is why they are there and which is why we are here. I mean this is our job, it's to hold the government to account for either the things that they are doing, or the things that they are failing to do. It's to bring forward good ideas that they can take and implement and attempt to get some credit for or not. Our campaign around insurance is nothing more than that. As

[Page 2461]

with the long-term care campaign, it is a campaign that we undertook in a serious way because we recognize the incredible burden that the skyrocketing insurance rates were placing on families and seniors, on taxi drivers and others who rely on a vehicle for their livelihood.

[4:15 p.m.]

It seemed that the Hamm Government was not taking that situation, faced by so many people, seriously enough. It required a lot of pressure. You and I know there is nothing that puts more pressure on this government than mobilizing the public and mobilizing public opinion. So that's why we're here and that's what we've been doing. The NDP caucus have issued two interim reports since we launched our task force. The first interim report was launched on March 24th, and it's a very good report, as an interim report. I've used this report in my constituency with small groups in public settings. What it does is it lays out, it gathers up, it collected the information on what is the situation in Nova Scotia, but also what has the situation been in other provinces.

It outlines some of the options that we might have available to us, options that would include a no-fault system, options that would include public auto insurance, options that would include more regulation in the current system. It looked at a hybrid system, as they have in Quebec. It provided a lot of good data. This particular interim report is still available through the NDP caucus, through our Web site and through our constituency offices.

The second report was just released earlier this week, yesterday as a matter of fact. It contains a lot of information in terms of what the NDP task force on insurance has been hearing from Nova Scotians. It has a number of examples in here. It really quantifies, in some way, the extent to the crisis that is occurring around the province for drivers who are being forced off the road or forced to be on the road without being covered, being insured and who have to make some fairly serious choices, financial choices in their own family situations.

Mr. Speaker, well you know yourself how long we've been at this issue, raising this issue. I believe it was back in January 2002 that you and the member for Cape Breton Centre had written the URB asking them to review the insurance rate increases. Well, that's quite a long time ago, isn't it. It's way more than a year ago, and we have yet to hear from the URB. It took some prodding from this caucus, from yourself and from the member for Cape Breton Centre to get the minister on board, the minister at that time, the member for Kings South, to also actually approach the URB to ask for an examination of the rates.

In Nova Scotia it's quite a shock that insurance companies don't have to apply requesting a rate increase at the URB. What they do under the existing legislation is they just notify the URB that in 10 days' time there's going to be a rate increase. I believe that's the way it works. They say we intend to do this and it's not really a question of the URB saying

[Page 2462]

to them, no, you can't do that. Although the URB do have some particular powers if they're asked by government to hold hearings.

Following that approach from this caucus, there were other things that we did. We wrote a letter to the Competition Bureau as a caucus outlining our concerns that there may be some collusion, it seemed somewhat coincidental, because so many of the insurers were all applying for rate increases of similar amounts at the same time. We've also participated in those hearings at the URB in terms of intervening and bringing forward information. We're not done with this issue by a long shot. The members of this caucus will continue to talk with people from our constituencies and people who don't live in our constituencies who are sending us their ideas and their advice and some facts about the situations that they find themselves in around this issue. And in the not too distant future we will be bringing forward a final report with some clear recommendations on what it is that we think is required.

Before I take my place, the last thing I want to speak to is the issue of a consumer advocate. The government appointed a consumer advocate, and this is no disrespect to the individual who they've appointed, George Jordan. I regret that he's no longer on CBC Radio, I quite enjoyed Mr. Jordan when he was there, he was terrific in that capacity and not to say that I don't like the new person, Carmen Klaussen, she's terrific as well. My idea of a consumer advocate and the minister's idea of a consumer advocate are two different things. I think a consumer advocate really is a person who would be able to go to the URB, for example, and intervene on behalf of consumers. And, in fact, would be able to work with people from the public and assist them in intervening and representing themselves and their own points of view.

That's what I think a consumer advocate is and that's what a consumer advocate should be. So I think it's a bit of a misnomer to have called the position of Mr. Jordan's a consumer advocate position. The reality is, there is no consumer advocate in Nova Scotia, except in this caucus. This caucus is the consumer advocate and we will continue to play that role.

We all know Ralph Nader was here and I must say I regret that I was unable to get to any part of Ralph Nader's presentation because my nomination was that evening. But I did catch Ralph Nader on ATV with Steve Murphy and he was very articulate and engaging, as Mr. Nader always is. The thing that stuck with me - well, there are many things I can remember from what he said - the thing that stuck with me the most was he said to Steve Murphy, would you want to go up against the insurance industry without a lawyer? And I thought to myself, oh, no, you know, he's right. He's absolutely right.

If this government, or any group, thinks that that's a solution to the problems in the rate structure in the insurance industry, then it's no solution. It would be totally abandoning people in Nova Scotia to not have the adequate representation that they require. I've heard other people say if indeed there is some fraud, and there's always some fraud or there's

[Page 2463]

always some misuse in most systems, deal with that. You don't dismantle the whole system in order to get at a very small, minuscule problem in a system. Certainly we should never force consumers, in an area so important as automobile insurance, into a situation where they will be unrepresented.

The final point, Mr. Speaker, that I want to make is the question around what this government seems to be saying about public auto insurance. The Premier said today it's not their philosophy to have a driver-owned insurance scheme. I don't want to get into those philosophical or those ideological debates, I think it's not helpful. What we need in Nova Scotia is something that's going to work for Nova Scotians, something that's going to address this issue in a way that will give Nova Scotians the lowest and the fairest insurance premiums that we can get and we need to base it on evidence. We need to look at the facts and we need to learn from all of the information that's out there and, to date, that information in fact points to a publicly-owned, driver-owned insurance plan.

Mr. Speaker, I have been a member of the credit union movement in this province for many, many years and it's no different than a credit union, the credit union is owned by the members. The credit union either breaks even or it has a profit. If it has a profit, it pays dividends to its members which are us, or it uses its profit to re-invest in the credit union to reduce the cost of services. Most of us heard, I think, the interview with the senior manager of the driver-owned insurance program in Manitoba on Information Morning earlier this week. In Manitoba the rates there have been frozen for a number of years. In fact, drivers in Manitoba got a cash rebate because their driver-owned plan was so efficient and they said, well, we don't need this money, we've made all of this money this year, let's give it back to the people from whom this money has come, and that's the drivers in Manitoba.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think that the government, in fact, needs to rid itself of their ideological blinders. They need to look at the facts. They need to think about what is in the best interests of the driving public in this province. They need to keep an open mind on this issue. Believe me, they need to go one heck of a lot further in dealing with this crisis than Bill No. 45 takes us. If they won't do it, then we are prepared to do it and we are prepared to tell the public in Nova Scotia that we are prepared to do it. With that, I will take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the member for Cape Breton West, I just want to note that there are no cellphones to be used in the Assembly and if someone is to use a cellphone, they should leave the Assembly.

[4:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on a number of issues related to Bill No. 45, the Insurance Act which the government introduced just days ago. The

[Page 2464]

general principle of the bill, as I understand, is not much more than an opportunity for the government to delay until January 1, 2004 some very serious issues with regard to the escalating insurance rates in the Province of Nova Scotia. I believe that is a little bit unfortunate, given the fact that this issue was before the Utility and Review Board some months ago and certainly the government had lots of opportunity to voice its opinion at that particular point in time but chose not to. Why, Mr. Speaker? Only the government representatives would be in a position to say.

In the previous session of this Legislature, last Fall, the government rejected the suggestion that was made actually by the member for Cape Breton The Lakes on the suggestion for an all-Party committee. Quite frankly I thought that was a very worthwhile suggestion because if we had started on that process back last Fall, we may have been considerably further ahead today in dealing with this issue of escalating insurance rates. Which, by the way, do not only affect automobile insurance, it also affects home insurance, insurance on many sporting and recreational vehicles such as ATVs, boats, motorcycles.

The fact that such insurance rates are escalating with such significant amounts and in such a short period of time is having an adverse impact, a very negative impact on the consumers of Nova Scotia. I believe it would be safe to say, Mr. Speaker, that every Nova Scotian is impacted. Every Nova Scotian family is impacted in one way or the other. I would like to focus on just a few.

For example, take your typical young Nova Scotian family that has just bought a home, they have a mortgage. They are required, not only to make the payments on their mortgage, but they are also required to carry insurance, as many would refer to as mortgage insurance. They have one of a number of options. They can pay that as part of their mortgage payment or they can go out and go to a bank, a financial institution or an insurance company, of which in many cases they are attached or semi-attached, and they have to pay those insurance premiums. Now we are finding that they have to pay, in some cases, twice as much as they were paying last year.

For example, I will relate to a particular constituency family that, by the way, has given me the authorization to raise their names in the Legislature. I've been given full approbation because their example underlines a representative population in this province that is very concerning because of the high numbers. I speak of William and Sharon Herman from Broughton Road in my constituency. Just to give you an example of the impact of the cost to their family on insurance, both with their automobile and their home insurance, will demonstrate quite clearly that despite the government's best efforts with the $155, despite the government's best efforts with this referenced 10 per cent tax cut, both those issues alone will not even cover half of the additional costs that this one family has to incur because of increased insurance payments.

[Page 2465]

For example, last year, their automobile insurance cost $638. This year, they were advised that they have to pay $1,278. Their home insurance last year was $343, this year they were advised that their premiums would go to $1,165. We can see quite clearly, for the average homeowner, for the average householder, for the average working Nova Scotian, these so-called tax breaks and rebates that the government is offering as election bait, won't even come close to the additional costs on this one ticket item alone for this particular family.

This particular family, this couple, who are both in their mid-50s, have been driving since their teens. I am advised they have not had an accident, have not had any liquor violations, speeding violations, parking violations, anything of any concern that would impact on insurance. So the question asked is, why are these two, good, honest, hard-working Nova Scotians being punished? That's the only word that we can use. These individuals are being punished for doing a good job in conducting their personal affairs on the issue of automobile usage and home investment.

It clearly demonstrates how the average consumer in Nova Scotia is being gouged and the government, to date, has been trying to find some way of defusing the situation. I agree with the Minister of Environment and Labour, this is a complex issue and it's not easily solved. It's not easily solved by philosophies. It's not easily solved by some individuals and groups of individuals claiming that they have the moral high ground on this issue because as public policy makers, I believe there's enough blame to go around for everybody, if you want to get right down to the details of it.

That doesn't discount the fact that the government and the Minister of Environment and Labour, who is responsible for this issue, have sat quietly. They tried their level best to hope that the URB would have the hearings, those stakeholders that appeared would go through the usual process, vent their frustration and the government would be off the hook and maybe these unexpected premium surges would not be as negative as they would have thought it was. It was so widespread and so impacting, but now we have, in the insurance industry of Nova Scotia, for the consumers, a crisis situation and that's what it is, it's a crisis.

Many families are now forced to drop insurance on their homes. They may be lucky enough not to have a mortgage, but they're not fortunate enough to be able to afford protection for their home from fire or flood or what have you because they cannot afford the premiums. They cannot because their premiums have doubled. In some cases, that can mean, for example, if you look at the Hermans and translate that, let's say do a comparative analysis and say, well, let's look at that if it were a grocery order. That's five grocery orders for the average family, a two- or three- member family at $200 a week. That is a lot of money taken out of their daily budget, their weekly budget that they need for everyday living expenses. They cannot afford to continue to be gouged. That's one aspect.

[Page 2466]

Mr. Speaker, the government, even for a token gesture, they could have very easily said, okay, we agree, and they have said, yes, the escalating insurance rates are a problem. At no point in time did they ever offer to give up that 3 per cent tax, that hidden tax on insurance. Why? Well, the estimates within the Department of Environment and Labour will show the Province of Nova Scotia will collect an extra $13.5 million this year alone on insurance premiums, from home and automobile and all the other issues that are insured by Nova Scotians. They now collect, according to last year's estimates, $35 million a year. That's what this government collects in hidden tax.

It would just amaze you, Mr. Speaker, and I'm sure you've had an opportunity to speak to some of your constituents, ask them, how many of them actually know that the government has a hidden tax on insurance? Not too many. It may be there in the fine print, but how many consumers, when they go and sign a loan or sign a banking document, sit down with a magnifying glass, and that's just about what you need, and read all the fine print. You would be there for two hours, and you would need a Philadelphia lawyer in some cases to interpret what they're saying. It's a question of trust, it's a question of faith, it's a question of hoping that this system, this capitalist system that we all want, and believe to support, have enough checks and balances to protect the consumer.

We are at a crossroads. It's not protecting the consumer. The government, very easily, could say, okay, look, we will not just freeze that, we will forgo that extra $13.5 million and give the consumers some relief. That was an opportunity. Maybe they couldn't afford it. Maybe, whatever. Mr. Speaker, these are some of the real genuine scenarios that could help families such as William and Sharon Herman from Broughton Road in my constituency. I refer to a gentleman I spoke to a little earlier today, Mr. Ken Martin from Quinpool Road in Halifax, an excellent driving record. No speeding violations that I know of that would impact on a 50 per cent rate increase that he's receiving this year. No accidents, nothing that he can identify that would justify a 50 per cent taxed increase.

The Minister of Environment and Labour suggests, well, maybe one of the reasons they have lower insurance premiums in western Canada is because the roads are flat and they're straight, so there's less chance for accidents. Well, let's go with that. This particular individual lives in the capital city, in metro, so he does very little driving, compared to someone who lives in rural Nova Scotia and perhaps drives anywhere from 80 to 100 kilometres a day. It doesn't make sense.

This particular piece of legislation is a delay tactic to get through the election. That's all it is. I hear people, constituents in particular, say that more and more every day. I don't always agree with the member for Halifax Needham, but I will agree with her on one thing, it's not about philosophy on this. She is disagreeing with some of her own colleagues because they've said it is a philosophical thing and I'm sure that there are members in my caucus who wouldn't agree with every philosophical adage that I would have on this

[Page 2467]

particular issue. But in principle I think all members would agree that we have a real crisis for the consumers in Nova Scotia with insurance premiums. (Interruption)

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the member for Dartmouth North would like to think that the NDP are the only ones in Nova Scotia who are concerned about this. They're not. We all have our own ways of dealing with things. Now he has perhaps his showmanship way of doing things, that's fine, that's his right, that's what he was sent here to do and if he's happy doing that, and his constituents are happy with that, that's fine. (Interruption)

Well, Mr. Speaker, let's start focusing on some perspectives. But before I do that, I'll give another example of a security officer who lives in the Preston area. Last year his automobile insurance premiums were a little more than $1,000, between $1,100 and $1,200. This year, this gentleman, for no justifiable reason that he can understand, will be paying close to $3,000. I would think, and perhaps the representative for that area is doing lots on this issue, but we need to hear more than just a delay tactic. There are a lot of people in certain communities across Nova Scotia, particularly rural Nova Scotia, and areas of high unemployment, if they were given an opportunity for some employment, they would have money to pay their bills for insurance premiums on their home or their automobile. They would not be forced into dire straits.

I would submit there are a lot of constituents in Tory-held ridings across this province who are asking themselves, and scratching their head, as to why we don't have a more aggressive policy forthcoming to deal with the problem now. I asked the member for Timberlea-Prospect a little earlier what was his position on contingency rates. Mr. Speaker, before I dwell on this aspect of the insurance problems here in Nova Scotia, I want to underline this is only one of a number of issues. I raise it because it is what I'm hearing from my constituents and I'm hearing it from business people, from workers, from the white collar community, the blue collar community, right across the spectrum.

One factor that has been raised - and all you have to do is pick up a telephone book, there are at least in the metro book alone, eight to 10 pages of advertisements by legal firms indicating, if you have an accident we'll represent you on a contingency basis. Mr. Speaker, I've heard individuals say I never thought about it. Well, maybe it is whiplash, maybe it is a back sprain, could be a minor injury, maybe it's a major injury, every case is different, I appreciate that. Well, we have to ask ourselves, how much enticement is there for individuals to become involved in lawsuits that normally they would not?

It would be interesting to do a comparative analysis on how much is being paid out in damages, whether it is soft tissue, whether it be more severe. Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, I'm not a lawyer, I'm not an expert in the insurance industry so I can only conjecture on the best knowledge and information that I have. I'm a little, not as professional and fine-tuned as a

[Page 2468]

learned professional like yourself in the profession. I do apologize, but speaking in layman's terms, I think it's a fair question to ask.

Do a comparative analysis, how many lawsuits did we have before this advertising process started and became very prominent in Nova Scotia? There's one law firm in the community where my office is, my constituency office, they have a great big yellow van dressed up as a bull dog going around saying that they will fight for you. Essentially the message is, call our number, we'll sink our teeth into the insurance companies and we will get you money. That's the message.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Call Darrell here.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I hear the member for Pictou East - well, call Darrell. Well, yes, the Leader of the socialist Party, the New Democratic Party, he does advertise. He does advertise in the local media for accident victims on a contingency basis. It's right there on Page 393 of the yellow books. So, yes, and it goes to the point that I asked of the member for Timberlea-Prospect earlier today. (Interruption) Well, some members are saying what are you talking about? Well, I'll table it so all members can judge for themselves, it's there.

I asked a question about contingency fees, which is another aspect of this legal process. Should there be a cap on contingency fees? I don't know, I really don't know. The NDP haven't clarified as to whether they would take that position or not. I've asked, and several members have said they don't know. Now maybe there is a policy position.

Let's compare the two processes, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. If you look at Nova Scotia, there is a cap on soft-tissue injuries. Now, certain members of the House will argue, well, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has effectively put a cap on soft-tissue injury by virtue of their decision. Well, the member for Dartmouth North is saying no, but the Leader of the NDP, as late as yesterday afternoon, said yes. So there has to be some consistency of logic in that Party because this is a very serious issue. If we move with this so-called no-fault insurance or this particular program, similar to the Manitoba experience, then they have to state quite clearly, whether they like it or not, the premise is there is a cap on soft-tissue injury.

I would respectfully submit that the member for Dartmouth North should get on the same song sheet as the Leader of the New Democratic Party. You can't have two individuals publicly at cross edges on the same policy issue. If we're going to go with that process, put all the cards on the table and say that's what it is. If that's what the people of Nova Scotia want, well then, fine, we'll support it. They've had lots of opportunity to outline and put some detail on their policy (Interruption) Well, he's saying now it's coming. He's coming with a policy, his Leader says he has a policy, we have two members over there saying it's based on philosophy. We had the last speaker for the NDP saying it's not based on

[Page 2469]

philosophy, it should be based on facts and figures and I agree with her. It demonstrates quite clearly how complex this issue is.

If we're going to move with what the Leader of the NDP was advocating, number one, I think it's fair to ask, does he support a cap on soft tissue injury? That's what that system is all about in large measure because they say they can save money. You save money because you pay less out. Now, let's not forget that there is an argument that the insurance companies are gouging the people of Nova Scotia. Now, let's look at it in perspective.

First of all, many of the insurance companies that we have in Nova Scotia, for example whether it be Fraser & Hoyt, whether it be Amherst Insurance, whether it be Robertson Insurance in Sydney River, or wherever, Co-op Insurance, many of these companies are small independent brokers, they are not the insurance companies. Many, many consumers do not realize that when you go into an insurance company, whether it be Amherst Insurance or Fraser & Hoyt, or Robertson Insurance in Sydney River, A.J. Robertson Insurance, they are not the insurance company they are just a broker. They are a contractor for the insurance company in much the same vein as the hospital boards in Nova Scotia are an agent of the government. Their funding and the fees that they charge whether they like it or not, in large measure can be dictated by provincial government policy.

For example, in this year's budget we saw almost around the same time as the government was debating the Department of Health budget, there were increased parking fees within certain jurisdictions, certain communities across the province. They say, well that has nothing to do with the provincial budget, that's separate and local, but they had to raise their fees because of the limited dollars that came from the provincial level. So, there is that cause-and-effect relationship; same as the brokers, they the contractor, they are the front line agent that has to take it on the chin. In many cases they are at a loss to explain these exorbitant increases. We have to get past that for the consumers of Nova Scotia. Delaying this until after an election, well into the next year with all the loopholes that can be accessed through this process, is not going to do the consumers of Nova Scotia any good. It will not. So, yes, it is a complex issue.

I've heard the argument that, well there's a lot of fraud, there's a lot of fraud in the insurance industry. Maybe there is, maybe there isn't. I haven't seen any quantifiable evidence to show that that is a major factor. I would respectfully submit if our NDP colleagues or government members have that, then that's a contributing factor and then they should provide it. Perhaps the government, the Minister of Environment and Labour, should show a little leadership and go and demand this information from the insurance companies, demand some substantive information because we're receiving arguments from both sides, not only on the issue of fraud and how prevalent it is or lack thereof, but also on the soft tissue injury. Insurance companies are saying because of the growth in the soft tissue injury. So, you would say, well, what's the cause-and-effect relationship.

[Page 2470]

Is it because more people find it easier to sue insurance companies because lawyers are running out there, as the NDP Leader would say, ambulance chaser? Well, he's in the practice, he's advertising as such. I don't know because I'm not an expert in that. What I do know is that many, many constituents that I represent are being gouged and they're being gouged unfairly. Many consumers, as I've said before, have found themselves in the position where they're forced to give up their insurance.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, since this government was elected, there are I would say slightly more than $500 million more in user fees being collected every year from the people of Nova Scotia. The cost of gasoline has gone up. I believe, by admission from the Department of Finance officials that appeared before the Public Accounts Committee several weeks ago, they indicated that with the increased gasoline charges over the last winter, the government will have collected an extra $12 million. So there's $12 million plus $13.5 million, that's $25.5 million more than they anticipated collecting from the previous year.

If anyone is guilty of gouging the consumers of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, it is this government and those are just two issues, those are just two issues, and they're going to try to make people believe by introducing Bill No. 45, this is like a deferred maintenance account for the province's schools. The debt for individual families with two and three children, or even with one child, the cost to these families, I would submit, we are looking at an extra, I would guesstimate between $1,200 and $1,500 more a year in taxes - direct and hidden.

If you take that $155, which by the way, the government by its own admission, is borrowing $118 million more than it's taking in this year through taxes and transfers, which clearly shows it's not a balanced budget, but they're going to borrow money, they're going to put that on the debt, they're going to increase the debt, they're going to increase the interest payments on the debt in a short-term opportunity to dish out to half of the Nova Scotians that they feel that they can influence at the ballot box. But let's take that $155 against the $1,500 that they're paying in additional costs between increased fuel tax for their automobiles, increased home heating oil, increased insurance fees, and you take that and you measure this so-called 10 per cent provincial cut, it's not 10 per cent of your total income. Let's not be misled here. It's not 10 per cent against your total income.

So what we have here, Mr. Speaker, for the average family you may be talking another $100 - let's be generous and say $200. So they take $1,500 away from you and they say we're going to give you $300 back, mea culpa, thank us, put us back in power and let's move on. So this bill is patently unfair in the way it's formatted. We should be dealing with this issue now and all those Tory members across the floor should be standing up for their constituents, not sitting there in silence, you know, not sitting there hoping that this issue will go away, not expecting the spin doctors in the Premier's office and over at P & P, and the

[Page 2471]

backroom boys in the Tory Party, who think that they can implement the Rumsfeld plan, control and manage the stakeholders, it's not going to work.

Mr. Speaker, it's just not going to work and I kind of empathize with these Tory members because they must find it hard to go back to their constituencies every weekend and face the consumers in their ridings. Some Cabinet Ministers, I won't identify them, that's not fair, but they're saying, no, that's no problem at all. They can go back and they can justify these massive increases. Why wouldn't the government say nothing? They're gouging the consumer. They're taking 3 per cent for every dollar that's collected or paid in insurance premiums, the government is putting 3 per cent of that in its pocket and they didn't even budget for that. This is a windfall. This is a windfall for the government, because what they budgeted for was what they expected based on the gradual rate of inflation and so on and the premiums from previous years. They're sitting back, they're laughing all the way to the bank, this government.

Then they have the audacity to think that $155 is going to get them an election. Wake up and smell the coffee, because it isn't there. When we have consumers who have, for example, in this case, with the Hermans from Broughton Road, a 400 per cent increase in their insurance premiums for their home, through no fault of their own, the unfortunate part for this family is they do not have a choice. They do not have a choice because they have a mortgage. How many families in metro have their homes with a mortgage? These rates have almost doubled. If you go out to Haliburton Heights or if you go out into Spryfield, you go to Harrietsfield, or go over into Cole Harbour, Eastern Passage, out to Bedford Basin, many Nova Scotians are being gouged, and they're being gouged, gouged and further gouged, whereas the government will sit and say, well, we're going to try to buy some time by implementing Bill No. 45 and hope that things will calm down. The perception, the optics are they're doing something.

Much the same, Mr. Speaker, as what the Premier did in the Red Room yesterday with Sunday shopping. Actually, I stood there, I couldn't believe it. That was a joke. It was an absolute joke to see that press conference unfold the way it did. After considerable questioning, he finally conceded that his press conference and the premise for doing what he did was based on polling, but he couldn't remember who did the polling, he couldn't remember the results of the polling, he couldn't remember how much the polling cost, he couldn't remember so many details on that issue. It was obvious that either he is totally disengaged from the reality of what's happening on public policy, or else - and yes, he's the same Premier who says he doesn't believe polls, but he's the same individual who indicated that he would consult with Nova Scotians, and he would be honest and open with Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, if all you're going to do is to listen to a number of political operatives in the back room to try to implement this so-called Rumsfeld plan, control your stakeholders, manage Nova Scotians, keep them calm, keep them collected, keep them so that they're not

[Page 2472]

upset about any particular issue, let's get through the election, and let's go the avenue of least resistance. Well, that's not what people want. That's not the type of leadership that people want. They wanted that Premier who said, in 1999, that he would consult with Nova Scotians, not someone who said, one day, we will never put this on the order table until after the next election, and now, after it became quite evident, when Danny Graham put this issue on the table and said, this is our Party policy, this is what we want for Sunday shopping, well, all of a sudden, after a few weeks and the months started to go by, reality set in. They got a reality check.

The people of Nova Scotia said to the individual government members, you're going to lose ground on this. The people in metro want Sunday shopping, and this is fertile ground for any political Party because close to 50 per cent of the seats are here. So what did the Premier have to do? Design some format or have his operatives design a format to make it look like he was doing something, where at the same time he was doing nothing until after the fact.

This is the same as what's happening with Bill No. 45, this insurance bill. This is another delay tactic by the government. This is absence of leadership. That's all it is. It's smoke and mirrors. The people of Nova Scotia are becoming frustrated, they're becoming disillusioned, they really thought when they elected Premier Hamm and the Conservative Government, they would get some real leadership on tough issues.

A tough issue came up with the nurses and what did they do? They came down with a 50-pound mallet and just about crushed every one of them, taking their legal rights away from them through the collective bargaining process, even to the point of saying you're not even allowed to appeal to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. This is not back in some kind of a military state and the Minister of Health, at that time the Minister of Justice, found that out pretty quick. As much as the people of Nova Scotia may have agreed or disagreed with that issue, they were fair-minded and they wanted all Nova Scotians to be treated fairly, which they were not.

That was evident and I feel it's fair to mention it because it's a public forum, it was in the local media in New Glasgow. The Premier says he's fed up with protest and that's why he took legal action against an injured worker protesting in front of his constituency office. The same man, when he was on this side of the House, encouraged injured workers to go over and take over the Premier's office. Where's the rationale? Where's the rationale and the consistency of logic? Is that open and honest? Is that a measure of governmental integrity? I would submit not.

Really what the Premier's saying is it's okay to be a critic when it's in his favour, but it's not okay to be a critic when he's on the firing range, when people are questioning his motives and his policy initiatives. He doesn't want to be bothered. He develops this amnesia

[Page 2473]

about the facts and the figures. People won't go for that Marcus Welby-approach any more. Never mind the fantasy world.

The member for Preston, if he wants to help people, if he would like to engage in the debate, never mind the catcalls from the corner, rise and defend this particular piece of legislation. I've spoken with constituents from Preston and they're not happy. They're not happy with this insurance issue. Many of them are being forced to give up insurance because of the lack of leadership by this government and the silence of that member.

I will give you an example. That garbage issue that I raised last week. I'll tell you how that impacts on the citizens of Preston and their ability to pay insurance. Two years ago, the Department of Housing allotted money for that cleanup. What happened after the budget was approved and things settled down, the House closed? They cancelled it. They took it out of the budget. They put it somewhere else. That was two years ago. Do you know what they did last year? This government? They budgeted that money into the Department of Transportation and Public Works for a cleanup. Somewhere in the vicinity of $60,000. Do you know what happened? After the budget was approved and the House closed down, they cancelled it. Where was the member for Preston - can you imagine if you had good citizens in Preston out there engaged in that cleanup? They would have money to be able to pay their bills and pay their insurance premiums, the escalating premiums which that member is doing nothing about.

You don't have to promise miracles, but you have to take a practical, pragmatic approach to helping everyday Nova Scotians. Don't be silent. Don't be absent. Don't run and hide when people are looking for leadership. They need you to stand up and protect their interests. When that honourable member was a member of city council (Interruption) yes, but when he got here provincially, he did nothing. He proved it (Interruptions) In other words, what he's saying is, when you become a provincial politician, you become a yes man for what you're told to do because he's done nothing since. That's really what that member is saying and I will apologize for the Tory Government as they gouge the consumers on insurance, as they gouge them with increased fuel costs and home heating costs. Between those two issues alone, they're collecting an extra $25.5 million in taxes and giving not even so much as $60,000 back to the community to help them feel good and do something constructive. Why not? Maybe he doesn't have the influence with the minister that he should have. That's just one community. (Interruptions)

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I was hoping that the member for Colchester North would invite me back on this topic, because that speaks to the very issue. If people don't have a source of income, how can they pay their insurance? The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice, yesterday, chastised Nova Scotians who don't have a job, saying that they don't have dignity unless they have a job. Well, I would submit that the people from Preston, whether

[Page 2474]

they have a job or they don't, they are people with dignity and pride and self-respect, like anybody else in Nova Scotia. I am proud of those people. (Interruptions) If those MLAs, particularly the member for Preston doesn't want to do anything for his constituents, that's his business. The people will speak when the ballot boxes are put before them.

That's how it's tied into insurance. Automobile insurance, home insurance and a lot of other things. What is being done for these good folks? They want leadership. The member for Preston has lots of time to vindicate himself. Stand up. Even if you have to say, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, I'm sorry, I'm a Tory and I have to toe the Party line, but here's how I really feel. Stand up. I know that member can do it. He did it when he was on city council.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I must bring the honourable member for Cape Breton West to order. He is focusing too much of his dissertation towards the honourable member for Preston. I would ask him to come back to the legislation before us, the insurance bill.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, that is the principle of the bill. How can people pay their insurance premiums if they don't have a job? They're looking for leadership, whether that be the member for Preston, whether that be the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley or for Truro or Cape Breton West or where have you, it's all interconnected. If I focused too much on the member for Preston, it's because he invited it. He's the one that invited me to draw the correlation.

Mr. Speaker, there is a vacuum when it comes to asking him to stand and go on the record as to how they really feel about this particular piece of legislation. I know it's not easy. It's not easy to stand up and defend your constituents when the government policy is saying no, no, you don't do that. If you took the total number of hours that the government members have to speak on this particular piece of legislation, they have over 30 hours of very constructive debate. We would welcome listening to the government members voice their concerns. Maybe the NDP and the Liberals are all wrong in what they're saying. If they are, stand up and tell us.

Don't just say that we're going to introduce a piece of legislation and say that we will deal with it next year, after the election, while consumers continually get gouged and people are continually given notices of 50 per cent and 100 per cent and 200 per cent and 300 per cent, and in this case a 400 per cent, increase in their premiums for no justifiable reason. I think that commands leadership from this House and this government, not a Premier who says, oh, I really don't know, I can't remember, I'm not sure, I will get back to you on that, I will check it, and perhaps, maybe so. We don't want that wishy-washy stuff, we want some leadership. We don't want a Premier who, when he's asked a question - he isn't expected to

[Page 2475]

answer every question, particularly on the insurance bill - but when he's asked, and 87 times he defers to other ministers in his government, one that wasn't even in the House yesterday by his own admission. He went looking for the minister, he wanted to defer and he wasn't even there.

Do you have to put beepers on these ministers to find out if they're there or not there? They should have like a little panel there with red lights, like present, not present and so on, so when the Premier stands up to refer a question to his minister, at least he'll know the minister is there. My golly, this is Question Period, the fundamental principles of responsible government (Interruption)Well, yes, the member for Kings North says, put a cow bell around their neck.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. This debate is on the Insurance Act and if the honourable member has concerns regarding Question Period and cow bells and things like that, perhaps he should take it to the Committee on Assembly Matters. We should be discussing - and I think most Speakers try to be fair and provide some leniency to members, but this dissertation from this particular member at this time is all over the road map, so to speak, so would the member come back to the Insurance Act. Thank you. (Interruption)

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member for Cape Breton West challenged me to stand and rise and occasionally speak on insurance, but I want to rest his assurance and the assurance of my constituents present, I've been working hard on the off-road dumping problems in the Preston constituency. I'll table for his information the recent correspondence that I sent to the ministers about this ongoing problem. I can honestly tell you that the so-called dissertations the honourable member for Cape Breton West has been asserting to, he should also alert the council for the area that it's not relevant, what he said. There's been an ongoing problem and it's self-assurance and two of my constituents, the issue is being dealt with in a reasonable fashion.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I find that the point of order that the honourable member brought forward is borderline point of order, but it is not a point of order. It doesn't meet the terms and conditions of a point of order, it's merely a disagreement between two honourable members. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor and he has approximately seven and a half minutes left.

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was very pleased to hear you say I was all over the road map because, you know what? Nova Scotians have been all over the road map looking for some leadership over here, too. They haven't found it from that government or from the member for Preston. They haven't found it. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works says, we're going to put all this extra money into roads this year and he forgot to tell us how much of that was federal.

[Page 2476]

The issue of roads, very impacting on this particular piece of legislation because if we had half-decent roads to drive on I'm sure our vehicles wouldn't be as beat up as they are and I'm sure we would have better insurance rates because people wouldn't be going for fender-benders on icy roads or unpleasant road conditions. These are all interconnected so I was glad to hear you say I was all over the road map. We have some of the best roads in the province and we have some of the worst. The roads in rural Nova Scotia are getting worse.

There was a bit of an adage in the general community in Cape Breton, where I reside. They came up with the conclusion that the government was praying for snow for as long as it could, well into the Spring, and hopefully the summer, because what they could do, they could compact all this snow in the potholes and they wouldn't have potholes. That would solve all the problems they had with roads. They could fill in the potholes with snow and it wouldn't cost them a cent. That isn't going to happen. Same as the insurance issue, by ignoring it, it's not going to go away. The potholes are there and the insurance problem for this government is not going to go away until they do something about it. Delaying it is not the solution. I was pleased to hear you say I was all over the road map of Nova Scotia. Ironically, every one of these issues is connected.

Mr. Speaker, you yourself know, look at the recycling depots here in the province, what is this government doing? This government, every cent, every penny that went into the recycling programs of this province through the RRFB, the Resource Recovery Fund Board, was to go to recycling and what did this government do once it got elected? It gouged out 10 per cent. Now it's collecting over $1.1 million a year and putting it into general coffers. What's happening with the Enviro-Depots? They are being forced to give up their insurance because they can't afford the high premiums because this government is taking money that should go to them and putting it into the general coffers and it is providing not enough assistance to make it a worthwhile operation.

Mr. Speaker, that's how all these issues get interconnected. Now, with the paint recycling program, we're dealing with rather explosive and toxic issues here. We know how dangerous it is if they store large quantities of paint in their Enviro-Depots. All it would take is one fire and, do you know what, their whole life savings, their business, everything is wiped out. I was talking to a recycling agent just yesterday, her insurance premiums increased by 100 per cent. The cost of just handling the recycling program on paint alone is not enough, there is not enough revenue to cover the cost of that program. What's the government doing? They're saying tough luck, that's the responsibility of the RRFB - this politically-appointed board - let them handle it.

So the government sits in the closet, sucks $1 million a year away from the Enviro-Depot operators which they should get, Mr. Speaker. That's why this province-wide protest. The best program in North America, that was set up under a Liberal Government and, yes, carried on after this administration took place, what did they do? They just couldn't stand

[Page 2477]

success. They had to start siphoning off the revenues that were designed for that program and then they starting hitting them with these hidden increased fees.

By the way, Mr. Speaker, the government gets an extra 3 per cent, every time the dollar goes up, the government gets an extra 3 per cent of revenues. So why would they say anything and all the insurance premiums, you know, if your bill went from $100 to $200 a month, instead of collecting $3, you're collecting $6 as a government. See, that's why the government is doing nothing, but they should help these Enviro-Depots, these operators; the cost to the environment, the cost to the economy, look at HRM, look at CBRM, look at all these municipalities across the province. What's the government doing? They're tone-deaf, they're tone-deaf to a very important issue. They're forcing these people to give up insurance or in some cases, if they have mortgages, they're forcing them to shut down their operations. Is that the type of recycling program they want?

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to speaking on this bill on a future day because the implications, it's not just auto insurance, it's just not home insurance, we're talking business insurance, we're talking recreational insurance, you know, for boats, for ATVs. What about for farm equipment, all these things, in the forest industry? They're paying increased insurance fees and what's this government doing for the forest contractors? What's it doing for the farmers? What's it doing for the fishermen? Nothing, and I can go on and on and on, but I think the point is well made that this government is delaying because it's gouging.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have an opportunity to add to this debate, as debatable as that is. I want to say that after 15 years in the classroom - I don't know, nobody's claiming that I was an exceptional teacher - I certainly have found that in five years I haven't been able to educate the crowd on the opposite side of the House. Maybe before my time is done here I can give everybody a star before they leave the House of Assembly.

[5:30 p.m.]

The issue of auto insurance is a serious one and I have to say that Nova Scotians have felt the brunt of anybody who wants to bump them or gouge them, for a few years now. They have received no help from this government. We've seen it in terms of seniors in long-term care facilities. We see it with auto insurance. It's certainly occurring with home insurance and other insurance programs. It occurs, particularly through the winter, with home heating fuel. We pay through the nose at the gas pumps and Nova Scotians have not had a break since this government has come into power.

[Page 2478]

That only identifies those fees that we pay that are the most noticeable. It doesn't identify the fees that we sometimes don't pay enough attention to like when we register our vehicles. I mentioned the other day about the Milford Lions Club whose licence for bingo had gone from $50 two years ago, to $150 a year ago, to $300 this year - to expect a community volunteer organization to pay that type of fee because they contribute to their community in a big way. You know, for those times that I can't get any help from Community Services, in trying to get glasses for someone, I go to the Lions Club. As a matter of fact, they've been able to help when the government has been unwilling to help. How does the government repay them? By jacking up the fee they would have to pay to run their bingo.

We even had an incident in Shubenacadie where a volunteer firefighter was injured and had to pay the $500 ambulance fee when the ambulance took him to the hospital. These are volunteers and that seems a bit much to ask volunteers to do.

I want to say, in terms of this bill, the Insurance Act, it's really disappointing although predictable. We certainly would expect, because we know we're going down this road to an election. We've had almost five years of consistent inconsistency with this government. We can well imagine that when this issue was raised and it was raised by the NDP caucus, as much as anybody else in this House wants to claim that they were on the forefront of this, baloney, that's what I say to them. If they want to pay attention to the chronology and the Hansard record in this House, they will find who uttered the first words on this issue and it was the New Democratic caucus. I would say that its been a long hard fight. Actually, now because it's at the forefront of the public's mind because it's an issue that resonates with the public, that's why the government and the Liberal caucus have started to jump on this, finally coming out of their slumber thinking, we had better do something to head off the New Democrats going down this road to election.

I guess if I want to take advice from the honourable member for Cape Breton West about talking about the issue, I can be all over the map for sure. Bad enough that this piece of legislation is so bad, but for the Minister of Environment and Labour who is responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates, for him to stand in this House and try to convince members on all sides of this House that this bill actually is going to do something to bring us lower insurance rates is preposterous because if the minister would read his bill - and I'm not sure how it is that ministers get their legislation. I'm not sure that on the way out of the office in the morning if the deputy or some member of the minister's staff hands him the bill and says, deliver this in the House today and he says yes, I'll do that, but he doesn't take the time to read it. That would be the indication that I get when I look at this piece of legislation and then I listen to the minister talk about the legislation in Question Period when he tries to give our caucus answers to questions we raise on this legislation.

The minister seems to be hanging his hat on his ability to draft regulations. Well, this is the same old song and dance we hear quite often on legislation. What we don't see in the bill, what they won't put in black and white, they'll say, oh, we're going to take care of that

[Page 2479]

in regulation. Well, there's an explanatory note with this bill and explanatory notes are common, they come with lots of pieces of legislation trying to explain what particular clauses in the legislation mean. This explanatory note, "Clause 2 authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations prescribing grounds for which an automobile insurer cannot refuse to issue, refuse to renew or terminate insurance or refuse to provide or continue any coverage or endorsement."

That quite clearly indicates what the powers of the Governor in Council are in terms of drafting regulations in this bill. They can draft regulation so that the insurers cannot refuse to give someone insurance. That's it. They can't refuse them. That doesn't say they have to give them a lower rate, that doesn't mean they have to find them the lowest rate, that doesn't mean anything except they have to sell them insurance, some insurance. But there's no guarantee that person, when they get that insurance, will have to pay through the nose for it.

That doesn't change anything. The present situation in this province is simply that. People are being moved from one category to a higher category to a higher category for whatever reason the insurance industry deems fit. Doesn't necessarily have anything to do with your driving record and heaven help you if it does. It could be because of your age, the age of your vehicle, you may not have even had an accident for years, or ever had one, but you're probably going to pay more. This bill does not stop that, although the minister brings it in as a freeze on insurance rates. Well, it doesn't stop those increases that were recently applied for by the insurance industry to the Utility and Review Board.

Because those applications went in prior to this legislation coming into effect, which is May 1st, those increases will still happen. People are getting their notices now to tell them that they're going to have an increase in their insurance, even after this legislation. So, along with the increases that the industry has already applied for, people will find themselves pushed into a different category, which would mean you're allowed to be bumped up to a category that would impact you in a way that you would have to pay higher insurance. There's nothing to stop the insurance industry from doing that to you, for whatever reason they deem fit.

This piece of legislation is not a freeze. As a matter of fact, I don't even know what you would call this piece of legislation. This piece of legislation would be called, I hope we buffalo the people of Nova Scotia and get re-elected, that's what this bill should be called. That's the intent of this bill. A piece of legislation that's supposed to impact a freeze from May 1st to January 1st. I'm not a betting man, but I'd be willing to bet we're going to have an election before January 1st. (Interruptions) I think the members opposite are willing to give me good odds on that.

Mr. Speaker, why is it that the government does not feel compelled to do something really appropriate to this situation? Why is it that the government doesn't feel compelled to actually either bring in legislation that will roll back rates or bring in a publicly-owned

[Page 2480]

system? We seem to have picked up some heat from members of the Third Party, and now and then from members on the government side, and certainly the Minister of Environment and Labour has been hammering us pretty hard on this idea of public auto insurance.

I want to tell the Speaker that this is not rocket science, this is something that's been tried and found successful in three other jurisdictions. Actually I have to say I was a little bit thrown by comments by the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley the other night when this debate was part of our late debate series. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley spoke on the issue of auto insurance and seemed to get somewhat derailed on that issue and, for some reason, targeted some of his comments to me, I am not sure why.

One of the things that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley raised was the fact that this was socialist, to have a publicly-owned system was socialist. Well, I want to tell the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and all members on the government side that health care in this country is socialist, paying for education the way we do is socialist, the supply management system that protects farmers who produce milk, chicken or eggs is socialist. I want to say (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We seem to have some animal-like sounds coming out of the Chamber somewhere. I am not sure if there is a cat on the loose or what the problem might be (Interruptions) I would surely hope it wouldn't be an honourable member making such sounds. The member for Hants East has the floor, excuse the distraction.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. Considering the pussyfooting around that's gone on on this issue from the members opposite, it wouldn't surprise me a bit. Why is it that the government has been so willing to abdicate its responsibility to the voters? Why is it that it is unwilling to wear the mantle that says, we're going to stand up for you and we're going to fight the good fight to ensure that you're not gouged day in and day out by somebody? I don't have an answer for that. I can pose the question, but I don't have an answer because governments are elected to represent everybody. Governments are elected to represent the Tories, Liberals, New Democrats, whatever. Whatever political stripe, when you form a government, you represent all the people.

I can't understand why this government has been so willing to let the people who they know supported them, even if they took just those people, to let them bear the brunt of the way they're being abused by the insurance industry in this country. Could it be that this government has collected $7 million in extra taxes, because of the increased insurance rates? Maybe that's the incentive that the government has. What does the government plan to do with that money? Well, good question. Is that part of the $68 million that the government is going to use to buy votes in this upcoming election? Perhaps that's where that $7 million went. I'm imputing motive, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2481]

Mr. Speaker, I remember when the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour introduced this bill. I took a few notes. Actually, when that honourable member stands to speak, I quite often take notes. I think his years in the House deem him worthy that I should pay attention to what he says and I try to do that. Actually I do that for another reason, because he's a constituent of mine and it's important to me that I listen to my constituents and if I can do anything to help him I am more than happy to do that. If I can talk him into moving away from this piece of legislation I think that will help the Minister of Environment and Labour. (Interruption) He moved in after the election but he did assure me that I could have a sign location there (Interruption) Didn't say which sign, right.

[5:45 p.m.]

The minister said that this was a global issue and he said that they had kept an open door to the industry to hear their concerns. I worry when I hear the minister say something like, we kept an open door to the industry to hear their concerns, because he didn't mention about any open door to Nova Scotians to hear their concerns. He didn't mention that people who have come to realize that they're being gouged and this government is not standing up for them has not resonated with the government. The industry's concerns have resonated with the government and that's my worry, that come January 1st, the industry will be the one who will come out of this in the best shape and Nova Scotians are still going to be paying through the nose.

The minister has said it's difficult to carry on a debate while looking over our shoulder. Well, I say to the minister, look ahead. Don't be looking over your shoulder. Look at what other people have done in other jurisdictions to help alleviate this problem, to help improve the lives of the people they represent and actually help them in more ways than just insurance. In Manitoba they've actually been able to turn some of the money back onto the roads, which as the minister would think, are flat. If that's the case then there's no downhill in this policy.

I want the minister to think a little bit about what this bill is actually going to do for Nova Scotians and he should be thinking in political terms about what it's going to do to this Tory Government because Nova Scotians are not going to be snookered on this. They are really concerned and if you are between 16 and 61 or 81, you're going to be impacted by insurance rates in this province. That is going to take in a large number of voters in this province that I think are looking for some answer. They are wondering why their government has abandoned them on this.

This has occurred, I think, by stealth. The insurance industry has done this incrementally over time and I think that the government has been aware of that and we've tried to make the government aware. People have called our offices to let us know this for some time and wondered what was possible to be done. Back as far as 2001, in December, the NDP caucus had asked the Utility and Review Board - asked the government to send this

[Page 2482]

to the Utility and Review Board - actually it took urging by us to get that accomplished. There is a litany of a timeline since then of input by our caucus to try to get this matter on the agenda so that the government could deal with it. It's only been recently that the government has actually felt the pressure of that and although I think they are trying to make the case that they are so concerned about the people of Nova Scotia they're willing to hang them for a few months with no relief, has not been any comfort.

People I've talked to in my constituency are really worried because they know that the present increases that have occurred, that have been applied for at the Utility and Review Board, they're going to have to pay and that this bill is not going to bring down those rates. Actually the minister's bill doesn't say anything about bringing down rates. The only thing that I can see that the minister is going to do is ensure that people can get insurance, but at what cost. There is nothing in this legislation that would protect them in that regard.

The insurance companies have a mandate. They have to serve their shareholders. They have to try to make a profit and give a return to the shareholder. It has been pretty widely identified that there are really only two ways for insurance companies to make money. One would have to be on their premiums and the other would be on investments. So, the companies would be willing to take a loss on their premium if they can make it back in their investment. But, if they can't, if their investments go south, then we're going to pay through the premiums and that's what is happening.

The stock market has taken a dive since March 2001, and the insurance industry has taken a bath in that stock market and it's because of that that premiums have shot up. I want to say how great it must be to be an insurance company. Whatever losses you take as a hit on the stock market, you can just reach out and say to people, here, you have to increase your premium so I can get my money back. Some people would say, well let the private sector run this and let the public sector stay away from it.

That would probably make some sense in the real world but the world where we live is a world where the government requires you to have automobile insurance. The government says you must have coverage and because the government says you must have coverage then the government has a responsibility to protect drivers in this province from being gouged by the industry. That is what brought forth public automobile insurance in British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Not all of those systems are exactly the same: no fault, in Manitoba; a combination of tort and no fault in Saskatchewan; and the tort system alone in British Columbia. The people there all decided which system they thought would be the appropriate system for them and have gone with that, but those three provinces represent the lowest premiums in the country.

I heard the members from the Liberal Party, actually this morning, I think it was in a resolution, the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, I think, raised the issue of $300 million to set up the automobile insurance in Manitoba.

[Page 2483]

MR. JERRY PYE: It was $350 million.

MR. MACDONELL: It was $350 million, says my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North. Anyway, I will leave the numbers to them, I won't argue with the numbers. I want to tell members opposite that to set up the corporation, the corporation did borrow money or the government lent money to the corporation to set it up, which it paid back in a year. (Interruptions) I'll thank the Minister of Environment and Labour for that and I'll get back to him on that. What I do want to tell the minister is, they're not losing money. Its not-for-profit and the people in those three provinces are well served in whatever way they set it up and because they don't have to make a profit, they need to cover their costs, they're able to deliver much better insurance rates to the public which is really all the public is asking. If the government is demanding that they have automobile insurance, then the government has a responsibility to see that they can get that at a reasonable price. That is not rocket science.

Especially for this government, when you consider they wouldn't have to do this for the first time. There is a model, there are three models that they can look at and they can choose the one that they think would be the most appropriate. If they need to tweak it a little bit to make it fit in Nova Scotia, fine, because that's exactly what those provinces did to find something that was appropriate for the people there to live with.

The honourable Leader of this Party, I was looking at his comments when he spoke on this issue, and the issue for profit is a serious one. When Henry Ford had decided that he had made enough money in the automobile industry, he had the intention of selling his automobiles at a cheaper price so more people could have them. He felt that he had gotten what he needed out of this industry. On reflection he felt that if he could improve the lives of people, this would be something he would feel very good about. So that was what he set out to do. He set out to sell automobiles cheaper so more people could get them and actually he wanted to also allow his workers to share in that benefit.

Mr. Speaker, what happened was he was sued by the shareholders of the company and it was found that they were right. The Supreme Court agreed with them and Henry Ford was not allowed to sell automobiles cheaper or to take care of his employees in a way that he deemed was necessary because that took dividends, or profits, or money, away from the shareholders and the court deemed that the sole purpose of the corporation was to make money for the shareholders, was to make a profit, and he had no business interfering in that. Actually they referred to him as a menace.

Mr. Speaker, I think that in a nutshell tells us what we're up against when we talk about companies that have offices in Amsterdam, or in London, or wherever, and are they concerned about the impacts of drivers in little, old Nova Scotia? I would say, no, they are not concerned and if that means pushing you to a higher level of cost, or the fact that you

[Page 2484]

can't afford to insure your vehicle and you drive without insurance, that is of no concern to them.

Mr. Speaker, I see we're getting to the hour of interruption and I'm not going to be interrupted. So I will keep going. By tomorrow, or Monday - sometime soon - this debate is going to end and since this government has a majority, then this bill is going to pass and the question is, what will be the benefit to insurance-buying Nova Scotians? Absolutely none. It will be the frustration of recognizing that somebody could have done something, somebody should have done something, and they didn't.

The members of the government side are going to have to knock on doors sometime soon and try to explain to Nova Scotians why it is that they have done nothing to reduce the impact of automobile insurers on them, why it is that they have seen 100 per cent increases and sometimes more on them and their families, why the auto insurance industry has been able to make young drivers in the family, somebody who just got a licence, to identify them as the primary driver even though it hasn't been identified by the family. Why is it that the insurance companies have that much latitude to try to squeeze the most dollars out of any one family? That's unfair. You should be able to buy the service you want at a reasonable rate, in particular, because this service is demanded for by the government. With those comments, I will take my seat for the moment of interruption.

MR. SPEAKER: We have reached the moment of interruption.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - NURSING HOMES: SENIORS' COSTS - REMOVE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place to debate the resolution that was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto which reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government should immediately end the practice of impoverishing seniors by making them pay for health care in nursing homes."

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the reason I think the honourable member brought this resolution forward tonight for debate was that we don't want this very important issue to fall off the public agenda. Today, the last few days, the last few weeks, the focus of the press gallery and people in this Chamber and outside has very much been on the very important issue of

[Page 2485]

insurance rates. While that's a very important issue and impacts a lot of people, we cannot forget that this government has not addressed adequately the very real position of quite a few seniors and their families who continue to be in continuing care, long-term care, nursing home facilities and seeing their financial resources stripped away from them to pay for the health care costs of being in a nursing home.

We have worked very hard to give voice to seniors and their families in this province around this issue. Just this week, the Leader of the Opposition brought forward the case of Jerry Harrop who was the pastor to Tommy Douglas in Regina during the early 1950s, baptized his daughter, Shirley - and retired to Nova Scotia because he loved this province and our way of life. Reverend Harrop who is now 85, has Parkinson's and has entered a nursing home or is in the process of doing this. His daughter has come here from another province to assist in that process and make sure her dad is comfortable and well taken care of. Mr. Harrop, of course, has liquidated his residence, his home, his car and some other assets and lo and behold, his family had to face the harsh reality that in this province - unlike many other provinces in Canada - Mr. Harrop will be systematically stripped of those assets to pay for the health care component of his nursing home care.

This government had to be dragged with very embarrassing red faces as the plight of individuals across Nova Scotia became more and more public in the last year and a half around this issue. First we had a very public debate that I think educated people who have not had the experience of being in this system, of the harsh, even draconian kinds of measures that this government had put in place to financially assess seniors so that they could squeeze every conceivable cent they could possibly get out of seniors who required nursing home care. How, in some cases, the community-dwelling spouse or partner would be left in circumstances where they were worried about what would become of them, both in the community or if they required care as they became older.

After a lot of pressure on government, including a petition from approximately 20,000 Nova Scotians, this government in the Fall, back in November I believe, made some small concessions around the financial assessment process and removed certain things from that financial assessment. They removed things like cottages and farmland and farm buildings and these sorts of things. If there was a community-dwelling spouse, they would allow $25,000 to remain with the spouse. However, there's still an extraordinary amount of inequity in the assessment system. For example, people who have already sold the family home, and it's become a liquid asset that they've invested, will have to deplete those assets, however, a person who has maintained the family home and resides in it, will not have to deplete those assets. This inequity does not seem to have a logical base, a rational basis. It penalizes people who have decided to sell their residence and perhaps move in with a son or a daughter or a relative prior to going into a nursing home.

[Page 2486]

In my own situation, I was quite surprised last week just to learn from my neighbours that their mom has left Nova Scotia. She went to one of the Prairie Provinces, Manitoba I believe, where the health care component of nursing home care is covered. Essentially, this decision was made, it wasn't an easy decision, in some ways, for this family, but they made this decision because this is a woman with very modest means, who had been living in the family home and she had sold her home, and now when she requires health care, the assets from the sale of that property were going to be assumed by this province for her health care needs. In Manitoba, this is not the case. Her costs will be around the room and board of being in long-term care, but not the health care costs.

We have people in Nova Scotia who pay in excess of $5,000 a month, in some cases, for nursing home costs. We have among the highest per diem rates of nursing home costs of any province in the country. This is a serious problem for families. The government announced, just weeks into the session or just prior to the session, that, in fact, this was an issue that they would finally be prepared to address in the way that we would like it addressed now and the way that families and Nova Scotians would like it addressed now; they would be prepared to address it by the year 2007.

This is hardly worth debating, frankly, this time frame. Nova Scotians are impatient, I believe. They see this as an attempt by government to remove this issue from the public agenda in preparation for an election. I want to assure you that there continue to be, literally, thousands of Nova Scotians in this province whose family members are being stripped of their life's work, their savings and their small degree of financial assets that they've been able to amass over their working lives.

There are still many harsh aspects in the financial assessment. People who go into nursing homes and who are paying their own shot are not allowed to use money to purchase gifts for their children or their grandchildren. This seems inhumane. I really call on the government to rethink their stalling tactics and do the right thing by the seniors in this province.

Mr. Speaker, before I sit, I would like to say to the members of the caucuses that I have a memorial service that I have to be at shortly, so I am not going to be able to stay to hear their part in the debate. I mean them no disrespect; when I leave, this is why. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I rise to inform the members opposite of the many initiatives this government has taken to help seniors. We have developed a comprehensive approach to the care and well-being of Nova Scotia's seniors. This approach not only makes nursing home care more affordable, but entry into nursing home care simpler and this care all seniors receive is very high in quality. Quality, access and affordability, these are the cornerstones of this government's work for the seniors of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2487]

I want to begin by taking the members of this House back to April 7, 2003. April 7th was the day we announced that, starting then, seniors would pay less towards their nursing home care, for the cost of care each year. Mr. Speaker, this reduction in the health care costs seniors pay in nursing homes will continue until eventually they pay only for their room and board. That point will be reached no later than April 1, 2007. This is excellent news for the seniors of Nova Scotia. This is also excellent news for the financial health of this province. By gradually assuming the health care costs over time, we are being responsible. We are covering the costs in a manner this province can responsibly afford. We wish we could do everything at once, it's simply not possible to cover the total nursing home care costs of seniors while respecting the many other commitments we have to the health and well-being of Nova Scotians.

Right now, Mr. Speaker, each senior in a nursing home is paying $12.75 less each day than they were before April 7, 2003. In 2004 and 2005 each senior in a nursing home will save $32 a day or almost $12,000 a year. These savings will continue to grow until the health care costs of nursing home care are fully covered by government. Nova Scotia's nursing homes will be more affordable than nursing homes in other Atlantic Provinces. Nova Scotia's nursing homes will be as affordable as they are in Ontario and the western provinces. By 2007 Nova Scotia's seniors will pay only for their room and board in nursing homes. This is not the only way seniors are saving money for their nursing home care because of this government's approach.

By April 7, 2007, government will assess a senior's ability to pay for nursing home care by considering only their income. We will no longer look at any assets when determining how much a senior needs to contribute to the cost of his or her own care. The Department of Health's blueprint for health care in Nova Scotia, Your Health Matters, commits to treating seniors respectfully. The decision to eliminate the asset assessment is in line with the commitment in Your Health Matters to treat seniors with dignity. This decision allows seniors to keep or to pass along lifetime assets to their families.

With the elimination of asset assessment, the time seniors wait to enter nursing homes will be reduced. The elimination of asset assessment also means savings in administrative dollars for the government. Because the assessment of income will be a much simpler process than the review of assets, care coordinators in the Department of Health will be able to conduct this assessment. The financial expertise of the current eligibility review office will no longer be necessary. This will save taxpayers approximately $750,000 a year beginning in 2007.

Mr. Speaker, that addresses the affordability. We are balancing this investment, which benefits the 20 per cent of seniors who now pay their health care costs in nursing homes, with investments in Pharmacare and the quality of care that benefits all seniors. The long-term care budget increased by $56 million between 1999 and 2002. This additional money was badly needed after decades of underfunding. This additional money enabled

[Page 2488]

nursing homes to focus their spending on high-quality care for their residents. We provided the money needed for their capital projects. More than 100 capital projects were undertaken in that time and included such upgrades as special patient tubs and lifts.

[6:15 p.m.]

The home care budget also increased. It increased by $34.6 million between 1999 and 2002. The budget increases will continue for the care of seniors. In 2003-04, there's an additional $9.6 million to meet increasing costs and to protect the quality of care in nursing homes. There is also an additional $5.3 million for home care. It is now easier for seniors to connect with the care they need, be it home care or long-term care. Single entry access, the one toll-free number seniors call for their care needs has made finding care much, much simpler. It means that people receive the care they need, regardless of their ability to pay.

Those who can afford to pay no longer jump the queue. People who need the nursing home bed the most, get it first. The centralized wait list under single entry access has meant that the waiting lists for nursing homes have been shortened by 23 per cent. There is also now less paperwork and duplication of the applications that seniors used to face. Now as their care needs change, seniors can approach the same people they first contacted; no more going to another department; no more going to different people in different places if a senior's care needs change.

Seniors continue to be our priority. We continue and will continue to improve quality access and affordability for seniors seeking care. In 2003-04 there is additional funding to hire more home care staff to help the pockets of Nova Scotia where there are waiting lists. There is now more support for family caregivers. Their tax credit increased by 75 per cent in 2003-04.

We will consult this year with seniors to find out exactly what the next steps are. What is their vision for continuing care into the future? With the groundwork we have laid by improving quality of care, making access to that care easier and more affordable, we are now ready to go forward and build on that groundwork.

For seniors, we're improving quality, access and affordability of care. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and participate in this evening's late debate, "Therefore be it resolved that the government should immediately end the practice of impoverishing seniors by making them pay for health care in nursing homes." I may broaden that a bit because I think, although the past speaker mentioned that seniors were a priority of his government and I can appreciate where the member is coming from,

[Page 2489]

but I wish he had better support in the front benches for seniors in our province. I want to point out some of the reasons why I believe that to be so.

This government, more than any other government in the history of this province, has more revenues. An additional $1 billion has come into Nova Scotia each year of this government's mandate and yet they are unable to help seniors now - now is the key word. More revenues than ever realized by any other government. They can mail out $155 cheques to buy some people's votes, but they can't help seniors. The $68 million that this will cost, would have paid for the health care costs of seniors in nursing homes for the next two years. This would have paid for two years of nursing home care for all the seniors in Nova Scotia.

They chose not to go that route. At the end of the day, it all boils down to priorities, more specifically, what priority this government places on our senior population. We should for a couple of moments remind all Nova Scotians on the priority that they have placed on seniors.

One of the very first actions this government took back in 1999-2000 that impacted negatively on seniors was to raise the Pharmacare premium in co-pay. The honourable member of the government spoke of the support of Pharmacare in the times ahead, but the first thing they did was attack both the premium and the co-pay. What happened to government that made them change their tune on Pharmacare? We all remember that it was this government that demanded of us, when we were in government, to eliminate the premium and to eliminate the co-pay. Imagine the surprise seniors received when they heard that the premium and the co-pay both were going up. It didn't just go up a little bit, it went up a lot. The seniors' Pharmacare premiums in this province have increased by 50 per cent since this government came to power; the co-pay has increased 13 per cent, to a total of 33 per cent. These are all increased costs to seniors.

Then we have the issue of this government charging seniors and others $50 a day who must wait in hospital beds while the Health Department conducts a financial audit so that they are able to get their hands on everything that those people have saved. I have brought some examples to the House and some sad examples, particularly one in the Dartmouth community, where both seniors were actually in the hospital at the same time. The wife was having cardiac problems and she was in the intensive care unit, a wheelchair-bound person, and her husband, the spouse, was also in the hospital and had been charged $25 a day and was currently being charged $50 a day. I was contacted by a distant relative trying to figure out an explanation of how that could possibly come about to these people. He had been deemed to be ready for a nursing home and he was being charged; she was in intensive care in the same hospital. That's not dignity and respect for seniors, that's not a government that has seniors as a priority. This is unacceptable.

[Page 2490]

Then we have the promise of more long-term care beds, that was a clear one. The Premier, early in his mandate, in the early years of his mandate - and they've gone four years now - that was one of the major planks. That was one of the major promises, more long-term care beds in this province. We have none, exactly none, no new beds under this government. We have seen, however, a government trumpet their success of the single-entry process, ensuring seniors must wait longer in hospital beds, as I mentioned earlier, so government can generate extra revenue either through the rental charge they are charging the seniors for that bed, or going at their forensic audit for every single cent that those seniors own.

We've seen a government content on splitting up couples - couples who have lived 50-plus years together - by moving one person to a nursing home in another county because there are no beds in their home county. We've seen the tragic episodes prior to last Christmas, particularly in Lunenburg County, where people were in comfortable, affordable, safe environments in residential settings and were split up and one of the seniors sent to other parts of the province.

We've seen a government that's failed. It has failed in its efforts to ensure that the best possible services and the best possible settings are being offered to our seniors. What's happened to all the adult day programs this government was going to implement? Unless I've missed that announcement, the government has been silent on that issue and have once again failed seniors on adult day programs. Very crucial, very crucial for respite when the caregivers are reaching their burnout level. All the enhancement in health and functioning of a senior, activities of daily living that can be supported. Those types of programs, those are well-documented, well-complemented programs, well deserved, and this government has not come forward after four years of a majority government with $1 billion a year extra in revenues, it has not found it's way into those programs. That is not acceptable.

In this game of politics you're judged by your actions, it's actions that count. Using the previous government as an excuse, like this government has done for four years - and continues to this very day - there are ministers who still get up in Question Period and blame the other government for this and that and things that they should be doing, not addressing, particularly relative to seniors.

I would say you cannot hide what you have done. You can run, in the election, but you can't hide. You can't hide behind the fact that it was you, that government, that increased Pharmacare premiums and co-pays; one on one year and one on another year. You cannot hide that it was you, the PC Government, that did not create one long-term care bed during its term in office, despite the fact that there are many people on a waiting list today. You cannot hide that it was you that made the decision to charge seniors when waiting for a hospital bed, for a nursing home bed, that it was you that decided that giving out $155 - many seniors won't see any of this - was more important than covering long-term care costs now.

[Page 2491]

This came up today in the Law Amendments Committee, the small options home workers that are, of course, out on strike are in there pleading the same case, please rethink that type of initiative and put money into people programs and put it where it really will do the most work, the best work. This government cannot hide that it was them that did not create one single adult daycare program, despite the promise that that would be done. They cannot hide that it was them that separated seniors from their loved ones because of their lack of commitment to long-term care and lack of support to alternative care settings. (Interruption)

Yes, Mr. Speaker. I'm just going to close on saying that this government will be judged by their actions by our seniors. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: There are approximately two minutes left.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the resolution as well and I want to make a comment that the honourable member from the government side had been making comments with respect to how well the government has done with respect to its support for seniors. I think the honourable member for Dartmouth East has quite clearly spelled out just exactly how much this government has imposed upon seniors; the tremendous costs with respect to Pharmacare, both the co-pay and the premium, the long-term care issue - this long-term care issue would have never arisen on the floor if it wasn't for our political Party.

We have continuously challenged the government to make progressive moves with respect to the long-term care issue, to the point where we believe that the government should provide full health care costs for those people in long-term care. We're not talking about the residency rate here, we're talking about long-term care issues, long-term medical services that would be provided to those individuals. If they were in a hospital setting they would not be paying for that. If they were home in their own residence and receiving that health care then they would not be paying for that as well. This would be covered under MSI.

Here, because they're in long-term care they're expected to pay that money themselves. I just want to relate to a figure according to the Department of Health, which states that the average Nova Scotians going into long-term care pay approximately $60,000 in savings towards the nursing home care fees. The average daily rate is $150. Before yesterday's change, which was April 1st, which in fact this Tory Government brought the change into effect, before that change it would have taken an average senior 13 months to exhaust their life savings, it now takes 14 months, just one month in the difference to exhaust their life savings and they're expected to deal with this up until the year 2007 over a gradual period. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2492]

MR. SPEAKER: The time for the debate has expired. I thank the members for taking part in the debate this evening. We'll revert to Bill No. 45.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

Bill No. 45 - Insurance Act.] [Debate resumed.]

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased this evening to stand and speak on this bill. It's one of course that I have a lot of interest in. It's an issue that is very close to everybody's heart here in Nova Scotia because it affects basically every family that I'm aware of. It's an issue that I've been contacted more times than any other issue actually since I've been an elected member; the last time I checked, over 800 phone calls, letters or e-mails in regard to this issue so it is a major issue and it affects the pocketbooks of many Nova Scotia families. It's one more reason why I voted for the budget actually because I recognize that it's one of the issues why people need that refund and that tax break that's coming early next year.

[6:30 p.m.]

In regard to this insurance issue, I have to say that I don't support this bill and I think that the minister at least is making some sort of effort to try to deal with the situation. It's an issue that's not an easy issue. I could get up here, shouting at the minister over there and saying that he's not trying to do anything, or he has been negligent, or whatever, but in fact I think, in all fairness, the minister has just taken over the duties in that department and I think he has got the reputation, and he certainly has the experience to deal with this issue. I'm looking forward to the days ahead when he does really put the regulations in place.

I'm also eager to see how he deals with the situation because, I don't think it's fair to blame the industry here entirely. I think the industry has indicated very clearly since day one that they've been eager to work with government to try to find a solution and I know at least they've been discussing with the Liberal caucus - when I was over there, in 1999 they came into that caucus, they came in, they asked to come in, they came forward and they brought the issues in there and they expressed their concern on what was taking place within their industry. I know we, as a caucus, looked at the other provinces and we recognized that this was going to be a problem in Nova Scotia.

I think if there had been a Liberal Government in place in 1999, things would have happened quicker, I have to admit that, but that's not the case, Mr. Speaker. The case is that we had a Tory Government and we had a minister over there who, I don't know why he didn't act any sooner than he did. I think when he did act, in my opinion at least, he didn't take the right course of action, although it wasn't entirely the wrong course of action because

[Page 2493]

the information, when he ordered it before the URB, that information can be very handy when it comes to trying to find a solution to the problem. So it wasn't entirely a waste of time and effort, or money or anything like that, but I said it and I think we discussed this when I was part of the Liberal caucus very sincerely. We sought the information. We got as much information as we could on it and we felt that an all-Party committee should have been put in place and I still feel that the minister should have done that as well as sending it to the URB.

In reply to questions from me in estimates, the current minister admitted that he has experience with the all-Party committee and it can find solutions, Mr. Speaker, for the members in this House because eventually this issue is going to land on the floor of this House. It's here this evening and it's going to be back as soon as we can iron out the difficulties being experienced in the industry. We have to recognize that this is an industry in turmoil and to blame each other, or to blame the minister or the government over there for not doing anything, that's not going to find any solutions. I think I would have to give credit to the Leader of the Opposition that he's still pursuing an answer to the questions that need to be answered and he's making every effort and I have to give his caucus colleagues, I know my House colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, has spent a lot of effort on this. He has met with local groups in Cape Breton, and they're at least trying. I am not suggesting that the Liberals were the only ones who did anything on this file. The government attempted to do something but, in my opinion at least, it was in the wrong direction.

Now, the whole situation changes because we now have the most experienced minister, probably in the history of Nova Scotia, over there, and he is in charge of this file. We have a rookie minister over there, who has put in a strong effort, and I have to give him credit. I know maybe some of my Cape Breton colleagues will get upset, but in regard to the railway issue that affected Cape Breton, the rookie minister put a strong effort into that. The results, whether temporary or not, were very positive. As a rookie - he has only been up here two years - I think it's important to recognize that. I don't believe the minister over there, the icon of Nova Scotia, is going to allow that minister to get ahead of him. Given the history and the tradition that minister has and the work ethic he puts into issues, provided he feels it's something that he's going to put his attention to, I have to give him credit.

At least he's come forward with this bill, which is not the answer, in my opinion, but at least it's a first step. It's something that's going to force something to happen, hopefully, it will be a positive thing. The real issue, Mr. Speaker, I believe, is with the lawyers, between the lawyers and the industry. It's obvious that whether it's a soft tissue injury or whatever, the industry is losing inside court and the trial lawyers are winning. That is the real issue. As a result, we see skyrocketing insurance rates. I am eager to find solutions, because they're affecting me, they're affecting my neighbours, they're affecting the people I represent, they're affecting - according to the e-mails and the letters and the phone calls I receive - Nova Scotians from one end of the province to the other.

[Page 2494]

Halifax now, basically, is probably one of the most expensive places in Canada to purchase insurance. In reality, the government should have recognized earlier on that this was happening, and it was going to happen quickly. Just by observing what took place in the other provinces, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, prior to the crisis coming to a head here in Nova Scotia, we should have recognized that it was coming.

Mr. Speaker, I must say that the previous problem that we had with insurance was in 1996-97, on which the Liberal Government acted very quickly, when rates began to skyrocket and people were losing their lives. The Liberal Government of the day moved very quickly and brought in the graduated licensing issue. It basically dealt with the problem at the time. That's what quick action can do. I think that's what was required here. For whatever reason, that didn't happen and we have to deal with the situation as it is today. As I indicated before, the minister has made every effort. I've spoken to the minister. I think the minister is sincere, he is going to put an effort into this file and he's going to find a solution.

I am pretty confident that, given his abilities and his experience, that he can really find a solution here for all of Atlantic Canada, when you think of it. He could really do something here that will leave a larger legacy than already begun. As I indicated in the House prior, that both he and my former caucus colleague and now current House colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, is obviously very recognized throughout the political world here, not only in the province but in the country. I'm confident after working with my colleague for Cape Breton Nova, if he had been taking care of this file from the beginning, something would have been done by now.

That's one of the reasons I believe that the current minister will act, and he's proven that by putting this bill in here. In Question Period, I hear his replies, he's going to regulate the industry and he's going to deal with the situations as they arise in hopes of at least stabilizing the cost of purchasing insurance. I think that's basically all he can do at this time until he finds a way to find the solution. In all fairness to the minister, the insurance industry, the last time I believe it was reviewed here in this province was, I think, in the 1960s. I believe it was in 1961 or 1962. The minister has a lot of homework to get caught up on, in all reality, to deal with the situation.

Now, with an election looming here in the province, it's obvious that the minster is running out of time unless, of course, the government is re-elected. That will be up to the people of Nova Scotia. The honourable minister I believe knows that. That's why he's put this bill in here, so that at least it gives one year to either get re-established as a government and get a process in place - I do firmly believe that if that minister continues to remain in charge of this file that there will be an all-Party committee struck. Nova Scotians will have an opportunity to have an input. I believe that the minister knows full well that that's the answer.

[Page 2495]

During questions from me during estimates, he admitted that an all-Party committee or a select committee can find solutions, can be very helpful to finding solutions. That process would be set up on the floor here, through the proceedings here, and that committee would answer to all members of this House. That's the process I believe can find a solution because it's we, members of this House, who have to go home and answer why these rates continue to skyrocket.

Mr. Speaker, they are affecting Nova Scotians. I could table hundreds of letters if I wanted to. There's the story from the lady in Cape Breton North who received a letter from her insurance company basically telling her that her insurance was cancelled immediately because she had cast iron piping in her heating supply. That's kind of ridiculous in my opinion. The lady was 73 years old and purchased insurance from the same company for over 25 years. It's obvious that there's a problem there.

I could tell you the story of the young man in Antigonish who purchased a car and his parents wrote me a letter and told me that the insurance cost twice as much as the car did. That young man's story was similar to the one I heard here in this House today of another young man, a Nova Scotian, who was preparing to go to college and ran into the same type of difficulty. So, Mr. Speaker, it's really affecting Nova Scotians from all walks of life.

One thing we've got going for us now as a Nova Scotian is at least we have an experienced minister, who does have a reputation of getting things done, in charge of this file. Hopefully, this minister will put a strong effort into it and after discussing the file with him personally, I believe he's sincere. I believe he recognizes this is affecting Nova Scotians in their daily lives and in their pocketbooks and he's concerned. In fact, being a senior himself, he recognizes that this is perhaps hitting seniors harder than any Nova Scotian, impacting on their abilities to provide essentials for themselves. Again, the minister at least, after a very short time at the helm of this file has acted. I think it's important to recognize that. I think in all fairness to the minister, I don't think the Leader of the Opposition or my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, or the other NDP members are going to let him sleep on the issue anyway and I don't believe the Liberals over there are going to let them sleep.

[6:45 p.m.]

Hopefully now that the government has some experience at the helm of this particular file at least, maybe the minister can fast-track what a rookie minister couldn't do. We will find out in time I guess, a very short time. In fact, I speak to the backbenchers over there quite a bit, particularly lately just in private conversations over there. I know my other colleagues here in Opposition like to tease my honourable colleagues over there on that side of House. In all fairness, in private conversation they are concerned about this issue. I know they are speaking to the minister about it. They're not going to let the minister sleep too long on the file either I don't believe, especially with an election on the horizon.

[Page 2496]

I believe that Nova Scotians can at least - I don't know if the rates will ever be lowered in the province, but at least the minister for the time being has done something about stabilizing the rates and that I believe is important. It's a first step as I indicated before. I told the minister this story about the senior in Bedford who had a policy from his insurance company for many years and it was approximately, I believe it was $578 for the year. He received a phone call first and then, when he requested the letter, they did send the letter, indicating that his rates went up to $2,878, I think was the figure. Of course he was shocked and dismayed at that. When he phoned me it was hard for me to believe that the gentleman, who was a senior, didn't have a car accident. There had to be a problem here, rates just don't go that high when you don't have a speeding ticket or you don't have a parking ticket or you don't have any fender benders or nothing happens and your rates go up over 600 per cent, there's something wrong.

The honourable gentleman called me and I went down to visit him and he showed me this on paper and it was hard for me to believe. The gentleman even had an abstract there, he went to Access Nova Scotia of course and obtained one of those, it was very clear by the abstract that there were no glitches there, nothing. Unfortunately, the gentleman indicated to me that he was about to get rid of the vehicle because he couldn't afford this type of an increase and he was in the process of selling his vehicle. That was very disheartening to him because he felt that he should have the ability to drive a car. One thing came to mind immediately when I was speaking to this gentleman because he indicated to me that he was very grateful that he lived in an area where at least he had access to public transportation. He expressed his concern about the seniors out in the rural areas, where there's no public bus. That struck home for me, because, really, the vast majority, in fact about 99.9 per cent of my riding has no public transportation. For those people who require public transportation today, even in the suburban areas, like Westmount and Coxheath, particularly the seniors in Westmount and Coxheath have a great deal of difficulty travelling back and forth because there is no bus.

With the financial shape of the municipality in Cape Breton, the bus was eliminated there. It was unfortunate, because the ridership was up. It was just that the buses had to come off the roads because the municipality indicated, at the time at least, that they were losing money and they didn't have the money to operate. Those seniors know what it's like already, to struggle, to try to obtain transportation to and from dentist and doctor appointments and malls and groceries, just the everyday things, drug stores, Canadian Tire stores, whatever.

Mr. Speaker, seniors are being affected here. I know that the minister is aware of that, and I believe that's one of the reasons why he acted so quickly here when he felt that the insurance industry . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes allow for an introduction?

[Page 2497]

MR. BOUDREAU: Absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I do thank that member. Tonight, in our east gallery, we have some special friends, friends and family I must say. The girls are at home so often I don't know if they're friends or family. Anyway, my daughter Meagan, Chantelle, Holly and Laura, and of course my wife, Colette, who is no stranger to this Legislature. I would ask you to welcome them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I believe the honourable member said - you said they were five sisters?

MR. DOOKS: They're all my girls.

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to the gallery this evening, ladies. I hope you enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, seniors are being affected, probably even more than the young people. When we're young, at least we can hitch a ride. When you lose the right to drive, and I think the honourable minister over there is very much aware of that, being a senior himself, he certainly is aware that if he lost his driver's licence or the ability to drive or the dignity to drive, in some cases, then that hurts.

That's why I'm expecting the minister to follow up. I don't believe that this is the final step for this minister. I really do have a lot of confidence that he's going to do what he says he's going to do. He stood today, in reply to the Opposition questions on insurance, at least here on the floor, I think he appeared pretty confident that he was going to do what he said he was going to do. I think he challenged the Opposition today to pass this bill, so that he can deal with the issues. When the regulations are put in place, all Nova Scotians will see that he is not toying with this idea or toying with the issue, he is serious, he is taking it on, and he's going to put the effort into the file that is necessary to find the solutions.

I think he is aware of that, I think the other ministers over there are aware of this. I think the backbench over there is aware of this. Being an election year, it's clear that it's not going to be put on the shelf or anything like that. I think it was obvious when the Premier moved the file to a much more experienced minister that he recognized that this was an issue that was moving forward pretty quickly. Again, not to fault the former minister because he did have some initiative, sending it to the URB and all that sort of stuff. I know the minister has also appointed an advocate for the insurance industry, which is at least something that we hope will work. The minister says this individual has the authority to make it work, and

[Page 2498]

I have no reason to doubt what he is saying. Until we see some evidence that Mr. Jordan cannot deal with the situation or the crises as they arise, then it's not fair to criticize.

I know the minister will look forward to when, if he does mess up, I would imagine he'll get lots of criticism, not only from myself, but probably from his own backbench over there. I think the minister is aware and that's important. He's not sleeping over there and I know he's thinking all the time on his file. I know the other members on the backbench over there speak to him regularly about it. I think he recognizes that it's an issue.

I know my colleagues on this side of the House - I think anybody that pays attention to the proceedings here in the House, it's quite obvious that they're aggressively pursuing a solution. I have to give credit to both Parties. I don't mind saying, now that I'm a non-partisan politician - at least the only one in here for now - that the NDP have put a strong effort in at least putting pressure on the government and an effort themselves to try to find a solution. So the Opposition Leader deserves that credit. It's fair and it's not just coming from him. As I indicated, I know my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, is aggressively - actually I've noticed that he's having conversations all over the place on this. I know he's talking to the minister and I know he's talking to the other people over there as my other colleagues from Cape Breton, all of them, are doing the same. So the minister is sort of a little bit under the gun, here.

With the election coming soon, I think the minister recognizes that something has got to be done. That's why this bill is at least the first step. It's a beginning and it's something at least he can deal with if something happens or springs up like the increases earlier this month. At least the minister has the ability to deal with the situation. He's showing at least that he's willing to stand up and have the courage to do the things that are tough because when he put this bill back to May 1st, he probably upset the industry a little bit here. Some companies within the industry at least were seeking increases. So he's not making any friends in that industry, I would suggest.

All indications, in all fairness to the honourable minister, are that he is going to deal with this issue. I have the confidence in the minister just from watching him since I've been involved in politics. He certainly has the ability, he has the knowledge, he has the experience. There are no excuses, this government must find the answer and if this minister with this type of experience and abilities and proven record of accomplishments cannot find the solution on this file for the government over there, well, then I don't know who else could find it over there. That's not to say the other ministers don't have their abilities or anything like that, I'm not suggesting that, but really, this is the most capable minister over there and everybody in Nova Scotia knows this.

[Page 2499]

[7:00 p.m.]

I know I'm supporting the bill. I don't mind saying that tonight. Perhaps the Opposition Parties should consider supporting this legislation, only as a first step. It's not really admitting anything, but I think it's important to get this bill passed and have it put into law so that the minister has the tools to deal with the problem. I think that's what he's asking all members of the House. I think that's all we can do at this point in time, with the election coming and things like that, at least he's shown he has control. Although the other minister did put an effort into it, I'm not suggesting that he didn't, I just think he took the wrong measures and he went to the URB. I believe that's not entirely a 100 per cent mistake. I don't want to express that, but that information will be very helpful, that was gathered through that process. It can be useful, it's not a lost exercise by any thought.

There should have been an all-Party committee, and that is a very inexpensive process when we consider the other options. For instance, there's the $600,000 bill that the URB is going to send the insurance industry. Somebody has to pay that, Mr. Speaker. Guess who? It's going to be interesting to see what the minister does if that occurs. When the bill goes to the insurance industry and they want to put the rates up to justify it, it's going to be interesting to see what this honourable minister is going to do with the tools that I hope will be passed here. Being a majority government on that side of the House, I have no reason to believe that it won't be passed. It's just a matter of when. So, it's either tonight or tomorrow or it's going to be next week, but it will be passed.

Perhaps all the members on this side of the House should recognize - I could get up and scream and holler here tonight and blame the government and blame whoever or whatever for causing the problem and not doing this about the problem, that's not going to find any solutions for the people I represent, at least. What I've been sent here for is to find solutions when problems exist or arise within my community. That's what I'm interested in. I want to find solutions so that maybe the people I represent could enjoy that tax break just a little more.

Mr. Speaker, as I said when I voted for the budget I believed people needed that $155, the majority of the people need it or could at least use it. Most people I represent work every-day and contribute to the province, but I do have people that can't buy a job and don't have the money for a bus ticket either. Even a lot of the working families, normally there's two in a household to make ends meet. In Cape Breton, at least, it's not an easy place to find a job, especially a well-paid job. In fact, you're probably very fortunate if you can get a job over $8 or $10 an hour.

If they could get a discount or save some money on insurance costs in this province, it's going to have the same impact as that tax rebate. I hope the government on that side over there, the honourable members and the minister and the backbench will recognize that. I think they do. I really do. I believe this minister is going to take charge, he's indicated that

[Page 2500]

by putting the bill in. He's at least doing something. I don't think he wants to be outdone by a rookie minister from Cape Breton North. So something is going to happen. It's already beginning to happen and I think really that's all I can hope for. I can at least go back home and tell people that the minister is finally doing something that I believe at least is going to stabilize things for awhile until the solutions are found because, hopefully, the minister now will do the proper thing. I don't think anybody is really sure what to do. I'm not sure.

I don't want to sound like I'm an expert on the insurance industry because I'm not, but I do know the facts are there, Mr. Speaker, and the facts are clear. The industry is eager to help find solutions. The Opposition Parties are putting a strong effort into finding solutions and I believe the backbenchers and the government want to find the solution. I believe the Premier in recognizing and placing the most experienced minister, and probably the most capable minister on the front benches over there, concerning this file, the Premier has recognized that this is affecting Nova Scotians and that's a good sign. It's not to say that the government, that the light came on late, I'm not suggesting that, but I think that at least the Premier recognized that maybe this file does need a lot of attention and it does need an experienced minister because the facts don't lie. The industry hasn't been reviewed since probably 1960 or 1961.

So this minister, I think he has been around that long, Mr. Speaker, in this House actually. In fact, he may have been involved in the committee that did the last review, who knows. If he wasn't, he certainly probably has the minutes at home. So I think it's positive and I think the government is moving forward and I do honestly believe, and I spent a lot of time on this file and I put a lot of effort into the file and I'm still doing some research on the file, I don't have and I haven't found the answer. Have I got some suggestions for the minister? Yes, I do, certainly I do, but I don't have the answers and I really don't hear any answers, really, anywhere on this side of the House or on that side of the House.

So we need a minister there with that type of ability and the capability, the knowledge and experience to deal with this situation and that's why I'm supporting the initiative that the minister has undertaken here with this bill. I don't intend to speak too long on the bill. I think I've got my points across on the bill. There are many more things I could say on the bill. I could tell you lots of stories, Mr. Speaker, but the stories are not going to find the solutions. What we have to do is find an avenue here to find the solutions, but I also believe that we have to provide the support that the minister needs. I believe that the government will find the solution, I really do, especially this minister here. I know I'm going to be watching him very closely, as all the other members over there, they're going to be watching him.

One thing that Nova Scotians have going for them here is the election on the horizon, you know, there is going to be an election either in May or June, or it's going to be in July, or it's going to be September, it's coming, and that's one thing that Nova Scotians have going for them. I think the Opposition Parties actually are going to be playing that part for Nova Scotians because I think the minister recognizes that just today in Question Period

[Page 2501]

alone, he was under heavy fire. So I'm basically going to recap and say that I am looking forward to watching this minister in the days ahead to see what he is going to do to have a positive impact on Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I know the industry, it's going to be interesting, at least for me, to watch to see what role the honourable minister allows the industry to play here because, in all fairness, they did come forward at least to my caucus, when I was over in that caucus, on that side of the House, they came in there. They put a presentation in to us, and we became concerned right away. In all fairness, they went to all caucuses, and I think if they had recognized and looked at New Brunswick and Newfoundland, I think they would have recognized it was going to come smack dab in the middle of them and hit them right in the foreheads. They didn't see it coming. If they did, they sure as heck didn't let on.

I know it has been suggested, and I've even said it myself, I thought originally that the government sat back and did nothing to collect tax dollars and have an impact in the operating budget. After reviewing the budget documents and stuff like that, and looking at all the figures, I don't know if that amount of money would have an impact or not. I know the surplus that's before us is much higher than that money. It's hard to say. It was obviously not a handicap to the government, that's for certain. It came in handy, I would suggest, but I believe the minister who was in charge at the time took the wrong direction. Perhaps this measure should have been taken in 2000. Maybe that's something we will never know now. If this minister had been there, what would he have done in 2000?

In all fairness, they're a largely rookie government on that side of the House, and any government has to mature. At least they're showing some signs of recognizing the fact that this is an issue that affects daily living here in the province. I know students who can't purchase lunches because they have to pay more money for their insurance. By the way, it's kind of tough living on a student loan. I know the minister recognizes that, and I know the other members over there recognize that. As I indicated before, the backbench is not going to let the minister sleep on the file, and the Opposition Parties aren't going to let him sleep on the file. I know that I'm not going to let him sleep on the file. He doesn't need a Chihuahua at him, I guess.

Mr. Speaker, I know that the minister is sincere, and I believe that he has taken the first step. I think it's a good first step, I think it's a good first measure. All we have to do is look at Hansard to see what he said today in the House. He challenged the Opposition here and told them, just pass the bill and I'll show you, that was basically the answer. That's the minister I want to see. I want the minister to show Nova Scotians that he still has that ability, that capability and that fire in his belly to do something, to have a positive impact here in Nova Scotia. I don't have any problem saying that I have the confidence in that minister that that's going to happen.

[Page 2502]

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to take too much more time. I think I basically said all I should say. Before I sit down, I just want to say hello to my wife, Robin back at home. She had surgery on Tuesday, and she's resting at home. I just want to tell her I love her and say hi to her and my youngest daughter, Brandy, who is home, of course, taking care of her mother. With that, I just want to say thank you, have a good evening, and I'm done.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to rise in my place and debate Bill No. 45, the Insurance Act this evening. I can forewarn you that I'll probably be going for about 15 to 20 minutes, maybe a little bit more.

[7:15 p.m.]

This is a fairly serious matter that we're dealing with, I know. It's a topic that has generated a lot of discussion not only in this Chamber, but throughout the province. It's one of those topics that you could describe probably as a water cooler topic or a coffee shop topic. It's something that everybody is talking about these days. It's a heck of a lot more serious than who got kicked off American Idol last night, whether or not you favour Josh or Clay or Ruben, which is another topic that you'd probably be talking about if - for those of you who watched the program, anyway, last night. Or if you were discussing the current round of the NHL playoffs, whether or not Vancouver won the game last night.

In the end, you know, those are all great topics, the ones that everybody is interested in, and this one is another topic that not only is everyone interested in, but it affects almost everybody. That's the difference. It also affects you where it really hurts, and that's in your pocketbook, of course. It affects the people most of all who we can least afford have hurt in this province, among them, seniors, to say the least, and low-income earners who just simply can't afford such things as a skyrocketing rise in insurance rates.

I've heard from residents in Glace Bay who have called my office and been complaining about their insurance rates going up. Not only auto insurance rates, I think we can make that clarification here, we're not just talking about auto insurance rates here, we're talking about insurance rates that affect our homes, we're talking about insurance rates that affect everything from farm equipment to fishing equipment. This is a wide range of things and rate increases that have been applied from the insurance industry.

It's probably happened to some of the MLAs in this Chamber, I know it's happened to me. I received a notice from my insurance company last year, replace your roof or else we're not going to renew your policy. I've heard from other homeowners in Glace Bay who've said, well, we no longer cover the burning of coal. At one time it was very popular to burn coal in Glace Bay, we'll no longer cover it unless you put a flue in your chimney and bring it up to modifications.

[Page 2503]

There's a whole myriad of things that have happened that insurance companies have said, if you don't do this we're going to cancel your policy. When an insurance company cancels your policy what happens is that you're pretty well blacklisted throughout the entire industry. You can't go to another insurance company and say, well, insurance company A will no longer insure me, you're insurance company B, will you take on my policy because they won't? Finally, if you're lucky enough to find an insurance company that will take you on, you're going to have to give something up, whether you're giving up how much it's going to cost for comprehensive or how much it's going to cost for your policy, in general.

I can remember a time, I can remember a time not that long ago, probably about seven or eight years ago, when I knew someone who was actually paying in excess of $2,000 a year for home insurance in this province because of the fact that they had had several claims against their policy. For no reason other than the claims were made against the policy, the insurance company thought, that's too many claims - three, in this instance - that's too many claims and we're not going to renew your policy any more.

Mr. Speaker, just with those few examples there, you can understand why people are tremendously upset when it comes to insurance and rates going up. First of all, you need it. It's a necessity. It's illegal, first of all, but you cannot and you should not drive around in a car without insurance. You have to have insurance on your home. You can't get a mortgage unless you have insurance on your home. You should have insurance on your home, in case of fire or accident or whatever damage is there; you need insurance on your home and the many other things that insurance covers.

It's not just this luxury item that we're talking about here and something that if you're lucky enough to be able to afford it you can pay for insurance, it's something that the average everyday Nova Scotian requires to exist on a daily basis.

I'm somewhat surprised why the government, and the minister in particular, hasn't addressed this issue more fully. More has to be done and more should have been done in this case because we all know what the problem is now and this government hasn't laid out the full solution. There are lots of people in this province who are saying - and the discussion has been ongoing for some time and it's become quite heated in some corners, but they will say - let's talk about whether or not we want public insurance or do we want this type of insurance, what type of insurance industry do we want in this province. The bottom line on all of that is that the people in this province don't want their rates to go up any more. As a matter of fact I would be so brave to suggest to you that the majority of people - this is not based on any kind of scientific poll or anything, its just a gut feeling that I have, but the majority of people - in this province now want their rates to go down because they've already gone up too much in the first place.

[Page 2504]

I did have a call from a couple of residents in Glace Bay who wanted me to bring up in particular this problem, and this problem being that since the freeze has been announced by the government, the freeze on rate increases, what has happened is that it doesn't prevent insurance companies from not renewing or refusing to do business in Nova Scotia, that's one aspect. If you're with a company and you now know that the freeze is going to take effect, or is retroactive to the May 1st, but if your policy doesn't expire let's say until the beginning of June, July 1st, when your policy is renewed and you've already been notified of a rate increase, what insurance companies are saying is that the freeze doesn't apply in that instance. You're still going to be subjected to the rate increase by the insurance company.

I would suggest just at first blush that that's not fair and that's what in particular the couple of people that called me with that problem have said. They don't think that it's fair. They signed a contract with their insurance company, whatever the insurance company would be, to pay a certain premium for an insurance policy from June 1st of last year to June 1st of this year. That policy is in effect until June 1st and you don't have a new policy until after that if you signed an agreement, in this case with the insurance agency. But, no agreement has been signed, all you've been given is notification that you're going to have a rate increase. What the insurance companies are saying, because they've given you that notification, what this government has done with their freeze in rate increases doesn't matter. It's a way for them to get around the whole issue. What it is, this whole bill as a matter of fact, is nothing more than a delaying tactic, that's all it is.

This government claims that it's taking a careful and considered and well-planned approach to managing the insurance issue for drivers in Nova Scotia. They've had over a year to have a plan but it's only when things begin to look really bad, it's only when the heat is really turned up and the pressure is on that the Conservative Government finally decides that it's time to do something. We've had a perfect example with the Sunday shopping issue. We saw what happened with Sunday shopping in this province. At one point in time we had a red tape task force that recommended that municipalities deal with the Sunday shopping issue. Then we had a minister come forward and say, very firmly, I can recall it here because I thought it was rather presumptuous of the minister of the time to say, we're not dealing with this any more until the year 2005.

Let me tell you, I'm sure you remember yourself, he was pretty firm and pretty adamant about that, 2005 for Sunday shopping, not a day earlier will we deal with this. Well, we've seen what's happened to that in the last couple of days. That situation has been entirely reversed and now lo and behold on the eve of an election we've been told that we're going to have Sunday shopping. But, it's Sunday shopping light, that's what it is because its not full Sunday shopping. We're only going to try it out in a period leading up to Christmas.

This is the way this government does everything. They do Sunday shopping light, they do education light, and they do insurance light, it's not the full measure, it's not the full quality that people are looking for in this province. The legislation just goes on the list as the

[Page 2505]

latest inaction on many issues by this government. With this legislation, they claim that they're putting prevention initiatives in place to stabilize the cost of insurance, and the government says they want input from consumers and business and the insurance industry on, in particular, in this case, auto insurance reform.

Well, it could have been achieved last year, Mr. Speaker. Instead, the rates went up last year, they went up this year, and now we are paying for those higher rates. Nova Scotians are paying higher rates. We proposed, at one time, that there be an all-Party committee on insurance rates in this province. We told the government and the Opposition that we suggested that, that they join us in an all-Party consultation. Our neighbours in New Brunswick and Newfoundland did so as well. For whatever reason, whether it's just politics, or perhaps it's just an issue of one-upmanship, which is what the Official Opposition loves to play in this Chamber all the time, one-upmanship. Not a day goes by that they don't take the opportunity to play one-upmanship with the Liberal Party.

I will suggest - I won't suggest, I will tell you, Mr. Speaker - why it was that the all-Party committee was not suggested, because it was our idea. That's why. That's the only reason. The only reason. Let me tell you, if, at the time, we had come up with a postcard and sent it out, they would have been against that as well. If I didn't address the postcard campaign by the NDP, then I just don't think that I would be doing my job here this evening. Let me tell you, if you take that cute little postcard and you send it out to as many people as the NDP did and take a look at it, take a look at the abundance of room on it that you've left for comments from the general public. Well, there are pretty tiny little lines that they can print in a couple of statements. The questions are really difficult, too, the questions that are asked on that postcard are questions that everyday Nova Scotians, of course, would say, yes, we're against higher rates, and of course they would say that they want something done about it.

It would have been as easy for the Leader of the NDP to say, when you wake up tomorrow, do you think you should breathe? They could have marked, yes, Darrell, I think I should breathe tomorrow; that would have been one of the answers on the postcard. That's the general concept. I should say that the average Nova Scotian should be insulted that the NDP would think that little of their intelligence that they wouldn't be able to fill in a proper card with more room on it for their comments. We've seen the real NDP in this case, we've seen the one-upmanship that the NDP can play, and we have seen exactly the game that they play right now. They care about nothing more except getting votes. That's all they care about. Nothing more.

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you, they're no different than the Tories in this instance. They're no different than the Tories whatsoever. You wouldn't be able to put up on the insurance issue, you wouldn't be able to stack up a Tory against an NDP and tell the difference on what they're doing. No difference whatsoever. None. What the Tories are trying to do in this case is buy your vote with a delaying tactic that they call the freeze, it's

[Page 2506]

the same delaying tactic or same vote voucher that they're going to send out in June with the $155 rum-bottle cheque, it's the same kind of idea, it's the same way of thinking. It's nothing but crass politics, that's all it is. It shows no respect whatsoever for voters in this province. The best part of it all is that voters in this province have finally realized that they know this is what the government is trying to do. In this case, they'll take a look at the fake campaign that the NDP has launched and they'll know that's exactly what the NDP is trying to do.

[7:30 p.m.]

So, Nova Scotians will wait and wait until finally the election is called and as usual, they'll make their decisions then and they'll be able to see through the NDP propaganda, they'll be able to see through the delay tactics of the Tories and when they do they'll be able

to make their decision once and for all. As I said, this is an issue that affects a lot of Nova Scotians. There are seniors who will no longer be able to afford to drive a car, no longer be able to insure their homes because of these skyrocketing insurance rates. We know, as legislators, that something has to be done about it. That message has been coming loud and clear from Nova Scotians across this province, not because one Party brought it to their attention, not like the NDP tries to claim and pat themselves on the back that they're the only Party that cares. That's the same thing that they do with any issue. They're the only Party that cares.

Nova Scotians know that's not the truth. They know that's not the truth. They know that we take our responsibilities seriously in this Chamber and they know that we're listening to them as well. We're listening very intently to Nova Scotians on the issue of insurance. We've been talking about the issue of insurance for some time now. Just because all of a sudden we didn't decide that it's time to just jump into the fire, willy-nilly without some kind of a plan, or all of a sudden just launch this fake postcard campaign that's out there just to support their leader in an election. That's the only reason it's there for.

Now, having said all of that and certainly caught the attention of some members in the Chamber, it's no wonder, with the half-baked idea that this government has come up with, this so-called freeze or delaying tactic that this government has come up with on Bill No. 45, the Insurance Act, that indeed Nova Scotians are angry and they're frustrated and they've told us, they've made it very clear, that they want action on insurance rates. They just don't want a freeze, they want a plan. They want more, they want more than the Leader of the Official Opposition's picture on a postcard. They want more than his mug shot on a postcard. They want real consultative action. You can believe me as I stand here, the Liberal Party is going to give them what they want. It will give them what they want and in the end result they'll be able to stand back when the day comes and finally say, look at the three, I know what choice I'm going to make. It will be crystal clear. I can guarantee you of that. I can guarantee every member over there, some of them who will no longer be returning to this Chamber, I can guarantee every member over there, that it will be so clear, it'll even make sense to them.

[Page 2507]

I said I wasn't going to take that long, so with that thought in mind and knowing how serious a matter this is to Nova Scotians who are faced with these bills that confront them on a daily basis that they can't afford to pay, that we know as legislators we have to do something about this once and for all. Knowing that, we'll take this seriously and we will give it all we have until finally a solution is found. With that thought, I will take my seat. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have an opportunity to get up and talk a little bit about Bill No. 45 which is - and let's be clear - not a bill to freeze insurance rates, this is a bill to delay and to postpone insurance rate increases, and, quite frankly, he hasn't even done a very good job of that because with regard to rates in the past year and a half, they have been going up on an incremental basis.

The insurance companies aren't stupid, Mr. Speaker. These are insurance companies, that don't, once a year, on May 1st of every year, file for a 30 per cent, or 40 per cent, or 50 per cent, or 60 per cent increase, oh, no, they do it every other month, or every third month. They will show up down at the URB - I've gone down myself to take a look at this - and they will file their increase probably in September, again in November, again in January, there may be another one in March, and then another one in May - 10 per cent each time. So if you look at any single increase you will say, well, that's only a 10 per cent increase, that's not that much more than inflation, it's not that big an increase. But, in fact, over a year, it all accumulates to be close to 65 per cent, which is what happened last year, a 65 per cent increase in insurance rates in this province.

Before I get too much into that, I do want to respond to the member for Glace Bay who so eloquently waxed about consultation. I find it ironic that he and his Party will take the time to talk about the need to consult when, in fact, it's exactly what our Party has been doing over the past three months. We set up a task force, we've been meeting with individuals, we've been meeting with brokers, we've been meeting with seniors, we've been meeting with students, and the impact of higher insurance rates on them. We've been listening. As part of that plan we've also gone out to, I think, 150,000 homes, we've sent out a brochure and gave people an opportunity to give us feedback on exactly where they stand on insurance and, to a great extent, we've been hearing already, Mr. Speaker, that many people are very upset about higher insurance rates.

Obviously, the government must be hearing the same thing through the polling that they do, their polling must be showing them that, Mr. Speaker, because they've decided this is an important enough issue to try to do some patchwork, do a quick repair job on insurance rates before the next election but, unfortunately, that's not enough. I think Nova Scotians are wise to that and they're wise to the fact that this legislation does not freeze insurance rate increases, it postpones increases that were scheduled for May 1st, that's it. Any of them that

[Page 2508]

were scheduled for April 1st, or April 15th, still go ahead, but the others that were scheduled for May 1st will be postponed until January 1, 2004.

Again, one final point from the member for Glace Bay, Mr. Speaker, he wanted to talk about, as he would say, that the NDP, he believed, wasn't really saying much on this subject and that Nova Scotians will see through that. I think it's important to put on the record that of all three Parties in this House right now, it's only the Third Party, the Liberal Party, that has not taken the opportunity to spell out what they will do with regard to insurance rates. (Interruptions) Well, I would say that the reason - as some of the members across the way have asked me to explain - would be that they don't have a plan with regard to auto insurance rates. They have not identified a plan. They have not identified a means by which they think we can - I will give credit to the government on this, at least they have tried to think about some means by which this can be done. I would say it was a half-hearted measure. I would say it was a measure that will not succeed because in the end Nova Scotians understand that insurance companies in this province, over the last 15 months, have been attempting to increase the rates beyond what is reasonable for the type of record that they have.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: If the member opposite would allow me to make an observation, I mean that's a fairly significant observation . . .

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order or a point of privilege?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. You know, that's a pretty significant observation to be making about the Liberals not having any plan for insurance. I just wonder if maybe a member from the Liberal Party would like to respond to that comment?

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. DEVEAUX: Well, if they want to take some time, Mr. Speaker, I agree with the honourable Minister of Community Services. I would encourage them, I will be glad to take my seat for a short period to allow them to explain what their plan is but, no, I guess not.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a little of my time because it's interesting, last week I had an opportunity to go up to listen to Ralph Nader. Ralph Nader was speaking up at the World Trade and Convention Centre. I was there in the afternoon when he spoke. He spoke about a lot of things, but one of the things I thought was interesting is when he talked about the history of insurance companies from his perspective, that at one point in time insurance companies were not about investment funds, which is what you see a lot. You see these

[Page 2509]

advertisements now, insurance companies want to be like your bank or like your mutual fund. It's a means by which you put money in, they will invest it for you, you will get a return. Whether you are a shareholder, obviously, or whether you are a client who decides they need insurance of some form, they try to sell it as a means of investing.

Originally, insurance companies - at least in the United States, and I think the same argument can be made for Canada - were there for safety reasons. Let's be honest, that's why we had insurance companies originally. The point was that they would be there if we needed it - if we had a fire at our house, an accident with our car - it would be a pool of money that we all paid into and when we needed it, it would be there to help us with any injuries you might have, any property damages or injuries or damages to others or their property.

That has changed. By the way, what they used to do was they had safety engineers, they would get involved in safety. In fact, I believe, if I recall correctly, one of the people who set standards for equipment in North America is something called the Underwriters of the United States. I could be way off on that, but I believe there was a group that was set up by the insurance company to do testing, to set standards so that they would say, we're not about to underwrite, we're not about to provide insurance on a piece of property or a piece of equipment unless we know it meets certain standards and there we have a system that they put in place. They were there for safety, they were there as a form of engineering and setting standards to make sure that houses were safe, fire safety was in place, and all of that was being done.

The fact is, they're not there for that any more. They're there for investment, they're there for - what they would argue - is for people to be able to put their money, not only for purposes of a pool of money to protect them if they need it in the long run, but they're also for retirement funds, some form of investment - RRSPs and so on.

That's a problem because no longer is their first and primary order of business the safety and protection of those who they insure. It's about making money. Hey, you know what? In a capitalist system that's fine. That's their corporation. That's what they're there for.

But we're talking about auto insurance. We're talking about something that is essential to Nova Scotians; essential like health care, something that it could be argued, Nova Scotians require if they want to drive a car and in many parts of this province, it's not an option. If you live in rural Nova Scotia, there isn't any public transport of any real recognizable kind and you're in a position where you need a vehicle of some sort. The problem is that insurance companies need to provide that essential service at a reasonable rate. Like electricity - we have a private corporation in this province that provides electricity and we do not say that they should be able to increase rates without any form of approval, without any form of regulation. We ensure that Nova Scotia Power Inc. has to apply - much like with telephone - for an increase in fees. The telephone company, they go federal to the

[Page 2510]

CRTC, but with Nova Scotia Power, they go to the Utility and Review Board and through that, we are able to have some semblance of control.

Quite frankly, it may just be a simple one. It may be a self-regulated one to some extent, instead of going every two months to apply, like they do now. They just filed their notice of increase. What you have with Nova Scotia Power, because their rates are regulated, maybe it's only once every two or three years that they will actually go out and apply for a rate increase, it becomes a political issue, interveners are involved and through that process you begin to see that maybe instead of asking for a 10 per cent increase, maybe it's whittled down to 3 per cent or maybe it's rejected completely. The problem is with insurance companies in Nova Scotia, under the current Insurance Act for auto insurance, they don't even have to get approval. They just file it and say, we're raising it. So every couple of months, it's a 10 per cent increase or a 15 per cent increase and it all adds up over time. We don't think that system is fair. We don't think that system is working effectively when Nova Scotians see 65 per cent increases in insurance rates as they did last year.

I want to talk a bit about the Insurance Act because obviously that's what we're amending. In particular I think it's interesting to go back in time a little. I'm not sure most Nova Scotians understand - maybe they did think this was like power rates or telephone rates, that there was some form of regulation. But let's be clear and let's put on the record that under the Insurance Act, there is no requirement for rates to be approved. With one exception - Facility Association does have to be approved by the URB, the Utility and Review Board. But, most rates do not. By the time the insurance companies are finished maybe a majority of Nova Scotians will be on Facility Association and because of that, maybe the majority of Nova Scotians will have their rates regulated, but we're not at that stage yet. Though I might say, with the dramatic increase in the number of people on Facility Association, it may not be a day far off.

I think it's around Section 155 or 156 of the Insurance Act, those sections, you will see specific provisions that say that insurance companies have to file a rate increase with the board and they'll have to take effect no sooner than 10 days from when they file it. The board has the power, and this is something our Party specifically asked for last year, when they file those rates, the board has the right to review those rates and decide whether they should be rolled back. That was the only form of regulation we had in this province.

[7:45 p.m.]

Now the URB is very unlikely to do that on its own, though we did ask them in January 2002 to do that, after rates started going up. People started getting their bills in the mail after Christmas 2001. The other way is the government has the power to order them to do it. This government was reluctant to do that. There is a pattern to that, and I will talk about that a bit more. This government was reluctant, and for a month they tried to stonewall

[Page 2511]

and prevent Nova Scotians from having their own Utility and Review Board review the insurance rates that they knew were going up at an astronomical rate.

Finally, and the member just stood up, the honourable Minister of Community Services, at that time he was the minister in charge of skyrocketing insurance rates, and he decided, finally, that there would be a review by the Utility and Review Board for which we are still waiting to hear a final decision. I think the government was hoping it would go away, they would bury the issue and nothing more would happen.

Mr. Speaker, the problem is, the issue has come up again, mainly because the insurance companies could not sit and wait for the Utility and Review Board to make a decision. They have continued to increase rates since the Utility and Review Board was asked to review the rate increases back in January 2002. Since then, there have been many more increases, and this government was forced to do something. We would argue that this legislation is a half-hearted measure towards ensuring that those rate increases do not occur. It's a delay, it's a postponement, and that's everything. There's nothing else that it does. It does not freeze them, it does not roll back ones that, quite frankly, shouldn't have been increased in the first place, yet this government does not have the gumption to actually go out and do that. Instead, they have imposed in Bill No. 45 a postponement for eight months.

Mr. Speaker, there are other means of also regulating auto insurance. In this country there are a couple of other ways that are specifically used. I want to talk about that briefly as well. There's one system called pre-approval, and that's a system involving - I think it's Alberta, Newfoundland and Ontario that have it. It's like the power rates that we have here. Insurance companies cannot get an increase until they apply to a public utility of some sort, a public utility board that then will have to decide whether the rate increase will go ahead. Not a bad way of doing it, and it's a way in which some provinces have been able to at least get some semblance and control over insurance rates.

Again, they're not going to apply every two months. Presumably they're going to have to apply on a less regular basis. That would at least allow people to have some understanding. There would be hearings, there would be an opportunity for people to provide their input into the process. I would suggest to you that that's one option this government could be considering, yet again they have not identified that. They have just talked about a temporary freeze until after this election in hopes that it will go away.

Mr. Speaker, the other system is what's called a driver-owned, not-for-profit system. It's in British Columbia, in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Many of my other colleagues have talked about in-depth, I'm not going to get in too much detail about it, just to say, it's an option. It's an option that must be considered, not only because their rates are more reasonable but because it is much better at ensuring fairness and preventing discrimination based on age, based on gender, based on where you live.

[Page 2512]

Mr. Speaker, this is a reasonable system that should be considered for an essential service. For so long in this province, we had Nova Scotia Power as a Crown Corporation. It was successive Tory and Liberal Governments that did that, and there was not much said about that being an unreasonable form of government intervention. We have a health care system that is in a similar position, where we also have one insurer that does all the work for all Nova Scotians, and we would argue it is the best system in the world for an essential service.

Mr. Speaker, there are many in this country, in different parts of this country who would say that a driver-owned, not-for-profit auto insurance system is also the most effective means of providing an essential service and eliminating the profit that so sadly is part of the system. Let's be clear, what's the biggest problem with no-fault? Well, there are many. Those of us who have worked in workers' comp may have our own concerns with meat charts and the coldness of some bureaucrat, whether it be private sector or public sector, making a decision. But I think the biggest concern people have is in a private sector system like we have, imposing no-fault, imposing limits on minor and soft-tissue injuries has not correlated into a reduction or freeze on auto insurance increases and auto insurance rates.

What we have is no guarantee, and we've seen this in New Brunswick, we've seen this in other provinces, when you impose limits for no fault, on smaller injuries, or on certain amounts and soft-tissue injuries, insurance companies continue to raise rates anyway. There is no guarantee that they will not continue and why should they? The bottom line, the profit margin is their priority. The bigger the investment they can give back to their stakeholders, to their shareholders, that is what is important. I would argue that for an essential service, the government that requires Nova Scotians to have this essential service, to have auto insurance, should also ensure that the profit is not the first priority. It should be a system that ensures that Nova Scotians are getting a service at a reasonable rate like it is for power, like it is for telephones, like it is for health care.

One of the other things that Ralph Nader talked about that I thought was interesting and he said this came out of the United States, though I think he might have argued originally it came from Canada, but anyway. He called them CUBs, I believe that stood for community utility boards, and these are not just an advocate. I could spend an hour talking about how this government has co-opted a term that we have tried to promote here, consumer advocate, and turned it into nothing more than a flunky for the Minister of Labour. What Ralph Nader talked about was something called the consumer utility board or the community utility board and what this does is - they did it for power corporations and telephone systems in the United States, they would have to put into their bills a form letter that explained that this advocacy board was in place in that state. Then people who wanted to could make a donation or become members and pay a fee. I'm not sure what the fee was, but those fees would go towards operating this advocacy board, not one person but in a board.

[Page 2513]

What would they do? Well in the case of insurance, they could then use those fees to hire actuaries, underwriters, engineers, lawyers, doctors, people who would be directly involved in how the insurance system works. Then they could use that money to argue - when the insurance companies are looking for rate increases, they would be there to challenge them. They would be there to challenge them at every move with the statistics, with the research, with the facts that need to be required. Quite frankly, you and I both know that unless we're actuaries, it's pretty darn tough to figure out exactly why someone pays insurance rates of this amount and someone else with very similar circumstances pays a different amount. We need to have the funding, we need to have maybe something like consumer utility boards or community utility boards, that would then be there as an advocacy board, would have the specialists, have the expertise that they would be able to make the arguments to fight against rate increases.

I think it's a very good idea. It's one that Ralph Nader says has made its way through the United States. Maybe that's one of the options we should be talking about here. This government doesn't have it in this legislation. This government is again trying to say that this is what we need, this is what their solution is to the problem, at least in the short to medium term, when in fact there are many other options out there that they should be considering. Yet, most of them are not even on the table because for them they don't see it as a priority. They just hope that this goes away until the next election.

I do want to talk about one specific case that I heard about the other day. The day after the bill was introduced I had a constituent call me. She had just gotten her bill from an insurance company - not a broker, from the actual company - and with it they said your rates are going up 30 per cent. I think she was paying $103 a month and it was going to go up to $134 a month for her insurance. I said to myself, and I said to her, we have this bill, its frozen, the rates are frozen. She said, well my insurance company said we raised the rates since last May, the last time that we told you there would be an increase. We raised our rates 10 per cent in September 2002, we raised our rates another 10 per cent sometime between now and then, let's say January 2003, we raised them another 10 per cent on May 1, 2003.

Now, maybe that May 1, 2003 10 per cent increase won't apply to her, at least it will be postponed until January 2004, but the fact is that those other two 10 per cent increases - a 20 per cent increase in her rates - are still going to go ahead. So this woman on Monday reads in the paper that there is a freeze on insurance rate increases, on Tuesday she gets a letter in the mail telling her that her rates have gone up. She's confused. But the fact is there is no way that this legislation as it currently stands will prevent her rates from going up. She's not happy and she thought this government was doing something to help her and then realized they are not. Again, this is a stall tactic, a postponement, hoping that this issue will go away until the next election. Well, it won't. This is an issue that will continue to be on the front of the minds of Nova Scotians because everyone has to pay insurance and on a regular basis, monthly, either themselves or someone else is telling them stories about how their rates have increased.

[Page 2514]

One other story I want to talk about, a couple from the Dartmouth area who had a couple of minor accidents, yet they were put on Facility Association. This is another major problem in our insurance system. A lot more insurance companies are rejecting what I would call decent Nova Scotians who have a decent driving record. Maybe the odd fender-bender, who hasn't had one? Because of that, these people were moved to Facility Association, the rates are much, much higher, I think they doubled. That was even before the rates went up because of the URB approval.

As a result of all that, we're in a situation where people like them have to pay astronomical rates; indeed, I think in their case they're actually talking about selling their vehicle and having to replace it with another one because of the cost of paying $3,000 to $3,500 a year for insurance. That's wrong. It's wrong, but the insurance companies continue to do it. It's one more way that they will move people off their system and again, I don't see this legislation preventing the insurance companies from trying to do that as well, and that's unfortunate.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I move adjournment of debate on Bill No. 45.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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 tomorrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading and possibly some Private and Local Bills for Second Reading. With that I would adjourn the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Government House Leader on tomorrow's hours - no one could hear.

MR. RUSSELL: Tomorrow, 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and the order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading and if we get sufficient time, and I think we will, we'll put through some Private and Local Bills to get them into committee. With that, Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise.

[Page 2515]

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

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

The motion is carried.

We are adjourned until 9:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 7:57 p.m.]

[Page 2516]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1193

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board honours businesses and individuals who make substantial contributions to the environment at the annual Mobius Awards; and

Whereas this year a Yarmouth resident received recognition at the awards luncheon; and

Whereas receiving a Mobius Award for Individual Excellence in Waste Management was David Arenburg of Adcor Marketing;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate David Arenburg for being recognized as a leader in environmental protection and wish all award winners continued success in their quest to improve the environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 1194

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 1st Parrsboro Scouts combined their efforts in a door-to-door campaign to collect for the Parrsboro and Area Food Bank on Saturday, May 3, 2003; and

Whereas the first-time event was a tremendous success according to food bank secretary-treasurer Betty Malay; and

Whereas the cupboards of the food bank are now full and they have a few boxes left over; they also received some financial donations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the 1st Parrsboro Scouts for their dedication and for making the food bank drive so successful and wish them all the best.

[Page 2517]

RESOLUTION NO. 1195

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 Parrsboro Youth Town Council combined their efforts in a door-to-door campaign to collect for the Parrsboro and Area Food Bank on Saturday, May 3, 2003; and

Whereas the first-time event was a tremendous success according to food bank secretary-treasurer Betty Malay; and

Whereas the cupboards of the food bank are now full and they have a few boxes left over; they also received some financial donations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Parrsboro Youth Town Council for their dedication and for making the food bank drive so successful and wish them all the best.

RESOLUTION NO. 1196

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Mr. Joseph Patriquin of Wentworth, Nova Scotia, was recognized for his volunteer work in April 2003 by the Municipality of Cumberland County; and

Whereas Mr. Patriquin was honoured for all of the hard work and dedication that he gave to his community and all of the wonderful causes he supports; and

Whereas Mr. Patriquin is always involved in making the community a better place and has given unselfishly of himself to whatever cause needs his help at the time;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mr. Joseph Patriquin on being honoured for his volunteer work and wish him all the best in the future.

[Page 2518]

RESOLUTION NO. 1197

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 689 Handley Page Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron combined their efforts in a door-to-door campaign to collect for the Parrsboro and Area Food Bank on Saturday, May 3, 2003; and

Whereas the first-time event was a tremendous success according to food bank secretary-treasurer Betty Malay; and

Whereas the cupboards of the food bank are now full and they have a few boxes left over; they also received some financial donations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the 689 Handley Page Royal Canadian Air Cadets for their dedication and for making the food bank drive so successful and wish them all the best.

RESOLUTION NO. 1198

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Steve Christie of Oxford Regional High School has won a silver medal at the NSSAF Provincial Badminton Championship for the third straight year; and

Whereas this year Steve placed second in the Intermediate Boys Singles Division in the tournament in Sydney; he finished first in his round robin pool with wins of 21-1, 21-5 and 21-2; and

Whereas Steve enjoys the sport of badminton very much and feels he has had a successful season this year and is looking forward to moving up to the senior division next year when he is in Grade 11;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Steve Christie on winning the silver medal at the NSSAF Provincial Badminton Championship and wish him continued success in the future.

[Page 2519]

RESOLUTION NO. 1199

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the top priority of Rotary International is to eliminate polio worldwide by 2005; and

Whereas three Kentville Rotary Club members travelled to Cameroon, Africa, to help in the fight against this debilitating disease; and

Whereas Joe Ueffing, Peter Smith and Greg Trefry were among 32 Canadians who delivered and administered the polio vaccine to the children of Cameroon;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our gratitude and admiration for Joe Ueffing, Peter Smith and Greg Trefry on their very important efforts in the fight to eradicate polio.

RESOLUTION NO. 1200

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 Rotary International is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations and helps build goodwill and peace in the world; and

Whereas Kings County is very fortunate to have such a dedicated organization as the Rotary Club of Kentville supporting our local community groups; and

Whereas the Alternative Transformation Society, the Kings County Opportunity Funding Network, the Technical Resource Centre and the Annapolis Valley Work Activity Committee have all benefited from the support of the Rotary Club of Kentville;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our gratitude to the members of the Rotary Club of Kentville for their ongoing support of our important community organizations.

[Page 2520]

RESOLUTION NO. 1201

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 23-year-old Kingstec student Tanya Crowell was crowned Princess Port Williams 2003 at the annual Port Williams Apple Blossom Festival Princess Candlelight Dessert Party; and

Whereas the new princess was crowned by Lewis Benedict and outgoing Princess Port Williams, Patricia Hamm, who was also the emcee for the evening; and

Whereas more than 100 people turned out to the event sponsored by the Port Williams Women's Institute and Lioness Club;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Tanya Crowell on being selected the 2003 Port Williams Princess and wish her much success in the forthcoming year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1202

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas in 1998, Canadian humourist Ed Smith awoke to find himself paralyzed from the shoulders down after surviving a motor vehicle accident; and

Whereas instead of giving up, Mr. Smith fought to overcome immense odds with the help of family and friends to return to his first love, writing; and

Whereas From the Ashes of My Dreams is the inspirational tale of Ed Smith's adventures and misadventures during his 17 months of treatment after his accident;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our congratulations to Ed Smith on his inspirational book From the Ashes of My Dreams.

[Page 2521]

RESOLUTION NO. 1203

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Bernadette Leblanc of Prime Brook is recognized for her contribution to the Spanish River Seniors Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Bernadette Leblanc for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1204

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Chris Lamson of Albert Bridge is recognized for her contribution to the Albert Bridge Recreation Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Chris for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2522]

RESOLUTION NO. 1205

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Richard Fogarty of Sydney River is recognized for his contribution to numerous charities and organizations in his community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Richard Fogarty for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1206

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year James Bates of Port Morien is recognized for his contribution to the Port Morien Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate James Bates for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2523]

RESOLUTION NO. 1207

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Theresa Boone of Bateston is recognized for her contribution to the Main-à-Dieu Credit Union;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Theresa Boone for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1208

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Mae Buist of Albert Bridge is recognized for her contribution to the Albert Bridge Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Mae Buist for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2524]

RESOLUTION NO. 1209

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Kathleen Burke of Little Lorraine is recognized for her contribution to the Immaculate Conception CWL;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Kathleen Burke for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1210

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Harvey David Butts of Port Morien is recognized for his contribution to the Port Morien Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Harvey David Butts for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2525]

RESOLUTION NO. 1211

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Barb Boutiler of Sydney River is recognized for her contribution to the VON Cape Breton Smart Program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Barb Boutiler for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1212

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Jessie Hardy of Marion Bridge is recognized for her contribution to her community through volunteerism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Jessie Hardy for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2526]

RESOLUTION NO. 1213

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Harry Kennedy of Catalone is recognized for his contribution to the Mira Ferry Fall Fair & Festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Harry Kennedy for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1214

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Alice Mary Graves of Marion Bridge is recognized for her contribution to the Bethel United Church UCW;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Alice Mary Graves for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2527]

RESOLUTION NO. 1215

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Joyce Keigan of Dutch Brook is recognized for her contribution to the Brooks Haven Recreation Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Joyce Keigan for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1216

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Stephanie Gillis of Sydney Forks is recognized for her contribution to the Girl Guides of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Stephanie Gillis for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2528]

RESOLUTION NO. 1217

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Matt Keefe of Albert Bridge is recognized for his contribution to the Mira Seniors and Pensioners Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Matt Keefe for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1218

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Ellen Gillis of Sydney Forks is recognized for her contribution to her community through volunteerism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Ellen Gillis for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2529]

RESOLUTION NO. 1219

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year William Hutt of Louisbourg is recognized for his contribution to the Louisbourg Harbour Authority;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate William Hutt for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1220

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Lisa Galanov of Blacketts Lake is recognized for her contribution to the Cape Breton Literacy Network;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Lisa Galanov for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2530]

RESOLUTION NO. 1221

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Allison Hunt of Louisbourg is recognized for his contribution to his community through volunteerism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Allison Hunt for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1222

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Lorraine Ferguson of Sydney is recognized for her contribution to the Brooks Haven Recreation Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Lorraine Ferguson for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2531]

RESOLUTION NO. 1223

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Teresa Hiltz of Bateston is recognized for her contribution to the Immaculate Conception CWL;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Teresa Hiltz for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1224

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Darlene Dibbon of Louisbourg is recognized for her contribution to the Stella Maris CWL;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Darlene Dibbon for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2532]

RESOLUTION NO. 1225

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Richard Cross of Louisbourg is recognized for his contribution to the Louisbourg Crab Fest;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Richard Cross for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1226

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Tom Carter of Louisbourg is recognized for his contribution to the Louisbourg Crab Fest;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Tom Carter for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2533]

RESOLUTION NO. 1227

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Leo Carter, Jr. of Louisbourg is recognized for his contribution to his community through volunteerism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Leo Carter, Jr., for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1228

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Karen Cann of Louisbourg is recognized for her contribution to the Louisbourg Home and School Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Karen Cann for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2534]

RESOLUTION NO. 1229

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year William Campbell of Bateston is recognized for his contribution to the Bateston Athletic Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate William Campbell for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1230

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Patricia Calder of Sydney Forks is recognized for her contribution to the Cape Breton County Minor Hockey Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Patricia Calder for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2535]

RESOLUTION NO. 1231

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Fred White, Jr., of Bateston is recognized for his contribution to the Bateston Athletic Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Fred White, Jr. for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1232

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Muriel Doncaster of Sandfield is recognized for her contribution to her community through volunteerism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Muriel Doncaster for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2536]

RESOLUTION NO. 1233

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Adrian Dixon of Marion Bridge is recognized for his contribution to the Riverview Soccer Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Adrian Dixon for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1234

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Colin McCready of Sydney River is recognized for his contribution to the Riverview Rural High School;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Colin McCready for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2537]

RESOLUTION NO. 1235

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Beth Matheson of Marion Bride is recognized for her contribution to the Mira Seniors and Pensioners Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Beth Matheson for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1236

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Hughie MacIntyre of Albert Bridge is recognized for his contribution to the Mira Ferry Fall Fair and Festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Hughie MacIntyre for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2538]

RESOLUTION NO. 1237

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Clare MacLean of Sydney River is recognized for her contribution to the Our Lady of Fatima Parish Council;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Clare MacLean for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1238

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Sherry MacSween of Marion Bridge is recognized for her contribution to the VON Cape Breton Smart Program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Sherry MacSween for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2539]

RESOLUTION NO. 1239

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Jean MacQueen of Round Island is recognized for her contribution to the Port Morien Community Fair;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Jean MacQueen for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1240

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Julie MacDonald of Louisbourg is recognized for her contribution to the Stella Maris CWL;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Julie MacDonald for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2540]

RESOLUTION NO. 1241

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Denise MacPhee of Albert Bridge is recognized for her contribution to the Cape Breton Minor Hockey Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Denise MacPhee for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1242

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Dennis MacDonald of Big Pond is recognized for his contribution to the Cape Breton Literacy Network;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Dennis MacDonald for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2541]

RESOLUTION NO. 1243

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Mike MacLean of Albert Bridge is recognized for his contribution to the Albert Bridge Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Mike MacLean for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1244

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Robert Liebke of Sydney River is recognized for his contribution to the Spanish River Seniors Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Robert Liebke for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2542]

RESOLUTION NO. 1245

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Claire MacLean of Sydney Forks is recognized for her contribution to the Westmount & Area Garden Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Claire MacLean for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1246

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Gail Leighton of Sydney Forks is recognized for her contribution to the Girl Guides of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Gail Leighton for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2543]

RESOLUTION NO. 1247

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Rose Curry of Port Morien is recognized for her contribution to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Rose Curry for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1248

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Georgina Wadden of Main-à-Dieu is recognized for her contribution to the Main-à-Dieu CWL;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Georgina Wadden for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2544]

RESOLUTION NO. 1249

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Orlando Vallis of Louisbourg is recognized for his contribution to the Louisbourg Harbour Authority;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Orlando Vallis for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1250

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Elva Vassalo of Sydney Forks is recognized for her contribution to the Spanish River Seniors Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Elva Vassalo for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2545]

RESOLUTION NO. 1251

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Janet MacNeil-Ravanello of Albert Bridge is recognized for her contribution to the Albert Bridge Recreation Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Janet MacNeil-Ravanello for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1252

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Fabian Trimm of Louisbourg is recognized for his contribution to the Louisbourg Crab Fest;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Fabian Trimm for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2546]

RESOLUTION NO. 1253

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Edward Porter of Albert Bridge is recognized for his contribution to Club 55;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Edward Porter for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1254

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Bernie Timmons of Port Morien is recognized for his contribution to the Port Morien Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Bernie Timmons for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2547]

RESOLUTION NO. 1255

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Tracy Pierre of Albert Bridge is recognized for her contribution to the Albert Bridge Recreation Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Tracy Pierre for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1256

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Leroy Peach of Port Morien is recognized for his contribution to the Port Morien Community Fair;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Leroy Peach for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2548]

RESOLUTION NO. 1257

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Barbara Peach of Port Morien is recognized for her contribution to the St. Paul's Anglican Church ACW;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Barbara Peach for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1258

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year John Sorhaitz of Sydney River is recognized for his contribution to the Canadian Council of the Blind;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate John Sorhaitz for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2549]

RESOLUTION NO. 1259

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Theresa Sorhaitz of Sydney River is recognized for her contribution to the Spanish River Seniors Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Theresa Sorhaitz for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1260

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Donelda Spencer of Port Morien is recognized for her contribution to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Donelda Spencer for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2550]

RESOLUTION NO. 1261

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Judith Mrazek of Albert Bridge is recognized for her contribution to the Girl Guides of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Judith Mrazek for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1262

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Joan Robertson of Albert Bridge is recognized for her contribution to the Mira Boat Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Joan Robertson for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2551]

RESOLUTION NO. 1263

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Cyril Reynolds of East Bay is recognized for his contribution to the SPCA;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Cyril Reynolds for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1264

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Gary Morrison of Marion Bridge is recognized for his contribution to the Mira Boat Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Gary Morrison for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2552]

RESOLUTION NO. 1265

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Elaine Mikkelsen of Mira Gut is recognized for her contribution to the Albert Bridge Recreation Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Elaine Mikkelsen for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1266

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Victor Ravanello of Albert Bridge is recognized for his contribution to the St. Columbus Church;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Victor Ravanello for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2553]

RESOLUTION NO. 1267

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Murdock McRae of Albert Bridge is recognized for his contribution to the Mira Ferry Fall Fair & Festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Murdock McRae for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1268

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Francis Forgeron of Main-à-Dieu is recognized for his contribution to the Main-à-Dieu Credit Union;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Francis Forgeron for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2554]

RESOLUTION NO. 1269

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Kevin Spencer of Main-à-Dieu is recognized for his contribution to the Main-à-Dieu Credit Union;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Kevin Spencer for his outstanding volunteer efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1270

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Heather Campbell of Main-à-Dieu is recognized for her contribution to the Main-à-Dieu Development Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Heather Campbell for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

[Page 2555]

RESOLUTION NO. 1271

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Lois Turner of Port Morien is recognized for her contribution to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Lois Turner for her outstanding volunteer efforts.