DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS
Speaker: Honourable Kevin Murphy
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/
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2014
TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1, House of Assembly: Rules - Amend,
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2, House of Assembly: Rules - Amend,
Res. 3, Black Social Workers Assoc. N.S. - Anniv. (35th),
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 4, Rosh Hashanah: Shanah Tovah - Wish,
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 5, Lord, Norman/Robinson, John: Targa Race - Success Wish,
Vote - Affirmative
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Sept. 29th at 7:00 p.m
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 6, Farrell, Chef Andrew: Grate Cdn. Cheese Cook-Off
Res. 7, Pictou Weekend Market - Anniv. (20th),
Res. 8, Lively, Jean: CTV's Maritimer of the Wk. - Congrats.,
Res. 9, Farrell, Rita (Heuser): History Bk./Birthday (90th) - Congrats.,
Res. 10, Gibbons, Evan - Baseball Accomplishments,
Res. 11, MacDonald, Haley/Veinot, Jayda/Rodrigues, Maria
HALIFAX, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2014
Sixty-second General Assembly
Hon. Kevin Murphy
Ms. Margaret Miller
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION
RESOLUTION NO. 1
Be it resolved that the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly be amended as set out in the schedule to this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
Is it agreed?
I hear several Noes.
The notice is tabled.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
NOTICES OF MOTION
RESOLUTION NO. 2
Whereas this House of Assembly can be made more responsive to the needs of Nova Scotians through rule changes; and
Whereas there is substantial agreement on rule changes between the Official Opposition and government; and
Whereas increasing accountability and transparency in this House is in the best interests of all Nova Scotians;
Therefore be it resolved that the Rules and Forms of Procedure of this House of Assembly be amended as set out in the schedule to this resolution.
The honourable Interim Leader of the New Democratic Party.
RESOLUTION NO. 3
Whereas in 1979 a group of four women, all committed to the well-being of the African Nova Scotian community, founded the Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers; and
Whereas this volunteer group continues to be active in our province, providing bursaries for social work students of African descent, facilitating workshops, and advocating for African Nova Scotian children in care; and
Whereas this week marks the 35th Anniversary of this important organization;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature commend the work of the Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers and congratulate them on 35 years of service to our communities.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
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. 4
Whereas today marks the last day of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish New Year; and
Whereas Nova Scotians of the Jewish faith will be reflecting on the past year while looking forward to a new year; and
Whereas the Nova Scotian Jewish community has made and continues to make many positive contributions to the Province of Nova Scotia;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Nova Scotia's Jewish community "Shanah Tovah" as they conclude Rosh Hashanah and usher in a new year.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable member for Pictou East.
RESOLUTION NO. 5
Whereas two Pictou County rally racing enthusiasts, Norman Lord and John Robinson, recently traded the potholes of Pictou County for those in the streets of Newfoundland and Labrador in this year's Targa Newfoundland race; and
Whereas during the Targa race, communities close the streets and highways to accommodate speeds of up to 200 miles per hour to protect the racers and the public; and
Whereas Norman and John left Newfoundland and Labrador as champions of the Early Modern Class;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Norman and John on their success in their Targa race debut.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
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
I thought I would start with just a few words about the people who sent me here to represent them, the people of my constituency of Cumberland South.
MR. BAILLIE « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As many members know, Cumberland South is a beautiful riding that covers a big area in Nova Scotia. Actually, it's one of our larger constituencies, stretching from the Wentworth Valley, basically at Folly Lake and beyond, all the way to Cape Chignecto near the border with New Brunswick - Cape Chignecto, by the way, being the largest of our provincial parks in the provincial park system - and covers an area that includes the Towns of Springhill, Oxford, Parrsboro, and many other communities smaller in size, and a lot of rural areas. It is the home in the world of production of wild blueberries and has a healthy agricultural base with lots of potential in the future.
As well, it has some industry - definitely in need of more - that includes companies like Oxford Frozen Foods in Oxford, Ropak Packaging in Springhill, Surrette Battery in Springhill, Granby Industries in Parrsboro and many others which I won't go on to give you an entire list.
But what I do want to say on behalf of the people of Cumberland South is that it is an area of the province, along with all of Cumberland County and many rural areas, that has faced significant out-migration. The population of Cumberland County as a whole dropped by almost 10 per cent between the census of this decade and the one of just 10 years ago. I can tell you that the people of Cumberland South know particularly in their hearts that that out-migration is primarily young families, young people looking for work, young people graduating from our schools and looking locally, wishing to stay, wishing they could build a career and a family and have a home and raise children in Cumberland County who do not see the opportunity to do that and are forced through lack of opportunity to move out West.
That, to me, is the primary reason we are all gathered here this Fall in this House. It's to address this great issue. What can be done to create new opportunities and new jobs, particularly in rural areas, so that we can again look forward to a day when young Nova Scotians, fresh out of school, ready to take on the world, can do whatever they choose to do and do it here at home.
Mr. Speaker, in my constituency I have taken up the practice of attending the high school graduations in rotation - one a year. In the four years since I've been elected I've been able to go to all of them now. I will always ask the class - and I know many other members do this - how many of you would like to stay here at home when you graduate if you can? Almost every hand goes up. Then we ask the follow-up question: How many of you are going to stay here at home and make a go of it when you graduate? Almost no hands go up.
We cannot go on like this. We cannot face an indeterminate amount of time where young Nova Scotians see no hope for a meaningful job, a meaningful life here at home. A province that exports its youngest talent does not have a bright future, and Nova Scotia deserves to have a bright future. Mr. Speaker, we have a new government - they are not so new now, we're approaching the first anniversary. On this great issue, we have a Throne Speech before us that has very little to say about how we are going to actually provide hope to young Nova Scotians, and their parents and grandparents who, of course, also want them to able to build a life here at home.
If that wasn't bad enough, Mr. Speaker, a gift rained down from above on the government last February - an entire plan on how we could get going on turning the economy around, called the Ivany report. A plan that's called "a call to action." The government calls it a great basis of discussion. The Ivany report was the discussion. The 19 recommendations in that report - they are the action. So far we are zero for 19, Mr. Speaker.
The government says this can't all happen overnight. We accept that; we're reasonable on this one because Nova Scotians want us to get this done. But to use that as excuse for doing nothing is not acceptable when nine thousand Nova Scotians lost their job in the past year, where Cumberland County lost 10 per cent of its population in the last decade - that report is called "now or never" for a reason. Yet the government sits back and points at everybody else - that's the private sector, that's the unions, that's somebody else's responsibility.
Leadership starts at the top; the plan has to come from the top. That's why Nova Scotians are frustrated that so little has been done in the government's first year. That's why they know the government has flubbed its first year by not actually taking action. If they had no vision of their own, they were given one, and still said no, Mr. Speaker.
That's not the end of the story, as bad as it is, because one thing people did not expect a year ago was that the government would actually find a way to make jobs harder, and worse, and go backwards. But by thoughtlessly banning shale gas development, by taking this one new way to create new jobs and say no, they've actually made it harder to find the solutions that the Ivany report suggest are needed.
The one thing that I learned this summer, Mr. Speaker, as I toured the province on my own jobs tour - we had a jobs tour, 10 town hall meetings, 25 community visits, thousands of Nova Scotians contacting us online to give their thoughts about what it would take to turn the economy around - it is the number-one issue. The government can distract us by picking fights with public sector workers and by pretending that amalgamating the health authorities is the biggest issue - and I hope that all goes well. I'm not saying that shouldn't happen, I hope that all goes well, but it is a distraction from the real issue - how do we get our economy going? The more time they spend talking about that, the less time they're spending on the real issue that real Nova Scotians need urgent help on, which is how to turn the economy around and create real jobs.
On that one big issue, what we hear from the Liberal Government is no. No to new jobs, no to bringing families back together, no to keeping our young people working here at home - and if anyone thinks that's just rhetoric, all they need to do is look at their plan to say no to shale gas development. After three days of consideration they said no, Mr. Speaker, and that's why Nova Scotians are so frustrated.
You can't go around this province and meet real Nova Scotians and hear their concerns about their son, their daughter, their father, their mother working out west, home a couple of times a year - or the story of Rob Henderson, who was here yesterday.
Rob Henderson has exactly that situation. He's out west and his family is here. He works in oil and gas. He'd love to do here what he does there, but that's not happening, and with no hope of that happening under this government, that family has made a decision that too many other families are now making, which is that the rest of the family might as well take up stakes and move out west as well.
We cannot go on like that, and this province has too long a history of governments that say no to opportunities to create new jobs. No to shale gas development. No to uranium mining. No to gold mining. No to fish farming. No to mink farming. No, no, no, no. Well, no wonder we don't get ahead. That's the history.
I'm not pinning all of that on the last year, but now it's reached a new high, because in this province there are only so many rabbits we can pull out of the hat to create new jobs. Here is one that has come up under the Liberal term of office - shale gas development - and that rabbit had its head chopped off the minute it poked its head out of the rabbit hole, by them, Mr. Speaker. How many more thousands of families will see that and say, well, I guess there is no job for me, when there is a chance that new jobs could be created?
Mr. Speaker, as tough as it is, let me just shift gears for a moment and remind you of something I know you don't need a reminder of, sir; maybe some of the government members do. This is a great province. We love this province. Everybody here does, and I don't doubt that. This is a great province and it has great potential.
When I was growing up in Truro I was always told what great potential Nova Scotia has, and I believe that. Well, I'm now 40-something years old, and I don't want to hear about our future great potential anymore. I want to see that potential realized now for those next generations of Nova Scotians, and for those who are here now in the workforce looking for work. That means that we can't say no to all of these things if we expect to get ahead. If you think about it, this province has great potential. It has great natural resources: offshore oil and gas, onshore oil and gas, gold, uranium, potassium. There are so many natural resources beneath our feet and off our shores. We have great arable land that is more than capable of feeding ourselves and exporting our agricultural products around the world. Wild blueberries are a great example, but so are so many other products, including our beef, our turkey, our dairy, and the other farming industries.
We have great schools and universities that graduate smart young Nova Scotians to enter the workforce. We have a wonderful location on the planet, sticking out into the Atlantic Ocean, and a new free trade agreement with Europe to allow us to export. One of the Ivany goals is to increase our exports by 50 per cent, and Mr. Speaker, we're in the ideal location to do that, which just leads to an obvious question. We have all of these natural advantages, why are we held back? Why are we poor? Why do we lag in this great country? The answer is that government holds us back. Governments that say no to new ways to create jobs with the resources that we've been endowed with - that's what holds us back. That has been going on for too long. Now it has reached a new high.
So I know we're going to have a discussion about health care, and union membership and how many CEOs there will be and we'll certainly take part in that discussion, Mr. Speaker. But let's not lose sight of the bigger issue. If we are ever going to pay for the health care system that we all cherish, if we're ever going to pay for the schools that we know are so important to the future, if we're ever going to be in a position to look after our fellow Nova Scotians in need, on a pay-as-you-go, balanced-budget basis, then cutting alone won't do it.
Making sure that the growth side - the economy side, the job side - is also in line, is also needed. And that is one of the great lessons of the Ivany report. That is why it's such a great shame that the government has swung and missed on the Ivany report so many times in their first year. And again, I'll point out, that is why it is so wrong to say no to shale gas development when it is one of the few new ways to create new jobs in this province.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I see you looking at the clock. I'm just going to do a time check with you. I've got lots more. I just want to make sure. (Interruption) Okay. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, in touring the province this summer hearing directly from Nova Scotians, all those town halls, those thousands of people that we talked to this summer - they have great hope for the future. Not one brought up which health union they should belong to. Not one brought up how many CEOs there are. They do want to see, obviously, a rationalization in health administration. They want to know if it will really save money or not - there is some skepticism about that. But we're here to hold the government accountable for actually making sure that they realize a savings for all of this churn that's about to happen in health care, and that that money is re-invested back into the system to make health care better. The true test of the health changes to come will be in the results, and the results will be measured in the eyes of the Nova Scotians that rely on the health care system. And that's who we're here to represent.
I heard the Premier the other day saying that he doesn't like criticism when it comes it from the Opposition. Well, Mr. Speaker, I believe they are mistaking the frustration of Nova Scotians, at how little has been done, for criticism. But all those Nova Scotians that are frustrated that, a year in, so little has been done - they deserve a voice in this House, too. Whether the Premier likes it or not, we're going to give it to them, because they expected more. They expected better. They threw out the NDP over big deficits, over a choke-hold on the economy, and red tape and so on. What they've been replaced with is an even bigger deficit from the Liberals, and a record amount of debt from the Liberals. And even their modest, meagre 1 per cent savings in some of the smaller departments didn't happen.
So the Throne Speech talks about the need for financial responsibility and balancing the budget. The Throne Speech lectures Nova Scotians on the need for them to balance their own budget. But, Mr. Speaker, the proof is in the pudding. This government will be judged by its actions. Nova Scotians are too smart to take some empty rhetoric, some fluffy words, and decide that that's actually action. They will watch the government to see if they're serious about getting their own spending in line. There has been no evidence of that yet and they're one year in.
They will judge the government by its actions on encouraging new jobs in new ways in our economy, not by its empty words. As this Throne Speech, like so many before, has all the usual rhetoric about the need for jobs and the need for the private sector and so on - where are the actions? On the one hand, they can write in a Throne Speech that they'd like to see more jobs. But on the other hand, if they ban one of the new ways to create new jobs and then their actions don't match their words; Nova Scotians will judge them by their actions.
We're all motivated by different things in this House. I will say to the member for Hants East, I was so impressed yesterday that in her speech seconding the Throne Speech that she took a few moments out to talk about her own family and how important her family is to her and how that is a big motivator to be here in the Legislature, keeping them in mind along with her constituents.
I agree with that. We're all here for many reasons. But if you boil it all down - I like to believe this is true of all members - they're honoured to have been elected by their constituents to be here and they wish to stay true to that great trust that they have with their direct electors, and they believe they're here for their family as well, to make sure that when we're done here that Nova Scotia is a better place than when we came here.
In my own case, with my two young girls at home, they are now reaching their teenage years. It's going to be very soon, measured in two or three years, where they are going to finish school and start to make some career decisions. I can't stand here, like any other member - I'm sure it's the same - and not do everything in my power to make sure they have real options here in Nova Scotia. Like every other mom or dad, I want my kids to choose whatever they want to do in life and go on and do it and be the best at it and be happy and content with it, whatever it is. That's their choice.
But it would be awfully nice if whatever they choose to do that they have the option of doing that particular thing here at home. Some of that is selfish of course - I want my kids to be nearby as every other parent does - but a lot of it is wanting them to have a beautiful, pristine, environmentally sustainable province on the East Coast of Canada with all the natural advantages we have and a good job and a home life here.
One of the other things that became so apparent on our jobs tour this summer is that too many Nova Scotians have been told that if they want jobs here at home, they have to sacrifice the environment to get them, that if they want clean air, then they can't have jobs. If they want jobs, they can't have clean air. Pictou County has been the epicentre of this exact debate. I can tell you, Nova Scotians are going to rise up and they are going to reject that awful choice for what it is - a false choice. This is 2014, and we deserve clean air "and" good jobs, not "or" good jobs. Nova Scotians deserve both.
Other places have figured this out. Other provinces and states that are prosperous and have clean environments have figured out that they can go together. So let's resolve that no other Nova Scotian ever again will be put in a position where they feel they have to choose between clean air or clean water or a pristine environment and their job. It is a false choice.
There is very little from the government on this. In fact, when there is a vacuum of leadership on issues as important as this, it ends up turning neighbour against neighbour in our province, and that is wrong. Clear, competent leadership with a clear message about jobs and the environment will get Nova Scotians going together, united in the same direction like the Ivany report recommended. That's what is needed.
To bring that all together for a moment, I will point out that in a province as great as this, with the great advantages that we have, when people ask why, in the face of such great advantage, are we held back, the answer has been bad government. But the good news in that is that that can be changed; that's why we will use this session of the House to certainly argue with the government over their ban on jobs, to hold them accountable for getting the health care reforms done right and make sure Nova Scotians know the full alternative legislative agenda that the Official Opposition will roll out in the days ahead.
Mr. Speaker, having reviewed in detail the Throne Speech overnight, looking for the plan for jobs other than the rhetoric, looking for an actual action plan, looking for some renewed commitment to the Ivany report and not seeing it, looking for some renewed commitment to new industry and new development and finding the opposite in the ban on new jobs that the government plans to bring in - looking for all of that, Mr. Speaker, I have to say through you to the Lieutenant Governor who read the Throne Speech yesterday that his advisors who prepared the Throne Speech for His Honour, they missed a few important things. They missed the actual action plan for jobs; they missed the actual action plan for seniors who are waiting for long-term care; they missed the actual action plan for the government to keep its promise on power rates instead of taking them off one part of our bill and putting them right back on another part.
I do have to say that the Throne Speech is sadly lacking in those important areas, and so the advisors to His Honour missed a few things in the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker. So for that reason, I am going to move in a moment here a motion to amend the Throne Speech.
For the record, I move that the motion before the House be amended by striking out all the words following "that" and substituting the following: "the government has failed to give Nova Scotians a real plan to balance the budget and tackle our debt in a timely way; has let down seniors waiting for long-term care; has broken a fundamental promise to Nova Scotians to stop power rate increases; has failed to develop a plan to give Nova Scotians meaningful tax relief; and has failed to deliver a comprehensive plan to create jobs and rebuild the province's economy."
With that, Mr. Speaker, I so move, and I have it in writing if that would be helpful to the Table. Thank you, sir, for the time today.
HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD « » : Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It's my pleasure to rise in my place on behalf of my Party, the New Democratic Party, and my constituents in Halifax Needham, in north-end Halifax and the central and west parts of our capital city.
Mr. Speaker, as you know and as members here know, the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne is an opportunity for members to reflect on why and how we came to this place, who supported us in that journey and what our experience has been here, as well as looking forward to what the aspirations of the government are and whether or not they meet the needs of the people in the province.
Mr. Speaker, as we were getting ready for this session, I noticed that the Chronicle Herald had run a timely column by Chantal Hébert. In her column she was commenting on two recent books on politics that had been published and she said that any reasonable person who had looked at these books would think twice about getting into the trade. Well, it has been 30 years since I got into this trade, and I like to think I'm a reasonable person most of the time, and when I look back I think I became involved in this trade 30 years ago, 1984, when I ran against two very seasoned politicians, well-respected former mayors in the City of Halifax and I came a surprising second in that campaign. I used to tell people it was a real horse race, me and two old mayors. (Laughter)
The campaign certainly was a lot of fun. Although we lost, the results were exhilarating for New Democrats in the north end of Halifax. I say "we," Mr. Speaker, because I really don't know of anyone who gets into this Chamber simply because of their own brilliance, charm, or tenacity - we get here through the hard work and the support of others, including our family, our friends, our constituents, often our co-workers, and we get here through the hard work of our Party and its Leader and team he or she has around them.
Mr. Speaker, I want to stand in defence of a political Party system and say the political Parties are important in our system, not only for the choice it offers citizens in terms of finding the place they're comfortable with, with respect to the values and beliefs they hold dear, political Parties are important because very few people, individually, have the resources to engage in this trade alone. The thousands of dollars it takes to communicate with citizens is something that requires more individual wealth, and as I look around this Chamber I don't see too many people here who have the private wealth to be able to engage as individuals to come here and do the work that we do.
Mr. Speaker, back in 1984, I certainly had thought carefully about being a candidate, and an NDP candidate. I, like many people here, wanted to change the world and I wanted to help change Nova Scotia. I had worked in a legal aid clinic and in a community health centre, and that work reflected my commitment to social and economic equality for women, for minorities, and for those who had, and have, no voice in the halls of power. It was rewarding and inspiring to work with the north end residents to overcome legal injustice and to prevent the bad health that is so closely associated with living in poverty. But frankly, Mr. Speaker, my community work, often done case by case, showed me the limits of what can be achieved through the practice of poverty law and the operation of community-based services.
Mr. Speaker, I was very fortunate to go on to work in the media, where probably the highlight of my work with our national broadcaster was when I got to work with Hana Gartner at The Fifth Estate on a piece that won many awards and saw the removal of Judge Raymond Bartlett from the bench in Nova Scotia after years of berating abused and battered women from his bench. (Applause)
After two unsuccessful attempts at being elected in the north end of Halifax, I was successful in 1998. I have to say that the almost 17 years that I've spent now in this Chamber have been anything but bleak in terms of my view of politics. I would say that that is probably true for almost all, if not all, of my colleagues regardless of Party in this Chamber. I feel a great sense of accomplishment because I got into politics. (Applause)
Yes, some days are infuriating, and I'm sure there will be a few of them infuriating in the next little while. But those days don't define the experience for me or for most of us here. Politics, by definition, is a collective experience and elections are a collective decision. Political Parties and political caucuses are a collective undertaking and when people work together and they decide together, democratically, we truly can change the world.
Being an MLA, a municipal councillor, an elected member of a school board or a Member of Parliament is important, and it's a public service rather than serving a private interest or a public goal - or at least that's how it's supposed to be.
As an Opposition MLA, I've learned that public service by the Opposition is not just about questioning, slowing, stopping or discrediting the worst of what a government proposes. In Opposition, we New Democrats were very proud of the long-term care campaign led by Darrell Dexter. He first recognized the injustice when constituents took their cases to him. He took the issue first to an NDP convention, and then we New Democrats took it to the people. We were able to reverse, from Opposition, a policy adopted by the Liberals and enforced by the Progressive Conservatives, but working together in a spirit of public service, we were able to stop the impoverishment of seniors and others who needed long-term care.
When New Democrats campaigned against skyrocketing auto insurance rates, we had again taken what we heard from our constituents, and from Opposition we proposed the best and most enduring solution and we created enough political pressure to drive rates down.
I have learned how in our political system, even an Opposition MLA can change people's lives for the better. The Protection for Persons in Care Act, a Private Member's Bill that I introduced, had arisen from cases that touched the hearts and minds of my NDP colleagues and myself. We did the research, the legislation was developed through caucus solidarity, and the Progressive Conservatives were big enough to support its enactment.
I never expected that I would be the Minister of Health as that legislation first took effect and began to change the way Nova Scotians protect persons in care. I always knew it was adopted, though, because we have a political system that works, and because I was never on my own in seeking that protection for very vulnerable citizens.
I want to take a moment to recognize a former member of this Chamber, Ron Russell, who was instrumental in having the government of the day support that Private Member's Bill.
The public often don't see the times when there is a lot of co-operation between political Parties in this Chamber, and how this Chamber, through that process of co-operation, can actually get great results that make a difference in people's lives. I have many examples, from all Parties represented here, of where we have worked together.
It isn't only about co-operation. We do have a system that is predicated on the belief and the assumption that politics is about democratic control of the exercise of government power. The Opposition has many, many responsibilities in terms of holding the government accountable for how they exercise the power that has been vested in them through a democratic process. I look back on my experience not only over the years in Opposition but also over our years in government. I look back to the first year of an NDP Government and what was accomplished in one short year, and I contrast that with the accomplishments of this new government in one short year, and I have to say - not surprisingly, perhaps - that for me and for the province, this new government falls very short.
In the first year of the NDP Government we released to Nova Scotians advice from a panel of preeminent experts with good ideas to start meeting the economic and financial challenges facing the province during our first term in office. We adopted North America's first hard caps on greenhouse gas emission from power generation, and Nova Scotia's Renewable Electricity Plan. We held the massive province-wide Back to Balance discussions led by my colleague at the time, Graham Steele, creating consensus on many tough financial issues. We refinanced the Public Sector Superannuation Plan to put pensions on a sustainable basis while saving tens of millions of dollars each year. We undertook Dr. John Ross' pioneering work, visiting every emergency department and then launching Canada's first provincial emergency care standards. We made the first real improvements in social assistance income in a generation, introducing the new Poverty Reduction Tax Credit and the new Affordable Living Tax Credit. We introduced the first reduction in the small business tax rate in 19 years in this province.
Mr. Speaker, the government has given us a Throne Speech, and as I went through it, my reaction was to think about what needed to be done, to think about all that can be accomplished in a short time, and to think about the work that had previously been done to build on. Frankly, my response to that Speech from the Throne from yesterday is that this is a government whose ideas are either the recycled ideas of the Liberal Government of John Savage in the 1990s or the ideas of the previous NDP Government. There are no ideas in this Throne Speech that belong to this government on its own. It is something that we, as a province, need to be very concerned about. I think perhaps I heard the Minister of Health and Wellness offer some variations on those ideas. Nevertheless, we have noticed that there is a modification of those old ideas, but they are ideas that have been appropriated - borrowed from others.
When I look back at many of the things we have accomplished, I feel - as I said, I don't feel bleak about my choice, my involvement in this trade, and I also don't feel bleak or disappointed in the choice of political Party I made. My experience tells me that politics can and does work, and that there is a difference among the political Parties. And if there's any doubt in my mind - back home in Halifax Needham, if we ever wonder what we accomplished in government, we have no farther to look than toward the harbour.
I'm particularly proud of the fact that the newest and most advanced shipyard in the world is being built right there. It's the largest structure under construction in Nova Scotia. More than 500 people are working there on this construction, because the NDP believed in this province's future enough to partner in a bid to ensure that Ships Start Here. This brings me again to this current government.
A year ago today, it was reported that the now-Premier asserted that no provincial investment was necessary in the Ships Start Here project, because financing could be arranged after the shipbuilding contract was awarded. You remember that, Mr. Speaker? Do you remember that statement? It's pretty shocking that the Premier really didn't believe that financing was one of the most important parts of that bid. I can't imagine that the Premier could ignore the confidential briefings to his own Party caucus about how rock-solid financing had to be in place for a bid to be able to succeed, or what other places such as the Province of Quebec were trying to do with their own bid in the time frame.
We worked very hard to double-check all elements of that bid financing, to explore the financial options, and to ensure that our province's partnership would mean more jobs for Nova Scotians. Our Party was not prepared to simply subsidize middle- to lower-wage jobs that can go anywhere and call that a jobs plan. We acted in government just as we have acted in Opposition, focusing on the highest value-added and the most productive jobs possible, because Nova Scotians and Nova Scotia have such a long road to economic equality within Canada. This is another reason why I feel such pride about my decision to pursue positive change as a part of a political Party and caucus.
One year ago, the 2013 provincial election campaign was well underway. On September 26, 2013, the Liberal Leader was sticking to his promise to end provincial investment in jobs even if it meant the jobs would disappear. That's right, Mr. Speaker. The Liberals promised that jobs would disappear, and this is one promise that the Liberals have kept. Jobs are disappearing. (Applause) It's just as the Liberals admitted - 9,000 jobs lost in the first Liberal year alone. So 9,000 fewer reasons to stay in Nova Scotia, 9,000 more Nova Scotian families with less income to make ends meet, more Nova Scotian communities with a smaller economy and bigger social strain and even more pressure on the provincial budget with less revenue and greater needs.
The first Liberal year means no major new investments and there has not been one new job initiative. If opportunity came knocking, it was ignored because this is a government that promised to make jobs disappear. New investment means new Nova Scotia jobs to replace those that are invariably lost over time. New investment means new opportunity to improve health care, to reduce poverty, to attract and keep young people who will put down roots and make their lives here in Nova Scotia. Yet that one clear Liberal promise means that Nova Scotia will not be a partner in major new investments, and jobs disappear.
I know that the Liberals' major pre-election campaign was a fear campaign about investment in jobs. The fear campaign was a big part of the very negative Liberal ad campaign in the election itself, even when their ads could not and did not stand up to independent fact checks. Letting jobs disappear was the Premier's line in the sand. If this Premier and this government cared about jobs, cared about young people, cared about families, they would break that promise too, and the sooner the better.
Instead of big foreign trips, starting with the two overseas trips during the Premier's first 11 months, perhaps this Premier could stay at home and do some work on a plan to get more job creation in this province. We cannot afford to let even more jobs disappear without at least investing in replacements. We cannot abandon even more opportunities. I would go so far as to suggest that the Liberal Government needs not to be too proud to admit that the NDP was right.
It's also clear that this Liberal Government has no direction. I know that . . .
MS. MACDONALD « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know that people felt that the former Progressive Conservative Government had used up any ideas and enthusiasm that they originally brought into office and they were responding to events rather than leading the province. But today we have a government that is a do-nothing government. It's mainly responding rather than leading, because this is a government that doesn't really stand for anything. They want others to be responsible, to take responsibility, to deal with the issues, to provide the leadership.
The Ivany report was a godsend to any government that wants to seize the moment and improve the future of Nova Scotia, but this government has run away from the Ivany report. They are running away from the fact that it is now or never for Nova Scotia. Nova Scotians and their children are paying a price already. One look at the books shows that the Liberals have run away from the spending management that brought departmental spending in under budget year after year, so that the NDP added less operating debt than any other first-term government in at least 50 years despite the Great Recession.
I have said previously that in government, the NDP did too much, and the list of NDP accomplishments is far too long for anyone to remember, much less communicate. But the Liberals seem to think the lesson is that they are better off to do little or nothing. It seems they intend to just manage the news and then make a show of action shortly before the next election. Any battle, the Liberals think, will be one they can easily win, forgetting the consequences.
The time for action on our economy is now. The action needs to be taken and it needs to be sustained. There was no sense of now or never when the first Liberal budget cranked up spending and the biggest deficit in more than a decade, with departmental spending out of control. There was no sense of now or never when the single biggest financial decision this government has made was to eliminate incentives for skilled, well-educated young people to stay and work in Nova Scotia.
Just this week, Canadians were told that a big inequality gap is in front of us by age, on top of the gender gap. When they expected to win the election, the Liberals didn't say they were going to kick these underpaid young people right in the pocketbook, but that is exactly what the Liberals did. The Graduate Retention Rebate was targeted precisely at the people Nova Scotia most wants to attract and keep, yet it was cancelled and the money was not reinvested in the retention of skilled young workers.
Immigration is important, but a larger population target is all those young people whose retention rebate was a good extra reason to stay and put down roots in Nova Scotia. This amounts to taking young people for granted, even when they are the most mobile part of our population and their skills are needed here.
There is no sense of now or never in the Liberal Government's replay of the old 1990s battles with nurses and other health care workers and other public servants. The province's finances are nearly $1 billion worse now than they were a year ago, mainly due to Liberal decisions. This is no time for quick fixes that have proven to be long-term problems. I don't know, Mr. Speaker, if you remember, but I certainly remember the hiring fairs for Nova Scotia nurses that began to flourish here after Liberal wage restraint and the blatant disrespect for the front-line workers in health and other public services. Let's not go back there. I spoke recently with janitors, orderlies, cooks, and other whose work is vital to the operation of our hospitals but whose pay is not exactly magnificent. They live paycheque to paycheque. They, and their families, will be the first victims of the idea that once again the big thing is to freeze wages, limit benefits, and start racing to the bottom.
I know that it is much harder to direct program spending away from ineffective programs. It took more than a year to prepare the long-term analysis of ineffective spending that was already done when this government took office and when this government largely ignored it. My colleagues and I knew that it was now or never to maintain the momentum of good spending control and better use of the people's money which we had started. A detailed plan to streamline administration and overhead in the health system was ready to move into implementation, and many in the health system had contributed their ideas, yet its significant savings were shelved.
The Liberals would rather spend money on governance changes than save money by actually improving the delivery of hospital-based services. It's a fool's errand to go after wage freezes and severe wage restraints or imposition of collective agreements, avoiding necessary decisions that improve the fundamentals of government. The political will should be focused on redirecting government toward new and important priorities like early needs plans, the affordable housing strategy, resuming the reduction in poverty, and the direction that was to put people first in support for seniors and people with disabilities.
There were some good ideas in the Liberal platform and the government has implemented a number of them, but I do wonder, Mr. Speaker, what this Liberal Government would do if they couldn't use the ideas that had been built into the provision of government services from the previous NDP Government or the old 1990's Liberal ideas.
In one week alone, in April, this government got front-page coverage for opening the collaborative clinic in Bridgewater that Premier Dexter had announced as part of the NDP push to increase collaborative care. It got headlines the previous day for introducing legislation to create the apprenticeship agency that had been introduced by my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, who made it his priority to engage in labour and management, in fixing apprenticeships. A few days before that, Mr. Speaker, cabinet ministers made the news by opening the model Early Years Centres for early childhood education that had been planned and announced by Nova Scotia's first Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, Ramona Jennex. And whose record let this premier go to China and boast about Nova Scotia as a clean energy province? Without the NDP record of action and achievement, he would have been stuck with the unkept promises and goals, without strategies, that came to characterize the Progressive Conservative Government's approach.
Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Liberals are simply stalling until after the federal election because they would rather help federal candidates, Liberal candidates, even if it means the Liberals let Nova Scotia fall further behind financially, economically, and socially. By the time that federal election is over, this government will have used up half its mandate and the most valuable time to maintain or build momentum toward the goals set forth in the Ivany report.
Mr. Speaker, I know that Nova Scotia can be a national leader and a world leader because I was here when CECs were developed as an innovative way to develop health care to smaller communities. I was here when the community feed-in tariff provided a new model for any country in the world to increase its renewable energy portfolio while building stronger communities, and it was my privilege to be here when the mental health strategy was launched as the first funded strategy in many years, while it delivered exactly what the government promised because government added funding to its fiscal plan as part of adopting this strategy.
Mr. Speaker, while some may scorn politics, they do so at Nova Scotia's peril because it is through the political process that provincial direction is set or not set as the case may be. It is through the political Parties that there is accountability for promises broken, for errors and omissions that have real consequences in everyday life.
Mr. Speaker, I go out and speak with many, many different groups and organizations around our province, and I am not blinded to the kind of disillusionment that characterizes a lot of the discussion around representative democracy and electoral politics, but the practice of politics may have its bleak moments of opportunism, of betrayal, of deception, of private gain over the public good, but it has many, many more times of providing for the public good. One of the things that I say to people as I meet with them, a line I've stolen from that Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is gaining so much attention south of the border, people need to understand that if you're not at the table you're probably on the menu.
This is why what we do in this House of Assembly is so important, this is why the representation of the people who sent us here is so important, what we do here is not about us, it's about the people outside of this Chamber who put their faith and their trust in their representatives to do the best job we can with the hand that we're dealt and the circumstances of the time in which we do our work.
Mr. Speaker, I can think of no greater privilege than to have been in this Chamber, to be in this Chamber, to have been offered this opportunity. I want to say to my constituents, to the people who have supported me to come here, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much, it has been my privilege to serve and I will do my best to continue to do that as long as you wish for me to be in this place. Thank you. (Applause)
MR. BRENDAN MAGUIRE « » : Now how do I follow that? Mr. Speaker, I rise here today as the MLA for Halifax Atlantic. For those of you who do not know Halifax Atlantic, let me remind you. It is made up of Spryfield, Herring Cove, Sambro, Williamswood, Harrietsfield, Purcells Cove, and many other little communities in between.
I stand here - it has been a long journey for me. I think it has been well-documented. It was 34 years ago that I came to Canada. I came to Canada from Weymouth, England. My beginnings were not the easiest, but I've had a lot of support along the way. I could actually talk for an hour thanking every single person along the way who has helped me out, and I'm actually going to mention some of them.
Before I get into the names of the people who have helped me out, I want to talk about - Wednesday night I was honoured to represent the Premier for a stakeholder, an organization called Phoenix House. Phoenix House is an organization that is near and dear to my heart because I lived at Phoenix House. Phoenix House helped save my life.
The day I walked into Phoenix House I had a mohawk, some piercings, tattoos - I still have the tattoos; the mohawks are gone. I walked in afraid and a bit ashamed. I think that's something that comes along with living in care that people don't talk about: the personal feeling of failure and being ashamed to tell people that somewhere along the line, your parents decided that this wasn't it for them.
I stood there for the Premier and I talked to Phoenix House. If you haven't had an opportunity to read about Phoenix House or if you actually don't know what that organization is, I think you should take some time, read up on that organization, donate, and help. So it was a great honour. It was kind of funny because shortly after I was elected, Tim Crooks, who is the executive director of Phoenix House, called me and asked me to come speak to the children, which I was honoured to do.
I remember sitting there at Phoenix House and Ricky Anderson came in to speak to us. I remember thinking, get me the heck out of here, what is this guy talking about? I don't care. What I tried to do is at least touch one child and let them know that things are going to be okay.
I guess I kind of got off-track there a bit, but the reason I mentioned that night was I actually came in afterwards. It was around eight o'clock at night, it was all locked up in here and the security let me in, and I just kind of came up in here and I stood in the doorway and actually took a picture and just kind of let it all sink in. It was quiet, which doesn't happen very often when we're sitting, but I just wanted to appreciate not only where I've come from, but the history behind this place. Very few Nova Scotians actually get the chance to sit where we sit.
It's an honour to be here. It's an honour to represent my riding. I'm actually the first - I don't know if many people know this - I'm actually the first Liberal ever to represent the area of Halifax Atlantic. (Applause) We've had three MLAs since they started electing MLAs for the area. I'll mention them because I remember all of them and they're all still around and they've all contributed a lot to the community.
Before me it was Michele Raymond, before that it was Robert Chisholm, and before that it was John Buchanan. John is still alive and kicking. I remember John from back in the day. When I was actually younger, growing up in the area, everybody wanted to be Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux; I wanted to be John Buchanan. (Laughter) Wait a minute - wait a second - I can tell you that I don't agree with everything he stood for, but I love the man. Or I wanted to be a Global newscaster named Allan Rowe. (Applause) That's how I could get to say his name. That is God's honest truth; I wanted to be John Buchanan or Allan Rowe.
So here I am today, I get to sit beside the MLA for Dartmouth South and I get to listen to his voice. He actually pokes me and tells me to be quiet. I still get the chance to see John and Mavis. My constituency office is actually by a law firm called Clyde A. Paul & Associates. Clyde has been involved with John Buchanan and I think it would have been Freddy Dicks, and a few others, for a long time. Freddy, bless his soul, has passed away and John is still kicking and he still remembers everyone.
I was in the grocery store the other day and it was quite a sight because John was down one aisle, so if you see John, you have to stop and talk. A crowd started to form and people were taking pictures. Before they had snapped the pictures, John pulled me in close and the lady said, say cheese, and John said, no, say the next MLA will be a Conservative. He made me laugh. John still has his sense of humour.
I'm going to jump into some of the people that I would like to thank along the way. There is the normal cast of characters that I think I've thanked a million times, but there are some people who, for one reason or another, I have not thanked along the way. Someone just passed me a note saying "me" - you will not be thanked. The one person, for my own personal reasons, I tend to forget to thank - I don't forget to thank, I just don't think I've ever thanked publicly - was my foster mother, Ruby Campagna who passed away of breast cancer quite a while ago.
Ruby was an interesting, strong woman. She was from Newfoundland and Labrador - Springdale. She had the reddest hair you've ever seen. People in our caucus say I talk too much, and the reason I talk too much is Ruby, because you'd often hear her, then you'd see the flaming red hair, and then you knew she was there. We clashed a lot. Our personalities definitely clashed a lot. Toward the end, I got an opportunity to thank her. I hadn't spoken to her in quite a while; that's probably something that I will always regret.
It's not easy. I don't think people realize how difficult it is to raise foster children. There's actually not a lineup out the door to take in foster children. When you take in foster children, you take in children who are hurt, who are bruised, who have had some of the most horrific things that you can ever imagine happen to them. So not only are you putting a roof over those children's heads, but you are responsible for the actions of others now. You are responsible for not hiding the bruises, but fixing the bruises. (Applause)
Ruby took in a lot of us. There were probably 40 to 50 children over the years that went through her house. I was blessed because she took in - Ruby and Eve took in children of all different ages, races, and cultures, so I was exposed to some amazing cultures, amazing people right from the beginning. That is the one thing you don't hear about for those of us that have gone through foster care. We grew up quickly, but we have family all over the place and it truly is a blessing. That actually was something that helped me out quite a bit during my election. My wife always says to me that I have 20 moms, and I say no, I have 25 actually. I was very lucky in my life to be surrounded by a lot of strong women that helped shaped me into the man I am today. (Applause)
I want to thank Ruby. I've never publicly thanked her, and I don't think I've ever actually privately thanked her besides the one time toward the end.
I want to thank Linda Wilson. Some people in this room may know who Linda is, some don't. I know the Minister of Community Services knows who Linda is. Linda was the executive director of Phoenix House when I lived there. She's now the executive director of HomeBridge Youth Society.
The story about Linda is actually a funny one because she almost lost her job because of me. Shortly after I moved in, Linda was not a counsellor; she was the executive director, so she didn't have a lot of one-on-one with the children. She was sitting in this office and I was sitting upstairs at the table. I looked back and I saw her office door open and I thought, my God, she's always in there, she doesn't talk to anyone, she must have a boring life. Mind you, I was 17 or 18 at the time. So I decided to go in and do what I did to a lot of people at that age - and probably still do - which is pick at them, I'm hyper, I don't shut up, those kinds of things. So I go in there and I'm like, what are you doing, what are you doing, what are you doing, what are you doing - and she turned around and she said, young man, I just have a report to finish. If you would let me finish this report, I will sit down and have a conversation with you.
So she starts to write and I rip the paper out of her hand. She said, young man, please let me finish this report. I said okay. So then I went into a closet that had gifts in it and I started throwing all the gifts out. Like I said, I'm 17 - I was probably acting like I was about 12 at the time. But anyway, I threw something at her head and she instinctively went to block it - it was a rubber ball or something - and she just missed hitting me. Linda, being the most honest human being on Earth, went to her board that day and tried to resign over it because she almost accidentally hit a child. So that's how our relationship started.
It has since flourished to the point where I consider her my mother. Linda has been there now for me for over 20 years. There's not a person on Earth besides my wife that I would call in an emergency, in any type of moment. I call her just to talk and to tell her I love her. I'm very appreciative for everything that Linda does. Linda was the most stressed-out person during my campaign. I thought she was going to take a heart attack.
Then there's Ainslie MacNeil-Campbell. The story of Ainslie is actually quite special. When my brothers and sisters and I were left by our parents at the shopping centre, the social worker who was called at the time was Ainslie MacNeil-Campbell. Ainslie actually came, picked us up, took us into care. It would have been about 12, 13 years later when I moved to Phoenix House, Ainsley was the house director at Phoenix House. It was a story she never forgot. I was able to reconnect with Ainslie.
So I left Phoenix House, and about 10 or 20 years later when I decided to run for politics, a year before that, Ainslie and I had reconnected. So three of the most important moments of my life, this one shining star appeared. People like that are people you'll never forget.
I want to thank Marion Brown - I'm going to get into more stuff, I just want to thank people right now. I'm not thanking Minister Churchill, but I will be thanking Marion Brown, Michael Skinner. Both were counsellors at Phoenix House that helped me through some of my darkest moments. Someone once told me, as a politician - if I decided to get into politics - that I shouldn't wear my heart on my sleeve and that my past may be something that people would not be happy with, being a foster child and having different issues along the way. The people in my riding know me. We're one big family, and there was - I hide nothing from no one, and I think for once in my life, I was accepted for all my faults, and I appreciate it.
Tim Crooks is another one. He's the executive director of Phoenix House. If you ever read Hansard, Tim, I would just like to say, thank goodness you cut off that ponytail. That was horrible.
I want to thank - there are a few people who gave me words of wisdom along the way. I just found out today that one of the pages - it's their father, so I don't know if he's here or not, where he's at - but Norman Greenberg was somebody who, early on, gave me some words of wisdom that I'll never forget. And Bill Lord and Stella Lord are two people also whom I met with shortly after I decided to run. You know, we might not all agree on everything, but they were great with their words of wisdom.
I also would like - he thanked me in Council, so I'm going to thank him in the House - I actually have a very unique relationship with my councillor, Steve Adams. Steve's been around for a long time. Steve may not have worked for me - he may have possibly worked against me during the election - but since then, Steve and I have become - we're a pretty good unit. We work well together. We don't step on each other's toes. I respect his wisdom and his experience.
One of the things that we do in the wintertime, for example: half of the roads in our riding are provincial and half are municipal. The provincial roads are much more maintained and the minister's not listening; there was a little shout-out to him. But what we do in the wintertime is we actually drive our riding, which is a loop, and if I see a road that is not maintained by the city, I'll call him, and if he sees a road that is not maintained by the province, he will call me. So we are actually able to work together that way.
We also have worked on numerous projects together where the city has, and the councillor has, worked on my behalf and I have worked on his behalf to get some projects done. One of those is Chebucto Head Road. For those of you that don't know about this road - I'm not going to get into the details of this road because you will fall asleep, but this road was a federal road that the municipality allowed houses to be built on that the province, at one point, maintained. So all three had their hands in this road.
The feds decided to divest themselves of this road because it was originally a road that was supposed to lead to a lighthouse. It was an issue that hung over our riding for 20 years or so. It was actually probably the worst road in HRM. CBC did a bit of a story on this. The residents on this road were extremely frustrated, as you can imagine when there are 6-inch to 8-inch deep potholes that are the width of the road.
I started right away. It was a campaign promise of mine to finally find a solution to this road. The councillor and I sat down with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and the minister, and the councillor brought his people in, and we found a solution, and that solution was a road swap. There are roads within HRM that are actually provincial roads and vice versa, within the province that are, kind of, other roads that are not provincial or they just don't have ownership. So we decided to do a road swap that made sense for the municipality and the province. I'm proud to say last night I drove down that road. The potholes are filled, the road is clean, the ditches are clean, and this is just one step on restoring that road. It was an issue that hung over our riding for 20 years that has now been solved by co-operation. So the key here is co-operation. (Applause)
I also want to talk about education. One of the many reasons I'm proud of this government is their investment in education, and also a minister who is very accessible - I've heard some comments. The Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development has been extremely helpful, open, and if she's not around, she has led me in the right direction and to the right people.
We've decided that education is a priority for this government, and it should be. As a father of a young son who, four years from now, will be school, I think we can all agree that education is something that we need to invest in. It is the future and we need to make sure that our children are given the best possible starts in life. (Applause)
I was proud to stand there with the minister. This is all new to those of us who first got elected. The polished and experienced politicians are quite comfortable in front of the camera and quite comfortable in front of the mic. I actually had the privilege to watch the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development in front of the camera April 7th at the Rockingstone Heights School in Spryfield. If you don't know about this school, for people that know my riding, it's the one school that tends to not get mentioned because I think it's a little bit out of the way with its location and stuff.
But there are some fantastic things being done at that school. They've decided to take a hub model. They are working with other government departments to allow for different resources, not just for the children, but also for the parents. Things like budgeting, how to prepare healthy meals for your children, some after-school programming for children. They have a great program for awareness around bullying. They have done a lot of things.
So on April 7th, the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development and Margaret McCain, the chair of the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation, officially opened the province's first Early Years Centre at Rockingstone Heights School. I want to thank you for choosing us. I think it is something that the riding needs. It is something everybody needs. We need to make sure our children are given, like I said earlier, the best possible start in life.
I want to stick on the theme of education. The people in my riding, for too long, have felt that the money stops at the rotary. I have vowed that this would not happen anymore. They kept pointing their fingers toward our schools and saying, well, J.L. Ilsley was built in 1972, we can't even get a window. J.L. Ilsley was built in 1972, we can't get our leaky roof fixed. Why is it the only high school in HRM that has not either had renovations or a rebuild? Sorry, it was built in 1971, for anyone who's watching this. I'm probably going to get a tweet about that actually.
When people think of J.L. Ilsley, for those of us who are not, like we like to call ourselves, Spryfield proud, for those of us who have never been to the school or don't actually know the area well, the first thought that goes through their mind is Spryfield. I have lived in the area my entire life. I had the privilege of going to J.L. Ilsley High School. It is a gem. (Applause) The teachers there, the staff there and the students there are incredible. This is a school that is located in an area that has some real challenges. This is a school that, for the last few years, for the food bank, raised more food than any other school in HRM. This is a school that, you know, some of these parents are struggling to feed their children, yet they raised more food than any other school. (Applause)
These are things that you don't hear about that school, so of course shortly after I was elected I met with the school board representative, the school board chairman, and the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. I stressed the importance - I was ready for a battle so I had everything ready, we were going to go at it, I was going to tell them how important this school was and why it needed renovations, and the minister already knew. She already knew how important the school was to the area; she already knew the fantastic things that are going on in this school. The funny part is, when you walk into the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and you walk down this hall - it's a very long hall for those of you that haven't been there - there is art on the wall and I think every third or fourth piece of art is from a student at J.L. Ilsley. It is a school that produces a tremendous amount of art.
I stress the importance of the school to our community; it is the one thing that ties us all together. Our riding is made up of all different types of people and places, but the one thing that ties us is this high school, and the minister knew that and I was proud to get a commitment for some money to fix that school - and those renovations are going on as we speak. (Applause)
I promise you this isn't just all a love-in on the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development - there is more to come on the other departments. I'm getting yelled at by ministers as we speak.
So that was the one school that got fixed, but it wasn't the only school. There was more than one school in my riding that received some funding and I want to talk quickly about them. I think at one point the department was probably tired of receiving my calls, reading my emails, and seeing my face at the door - the Community Services Minister is looking at me saying, no, that's us. But there is a very special school in our riding called Central Spryfield. This school has been around for a long time. A couple of years ago, actually, this school was up for closure and I'm going to give some credit to a few people on this. Irvine Carvery is a gentleman who was instrumental on keeping the school open; so is Sheryl Blumenthal the school board representative. They rallied us as a community and we were able to save the school, so I think when you mention Central Spryfield you have to mention those two names in particular.
When I first got in - keeping a school open is a lot different than providing adequate facilities for students - this was a school that actually half the school was closed down because of some structural damage. It was deemed unsafe for the children. It had been like this for quite some time. We were running into some insurance issues and things like that, and once again I came running to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the minister - and I see her rolling her eyes - and we stressed the point of all these schools in these areas.
These schools, I think personally, are strategically placed because the areas that they are in have very diverse and very challenging needs. The community had spoken - they wanted that school open and, once again, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the minister stood tall, allocated the resources that were needed to fix this school and the people of Spryfield, in particular the families and the children of Central Spryfield, now they have their school in the process of being renovated. I want to thank that department and the minister again for their help.
Finally would be the - oh, this is why they told me to have more detailed notes. The final school was actually Elizabeth Sutherland, it was another school that was in need of repair. The department stepped up and the funding was allocated for that. So, in total, we were able to fix and/or renovate three schools. I'm very proud of that. That was a promise made during the campaign that I was determined to keep: that our schools would finally get the proper funding they deserved, that our students would have the roof over their heads they deserved, and that the buildings would finally match the care, the love, and the education that are going on in those schools.
I want to thank the minister, but I also want to thank this government and the Premier for recognizing the importance of investing in schools. I have a quote from April 7th that has kind of stuck in my head, from the minister and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and it is something that I truly believe. It says, "Giving children the best start in life is paramount as we respond to the changing needs of today's families, especially during the early years." So thank you very much.
I am going to continue on, and I want to skip back to the roads and the infrastructure in my riding. Chebucto Head Road was not the only road that got some love from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and the minister. There are a few problems - there's a recurring theme that's going to happen here. The issues in our riding, some of them are a decade old or older, so they were problems that I would hear time and time again from the people of the area. They would say, Brendan, we're tired of this, I don't know how many times we have to go and ask for a school with a roof that doesn't leak, a road without potholes, or just a clean road.
That takes me to Club Road. When I'm hungry I actually call it Clubhouse Road. Club Road is a road that has been a dumping ground for about 20 years. The CBC actually did a report on this road. I approached the minister and the department, in particular the staff. I think it was Don Maillet, Guy Deveau, Hugh Burns (Interruption) Yes, and Tom - and just took them for a drive down there. They were well aware of this.
It took almost a week of non-stop cleaning to clean this road. From mattresses to shingles to beds to - you name it, it was there. This road is now, for the first time in over 20 years, clean. It is secure, and we are back to having a beautiful road to walk down when we have our fishing gear and go down to catch trout. It is something that I am very proud of. It was a promise that needed to be kept, and I am proud that the department was able to keep that promise and help me with it.
I could go through all the roads that the department has helped me with - the MLA beside me might give me a smack if I don't sit down soon. I just want to thank everyone involved in that department and all departments and this government for their openness and their willingness to think outside the box and to work together and to listen.
It's an interesting job, it really is. I read somewhere recently - I don't know where it was - that the most important work of an MLA happens in this House. I would disagree. I think the most important work of an MLA happens when the door of my constituency opens, when my cellphone rings, when I'm in the grocery store, when I'm walking down the street, when I meet with students. To me, that is the most important work of an MLA.
It is the single mother of three who walks into my office and says, I need help, I don't have bus tickets, I'm having a difficult time feeding my children. It's helping her and leading her in the right direction. It's somebody who just comes in and wants to talk about their issues.
As MLAs - it's a tough job. I'm not saying this is the toughest job in the world. I've had some jobs that were difficult either physically or mentally, but if you're anything like me - I think this caucus, I think we all have big hearts and I think everyone in this Chamber has a big heart and we want to do what's best for the people of our riding. It's sometimes difficult to get around the thought that we can't solve every problem. When you have that person in your office who is crying, who is desperate, who needs help, sometimes it's just good to listen.
For every person who walks into our office, for every person who makes that phone call, we need to think about how difficult it is for them to do that. It's not easy to go to somebody and ask for help. I've been in that position dozens and dozens of times in my life and very seldom did I reach out. I was somebody who liked to learn the hard way and I think I was determined to not lean on anyone so I never owed anyone anything.
But I did reach out to people and that's what being human is, helping your neighbour, it's helping the person beside you, it's giving spare change if you have it, it's buying a coffee for somebody to whom a coffee means all the difference in the world. It's just acknowledging humanity, so it's not the easiest thing to do and I think we need to. I go back to Wednesday night when I walked through those doors and just took a moment to look into this Chamber and it is a beautiful place and we need to recognize how important our job is to the people in our riding and we need to make sure we always take that seriously. Wherever I read that the most important thing happens in this Chamber, I disagree.
There are a lot of things this government has done over the last year, but the one thing that really resonates with me, the one thing that makes me so proud to be in this caucus is the handling of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children. (Applause) I'm not going to stand here and point a finger; I'm not going to place blame because I think a lot of that has already been done, and I don't think that helps in the healing process.
I know one of the very first conversations I ever had with the Premier when I decided to run was - actually I think it was the first conversation, and the first words out of my mouth was the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children. As somebody who has lived in a group home before, as somebody who has been part of the system, sometimes our voices are not heard for one reason or another. It is not easy to live in these homes and we need to allow the healing process to start, and this government has done that. We need to realize that the people who are living in these group homes are the most vulnerable of children and those children go on to be adults and sometimes those scars - I shouldn't say "sometimes", those scars live with you forever. I will be 40 years old next year, and I have scars that have lived with me since I was six years old.
I'm proud of this caucus; I'm proud of the Minister of Justice for her handling of this file. As I said, I'm not here to point fingers because I don't think that helps in the healing process. These children, these vulnerable children are now adults. They have been given some form of closure and for that I am very, very proud. So we'll stick with the theme of Community Services - the minister is smiling because I have her on speed dial.
I want to go back to the election for a second. I want to talk about after the election when we - first of all, before the election. We wanted to engage people all through our riding. For me, one of the areas where I really wanted to have those people out and engaged and their voices heard is a community called Greystone. Greystone is public housing. It has a very low voter turnout. I have a lot of personal connections to this area. I actually spent a lot of time in Greystone as a youth. My favourite babysitter, Trish, lived in Greystone, and Marie, God bless her soul - one of my favourite memories was going to Damon and Chantel's house, and her mom there with her crazy eyebrows and hair.
This is a community that is - if you don't know about this community, it's not in the heart of anything. It's not central to anything. It's up on a hill. It's away from everyone else. It's a community that feels forgotten, but it is a heck of a community. They get out, they have community events, they support each other. When somebody falls, they're there to pick them up. This is the community of Greystone that I know; this is the community of Spryfield that I know. We stand shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm. It's not just Spryfield. It's Herring Cove, it's Sambro, it's Harrietsfield, it's Williamswood. We're very passionate and protective of our own.
I'm proud that this minister, this government, has invested over $12 million in public housing, with more to come. What that means for my area is some roofs, some windows, some homes - public housing in Greystone that is in desperate need of some upgrades - but it is also a playground, a swing set. Think about that for a second: a community that has over 500 people living up there - sorry, it's 500 children who are living up there - does not have a playground and is finally getting one. To me, that says a lot about this minister, about that department, and about this government.
The importance of investing in our public housing isn't just wood and nails and shingles and windows and doors. It's putting a safe roof over your head, so that when you lie in bed at night you can close your eyes and know that this is your home, that you are safe, and that you are given dignity. This is what this government stands for, and this is what this minister stands for.
I want to talk about something, and a lot of this is going to be personal. I want to talk about the $500,000 investment in transition homes, women's centres, and second-stage housing. My life has been guided by strong women. It's the truth. I am surrounded by strong women, and I've always been surrounded by strong women. Some of you know who they are, and I've given a shout-out to some of them.
One of the things that I don't talk about very often - it has been a long time - is early on, as a child, watching the abuse that happens in a home and how it impacts your outlook on life to see your father strike your mother, to try and protect your mother and to be disciplined and hit for it. For those of you who have never experienced or seen the abuse that can happen, it's humanity at its worst. Investing in safe homes for my mother, for my sister, for your mother, for your sister is one of the most important things we can do as a government and it is something that, no matter which Party you stand for, no matter what beliefs you have, it is something that we all agree on. (Applause)
This investment will help break cycles. It will allow those who are involved, the victims of domestic abuse - it will allow them to stand tall, it will allow them to heal and it will allow them to put their families hopefully back together. Domestic abuse and this type of treatment to our mothers and sisters and daughters, who are the threads of our family, who are what keep us together, it tears our family apart piece by piece. We need to protect them. We need to make sure that they know it's okay to walk away and that somebody will be there to pick them up and help them. This minister and this government understand the importance of that. Thank you. (Applause) I'm still going.
I'm going to sway away from that for a minute. I want to thank the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture also, for taking time to come down to Sambro, which is a historic fishing village, and meet with people like Doug Garrison, the owner of Sambro Fisheries, and Donny Hart and have a discussion on the future of the fishing industry and allowing those on the frontline, the fishermen, the processors and the business owners to have input on this industry and the importance of this industry. I wanted to just give a little thank you out to him for doing this. (Interruption) So they're telling me I have to wrap this up soon.
AN HON. MEMBER: You can go on as long as you want.
AN HON. MEMBER: He's always been on timelines on the news.
I've talked about what this government, in my opinion, stands for. That's fiscal responsibility, but it's also the social impact that we as a government can have. I don't know how many times I've sat in the caucus and listened to my fellow MLAs, my Cabinet Ministers, and the Premier himself say what is the impact on everyday life, how will this impact those who are living on the margin, the middle class, and what will this do to the family structure? These are things that we need to remember when we're making decisions that involve dollars and cents - the real human impact.
You know, I'm proud. I am proud to be part of this team. Like any other family, we don't always get along, but we talk it out. I am proud to be part of this bench, this caucus, and I am proud to have the Premier of Nova Scotia as our Leader. I can thank every department and minister, but I'm going to thank the ones that I mostly pester and the ones that cringe when they see my number come up. So let's talk about the Department of Natural Resources and the Minister of Natural Resources.
There is a gem in the middle of our riding called Long Lake Provincial Park. There are all kinds of stories on how this became a provincial park. The one that I always keep near and dear to me and the one that I choose to believe is that John Buchanan once flew over the riding in a helicopter and pointed and said, that looks like a park. That's what we've been led to believe, so that's the one that I'm going to go with.
But this is a park in name only; it is woods and a lake. It is an issue that has come up, over and over, over the last 20 or 30 years. People wanted trails. They want access to the lake. They want to be able to take their children. They want to be able to have it accessible to everybody. This is something that myself, and actually Councillor Adams, started early on, after being elected. We had - well, let's just say the Minister of Natural Resources had a full head of hair, more like a mullet, when I first started in on him, and now not so much.
The minister actually pulled his hair out quite a few times in meetings with me and also the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and their two EAs - am I allowed to mention the EAs' names, Shawn and Tom? I'm going to do it anyway. Shawn and Tom, who probably - I mean, they are the nicest people on Earth and they act like they are glad to see and hear from me, but I think deep down inside, every time I call, they drink a bottle of Scotch. But the minister understood, and in the spirit of that report that we hear a lot of - the Ivany report - we were able to reach out and make this a collaboration. This isn't just on us. This was HRM, this was the Spryfield Business Commission, people like Bruce Holland, Ryan Brennan and a few others who came together. This was also a local businessman who came forward and helped out on this project.
This project has a lot of moving parts, but this department, these ministers - the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and the Minister of Natural Resources - showed that they are extremely capable of pulling a complicated deal together and it looks like we will be developing, after 30 years of our riding waiting, we will be developing trails, a parking lot and accessibility to this park and to this lake. This is something that I am extremely proud of. (Applause) I was also told that is it, I'm not allowed to come back to Natural Resources for at least a year.
One of the things I wanted to touch on is in my riding we have - and I was actually one of them - we have a lot of skilled tradespeople. Parts of our riding are very rural. We have areas such as Harrietsfield, Williamswood, Sambro and Herring Cove that rely on good old-fashioned, throw your work boots on, get-out-there-and-go-to-work labour. I still have my work boots at home. My wife tells me sometimes she'd rather me throw the work boots on than a tie.
I am proud of the expansion of the apprenticeship START Program. The investment from $500,000 to $1 million will have a huge impact on our skilled trades and on people in our riding. This is another department, and another minister, that I've been very active with - as she sits there and laughs. But they've been very open to our ideas and that is another thing that I don't think people hear enough about with government, and this government in particular, is the ministers and the Premier encourage us to bring policy ideas forward. They encourage ideas, they encourage looking at things in a different way and thinking outside the box because they know that they don't have all the answers, and they know that we all bring a unique set of skills to our jobs and a unique set of life experiences.
I want to thank the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education for this huge investment in the middle class and our families. It is something that will have a direct impact on my riding and I look forward to continuing to pester you for the next three years.
I thanked a lot of people, but I haven't thanked the most important people. As I said earlier, the member for Dartmouth South was making fun of me as I was jotting down some notes because I was looking up some important dates in my life. I actually have the two most important dates in my life tattooed on me - the date that I got married and the date my son was born. He caught me peeking at them to see what the dates were. (Laughter) I am putting it out there because I'm pretty sure he's actually going to tell my wife. My wife, Rena, told me I have no excuse to ever forget our anniversary because it's tattooed on my wrist.
May 12, 2012 was, at the time, the most important moment of my life. That's when I married my partner, my soulmate, and the greatest person on earth, Rena Maguire. Things happened fast for us - I'm told I only have two minutes, so I'm just going to go fast. I want to thank her for being there; I don't think the general public realizes sometimes how difficult it is on your spouse. Rena has been a rock and I love you to death, so if you're watching this - which you're probably not, I will bring you a copy at home - I love you.
I want to thank my in-laws, Gerry and Ruphina Moir, for accepting me into their family, they have been outstanding, and I love them. I might go a minute or two over, but I want to thank them.
June 16, 2013, my son Oliver Finn Maguire was born. It was the greatest moment of my life. Daddy loves you, I am proud, hopefully someday you get to see this, but for me, my wife and my son and my soon-to-be baby daughter are the most important things in my life; they're loved, they're safe, and they're happy.
I broke the cycle, so no matter what happens in my professional life, I'm already a success. Thank you very much. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER « » : Just before we move on to our next member, I want to remind all members when they are doing their Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, not to refer to other members in the Chamber in the first person, but to try to remember, I know a lot of times these remarks are very passionate and personal and we are all a big family here but let's try to keep it within the parameters.
The honourable member for Argyle-Barrington.
First of all, I do want to congratulate the member for Halifax Atlantic for that very heartfelt, personal speech to the House today. We learn new things about him all the time and I think his personal story is one that is an inspiration to many of us. Knowing his personality, I enjoy meeting with him and chatting with him on a regular basis. I thank him for his perseverance, and I also wish him good luck in his new chosen career. Hopefully he'll have the big shoulders to take some of the criticism as well, as Opposition will have to do along the way here. But I'm not going to do it today - well, of you, anyway. Wait, that's first person. I can't say "you." I'll withdraw that as well.
I think it's important to thank many people when we start off our responses. Responses are a very peculiar but interesting tradition within this House of Assembly. Really, the Speech from the Throne is such that it sets out a method or a process for a government to follow, but it allows us as MLAs to basically talk about anything we want - to be able to talk about our constituencies, to talk about how it relates in one way or another to the Speech from the Throne. So I will do some of the same things that the previous member did, which is really to thank a few people, to thank the people of the beautiful constituency of Argyle-Barrington for allowing me the opportunity to be their MLA.
The member for Clare-Digby as well, we represent new constituencies that are combinations of old constituencies. It makes a challenge when we learn to represent those areas in new ways. If you remember, the constituency of Argyle-Barrington was created from the last boundary commission that dramatically changed the faces of those two constituencies, especially.
The constituency of Argyle that I represented before and the constituency that the MLA previous to the current MLA for Clare-Digby, the Honourable Wayne Gaudet, who represented Clare, are two very French Acadian communities. I can tell you that sometimes it was easy and sometimes it wasn't, but the debates and discussions and helping out these communities were such that I enjoyed bringing them here to the House of Assembly, to be able to speak in my mother tongue and to be able to speak in French on many occasions in this House of Assembly.
I don't get to do that as much anymore because of that new composition, because of that new constituency. Yes, I still have the community of the Argyles, the Pubnicos, the Wedgeports, the Surrette's Islands, the Morris Islands - I still have those within our constituency of Argyle-Barrington, just like the member for Clare-Digby has those communities of Concession, Saulnierville, and Meteghan, and all those French communities. But we now have to open our minds to a whole new area that has, in many cases, different aspirations, different needs, different culture, and different history.
That is a challenge, really, when you have to start from scratch when you're taking over. Maybe I've been here for 11 years, and maybe I've been here representing a certain group of people, but I can tell you that over the last year it has been a challenge learning a whole new area, a whole new group of people, and to understand their way of life and their needs and wants in this House of Assembly. So I want to thank them for giving me the opportunity to be here in this special place in the House of Assembly, to be able to bring those thoughts and needs forward.
Of course I want to thank my campaign team. I don't think I had the opportunity the last time around to speak to the Speech from the Throne, so this is sort of my first kick at the can with this new government. I do want to thank my hard-working campaign team - Del Boudreau, my everlasting helper and friend; Ron Surette and the whole gang that helped me day after day to get to the doorsteps, get to the businesses and present, I think, an alternative to the government, I guess is what we were really trying to do, but also to play off and work with the things that I was able to do for my previous constituency.
I'm going to actually thank my family up front because I think that they have given a lot over the last number of years as I came into this. When I came to the House of Assembly my oldest, Andre, was just about five years old, just about to go off to school and all those things. My little guy, Alex, was just about a year old, and my wife was finishing off her Bachelor of Education and starting off on a new career as well. A lot of change for our family as we got into this business, and there have been a lot of changes that have happened with them along the way. Andre will be 16 on October 23rd, Alex just turned 12, and my wife is in her - I don't know, I forget. What are we . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: Don't say how old your wife is.
MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : I'm not saying that, I know better to stay away. She is much younger than I am, she will appreciate that I say that. But she's working - I always have to thank the member for Sackville-Cobequid - she started her job and she's found her niche within education and working with the learning centre at École secondaire de Par-en-Bas and being able to work with the most interesting of students, the most challenging of students at the same time - but working within that learning centre and working with those very very interesting eight students, being able to help them along their life paths is absolutely phenomenal.
I'm so proud of her and I'm proud of my two children - actually Andre is in the city today at a conference, and I had the opportunity to chase around the city a little bit. He's actually lucky that he has a dad who hangs out in the city a little bit because of course he forgot his pillow, so I had to bring that over to the Sommet the other day and get it to him. And I get a call around 10:30 that night as well - he had wanted to have a shower but he had forgotten his towel so dad had to run over to the Sommet for the second time.
By the way, constituency-wise I think it's the Finance and Treasury Board Minister's constituency but I tell you what a beautiful school and a beautiful part of this city. As an Acadian and as a previous Minister of Acadian Affairs, to see that vibrant community, to see that high school there, and to be able to see what happens on Larry Uteck Boulevard is absolutely phenomenal - to see a little piece of my community in the middle of this great city, I think it's phenomenal for that. (Applause)
So far I think he has everything else. I haven't heard back from him today. You know how texting is, he needs me to respond to him quickly, but if I try to send him a note he of course doesn't respond until he needs to. So God bless him and I hope he does well on his thing this weekend, but again he's lucky - he's lucky Dad was in town this week doing this.
I want to thank - you know it's interesting in this job sometimes where, of course, over the next number of weeks as we get into the full run of the House of Assembly we will have the opportunity to, I wouldn't say pick apart the Throne Speech but to look at the things that we feel the government didn't get to, to criticize some things, but also to hold the government to account to do the things that they have promised within this document and within the previous one.
I just want to say that last night I had the opportunity to attend the Archbishop's Dinner, the Archdiocese of Halifax/Yarmouth, which is of course my diocese as well. I was asked, and I readily accepted to thank the guest speaker. Well the guest speaker last night at the Archbishop's Dinner was the honourable Premier, where he had the opportunity to talk about his family life, his faith, and his experiences, and I was more than happy to stand there and thank the Premier for his speech and for his dedication to the province.
You know, what happens in this House, of course, is a little bit of a whole bunch of things, but if we peel back the colour of the shirt we wear, the exteriors that we present to many of us we're still based in the same faith and the same feeling for our friends and our communities. We're all still here for the very, very same thing, regardless of if I have a Progressive Conservative card, or whether somebody has a Liberal card, or somebody has an NDP card. We're all here for the same thing. (Applause) That's why I was so proud last night to thank the Premier for his message. Even though I thought - you know, the one exception I took to his speech last night was that he talked about his hair colour. He felt his hair was getting a little too grey, and of course, my thought on that was, at least he has hair.
All right, so let's move on from that one. Let's talk about Argyle-Barrington for a minute, and what I'm seeing happening to that community over time. Some of it is because of government policy. Some of it is because of the way the world economy's working. Some of it is because of resource problems. Some of it is just because we don't have the same people around anymore who can get the job done. The constituency has been based on traditional fishery for, I'd say - we'll go on 400, almost 500 years. There have been visitors to that neck of the woods for over 1,000, really, if we take the Aboriginal groups that called that area their home before the coming of the Europeans. But it has been a fishing community. Whether you're coming around the back row into Cape Island, or coming around the Woods Harbours into the Pubnicos, that has been a fishing community for a very, very long time, and their dependence upon that business has been all-encompassing.
I would say it's really only in the last 50-odd years that you can say that that community has really started to thrive, has really done well in trying to find the wealth from the sea. And it is kind of funny, I think, in the end. Those Acadian communities that did get established there many, many years ago were put there because the land wasn't such that you could actually do any farming. You couldn't really have a sustenance kind of lifestyle. It was pretty rocky, and the Acadians, and many of the community people that ended up there, turned to the sea and looked to the sea as being an opportunity to, at least, survive. Whether it was catching a few lobsters, catching a few herring, catching a few mackerel, that was how they survived.
It wasn't about selling; it was about living. It was about being able to feed their children and worrying about tomorrow or the next day, because that's just how hard it would have been to survive in those areas a number of years ago. If you look at where it's come, though, we've come to a place in those industries where, through amalgamation, we've lost, or at least amalgamated, a number of the ground fisheries in one place - which is a bit of a challenge in some cases, because what happens next is that they get amalgamated somewhere else, or get sold off piecemeal to other parts of the world. We've really got to watch ourselves on that one. I'll talk about that one in a moment in my comments about the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
The lobster fishery itself is one that has had some tremendous challenges over the last number of years, and had the opportunity to turn itself around last year because prices were a little better than they were the year before. They were able to put a little bit of money back in the bank, and able to spend a little money around the community.
I can tell you, that has been a tremendous benefit to that area. But I always worry in the back of my head about the next step. What is the next step for those businesses? The reason I talk about the amalgamation and what's going to happen - and a lot of this is federal fisheries policy, whether it's the taking of the quotas and being able to sell the quotas, and the ITQs, and those amalgamations - what has happened is that many of those things have gone into the hands of very few. As those communities age, or at least as those companies, those individuals start to age, they're not going to want to be fishermen - or I guess we call them the fish lords - to be fish lords the rest of their lives.
Yeah, there are some businesses there that look at their community and say, you know, listen, I'm going to try and provide as much employment as I possibly can. There are others that say, this is my retirement, this is my money in the bank.
Then I worry what happens after, does it get sold to Chinese interests, does it get sold to Japanese interests, does it go to Europe? Who will end up controlling those ITQs, or transferrable quotas? It will be a challenge - and I use the example of inshore fisheries often. Inshore fisheries has been a business in the community of Lower West Pubnico for three generations now, so I would say it has been 60 years that business has been going on.
Over the years they've been able to build a plant, buy a number of boats, employ lots of community members and as this generation ages, as they pass away - just recently I lost my friend, Claude d'Entremont, he passed away due to cancer - what happens to that infrastructure that has been built up over years? As they try to transfer it off to their children, when it comes to the transfer of those assets - those assets aren't worth just a few hundred dollars, they're worth millions of dollars and the capability of those youth, who are in their 20s and would really like to be a part of the business, have no mechanisms because the banks, the governments and whoever, will not lend them the money to be able to get into those businesses, to be able to buy the assets so the dads in that business can actually retire.
So they have to come up with creative ways of how to plug those children into those businesses. They look at farming as the opportunity to try to mirror, because when it comes to the transfer of assets of a farm there are some capital gains implications but they are better than what the capital gain implication is within the fishing industry. I use inshore fishing as that example, but the inshore fishery is just one example of many other plants in that area that are facing the same thing.
There's Acadian Fish which is just down the road, there's Sea Star in Clark's Harbour, there are many other ones that are in the same kind of situation - that if they're trying to find an opportunity for their businesses in the future, trying to move it on to the next generation, they're finding it more and more difficult to do that. Then they will have to look at something else which is looking at the people who actually have the money and selling their businesses to them, which will be cut up into piecemeal.
Just the other day one of those businesses was in the news for a roof collapse - G.M. Newell Ltd. I don't know what the new company name is, but that company was bought out, or actually a company that had been on the Newellton Wharf or just on the Newellton Wharf Road, I think they're on second generation if not third generation, they've been there almost 50 or 60 years. They had to sell off to Chinese interests. Luckily the Chinese are interested in that area and they've looked at some expansion of it. They were building a new building and unfortunately as they were putting the new roof on it the roof failed and trapped three of the workers underneath it. Luckily those workers were okay once they were able to get out from under the rubble. It is an example of a business that has changed and luckily has stayed in that spot.
But I worry. It's one of those things that worries me, in our small communities, when there is only really one or two businesses or one kind of business. What happens next? Are we still going to have it? That's the challenge of our economy; that's the challenge of trying to maintain the rural life.
Let me move into lobster while the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is around, to talk about the whole levy issue, which is a challenge. There are mixed reviews on this one. And I think the minister did a bit of a disservice when he spoke in the scrum a number of weeks ago and talked about the possibility of a 5 cent levy. Even though I kind of knew where he was going and I understand what he was trying to do, that there was one area that was interested in doing a little bit more and were asking for a little bit more money, but what it did, especially to my lobster area, District 33-34, everybody's ears, all of a sudden, went up and they said, what do you mean, 5 cents? Can this 2 cents, I think, that people were worried about, or at least were talking about - I can't say they were accepting the idea, but at least I think they were sort of noncommittal to it. I think if it had gone along at 2 cents and the debate could've happened, I think it would have been all right.
But the second that 5 cents showed up in the debate, everybody's ears when up and they went - oh, no way, we're not doing it, that's it. I don't know how we're going to get to the next step. I hope that through the process of Question Period, through some talks to the minister, that I can try to understand how he's going to try to salvage this issue. Because I can tell you, the number of fishermen that I've had the chance to talk to, whether I'm at the coffee shop, Tim Hortons in Barrington, or whether I'm at Dennis Point Café, there are two problems happening now. You have the fishermen who are not wanting to pay a levy, and now you have the buyers who are saying that they don't want to be the banker or the taxman for the government.
They are even saying, well listen, what will end up happening is somebody will have one book of actual sales and they will have maybe another book - I'm not saying they're going to but people have alluded to it - they will have another book they can use when they are paying the taxes to the province or they're paying the levy, so it will be a different number than what they actually are buying. That's not a service, that's not going to work, I think, the way it was envisioned.
I think the buyers, through a number of their associations, have said, well listen, let's come up with a better way to do it. We're this size of business, we normally buy or sell this many pounds of lobster. That means I pay a levy or I pay a licence fee - I guess it's what you would call it - of $1,000 or $2,000, whatever that number ends up being in the end. Pick the number, we're going to pay it at the beginning or the end of the year, whenever you want it, and then we don't have to do this whole, trying to figure out how many pounds of lobster we've caught or we've bought and sold throughout our season.
But then it goes to the other issue. If they're just trying to focus in on their 1 cent or the 2 cent levy - so this is the buyers and sellers - how do we or how does the government get that other 1 cent per pound? How do we work with the fishermen or convince the fishermen that they need to spend that 1 cent? How are we actually going to get it?
It's going to be a challenge. I was talking to some people within the LFA and asking them if there had been a vote yet, because I think the minister has said, we're going to go to those districts and talk to the lobster fishery and we're going to have some votes to make sure they are okay with these things. Well, that hasn't happened yet, that many of my friends are aware of. If that's true, I'm pretty confident that didn't happen. When is that going to happen? It was supposed to happen sometime during the summer so that by the time our fisheries start up at the end of November, some of these things would be in place.
I hope there is a good answer here. I'm hoping, and I'm looking to the minister, we need to fix this issue because it's an important one to make sure that in the long term our fishery is taken care of, that it has the right marketing going on, that it has the right eye on it. There's always going to be the challenge of keeping your eye on that ball because as much as you try to focus on it, there are about 10 other issues that pop up at the same time.
We need to keep our eye on our lobster fishery in Nova Scotia because it is the business that has defined us not only in southwestern Nova Scotia, but all around this province. Nova Scotia lobster is known be the best product, the best lobster in the world, and we need to use that and continue to move forward on it. But there is too much unknown, too much back and forth on this one. I hope there is going to be some clarity in this sitting of the Legislature - at least that I can go to my fishermen and say, well, here is what they're suggesting and here's what I support; because right now, I don't know what I want to support, because I've heard three different things. That's my comment to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture when it comes to the lobster fishery.
We talk about jobs and the economy a lot in this House of Assembly. We, as the Progressive Conservative caucus, talk a lot about the jobs and the economy. There was some talk about it in the Throne Speech. I can say southwestern Nova Scotia has suffered a lot on jobs and the economy over the last number of years. Some of it had to do with the ferry service, some of it had to do with other pressures in the province, but I will focus these few moments on the ferry service itself.
I was lucky to have the opportunity to take the Nova Star ferry to Maine this summer to check it out. I don't know how many people have had the opportunity to check it out, but there you go. I know there are a number who have tried, I know our Leader has had the opportunity to be on it as well, and I'm just looking around at some of my caucus members. I don't think they've got there yet, but I have and I know a number of the members of this House have had the opportunity to see it too.
It presents a huge challenge to us, all of us, to stay positive but vigilant. Put yourselves in the Opposition's standpoint, where in my mind I have to be supportive of this service, I have to be positive and sell this to everybody whom I talk to, but when I see the non-participation of the State of Maine, I see the monies that are being expended in the first year - $21 million is a lot of money to explain to anybody - but when people are looking at this ferry service closely, they are looking for any possible negative thing to say about it. First, it was how much it cost. Then it was what the size of the boat was. So all of a sudden, we've spent $21 million of taxpayers' dollars in one year.
All right, let's do a little accounting on this one. If we take away what we expected to have from the State of Maine, which I think they were supposed to come up with - what was it - $5 million for the line of credit. We kind of got surprised with the $2 million bond for the cancellations of the ferry service in case of weather and other things. You take that $7 million off the $21 million, well then you are probably into a place that, of course, is where we probably should have been in year one and year two and year three, until the seven years, because those guys - I'll say the NDP - had picked a number. I think the $21 million they picked was an arbitrary number.
So as much as everybody says we're up against that wall, we're up against that $21 million, what the heck are we going to do? Well really, $21 million was always an arbitrary number, picked by the department, picked by the NDP, I don't know. So the expert panel - this is what I think is going to be the challenge for the government to explain or at least to continue on. It's that, of course, the expert panel said that it was going to cost $35 million to get a viable service up and running in Yarmouth.
There's a gap, of course, between the $21 million and $35 million. So does that mean that the business, Nova Star Cruises, is going to come to the province, which I think they've alluded on a number of occasions that they are, how much are they going to be wanting more and what is the government going to do when they do that? How much money are they going to continue to allot to that business? At what point do we say, we're giving it all the opportunity to become viable, but at what point do we find that taxpayer versus private investment number? Where is that? I think I'm okay for a little bit, but I'm getting a little bit worried that we might be overextending ourselves on that ferry service.
It has provided a tremendous opportunity for southwestern Nova Scotia. I know the Minister of Natural Resources has been a great supporter of that ferry service and I know he has seen the change in our community since that ferry showed up. I know the member for Clare-Digby has seen the change in our community since that time as well. I know Lunenburg has seen it and I know maybe even Eastern Passage has seen it. People are actually optimistic because now that they're starting to see licence plates from Maine, they're starting to see licence plates from New Hampshire, they're starting to see things from places that we haven't seen in a long time. There's been four or five years that we haven't had those tourists come to our shores and spend some money in our hotels and spend money in our stores. It's tremendous.
Now is it everything that we wanted it to be? Well, of course not yet, because we were so economically disadvantaged over that time period that we lost a lot of businesses, we lost a lot of people, and it is taking some time now for those people to come back, to set up the businesses, to get going again.
MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It has taken a while. I think this was a successful year for the community. There have been a few new businesses set up. There are a number of new restaurants that I've seen. I think there is still a lack of real room nights of hotels and stuff that we've lost over the last number of years that are going to have to be brought back into the system as people come and look for the experience of southwestern Nova Scotia, but I think we're well on in that process.
All I hope is that the government continues to watch this one closely. Don't let it get too out of hand, but at the same time, let it get itself established. It's going to be good for people visiting Lunenburg and seeing that historic waterfront and hopefully seeing - I have to say it, I do, because I said Lunenburg - hopefully we're going to see a sailing Bluenose II as well and get that thing out of the way. We can say everything we want about the process along the way here, but let's get the darn thing done so that the Bluenose II can be the sailing ambassador for this province as it is.
Those are my quick comments about the ferry service and what the tourist economy of southwestern Nova Scotia is looking like. I'm hoping that my other communities - in the Barrington area, there has been some expansion and a few restaurants. There are still a lot of problems with having hotels and bed and breakfasts set up, but maybe, I think, that's next year when people see - okay, well the commitment is there, the boat is still there, we can actually start to plan ahead. Because right now, if it's only on a one-year or a two-year basis, they're going to say, well, I'm not going to make an investment. I'm not going to take and open up my bed and breakfast again, because it's going to cost me $50,000 or $60,000 to get ready. But when they see that it's working, that the government is a little bit out of the way, that they are letting the business do its thing, I think that will precipitate more businesses getting set up.
More businesses mean more jobs. More jobs means more people can stay here. More people who stay here and have jobs pay more taxes and pay for the things that we need to have as a community, whether it is in health care or roads or education. Those are the right things to do and the things that we need to see from this government over the next number of months.
I do want to move a little bit to Community Services and speak for a few moments about that. As I mentioned, my wife is now the teacher in the Learning Centre. She has the opportunity to work with severely autistic children, palsies and those kinds of disabilities - I call them abilities because they are cool. I just love going into that centre now. She has this challenge now which is not - they are preparing those children, students, for the next part of their life. As we know, in the education system, they age out at 21 years of age, so those students can stay in the Learning Centre. They are being taught a whole bunch of things about how to survive the next part of their lives.
I see a challenge after 21, and that's why I go to the Minister of Community Services on this one. What do those families do or look forward to after school? I'll use Brianne as my example: Brianne d'Entremont has one of the palsies; I couldn't tell you which one she has. She is non-verbal. She can walk if you hold her up. She likes guys. You walk in and you're going to get the biggest hug from her and she is not letting go from any boy who walks into that centre. If I walk in, that's it - she's with me until I leave. She went home this year because she is 21. She graduated last year.
Let me talk about her graduation for a second, because it's a little bit of fun. Of course, at 21 years of age, she's been in the school system for quite some time. Really the Grade 12 students, even though they know Brianne was in the school, they would see her every day as they were walking around or as she participated in school-wide activities, they hadn't thought of her actually graduating that year - or actually she graduated in June like everybody else.
So it was sort of as towards the end of the school year that Sandra, Brianne's mom, had sort of said to people, well, she's graduating, so she should go to the prom, she should at least participate in the march and all that stuff. So the teacher had to say, okay, how do I make that one work? God bless, my wife figured a way, and she found two kids in Grade 9 and Grade 10 that could be her escorts because she just needs that support to hold her up. She got her pretty dress on and they walked her down just like everybody else and she had the biggest smile that you would ever see in the world.
So we go to the graduation, and of course she is going to be receiving her certificates. Mr. Brent, who is the principal there, said, well, is she going to shake my hand, is she not? She says, oh no - put your hand out, she'll shake it. She was sort of wheeled up onto stage, and there was a curtain as you started to go across - and you don't know what her reaction is going to be to many things. Normally they are very happy, but sometimes, you know, maybe she doesn't understand what is going on. But as she was walking across the stage, out went the wave. She waved to everybody in that thing. She had the biggest smile. She knew exactly why she was there. The whole crowd just went nuts and clapped and she got her certificate and went on.
Now that brings us to the problem part. I mean the problem part is that she is now home waiting, no program for her, because the programs that we do have are fully subscribed, or supposedly fully subscribed. Brianne would really like to go to Yarmouth Life Skills, or her mother would like to send her to Yarmouth Life Skills, where there are a number of clients there. It's a day program, a work program, more life skills, of course, for them, because she was thriving. Right now, she's sitting at home watching TV. Luckily for Sandra, who is a single mom - she has a mother who helps her out and helps take care of her, but Sandra was actually at a point where she was saying, well, do I actually quit my job at the Department of Justice so I can stay home and take care of her, because she is a heavy load, or do I really try to fight?
We've been trying to fight at this point just working a couple of letters back and forth and trying to see if we can find some needed dollars from the Department of Community Services to help Brianne - and not just to help Brianne, as there are a number of those students that are going to be aging out at 21 next year. And I know there is not just from that school; you can probably identify 10 to 15 clients who are getting to the point where they need to go to that next part of their lives. I know a couple of families that all three kids are autistic, and to keep someone like that home without the interaction and work at that centre is very difficult.
My request to the minister, and I probably will ask you a question in Question Period as well to allow you to speak to it. I've already talked to my good friend, the Minister of Natural Resources - Yarmouth Life Skills is actually in his community. We need to figure it out. I can't accept that no funding is available. I can't accept that someone is fully subscribed. I know the facility. I know the room that is there. I know the ratios. But I don't care if there is a debate between what the ratio is and what it should be and how much money, let's just - for Brianne and the other ones who are going to come along, let's just find out the opportunity for them so that they can participate in life.
We're so lucky that our kids are well and are going off to university and all that, but there are other kids who need our help. That's why we are here in this House of Assembly. Just like the member for Halifax Atlantic was saying, it's those people that we're here for, to make sure they have the opportunities. So my request goes out to the minister, let's never mind the letters and stuff that's going on now. Let's actually find a solution here so that Brianne, before Christmas, can get into Yarmouth Life Skills and start participating in that part of her community.
One for the Minister of Health and Wellness, one that I'm probably going to ask a couple of questions during Question Period, is the issue of EIBI, the intervention program at the IWK and around the province for autistic children. It was just announced the other day there is a working group trying to make the program a little bit better, to look at the wait-lists and to understand what the wait-lists are.
I think it was the previous government that took the EIBI program and took the lottery program, which I can't say I agreed with the lottery program, but sometimes it was the best we could do. The previous government said, we're going to get rid of the lottery program, but it did create a wait-list. This government has said they want to do something with the EIBI program, but the wait-list is still there.
A friend of mine who has been in the paper quite a bit, and I don't necessarily have her approval to use her name so I'm not going to, but she didn't get her young guy in until he was five, so she smartly held him back from going to school. He was able to get into the EIBI program and has been - I wouldn't say he's transformed, but there's definitely been a tremendous change in this child. He's able to cope with different things that he has had trouble with throughout his early years.
But five is almost kind of late for someone to go through the EIBI program. They should be in the EIBI program at the age of two or three. By the time you're five, you should be in school doing those things with your peers. So let's all get together on this one and understand what their wait-lists are, find an opportunity to fund these things.
Remember I said about the jobs and the economy and getting more people to work so that we can pay for the things that we need? The EIBI program should be one of those things at the top of the list, that when we have that economy working a little bit better, we get a few more jobs going, we have the taxes to pay for things, that EIBI program should be one of the first things that we fund. Services for people with disabilities would be up there too, because sometimes they don't have a voice in the world and we are that voice.
We talk many times about our belief in lower taxes and stopping wasteful spending and creating more jobs, and we need to continue to rebuild our economy. Well, again, by taking those basic steps, by getting our small businesses to hire one or two more people in our rural areas, it starts to fuel that and continues to build on that so that we can have the improvements that we need for long-term care facilities.
I'm blessed in southwestern Nova Scotia, in the constituency of Argyle-Barrington, to have Nakile Home for Special Care, which is actually under construction right now for an expansion - a very small expansion, but an expansion nonetheless. A couple of years ago, Bay Side Home for Special Care in Barrington was completed and moved into and is serving that community that had never been serviced by a long-term care facility before.
We need to be there for that other part of our community. I talked about the young people who needed our help. Well, there are of course seniors who need our help. More and more, we're seeing younger people - at my age of 45 at this point, I'm looking at people in their 60s and 70s as not being that old, and I'm seeing them get Alzheimer's and other different things that they end up in long-term care facilities. Yes, I'm only 45. I see my friend, the member for Clare-Digby making fun of it. I don't know how old he is, but I (Interruption) Well, I've seen people his age end up in long-term care facilities. It's sad.
I talked about faith when I started off today, and of course I participate quite regularly within my Catholic Church in Ste. Anne du Ruisseau. I actually help out the priest as an altar server, and I do a lot of funerals. The funeral we did on Monday was for a 73-year-old lady, Joanne Moulaison, a wonderful lady, an important part of our church community who actually started off our little Sunday school program for children so that during the mass the kids could go off and do something else without making too much noise within the church, and then they would come and join us when it was time to do Communion.
Joanne worked really hard. She was a nurse. She was a mother actually of a disabled kid for many years before he passed away - Mark was my age. She was a grandmother. She was 73 years old. She got Alzheimer's a couple of years ago, and then she passed and she was buried on Monday. The family, even though they were receiving a little bit of home care, couldn't get her placed because everything was full. There wasn't a place for her. There wasn't a service that she really could get into, so she was waiting and she passed away.
My heart goes out to her family who will have more challenges as they go along. It's a challenge that they shouldn't have had. They shouldn't have had to worry about their mom all the time. Luckily, the daughters could be home with mom quite often while she was having issues. She ended up a few times walking off here and walking off there, as we have all heard stories about Alzheimer's and other dementias that people are getting. Quite honestly, there was a point where she should have actually been able to access long-term care and that she could have comfortably lived out the rest of her days. Instead, she was stuck in the hospital. Our hospital doesn't have a real palliative care program, we don't have a hospice, so her family had to spend those last hours with her in the hospital.
That's why I talk about expansion of long-term care. As much as we want to provide those services at home, there comes a point that you can't continue to do it at home. We still need beds in southwestern Nova Scotia. Yes, we're getting a nice, new facility, Saint-Joseph du Lac in Yarmouth, but there's no gain of beds. They get a new facility to be able to adhere to the new quality of care, the new way to provide care to our seniors and to your long-term care clients, but there are no extra beds. So they wait in our hospital, waiting for placement. That costs us more money than anything right now. I'm not going to get into too much health care talk today but to say that we need an economy that's going to be able to pay for those kinds of services.
I want to see the kids who are attending BMHS - the Barrington Municipal High School - whether they are attending Drumlin High School or École Par-en-Bas, I want to see them have opportunities when they graduate. What are they going to be and where are they going to find jobs? I know some of them who would have gone on to university and then, of course, are looking somewhere else to find a job. They are all going West. I don't know how many kids within a certain age are still around. I look at that 25 to, I would say, almost 40-year-old group now, there's almost nobody around.
Where are they going to go? What are they going to do? I just want them to have opportunities here at home because those bright minds are the ones that are going to keep our communities here for longer terms. For those of us who are getting older and are going to retire in our communities and are not going to be the taxpayers of tomorrow, we need those youth to be able to stay at home, keep their families going, and continue to move on.
Can I do a quick introduction? It's my time, so . . .
MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : Joining us in the gallery are two beautiful little girls who happen to be my two nieces. We have Bella - wave, Bella, just wave at the gang - and Eve, who are visiting here with their grandparents, Siobhan and Gerry. Mum and Dad are probably around somewhere too, but I just wanted you to receive the warm welcome of the House of Assembly while I'm here. (Applause) Siobhan and Gerry are from New Brunswick, so it's good to see them spending some time with their grandchildren here in Halifax.
AN HON. MEMBER: Good government. Good voting last week.
ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: That's why they're not in New Brunswick anymore.
MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : I know our discussion at home is going to be this. I know father Gerry has been a supporter of the NDP in New Brunswick in the past, and they didn't do very well at all in this last election, so there you go.
AN HON. MEMBER: They improved.
ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: We improved.
MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : I got down the rabbit track there. Listen, I just want to finish off with this thought. The thought is that we had two very courageous MLAs in this House yesterday - actually, the member for Sydney-Whitney Pier was here this morning. The MLAs for Sydney-Whitney Pier and Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg were here because they wanted to be here to represent their constituents, but they've been going through their own challenges, their own very personal challenges, in a very public way. I'm so proud of them. I'm so proud of the fact that I can call them my friends. To see the tenacity that they have to be here in the House of Assembly, I just wanted to thank them for being here to give us the inspiration to work every day to the most that we possibly can in this House of Assembly.
Which just leaves me with a final comment: we work a lot of long hours here. We're chasing back and forth between our constituencies and Province House. We might get to a few dinners of rubber chicken and maybe a thick roast beef, but quite honestly, we don't take care of ourselves very well. There are a few of you who I've seen around this House who are joggers and runners and worker-outers, but the rest of us are pretty sedentary. We get into the car, we grab a little bit of McDonalds, or Subway if we're thinking we're being half-healthy, and we're not doing the exercise that we need to do.
I look at the member for Halifax Chebucto, who got in the water the other day and swam across the Northumberland Strait. (Applause) He helped to raise money for Brigadoon and other charities, bringing the ashes of one of his friends across. I would have died within the first 10 feet, but he swam what was supposed to be 14 kilometres, and it ended up being, what, 17?
AN HON. MEMBER: Eighteen.
MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : Eighteen kilometres. So I'm not saying all of us need to go out and swim for 18 kilometres, but I'm saying, in respect to our constituents and our families, that we need to be the healthiest MLAs that we can possibly be.
I'll go back to my faith quickly in the end. My prayers are for all of you to be healthy, and all I ask is that maybe you pray for me once in a while, that I stay as healthy as I possibly can. And with those very short words, I thank you very much for the opportunity today. (Applause)
MR. ALLAN ROWE « » : Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would like to first of all welcome all the members of this Legislature back to the House. It's great to see everybody back - yourself, Mr. Speaker, and all of my colleagues here on the Liberal side. I've got to be honest, it's probably the first time I've ever had anyone suggest that they grew up wanting to be me. (Laughter) That was a pleasure to hear. I appreciated that. I'm not really sure why the individual, the member for Halifax Atlantic, would want to be me, other than perhaps my hair.
We would all like to be other people, and at times, I would like to be the member for Halifax Atlantic as well. I've got some ink, but he's got a lot more than I do, so there is lots there.
I do want to welcome everyone back. It has been a great summer. We've all been hard at work, and there have been lots of things we've all been doing that I do want to address in a couple of short moments.
I also want to welcome back a couple of the members in particular, as the previous speaker, the honourable member for Argyle-Barrington, was just referencing: two of our colleagues in particular, the member for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg, and of course, the member for Sydney-Whitney Pier. He mentioned that they're marvellous, and their great struggles with their health. I think it's a great testament to their desire to serve their constituents and their desire to work in this Legislature that they were here for the events yesterday and are going to be here as often as they can. I think that's a marvellous testament to them.
I would like to take a moment - I personally was not in the Legislature yesterday, and I appreciate the indulgence of the Speaker in excusing me from the proceedings yesterday. I was not here because I was over at the Nova Scotia Cancer Clinic with my wife. I just wanted to take a moment to give a little shout out to the members opposite who are struggling with their health, and to my wife Yvonne, who is now re-facing cancer. After surviving breast cancer three years ago and going through a partial mastectomy and radiation treatments, the cancer has returned. She is now undergoing chemotherapy, and will go through a session of chemotherapy and so on. I spent the day with her yesterday with her second chemotherapy session.
I sat there for quite a bit of time thinking about what was happening in the House, and where our priorities are and what things are important to us. There is no doubt that family, health, and well-being are the priorities for all of us. I can tell you this, that cancer clinic was full for the entire day - full of individuals. Young people, old people, workers, retired people. These are people who didn't want to be there. These are people who didn't have a choice to be there, but they are there, and they're each fighting their independent battles.
Mr. Speaker, I know you've had your challenges in your life. You've risen, and you fought them with the success that you've shown all of us here today. The members opposite who are fighting their battles continue to do so as well. Cancer and disease, issues of health, they don't wear any political colours. They're not Liberals or New Democrats or Progressive Conservatives. They take all of us. They take all of us far too soon.
The other thing that I was realizing as I was sitting there, and I've had this discussion with my wife - we've had lots of discussions over the past several weeks, since the return of her diagnosis and the prognosis and so on. I'm a firm believer, and always have been, in the power of positive thinking. The power of looking for the positive, be it in your health, be it in your lifestyle, be it in everything that we do. All too often there are opportunities for negativity in this Legislature. It's easy to find and pick on the things that we think are going wrong, or things we think we're doing wrong, without really focusing at all on the positive things that we are all doing in this Legislature.
I do want to take a few moments and spend some time looking at just some of the positive things that we have done as a Legislature, that we have done as a government, and that we intend to do going forward. I started on the topic of health care, so it's probably fitting that we continue on with health care. It's one of the reasons I'm so proud to be part of this government, to sit with these caucus members. It's why I'm so proud to be in this Legislature with the members opposite, as well, and with yourself, Mr. Speaker.
It is because we are all working to find the best solution. Like the cancer team - and I use that word specifically, "team" - that is working with my wife, that I know is working with each of the respective colleagues opposite who are facing their struggles, but particularly those facing the cancer struggles, it's a team of individuals. Each has their specific strengths and their specific weaknesses. That's exactly what happens in this Legislature, it's exactly what happens in this caucus - we have strengths, we have weaknesses.
We take the opportunity, though, to listen to each other and to work together on all sides of this House to try and do better for the people of Nova Scotia, the people who don't deserve to be in that cancer ward, the people who don't necessarily need or deserve to be in institutions for children, the people who don't deserve to be in institutions for mental disabilities or physical disabilities, the people who don't deserve to be looking for employment assistance and income assistance at every opportunity because they just can't find a job. It is our responsibility, on all sides, to continue to move forward and do what we can to try and stop all of that at every opportunity.
Let me take a moment or two to look at some of the things we have done with regard to health. My riding of Dartmouth South of course is home to the Dartmouth General Hospital. From the day I was elected I started having meetings with the Chief of Staff over there, Dr. Todd Howlett. He took me on a great tour of the facility, showed me what wonderful work is done in that facility each and every day, but also showed me some of the changes that are needed, some of the things we have to do to move forward, things that were started by previous administrations and, for whatever reason, didn't necessarily get moved along as quickly as they might have.
I took those discussions and I went and spoke with our Minister of Health and Wellness, had some great discussions with him, some discussions with the Premier, some discussions with Health and Wellness staff - what can we do to move things forward? Our Minister of Health and Wellness was one of the first ones to say, I'm looking at the Dartmouth General Hospital, and I know what we need to do over there. We need to improve our health facilities right across this province, whether it is from Yarmouth to Sydney, from Amherst down to the HRM, but the Dartmouth General Hospital, he said, certainly needs our attention.
Of course one of the things we heard right way - and I was so pleased to have the announcement made there on the grounds of the Dartmouth General Hospital with the minister and many others from caucus as well - was the infusion of $5.2 million in funding for health care restructuring in this province. That's health care restructuring and renovations that are going to be happening at the QE II here in Halifax and, as well, at the Dartmouth General Hospital. It's renovations to the third and fourth floors because, once again, there are far too many Nova Scotians, regardless of their political stripe, regardless of what they think about unions or non-unions or employment income, who are simply struggling to stay alive because their health is an issue.
We need to improve our health at every opportunity and we need to improve our health institutions. It's no question and it's obvious why we spend so much money on health care each and every year - it's the biggest part of our budget, but that's where it deserves to be because the health of our citizens should be paramount among everything else in this society.
Part of the money will also be going towards working to develop and design the new operating units at the Dartmouth General Hospital. There's talk of eight floors at the Dartmouth General Hospital for a series of operating theatres, and we look forward to announcements such as that later, down the road.
We have established a new physician retaining and recruitment program, the idea of course to keep more doctors in this province. The last thing that should ever happen to any Nova Scotian is that they have a problem with their health or the health of their family and they can't find a family physician to go to. Our government recognized that need and immediately said we've got to do what we can and immediately said let's put in place a program to retain physicians and keep them in this province so they can serve our constituents.
We acted on our commitment right away to reduce wait times, wait times for health issues that aren't necessarily as critical, or life and death, if you will, as cancer or some of the other illnesses, but are certainly just as critical to getting our people back into the workforce as quickly as possible, to getting them back to living fulfilling lives as quickly as possible, with the need for orthopaedic surgeries. So we invested $4.2 million - $4.2 million, to try to decrease the wait times in our health care facilities.
There are all sorts of people - I mean I spent the summer, as all of us have, going around my constituency meeting individuals every day, and individuals who come into my constituency office. My very good friend, my colleague from Halifax Atlantic said it so well - and I have no intention of going anywhere near trying to upstage him - on saying the importance of what we do doesn't happen in this House, the importance of what we do happens each and every day. You are absolutely correct, sir. That is what has been most fulfilling for me. It has been most frustrating for me too, quite frankly, on a daily basis. Those days when people and individuals come in and I know I want to help them, I try to find the ways to help them, but for whatever reasons, the system isn't there to do it, or I just can't find the funding, or we just can't find a quick and easy solution. Those are frustrating days, but we continue to work with them and to try to find ways of helping them.
Admittedly, those days are balanced with the good days, when someone comes in and has a problem, or needs some assistance, or needs some help trying to find housing, or needs some help with health care, and we're able to direct them in the right place, we are able to get them that help and move it forward.
That's the job of each and every one of us. That's why we were elected. There is a lot of parrying and thrusting that goes on within these Chambers here. That's the spirit of debate. It's the spirit of the democracy of the government that we all represent and that we all recognize as important to our future going forward. It's why our forefathers fought and died to allow us to be able to do that, and that's why it is important. But really, what it comes down to is what happens in those constituency offices, working to help the people that we need to work as hard as possible for them.
Over the past nine months or so, our government has been making all sorts of announcements in all sorts of areas that are helping people. They are working to try and improve the situation in this province.
Like the cancer diagnosis, is there is an easy answer? Absolutely not. There probably isn't an answer. There are best alternatives. We test the odds, we roll the dice and say, based on statistics, this is what we think will work the best. And we hold onto that hope. We have to hold onto that hope, because in those life-and-death situations, it's really the only hope we have.
We also have to look at the best options. People will differ. That's what it's all about. The medical team differs. The medical oncologist says let's try these drugs. The surgical oncologist says no, you know what? Maybe we can go in and do surgery. The radiation oncologist says, you know, perhaps there is radiation. But in the end, everyone gets together. They take their differences of opinion, they take their different views and they collectively move forward. (Applause)
That's what we have to do on all of these issues. So I'm going to just - I have quite a few, and I am looking at the clock, Mr. Speaker - I do know, in the interests of time - I will just touch on seniors at this point, and perhaps we'll see how the time is going at that.
Seniors, of course, in Dartmouth South are a large part of our riding. We have a huge area around Baker Drive in particular, new developments with seniors' complexes that are going up all the time. Lots of seniors come into my office on a regular basis looking for help, looking for assistance. They're struggling, their bills are increasing, their power bills are increasing and yet their incomes remain steady. They have health issues. They are the ones that are perhaps must vulnerable to health issues as well, on top of all of the economic issues they may already be facing. They want to stay in their homes, they realize the value of staying in their homes as long as possible, but in some instances, they just can't do that any longer.
This government and this caucus immediately recognized some of those challenges, started talking about those challenges from day one. What are we going to do to help the seniors to avoid some of these things? And just a couple of the things that we know - $9 million announced by our minister so far for housing improvements, for renovations and benefits for seniors; $4 million of that was announced in the Spring, $5 million just this past Fall.
One of the buildings in particular was one of the very first issues that came to my office when I was elected - Alderney Manor. People in Alderney Manor who are struggling with their daily lives, who are struggling to make ends meet, and really just want to go home to a comfortable home that they can call home and they can enjoy as their home. People like Shirley and Art and Gwen and Susan, people whom I have come to know very, very well who, every day, struggle with some of the challenges of bedbugs, some of the challenges with issues in their heating, conditions that really aren't suitable for our seniors and those with some disabilities in particular at all.
Our Minister of Community Services, I spoke to her. One of the very first discussions I had as an MLA for Dartmouth South was to go and meet with the Minister of Community Services and say, what are we going to do about Alderney Manor? What are we going to do about all of those citizens in that building that need our help? And she said, Allan, we are going to work as quickly as possible to make the changes that we have to make in that building. That announcement that I just referred to goes directly to the people of Alderney Manor and to that building - changing the parking facilities, attacking the bedbug problem by infusing a chemical or a substance into the walls that is going to hopefully really permanently deal with this bedbug issue that has been prevalent in that building for so, so long. Also working to improve the facilities in the building at every opportunity.
I do have an awful lot more that I want to go through, and I am looking at the clock, and I would actually move that, in the interest of time at this point in the day and given that I do have a little bit longer I'd like to talk, perhaps we would adjourn the debate for today, if that's possible.
The motion is carried.
The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. I move that the House do now rise to meet again on Monday, September 29th from the hours of 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is that the House now rise to meet again on Monday, September 29th between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
We stand adjourned.
[The House rose at 12:31 p.m.]
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)
RESOLUTION NO. 6
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Chef Andrew Farrell of the restaurant 2 Doors Down in Halifax, formerly of Pictou, won first place in the Grate Canadian Cheese Cook Off at the Toronto Canadian National Exhibition in August 2014; and
Whereas the contest was organized by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and challenged chefs from across Canada to reinvent the traditional macaroni and cheese; and
Whereas Chef Farrell won with his recipe Cristy Greens Mac & Cheese, using four cheeses from That Dutchman's Farm;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Chef Andrew Farrell on his win.
RESOLUTION NO. 7
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas the Pictou Weekend Market, located in the New Caledonia Curling Club on the beautiful historic Pictou waterfront, recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary; and
Whereas the market is open weekends from June until September; and
Whereas the market features products made by local artisans;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Pictou Weekend Market on its 20 years in business and its vendors' continued success.
RESOLUTION NO. 8
By: Hon. David A. Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Jean Lively is a resident of Lower Sackville; and
Whereas Jean has been volunteering in the community as a member of the Sackville Seniors Advisory Council for 20 years; and
Whereas Jean was honoured as CTV's Maritimer of the Week in May 2014;
Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly acknowledge Lower Sackville's Jean Lively for her dedication to seniors in the community and extend congratulations on being named CTV's Maritimer of the Week.
RESOLUTION NO. 9
By: Terry Farrell (Cumberland North)
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Rita (Heuser) Farrell of Truro, Nova Scotia, a local author, celebrates her 90th birthday on September 29, 2014; and
Whereas Rita Farrell, in 1993, published Our Mountains and Glens: The History of River Denys, Big Brook and Lime Hill, which is available in several bookstores and is highly recommended for anyone doing research on this area of Cape Breton;
Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly commend Rita (Heuser) Farrell for her outstanding research on the history of River Denys, Big Brook and Lime Hill and congratulate her on reaching the milestone of her 90th birthday.
RESOLUTION NO. 10
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas when Evan Gibbons went to the ball field on a Sunday morning in July, he was looking forward to the game but likely never expected to accomplish what he did for his team that day; and
Whereas nine-year-old Evan hit a ball directly over the fence, the first home run of his career, and according to Kentville Minor Baseball organizers, something that is far from a common occasion for children of his age; and
Whereas Evan's two-run homer erased a 6-4 Halifax lead and tied the score at 6-6 and saw the young mosquito ballplayer named the game MVP;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly acknowledge the baseball talent of one Evan Gibbons and wish him every future success in the sport of baseball.
RESOLUTION NO. 11
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Haley MacDonald and Jayda Veinot of Port Williams and Maria Rodrigues of Kentville were members of Nova Scotia's Under-17 Girls Basketball team, which played in the national championships in Edmonton in July; and
Whereas the Under-17 Nova Scotia Girls team lost to New Brunswick and placed seventh in the tournament; and
Whereas MacDonald contributed 53 points, Veinot 48 points and 10 rebounds, and Rodrigues 10 points during Nova Scotia's round-robin play, where the team finished with three wins and two losses;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Haley, Jayda, and Maria on their competitive basketball talent and spirit and wish them and their Head Coach Deon Wilson of Kentville success in the sport for many years into the future.