Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD16-03

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/



Third Session

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2016

TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Nat. Res.: Glysophate Spraying - Oppose,
109
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
C.B. Storm (10/16): Responders - Efforts Thank,
110
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 52, EECD - School Bus Safety,
112
Vote - Affirmative
113
Res. 53, Nat'l. Teen Driver Safety Wk. (10/16 - 10/22/16)
- Recognition, Hon. G. MacLellan « »
113
Vote - Affirmative
114
Res. 54, Women's Hist. Mo./Mi'kmaq Hist. Mo. (10/16) - Celebrate,
114
Vote - Affirmative
115
Res. 55, Person's Day (10/18/16)/Women's History Mo. (10/16)
- Recognize, Hon. J. Bernard « »
115
Vote - Affirmative
115
Res. 56, Van de Sande, Casey: Agricultural/Commun. Leadership
Accomplishments - Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell »
116
Vote - Affirmative
116
Res. 57, Sm. Bus. Week: Local Businesses - Contributions,
116
Vote - Affirmative
117
Res. 58, Invest N.S./Social Enterprise Network (N.S.)/Common Good
Solutions - Partnership Congrats., Hon. M. Furey « »
118
Vote - Affirmative
118
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 22, Halifax Regional Water Commission Act,
118
No. 23, Healthier Schools Act,
118
No. 24, Human Rights Act,
119
No. 25, Citizen Ballot Initiative Act,
119
No. 26, Respectful Workplace Week Act,
119
No. 27, Psychologist Services Tax Credit Act,
119
No. 28, Strengthening and Preservation of Community Buildings Act,
119
No. 29, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Act,
119
No. 30, Cayley's Law,
119
No. 31, Lyme Disease Strategy Act,
119
No. 32, Helping Seniors Stay at Home Act,
119
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS:
Celtic Colours Intl. Fest. - Anniv. (20th),
119
Mun./Sch. Bd. Elections: Candidates - Congrats.,
120
Mulgrave Park: Beautification Proj. - Participants Thank,
120
Prentice, Jim: Death of - Tribute,
121
Fownes, Brock: Can. Senior Games - Medals Congrats.,
122
Take Back the Night Vigil - Truro,
122
Bekkers, Sophie - Athletic Accomplishments,
122
Respectful Workplace Policy - Details,
123
Sm. Businesses - Support,
123
Food Banks/Vols. - Recognize,
124
Legislative Reporters: Role - Acknowledge,
124
Smith, Lindell: Dist. 8 - Election Congrats.,
125
Scotia Poultry: Donation - Thank,
125
Respectful Workplace: Legislature - Inclusion,
125
Austin, Sam: Dist. 5 - Election Congrats.,
126
Hundal Fam.: Angad Hundal Award - Tribute Thank,
126
Al-Hussein Fam.: Commun. Welcome - Thank,
127
Roseway Hosp. - ER Closures,
127
Connors Diving Services: Innovation - Congrats.,
128
Murdoch, Scott - Cubs & Scouts Canada: Dedicated Serv. - Congrats.,
128
Teachers' Blog - Details,
128
Kibyuk, Calder: Art Showing - Congrats.,
129
Gabarus: Lt. Gov.'s Award - Congrats.,
129
Prem.: Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Targets,
130
Bowers, Kaitlyn (Kait): Heroism - Commend,
130
Power, Kara - Success Wish,
130
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS:
No. 20, Prem.: Carbon Tax - Cap-and-Trade System,
131
No. 21, Prem.: Stephenson Position - Hiring Process,
133
No. 22, Prem. - Carbon Pricing: Jobs - Effects,
134
No. 23, Prem.: Journalist Exchange - Apologize,
135
No. 24, Prem.: FOIPOP Officer - House Reporting Process,
136
No. 25, EECD: Teacher Negotiations - Premier Resume,
136
No. 26, EECD: Busing - Hours,
137
No. 27, SNS: Liquor Licence Application (Dart.) - Details,
138
No. 28, Internal Serv.: Gov't. Transparency - Delay Explain,
139
No. 29, Prem.: Stephenson Hiring - Details,
140
No. 30, SNS - Gov't. IDs: Gender Markers - Remove,
141
No. 31, Justice: Conflict of Interest Commissioner - Officer of the House,
142
No. 32, Prem.: Pharmacare Premiums - Seniors Consult,
143
No. 33, Com. Serv.: Food Banks - Reliance,
144
No. 34, TIR - Cornwallis Bridge (Kentville): Replacement - Time Frame,
144
No. 35, Prem. - Southwestern N.S.: Drought - Impacts,
145
No. 36, Nat. Res.: Clear-cut Target - Gov't. Stand,
146
No. 37, Fin. & Treasury Bd.: Skyrocketing Taxes - Gouging Admit,
147
No. 38, Mun. Affs.: Water Shortages - Address,
148
No. 39, Prem.: Health Care System - Funding Ensure,
149
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
151
163
170
176
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Oct. 19th at 1:00 p.m
182
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 59, Culligan, Dave: Video Proj. - Congrats.,
183
Res. 60, Chapman, Catherine & Ian: Commun. Dedication
- Thank, Mr. A. Younger « »
183
Res. 61, Welsh, Shawn - EHS Long Serv. Award (25 Yrs.),
183
Res. 62, Piggott, Emily: Environ. - Dedication Congrats.,
184
Res. 63, Helson, Joan - SISU Women's Self Defence: Opening
- Congrats., Mr. A. Younger « »
184
Res. 64, Hagen, Katie - Baseball Achievements,
185
Res. 65, Dart. Seniors Serv. Ctr.: Commun. Dedication - Congrats.,
185
Res. 66, Dart. Commun. Concert Assoc. - Anniv. (60th),
186
Res. 67, Lavallée, Renée: Bus. Expansion - Congrats.,
186
Res. 68, Godding, Kitrina: SEDNA Selection - Congrats.,
186
Res. 69, Vanderkooy, Steven: Achievements - Congrats.,
187
Res. 70, Welton, Kyla: Achievements - Congrats.,
187
Res. 71, Hum, Lucas: Achievements - Congrats.,
188
Res. 72, Moen, Kristin: Achievements - Congrats.,
188
Res. 73, Bartel, Zoe: Achievements - Congrats.,
189
Res. 74, Daley, Jessie: Achievements - Congrats.,
189
Res. 75, Bona, Graham: Achievements - Congrats.,
190
Res. 76, Langille, Dylan: Achievements - Congrats.,
190
Res. 77, Brown, Maegan/Marshall, Levi: Achievements - Congrats.,
191
Res. 78, Philpitt, Emma: Leadership - Thank,
191
Res. 79, Rossiter, Ede: Marine Communities Food Bank
- Leadership Thank, The Speaker « » :
192
Res. 80, Richards, Patricia - East. Shore: Betterment - Thank,
192
Res. 81, Redman, Ed - East. Shore: Betterment - Thank,
193

[Page 109]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2016

Sixty-second General Assembly

Third Session

1:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Kevin Murphy

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Gordon Wilson, Mr. Keith Irving

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition stating that "The World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer states that glyphosate is classified as probably carcinogenic to humans."

"Spraying glyphosate in our forest prevents natural forest regeneration. Insect populations have been drastically reduced by glyphosate . . . which negatively impacts on birds and small insect-eating mammals. The effects on wildlife from fish to birds and non-target species have been observed at doses lower than the application rates suggested. We do not want this sprayed on our lands in Nova Scotia.

[Page 110]

There is widespread public opposition to the spraying of the forest in Nova Scotia. It is time to take back our lands and provide a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren.
The petition of the undersigned requests that NS MLAs support a ban on the spraying of glyphosate in forest management in Nova Scotia."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN « » : Mr. Speaker, as you know, Cape Breton was the hardest hit by the storm last week, with record-setting rainfalls leaving thousands without power, flood damage to homes and businesses, and many roads across the island impassable.

Mr. Speaker, while many of us were able to ride out the storm with our families and loved ones, teams of dedicated men and women from various departments and municipalities were out responding to calls, concerns, and dire circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to take a moment to recognize the efforts of staff at EMO, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, and the Department of Environment; police, fire, and ambulance services; municipalities; United Way Cape Breton; and all volunteer and not-for-profit organizations in responding to the frightening rain and windstorm experienced by our province.

Safety is the province's top priority. Crews have been working around the clock since the storm hit and have not stopped. The clean-up continues even today and I want to extend thanks for their hard work, as both minister and as a resident in one of the hardest-hit and most affected communities. In my hometown of Glace Bay, I've toured the streets and heard from many folks whose homes or businesses were flooded or damaged during the storm, but I also heard story after story about neighbours reaching out to their neighbours, offering assistance, and opening up their homes to those in need.

This is the time of year to reflect on what we're thankful for, Mr. Speaker. I'm thankful for the residents who were able to stay safe during the storm and afterwards, during the clean-up. I'm thankful for the dedicated staff and emergency responders who sprang into action quickly and have not stopped since last Monday. Most of all, I'm thankful that we have strong communities that come together in times like this, helping each other stay safe and rebuild.

[Page 111]

Cape Bretoners have received tremendous support and offers of assistance from across our beautiful province. In our most challenging moments, we always come together. It's just one of the many reasons why Nova Scotia is such a special place.

On behalf of the Island I represent, I offer our heartfelt thanks for caring about us so very much. We felt your support and it lifted us through some of the very challenging days, and for that we will forever be grateful. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg.

HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : I'd like to start by thanking the minister for a copy of his remarks. I find myself in a place where I actually agree with what he had to say.

Nova Scotia is a very unique place. On one hand, we have Cape Breton Island, which has seen floodwaters rising - eight inches of rain in eight hours. On the other end of our province, they're crying to have rain, because that's bringing a different set of problems to them.

The thing that's really most remarkable about what happened is how, as Cape Bretoners and community members, everybody pulled together to look after their neighbours, their friends, and their family. Mr. Speaker, I've lived in Cape Breton all my life, and I've never seen such devastation from a storm like we saw with this flooding incident on Thanksgiving weekend. Not only did the professionals from TIR, Environment, EMO, and all of those other people pull together but also people in the volunteer fire departments, people from the United Way, and people from community and church groups all got together to look after their neighbours. The Province of Nova Scotia is fortunate in the people who make up the fabric of this great province. Indeed, the leadership that was shown by the mayor and council and the province in this whole issue is something that we all should be thankful for and be pleased about.

Once again, I am so pleased and proud to be able to say that I am a Cape Bretoner and a Nova Scotian, and when times of trouble do pass on us, indeed, our neighbours and our friends step up. In the true Cape Breton fashion, we'll rise again.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MS. MARIAN MANCINI « » : As the minister has stated, the devastation in Cape Breton following last week's storm is record-breaking. I come from Glace Bay as well; it is my hometown. I also lived in Sydney on Park Street, very close to one of the devastated areas. I've had regular contact with people back home who have experienced flooding and prolonged power outages.

[Page 112]

I want to express our caucus' heartfelt solidarity with those affected by these conditions and our thanks to the staff of the Emergency Management Office and the volunteers who have been working tirelessly to provide relief. It is reassuring to know that these dedicated workers are ready to respond with such determination.

Cape Bretoners are resilient and compassionate. I know that they are helping each other through this very difficult time. I want to thank the municipalities for their continued efforts and talks with both the federal and provincial governments, and want to stress how imperative it is that our fellow Nova Scotians know that they can depend on government to provide the necessary support in times of crisis such as this.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 52

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

Whereas each day more than 90,000 children in Nova Scotia travel to school by school bus; and

Whereas October 17th to October 21st is designated as School Bus Safety Awareness Week to promote and foster the highest degree of safety in the transportation of our schoolchildren; and

Whereas the campaign aims to educate the public about the dangers of illegally passing a school bus when it's stopped with its red lights flashing and engage our school-aged children by offering reminders on school bus safety;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature join me in reminding all Nova Scotians that school bus safety is a shared responsibility and that we need to work together to ensure the safe transportation of our students across the province and to promote safety awareness all year long.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

[Page 113]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN « » : May I make an introduction, please, sir?

MR. SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

MR. MACLELLAN « » : I draw the House's attention to the east gallery, where we have Jennifer Russell. Jennifer is the executive director of the Atlantic Collaborative on Injury Prevention and also an important member of Nova Scotia's Road Safety Advisory Committee. She's joining us here for National Teen Driver Safety Week. I ask the members of the House to give Jennifer a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

RESOLUTION NO. 53

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

Whereas learning to drive is an important milestone for many teenagers and is also one of the riskiest activities for young people to engage in; and

Whereas teen driver safety is a significant issue in Nova Scotia and young drivers are overrepresented in all road-related injuries and fatalities; and

Whereas teen driver safety is a significant issue in Nova Scotia and all road users should be aware of the dangers of unsafe driving practices - such as, distracted driving, drug and alcohol impaired driving, and not wearing seat belts;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House, in recognition that the week of October 16th is National Teen Driver Safety Week in Canada, encourage all young drivers and those who care for them to follow safe driving practices that will bring them home alive each and every day.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

[Page 114]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 54

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

Whereas October is Women's History Month and Mi'kmaq History Month making it an important time to remember women who have helped shape our present-day lives; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women partnered with the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association, LOVE Nova Scotia, and girls from Sipekne'katik First Nation to pilot the Peaked Cap Project, a Mi'kmaq approach to the United Nation Girls' Roundtable; and

Whereas Girls Speak Out was the theme for International Day of the Girl on October 11th and these girls spoke out by working with their mentors to create a powerful video;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly join me in celebrating Women's History Month and Mi'kmaq History Month by sharing this wonderful video.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 115]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 55

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

Whereas today, October 18th, is Persons Day celebrated each year to mark the historic decision in 1929 to include women in the legal definition of persons in Canada giving them the right to be appointed to the Senate; and

Whereas this opened the door to women's increased participation in public and political life and this year's Persons Day will honour the women who fought for this pivotal decision; and

Whereas government is committed to initiatives with a focus on women and girls - such as, the Sexual Violence Strategy, the Affordable Quality Child Care Action Plan, and supporting capacity building for transition houses, women's centres, and the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize and remember the contributions and achievements of all Nova Scotia women and join me in celebrating Persons Day and Women's History Month.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 56

[Page 116]

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

Whereas for more than half a century Casey Van de Sande of Antigonish has supported the development and success of agriculture in Nova Scotia through his professional and volunteer activities including as a farm owner, an operator of Sanhaven Farms, a 4-H leader and supporter, a member of numerous industrial boards and organizations, and an active community volunteer and a member of his church; and

Whereas Mr. Van de Sande's contributions included 43 years of dedicated service as a member of the Board of Antigonish Famers' Mutual Insurance Company including a term as its president where he was an active voice in the interests of Nova Scotia farmers helping to guide the insurance company and its decisions making affordable insurance coverage for farming operations; and

Whereas on October 20th, in recognition of his significant leadership and contribution to the agriculture industry in our province, Mr. Van de Sande will be inducted in the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame at the ceremony at the Agricultural Campus at Dalhousie University in Bible Hill;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me and recognize the tremendous contributions of Mr. Van de Sande as an agriculture and community leader and a positive example for the future generation of Nova Scotia farmers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Business.

RESOLUTION NO. 57

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

Whereas small businesses are a vital part of the Nova Scotia economy, making up the majority of businesses in the province, and employing almost half of our workers; and

[Page 117]

Whereas small businesses serve local communities across the province, becoming part of the fabric and character of the neighbourhood in rural and urban settings alike; and

Whereas government is supporting these small businesses by moving more services online, cutting red tape, and investing in innovation and infrastructure to help them succeed;

Therefore be it resolved that all members recognize the contributions and successes of local businesses to our economy during this Small Business Week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Business.

HON. MARK FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I'd like to make an introduction before I read this resolution.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

MR. FUREY « » : I'd like to draw your attention to the east gallery where we are joined by members of Nova Scotia's social enterprise community - as I call your name I'd ask you to stand to be recognized.

Joining us from Common Good Solutions are: Maria Wambolt, Lisa Lowthers, Rodney Small, Robert Nichols, Stephanie Pronk, Meaghan Wright and Jake Hollis. Also here are Melissa Childs from the Social Enterprise Network of Nova Scotia, as well as Dr. Kenneth Deveau and David Wilson from Invest Nova Scotia.

These individuals are working together to grow our economy and make our communities better places to live. I invite all members of the Legislature to offer them a warm welcome on this beautiful, sunny day. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Business.

[Page 118]

RESOLUTION NO. 58

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

Whereas social enterprises are innovative, value-based businesses that take on social, environmental, or economic challenges by reinvesting the majority of their profits to address those challenges; and

Whereas Invest Nova Scotia is supporting these businesses by investing $1.5 million to help the Social Enterprise Network of Nova Scotia and Common Good Solutions create an incubator that will help entrepreneurs build their business abilities; and

Whereas these efforts will help dozens of entrepreneurs and young people start, grow, and expand their social enterprise into new markets, all while making our communities better and more vibrant places to live;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature offer their congratulations to all involved in this ground-breaking partnership, and wish them the best of success in their efforts to support social enterprises.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 22 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2007. The Halifax Regional Water Commission Act. (Hon. Zach Churchill)

Bill No. 23 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Education Act, Respecting the Improvement of Mental Health in Adolescents. (Hon. Jamie Baillie)

Bill No. 24 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 214 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Human Rights Act. (Ms. Marian Mancini)

[Page 119]

Bill No. 25 - Entitled an Act Respecting Citizen Ballot Initiatives. (Mr. Andrew Younger)

Bill No. 26 - Entitled an Act Respecting Respectful Workplace Week. (Hon. Christopher d'Entremont)

Bill No. 27 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 217 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Income Tax Act, to Provide a Pro Bono Psychology Services Tax Credit. (Hon. Christopher d'Entremont)

Bill No. 28 - Entitled an Act to Provide Funding for the Maintenance and Preservation of Community Buildings. (Mr. Larry Harrison)

Bill No. 29 - Entitled an Act Respecting Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. (Mr. Tim Houston)

Bill No. 30 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 511 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Youth Secretariat Act. (Mr. Tim Houston)

Bill No. 31 - Entitled an Act Respecting a Lyme Disease Strategy for Nova Scotia. (Mr. Tim Houston)

Bill No. 32 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 419 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act. (Mr. Tim Houston)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Northside-Westmount.

CELTIC COLOURS INTL. FEST. - ANNIV. (20th)

MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the organizers, volunteers, and performers of the Annual Celtic Colours International Festival that ran from October 7th to 15th on Cape Breton Island. This was the 20th Anniversary of that popular Cape Breton music festival.

This year's lineup included some of the favourite artists from over the years, and a few new faces; this year's festival also paid tribute to some of the Island's wonderful partners who also reached milestones this year.

[Page 120]

The Doryman Pub in Cheticamp celebrates 50 years; the annual Broad Cove concert has been going strong for 60 years; and the Men of the Deeps, a very popular choir with international and local fame, celebrates 50 years together this year.

Many thanks to all those who had a role to play in this year's festival's success, and here's to many more years to come. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Queens-Shelburne.

MUN./SCH. BD. ELECTIONS: CANDIDATES - CONGRATS.

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the entire Nova Scotia NDP caucus, I would like to congratulate each and every Nova Scotian who chose to run for public office in the municipal and school board elections this year. Knocking on neighbours' doors and putting one's name out there takes courage and conviction. Listening to the concerns of our community and championing a vision for the representation is no easy task. It requires time, energy, and the utmost support of family, friends, and strangers alike.

It was very heartening to see the slate of full names across the entire Province of Nova Scotia. I hope each candidate found their campaigns fulfilling and humbling, and wish them all the best of luck as they continue to work to improve their communities. Congratulations to all.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island on an introduction.

HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : Mr. Speaker, if I could direct the attention of the House to the east gallery and ask Mr. Jeremy Williams to stand. Mr. Williams is the driving force behind this weekend's initiative of Paint the Park, a young resourceful person - and I have a Member's Statement for him.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

MULGRAVE PARK: BEAUTIFICATION PROJ. - PARTICIPANTS THANK

HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : Mr. Speaker, Jeremy felt his neighbourhood of Mulgrave Park was in need of an artistic reshaping. His idea was for a beautification project through murals which would also serve as a community beacon.

In six short weeks of planning, Jeremy's idea became a reality. Artists from across the country packed Mulgrave Park to spruce it up in various murals. It was a fantastic turnout for a noble cause, and Jeremy already has plans for next year's initiative. Jeremy is a young, resourceful person who rises to challenges.

[Page 121]

With such youth, our province's future is bright. Special thanks also goes to the Youth Art Connection, the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, The Blackbook Collective, Irving Shipyards, and Emera. Job well done to everyone involved.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cumberland South.

PRENTICE, JIM: DEATH OF - TRIBUTE

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Last week, Canadians were shocked to learn of the tragic death of Jim Prentice in a plane crash. Mr. Prentice had an impressive career of public service that stretched back to 2004, when he was first elected to the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre-North. He held many important Cabinet positions before choosing to retire from federal politics. In 2014, he served as the 16th Premier of Alberta and the member of the Legislature for Calgary-Foothills. He will be remembered as a true gentleman and a person who approached his work with thoughtfulness and respect for all sides.

I ask all members of the Legislature to join me in sending sincere condolences to Mr. Prentice's family and friends as they cope with this devastating loss.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Armdale.

HON. LENA DIAB » : I beg leave to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

MS. DIAB « » : I'd like to draw everyone's attention to the east gallery, where we have with us one law student and eleven high school students whom I had the privilege to meet with this morning at McInnes Cooper, with lawyer Ryan Baxter and two law students, Ben Campbell and Laura Wheatley, as part of the launch of the new for-credit co-op education program between the Halifax Regional School Board, the law school, and the Department of Justice, to speak about education, law experience and practice, and personal life skills.

I ask them each to stand as I read out their names: Harley McCluskey, Auburn Drive High School; April Webber, Millwood High School; Marc Deveau, École secondaire du Sommet; Bryson Cowan, Prince Andrew High School; Matt MacEwan, Musquodoboit Rural High; Laci Eldershaw, J.L. Ilsley; Michael Marryat, J.L. Ilsley; Alex Mitchell, Charles P. Allen; Nicholas Driscoll, Charles P. Allen; Sage Marshall, Sackville High; and Johanna Wenc, Citadel High. We have a law student with us as well, Martin Owusu. I ask all members of the Legislature to please give them the very warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

FOWNES, BROCK: CAN. SENIOR GAMES - MEDALS CONGRATS.

MS. PAM EYKING « » : Today I rise to congratulate Victoria County resident Brock Fownes on winning four gold and one silver medal at the 2016 Canada Senior Games in Brampton, Ontario, this summer. Mr. Fownes walked away with four gold medals in the 65- to 69-year-old category in the 100-metre sprint, the 50-metre sprint, shotput, and discus. Brock also agreed to help out the Saskatchewan team in the four by 110-metre relay race when they were one member short, by running the anchor leg of the relay and helping the team win a silver medal. I wish to congratulate Mr. Fownes on his fine performance and wish him success and all the best of luck in the future.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.

TAKE BACK THE NIGHT VIGIL - TRURO

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : At six o'clock this evening, people in Truro will gather in taking a stand to end violence against women in the annual Take Back the Night vigil. It's a one-mile community walk. It's an opportunity for schools, businesses, community-based groups, and individuals to come together and show their support for survivors of violence and commemorate those lost to it. I'd like to thank all those involved in organizing the event, including the Central Nova Women's Resource Centre, Colchester Sexual Assault Centre, Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus, and the Mi'kmaq Family Healing Centre. It's important to address the issue of violence against women, and I'm proud of the commitment shown by my community, and by the people of Truro, to make our community a safe and welcoming place for everyone.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings South.

BEKKERS, SOPHIE - ATHLETIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS

MR. KEITH IRVING « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate swimmer Sophie Bekkers of Grand-Pré on her successes in provincial competition. A member of the Wolfville Tritons Swim Club, Ms. Bekkers and her teammates hosted the junior provincial competition on June 20-26, 2016, at Acadia University.

The 16-year-old finished the meet as the top female swimmer in the 15-and-over category, after capturing gold in all six of her events. These included the 200- and 400-metre freestyle; the 50-, 100-, and 200-metre butterfly; and the 200-metre individual medley.

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Tritons head coach Moira Milward was thrilled at Ms. Bekkers' performance, stating it was "the best I've ever seen her swim." Her times at the junior provincials qualified Ms. Bekkers for the senior provincial championship.

On behalf of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, I would like to congratulate Sophie Bekkers on her athletic accomplishments and wish her all the best in upcoming competitions. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings North.

RESPECTFUL WORKPLACE POLICY - DETAILS

MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, it is the purpose of the Respectful Workplace Policy to promote awareness for employees and create understanding as to what is considered offensive behaviour, promote a work environment that is free from all forms of offensive behaviour, and provide a mechanism to have offensive behaviour addressed and eliminated from the workplace.

This House has adopted its own policy intended to prevent harassment. The Speaker championed it and members voted to ensure our laws were amended to fully implement it.

For anyone who may be unclear, that means belittling someone at their workplace or impugning their professional integrity in front of their colleagues, which is completely unacceptable. It's harassment.

If you see it, speak up. Stop it.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

SM. BUSINESSES - SUPPORT

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are the result of entrepreneurial spirit. They provide local jobs. In today's world they meet not only local needs, but rather, they bring Nova Scotian goods and services to the international marketplace.

Mr. Speaker, when in government, the NDP reduced the small business tax by 40 per cent, the first time it had been reduced in almost 20 years. Meanwhile, since this current government took office, they have brought in a $30 million tax grab from small business owners by reducing the small business dividend tax credit.

Mr. Speaker, as a province we need to support and promote small businesses, not attack their bottom line.

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

FOOD BANKS/VOLS. - RECOGNIZE

MR. STEPHEN GOUGH « » : Mr. Speaker, World Food Day is a time to celebrate the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that began 71 years ago on October 16, 1945. We all know there are people in need of food, parents who find it difficult to feed their children, seniors on fixed incomes who often have to choose between heating their homes and putting food on their tables - single people, disabled people, and homeless people.

One of the most rewarding ways to support local food banks is to freely give. Sackville-Beaver Bank is home to the Gateway Community Church food bank where volunteers work tirelessly preparing grocery boxes for those who are experiencing challenging times. For many, food banks are a way of life, not just on World Food Day or during the upcoming holidays but throughout the entire year.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the Legislature join me in recognizing the many food banks and volunteers across this great province and country who are always there for those in need. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Argyle-Barrington.

LEGISLATIVE REPORTS: ROLE - ACKNOWLEDGE

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, the press corps working here at the Legislature press, push, challenge, cajole, and provide a direct link to the public from the work that we do as MLAs and as a government.

We don't always love the questions and we sometimes - well, okay, more than sometimes - complain that it's unfair. The Canadian Principles for Ethical Journalism provide guidelines to make reporters accountable. They ensure that they answer to the public for their reporting and conduct, and that when they make a mistake they will correct it promptly and ungrudgingly and in a manner that matches the seriousness of the error. I believe that our press corps adheres fully to these principles.

I'd like all members to join me in acknowledging the role that our legislative reporters play, professionally and respectfully. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

SMITH, LINDELL: DIST. 8 - ELECTION CONGRATS.

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MS. LISA ROBERTS « » : Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, Lindell Smith was elected to municipal government in Halifax as councillor for District 8, beating out a long list of credible candidates. Lindell has worked at the Halifax Memorial Library and as a youth advocate, and will now bring his talents to City Hall.

Lindell garnered more than 51 per cent of the vote to become the first Black councillor in Halifax in 16 years. (Applause) His win comes at a time when many believe there is a need for greater diversity in local government.

As the MLA for Halifax Needham, I want to congratulate Lindell Smith and I look forward to working with him to bring forth new ideas for positive change.

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

SCOTIA POULTRY: DONATION - THANK

MS. JOYCE TREEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize Scotia Poultry for their generosity during our Meet Your Farmer community event. Sharon, Ian, and Jill Thomas and their family run an egg farm, Scotia Poultry Farm Limited, and donated 34 dozen eggs to the Meet Your Farmer event that took place at Fishermen's Cove on September 24th. The eggs were the perfect addition to the Select Nova Scotia-sponsored breakfast and were beautifully prepared by two community ladies.

When the office contacted Scotia Poultry to put in the egg order, Jill shortly returned with a call and said they were happy to give the eggs to the organizers. It is truly great to see a family-run farm get involved with the community spirit.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESPECTFUL WORKPLACE: LEGISLATURE - INCLUSION

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia's respectful workplace overview emphasizes that the Government of Nova Scotia is committed to a healthy, safe, and supportive workplace in which diversity is valued and where all persons are treated with respect and dignity.

While the policy applies to government employees, the spirit should be upheld, championed by all members of this place. All persons who work in the Legislature precinct - political staff, commissionaires, reporters - deserve to work in a respectful, non-intimidating environment. Everyone working here is required to ensure they contribute to a respectful workplace.

As MLAs, Leaders, and Premier, we also have a moral obligation to set a culture of respect. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard, Mr. Speaker, and be accountable for offensive behaviour. Thank you.

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MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

AUSTIN, SAM: DIST. 5 - ELECTION CONGRATS.

MS. MARIAN MANCINI « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Dartmouth's newest councillor, Sam Austin, who won HRM's District 5 election this past Saturday. Sam takes over the legacy of Gloria McCluskey, long-time councillor and former Mayor of Dartmouth, who decided to retire last year.

Sam has big shoes to fill, but with his background in urban planning and community advocacy I have no doubt he is up to the challenge. Holding public office is no easy task and I wish Sam the best of luck in jumping the hurdles that lie ahead. I also look forward to working with him on the issues that face Dartmouth, and I would like to thank him and all the candidates for putting their names forward.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Bedford.

HON. KELLY REGAN « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

MS. REGAN « » : I would like to direct the members' attention to the east gallery where we are joined today by a group of folks whom I would ask to stand when I mention their name. We are joined by Dr. Simar Hundal, Mr. Jagpal Tiwana, Mrs. Belram Tiwana, Mrs. Sudesh Bhalla, and Mrs. Naginder Kang.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Bedford.

HUNDAL FAM.: ANGAD HUNDAL AWARD - TRIBUTE THANK

HON. KELLY REGAN « » : Mr. Speaker, I'd like to tell you about a family from Bedford that suffered a tragic loss, but used that loss to help young people begin their post-secondary studies.

Angad Hundal was a 17-year-old just about to enter Dalhousie University when he died in a motorcycle accident in August 2013. Angad was a thoughtful young person who worked to help others, raising funds for organizations like Feed Nova Scotia. He dreamed of being a dentist like his mum. He was compassionate, kind, responsible, and thoughtful.

The Hundal family created the Angad Hundal Award, giving $5,000 to the Nova Scotian student who most exemplified Angad's qualities. This year, over one hundred 16- to 18-year-olds applied by writing essays. The award winner was Noah Shields of Mineville, who is studying to become a pilot. He is so grateful for this award.

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Angad's mum, Simar, said she always believed her son would do great things. Although Angad was taken from us too soon, his name will live on - by helping other young people off to a good start.

I would like to thank the Hundal family for this very thoughtful tribute to their son. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings North on an introduction.

MR. JOHN LOHR « » : I would like to draw the attention of the House to the Speaker's Gallery. Mr. Speaker, I would thank you for allowing them to sit in your gallery. This is my friend, Dr. Simon Lempereur, and Geraldine and Louisa from Belgium. Simon was our first Rotary exchange student in 2002 and has come back to visit our family. I wanted to introduce him and his wife and young daughter in our Assembly here today.

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

AL-HUSSEIN FAM.: COMMUN. WELCOME - THANK

MR. LARRY HARRISON « » : After months of planning and fundraising, several communities in my constituency welcomed six Syrian refugees, the Al-Hussein family, to Canada. This sponsorship has not ended with the family's arrival - community members have worked hard to ensure that the Al-Hussein family is becoming comfortable and familiar with their new home and community. In return for their humanitarian efforts, residents are growing rich in the knowledge of another culture, with its traditions and observances. In a time with so much conflict and dissension in the world, I wish to commend the communities of Brookfield, Upper Stewiacke, and Middle Stewiacke, for offering a safe haven to this family and, through Project H.O.P.E., helping to make our world a better place in which to live.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Queens-Shelburne.

ROSEWAY HOSP. - ER CLOSURES

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : In the last sitting of this Legislature, I attempted to document every ER closure at Roseway Hospital, in Shelburne. Unfortunately, this was not easy to do. The Minister of Health and Wellness came to Shelburne in October 2015 to tell residents about the government's plan to address this dilemma. However, since that time, the ER has continued to be closed, leaving many to wonder: what will it take to see this issue addressed? In fact, just this past weekend, the ER was closed again. It gives me no pleasure to return to this House and once again document this situation. However, I will try to do just that. To be continued.

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

CONNORS DIVING SERVICES: INNOVATION - CONGRATS.

MR. IAIN RANKIN « » : This is Small Business Week, and I'd like to recognize Connors Diving Services Limited today. Neil Connors started his diving career in the Navy, and more than 30 years ago, he established Connors Diving Services, which now has a full-time staff of 11 commercially trained divers and has an extensive call-out list. Their exchange ranges from heavy-lift salvages, U/W video inspections and welding, to boat charters, wharf construction, and more. Connors Diving Services is now one of Canada's leading inshore diving companies. I'd like the Nova Scotia House of Assembly to join me in congratulating Neil and his team on their innovation and adaptability, and wish them well in the future.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou East.

MURDOCH, SCOTT - CUBS & SCOUTS CANADA:

DEDICATED SERV. - CONGRATS.

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : On October 11th, Cubs and Scouts from all over northeastern Nova Scotia gathered at Camp Roderick in Sunny Brae for Jamboree on the Air weekend under the direction of Scott Murdoch, district commissioner and 4th Thorburn Wolf Cubs leader. Thanks to the Pictou County Amateur Radio Club, Cubs from Stellarton, Thorburn, Lantz, and Canso had the chance to talk to Cubs in Britain, Germany, and the United States. Imagine what a thrill that must have been for them, Mr. Speaker.

The world's largest international Scouting event has been going on for over 50 years. Radio contacts are a big part of the weekend, but learning safety around the woods and water, how to build a campfire, a little bit of carpentry, cooking, and a whole lot of other teamwork items, complete the weekend. I want to congratulate Scott on his many years of dedicated service to Cubs and Scouts Canada.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.

TEACHERS' BLOG - DETAILS

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Coming from a family of teachers, I'm well aware of just how hard teachers work. I'm also very proud to have many teacher friends, and to have supported them both inside the caucus, and inside and outside the Legislature for the past seven years.

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Teachers from across the province have recently taken to a blog to share their current frustrations. They talk about feeling demoralized by the Liberal Government and a system that makes it impossible to actually teach children as they struggle to fit in 15 one-hour-long meetings with parents, and parents of children who require specialized programming. These teachers want Nova Scotians to know that they love what they do, but that teaching is much more than data management and that they want to have enough time to do what teachers do best: teach.

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

KIBYUK, CALDER: ART SHOWING - CONGRATS.

MR. DAVID WILTON « » : During the summer months, Calder Kibyuk hosted his first solo art show, La mar, at the Main Street Art Gallery in New Waterford. Calder was born and raised in New Waterford, and credited his work to growing up next to the ocean. He enjoys painting and sculpting sea life.

After graduating from BEC, he went on to study graphic design at NSCC and then obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. He also had some of his work displayed at both the college gallery and Art Zone Gallery in Halifax.

Please join me in congratulating Calder Kibyuk on his first solo show and wishing him all the best in his future career as an artist.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg.

GABARUS: LT. GOV.'S AWARD - CONGRATS.

HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : I rise today to acknowledge the coastal community of Gabarus - a community that is celebrating its 300th Anniversary this year - for winning the Lieutenant Governor's Community Spirit Award. The community of Gabarus stood together in the past few years, fighting for the repair of the community's crumbling seawall and then taking on the task of saving the Gabarus lighthouse. I'm proud to say that they were successful with both tasks. As well, they completed an addition to the volunteer fire department and established the Mildred Reid Grant Gray Community Centre.

I stand today before you to congratulate the 78 residents of Gabarus, who show what a small community can do when they put their minds to it.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

PREM.: GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS - TARGETS

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HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, for the last few weeks the Premier has been telling everyone and anyone about the good work Nova Scotia has done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Interruption) Just wait.

The NDP Government was the first in Canada to legislate hard targets for emissions. By focusing on renewable energy generation and increasing our energy efficiency, Nova Scotia has been able to meet the targets and be a national leader in this area because of the NDP.

While in Opposition, the current Premier was less than congratulatory about these efforts. Now that he is championing Nova Scotia's records, let's hope the Premier's hot air will not add too much to our emissions count.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Yarmouth.

BOWERS, KAITLYN (KAIT): HEROISM - COMMEND

HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : This past Spring, Kaitlyn (Kait) Bowers of Yarmouth County was babysitting three-year-old Jewel Surette. Kait observed that little Jewel was not acting like her normal happy, outgoing self. Eventually Kait noticed that Jewel's motor function wasn't working properly, that her eyes had glossed over, and that she was grabbing for her throat. Pushing aside her panic and alarm, Kait remembered Jewel's severe egg allergy and connected it to a cookie she had eaten earlier that day.

Kait sprang into action and called 911, and located and administered Jewel's EpiPen. Two minutes later the ambulance arrived and Jewel was transported safely to the hospital. I'd like to recognize Kait Bowers' quick thinking and decisive action in helping to save little Jewel Surette during her allergic reaction. Jewel considers Kait her hero, and rightfully so.

Please join me in commending Kait for her brave and heroic action.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

POWER, KARA - SUCCESS WISH

HON. PAT DUNN « » : I rise today to recognize an outstanding athlete from New Glasgow. Kara Power is competing in her fourth year with St. F.X. University's female hockey team.

The flashy forward joined Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ontario, after completing her eligibility with the Scotsburn Dairy Bantam AAA team. During her graduation year, Minnesota State tried to recruit the talented forward. However, Kara's desire to return to her home province found her lacing up her skates for the X-Women.

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Power, who has played for Team Nova Scotia, Team Atlantic, and the Canada Games, is currently enrolled in education and will graduate in May 2017.

I would like all members of the Legislature to join me in wishing Kara great success in her future endeavours.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Thank you very much for those thoughtful members' statements. The time allotted for those has now expired.

We'll now move on to Oral Questions Put by Members to Ministers.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS

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

PREM.: CARBON TAX - CAP-AND-TRADE SYSTEM

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Last week, we learned that over a year ago the Premier formed a working group on carbon pricing. We now know that the Ottawa Liberal Government is going to force Nova Scotians to pay more for everyday items like heating their homes or driving their cars, and that the choice that we are given is whether to pay directly through a carbon tax or indirectly through a cap-and-trade system.

I would like to ask the Premier to confirm for this House, and for all Nova Scotians, is he considering a cap-and-trade system for Nova Scotia?

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question and I want to tell him, as I told him last week, we will continue the negotiations with the national government to ensure that the hard work that Nova Scotians have been doing in terms of reducing our greenhouse gases is recognized, and we're prepared to help, as I'm sure all Canadians are, to ensure that we reach our global target of reduction in GHGs.

I don't believe there is one way that it can be done; there are other innovative ways to do that. And, unlike the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, I'm much more optimistic about the future of this province.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, we keep asking the question because we are optimistic that the Premier will actually give us a direct answer and, more important than us, all Nova Scotians.

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He has said he does not want to impose a carbon tax, and that's good, but he stays silent on the obvious other of the two options that we're being forced to look at, which is a cap-and-trade system. This is a pattern. After all, the Premier was perfectly fine to take the efficiency tax, which he was against, and hide it on our power bills instead of getting rid of it like he promised. Now it appears he's looking at finding new hidden tax through a cap-and-trade system.

So let's just ask him, is he looking at hidden ways of taxing Nova Scotians more like the cap-and-trade system that Ottawa is forcing on us?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, there was no power increase last year; there was a decrease this year. Nova Scotians recognize this government as standing with them when it comes to their pocketbook.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, when the Premier was in Opposition, he was very clear. He said "a tax is a tax is a tax" - and I will table that quote for the benefit of everyone in this House. Now, he has been asked repeatedly if he is looking at another hidden tax. First, he hid the efficiency tax on our power bills, and now he won't deny that he's looking at a new hidden tax for Nova Scotians under a cap-and-trade system. So I'd like to ask the Premier, why will he not simply be direct with Nova Scotians and rule out the hidden tax that is cap and trade?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question, and I want to remind him again, as I said at the very beginning of Question Period last week, I will say it again - we're in ongoing negotiations with the national government to make sure that Nova Scotians are recognized for the hard work that they've been doing, and we're going to continue to do so. We're going to continue every day to defend the people of Nova Scotia whether we're dealing with the national government or anyone else.

That's why we're very encouraged by the report of BMO saying that Atlantic Canada is leading the region in growth; that's a positive sign. We're seeing great signs in economic development across this region, and we're going to continue to move this province forward despite what the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party continues to talk about.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party.

PREM.: STEPHENSON POSITION - HIRING PROCESS

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HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Premier. Awarding a civil servant's position to Marilla Stephenson has led many Nova Scotians to further question the hiring practices of this government. Ms. Stephenson was asked by the head of the Public Service Commission to take a crack at writing a job description for the position of which Ms. Stephenson would eventually be the only applicant. On top of this, Ms. Stephenson's personal services contract was retroactive, renewed to make her eligible for the position. So my question, I would like to ask the Premier, how is it possible that this hiring process was fair and void of any conflict of interest?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. There are many hard-working Nova Scotians across the province who come to work for the government and provide their skills and services that require their time. Ms. Stephenson is working on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia and the government. A job opportunity became available; she applied for it; and she continued to provide services for the people of Nova Scotia - and we're going to continue to reach out and find people to help us deliver the services to the people of this province so that we continue to see the positive growth that we're seeing in our province, whether it's in service delivery or whether it's in economic growth.

MR. BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, being a political staffer should not preclude one from ever working as a civil servant; however, one should be hired using fair hiring practices. In this instance, a new position was created; therefore, why not open it up for all competition? Instead, this new position was made available only to a handful of people in the Executive Council's Office.

So I ask the Premier, what was the purpose of limiting the competition for the newly-created position to just those in the ECO?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows - if he doesn't, he should ask his friends in the labour movement - that is a common practice. If they want to open it up across the entire private sector, including those that are unionized, I am more than prepared to make that change.

MR. BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, on Friday the Premier argued that there is no more money for teachers, yet in this case someone who worked closely with the Premier was offered a pay raise of a new six-figure salary position - I repeat, a six-figure salary position. This is a difficult financial lesson for teachers to understand. I ask the Premier, why is there money for raises for those in the inner circle but no money for teachers who are the backbone of our education system?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. As he well knows, the position that was being posted, taking on added responsibilities - I think the honourable member should know he just took on added responsibilities and, quite frankly, pocketed almost $25,000 for taking on those added responsibilities. Why should everyone else be treated differently than him?

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

PREM. - CARBON PRICING: JOBS - EFFECTS

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, a new report for the federal government now says that increasing carbon pricing, whether directly through a tax or indirectly through cap and trade, to levels beyond Canada's trading partners will create competitive concerns for any business that does export to the United States.

Many Nova Scotia companies rely on the American market to create jobs here, Mr. Speaker, and to grow. Having said that, adding a hidden carbon price or a carbon tax directly will only cost Nova Scotians jobs. The report makes that very clear, and I'll table that for the benefit of the Premier and all members present.

The Premier has a working group on carbon pricing. I'd like to ask him, how many jobs has his working group on carbon pricing estimated this new tax or pricing will cost Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. He is creating a whole bunch of hypothetical scare tactics across the province. Nova Scotians have recognized over the last three years that this government will stand beside and continue to defend our province and the hard-working people in this province, as he should know by the fact that power rates have not gone up; they've gone down under our leadership.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, you know what Nova Scotians are scared of? Digging deeper into their pocketbooks, whether it's the Liberal Government in Ottawa or the Liberal Government here in Halifax, whether it's the efficiency fee on their power bill, whether it's a new carbon tax, whether it's cap and trade that the Premier refuses to rule out for Nova Scotians, even though they already have one of the highest costs of living in the country - that's why we're pursuing this.

Now there are real jobs on the line, Mr. Speaker, real jobs in our businesses that do business with the United States. This should be the first and most important priority of any Premier of the province, so I'll ask this Premier, did he even ask his working group on carbon pricing to consider the effect on jobs and our economy?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Again I want to tell him we are retaining more young people per capita than any Canadian province. We're seeing the private sector step up, hiring not only our sons and daughters but new Nova Scotians. We're seeing positive changes across the province and now BMO has announced recognizing that Nova Scotia will lead Atlantic Canada in the strongest growth in six years. Those are all positive signs.

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MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

PREM.: JOURNALIST EXCHANGE - APOLOGIZE

MS. LISA ROBERTS « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Premier. On Friday just outside this Chamber we saw the Premier engage in a personal and inappropriate exchange with a journalist. A Halifax Examiner article, which I can table, described the Premier's comments as ". . . exactly what the term mansplaining was invented for."

As a former journalist, I value the work of the press gallery. I know these professionals do not want to be at the centre of the story. I think we can all agree that this type of behaviour sets a poor example for other government members and it is certainly not what the people of Nova Scotia expect from their Premier.

Mr. Speaker, would the Premier wish to take this opportunity to rise in this House and apologize for his conduct?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I, too, want to recognize the great work by those in the press gallery across this province. I've dealt with them now for the last 10 years, often as back and forth exchanges, and I'm going to continue to defend the positions that we have as a government as they continue to hold us to account. I want to thank them for the great work that they do on behalf of their readership.

MS. ROBERTS « » : Members of this House along with their staff recently agreed to a policy on the prevention and resolution of harassment in the workplace. This policy states that everyone has a right to be treated with respect and has a responsibility to treat others the same way. Although the journalists who cover the House are not included in this policy, the Legislature is our shared workplace. Will the Premier tell us what is being done to ensure that this type of behaviour is not condoned and similar incidents will not happen again?

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. I'm going to disallow the question. The Clerk has brought to my attention that according to O'Brien and Bosc - the rules which we follow in this Legislature - in Chapter 11, on Page 503, a question should not reflect on the character or conduct of chair occupants of this House of Assembly. So we will move along.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

PREM.: FOIPOP OFFICER - HOUSE REPORTING PROCESS

[Page 136]

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, a week before the last provincial election, the Premier signed a letter to the Centre for Law and Democracy promising to expand the powers and mandate of the FOIPOP review officer. I have that letter here, and I'll table that for the House. In the last three years, he has done nothing of the kind. He won't even answer basic questions about whether he's looking at a cap-and-trade system or some other indirect method of taxing Nova Scotians more.

Will the Premier commit today to keeping his promise and make the FOIPOP review officer an officer of this House and grant her the order-making powers that he promised in writing in the run-up to the last election?

THE PREMIER « » : I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I want to thank all those FOIPOP officers across the government who continue to ensure that the data and information that is being asked for, whether it's the Opposition Parties or Nova Scotians who request that information, is being provided to them as quickly as possible.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Instead of thanks, an apology is really in order when the Premier makes a promise in writing and then breaks it so flagrantly after the election is over. In fact, Mr. Speaker, just last month, the Premier openly admitted that he regularly flaunts our FOIPOP laws and the duty to record the decisions that he makes so that they can be subject to freedom of information requests. Those actions were found by the very same Centre for Law and Democracy to be undermining transparency and ultimately undermining democracy itself. I'll table that for the Premier.

Will the Premier commit today to stop undermining our FOIPOP laws and legislate that the FOIPOP officer will in fact report to this House? Will he follow both the letter and the spirit of the law that he promised he would strengthen when he was running for office?

THE PREMIER « » : I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I want to assure him that any FOIPOPs that come into government are dealt with outside of me and outside of members of Executive Council. They're dealt with by the very people in the FOIPOP office. I want to say, I actually do prefer talking to people. It's something he should try.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

EECD: TEACHER NEGOTIATIONS - PREMIER RESUME

HON. PAT DUNN « » : My question is for the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. When it comes to the ongoing impasse between teachers, union leadership, and government, parents just expect their Premier and their Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development to work it out. In a new ad campaign launched by the NSTU leadership, the union states it's ready to talk. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit to going back to the table today so we can be assured there will be no disruption in the school year?

[Page 137]

HON. KAREN CASEY « » : I certainly have said to teachers directly and indirectly as recently as this morning that there were certainly some articles in the agreement that the membership did not support and did not ratify that would bring all of the interested and key partners to the table. That was under the partnership on systemic working conditions, and that was very much a part of the agreement that was not supported. That would bring together members of the department, members of school boards, and members of the Teachers Union to talk about the very issues that teachers want, and that is to talk about working conditions. We had that. We were excited about that. To that end, we reached out to the Teachers Union to come on board and to sit down with us. I will table that letter.

MR. DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, many Nova Scotians simply don't trust their Premier or this government's rhetoric on labour relations. To be frank, many believe they want a strike to suit their political agenda.

My question to the minister is, why won't the minister just admit she's playing politics and putting her classrooms in jeopardy?

MS. CASEY « » : Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite would know, he and I both had great careers in education. We went to work every morning - I can speak for myself, I can't speak for him but I think most teachers went to work every morning believing that they could make a big difference in the lives of the kids in their class. That's what motivated me, that's what motivates many of the teachers we have in this province. We recognize there are complex issues in the classroom, and we want to help them.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.

EECD: BUSING - HOURS

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development noted earlier, this week is School Bus Safety Week so I have a question related to that. Ms. Danielle Robertson lives with her family in Queens-Shelburne. Her two children, ages 11 and 13, attend South Queens Middle School. Their school day starts at 7:45 a.m. but they need to get the bus at 6:25 a.m.

This year they will not be playing hockey because if they attended practices they would not be able to get enough sleep and Ms. Robertson calls this situation the most stressful thing in her family's life.

My question, Mr. Speaker, for the minister is, does she think it's acceptable for young children to start their days at such an early hour?

[Page 138]

HON. KAREN CASEY « » : The very issue of which the member speaks is one that was brought to my attention by the MLA who sits beside here, by the Leader in the House. That very issue was taken back to the school board, recognizing that it is a very early start but the school board has looked at busing routes and that is certainly a decision of the school board. I will continue to work with the member for Queens-Shelburne on that issue. Thank you.

MS. ZANN « » : Well the situation in Queens-Shelburne is actually because of the need for double bus runs. Once this school bus drops off one set of children, it heads back to pick up more. The school day should be organized around what's best for children and families - it shouldn't be based on the inability to pay for a second bus.

The minister has a history of saying that this type of decision is not her responsibility, that it rests with the school board, so my question for the minister is this, since she is actually responsible for determining the budgets for school boards, will she please agree to provide the South Shore Regional School Board with enough money to pay for an additional bus to help families like the Robertsons?

MS. CASEY « » : Mr. Speaker, as the minister has indicated, those decisions are school board decisions. We certainly are very much aware of any concerns school boards have and we respond to any specific asks they have. We believe the funding to that school board has been adequate, and the decisions they make about the schedules for their students and the bus runs they have are board decisions.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

SNS: LIQUOR LICENCE APPLICATION (DART.) - DETAILS

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER « » : Mr. Speaker, on September 8th the Minister of Service Nova Scotia wrote a letter in which he said that significant feedback was received about a liquor licence application for a proposed lounge at 211 Main Street in Dartmouth and that shows the licence process works to notify residents.

Now that process he talked about includes a notice on Twitter and a poster on the building, which would have required residents to trespass across the property to read. I'll table that letter.

Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell me how many people the significant feedback he referred to represents?

HON. MARK FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague. My colleague is familiar with the processes that are applied to advertising. Any applications for liquor licensing, we continue to work to improve on that process. I don't have the numbers that my colleague is looking for but am certainly willing to find those for him.

[Page 139]

MR. YOUNGER « » : Mr. Speaker, the number is 12. His own staff were able to tell me that 12 people responded. Now when Councillor Tony Mancini and I went door-to-door to let people just in the neighbourhood know about this, over 100 people then showed up at a meeting, almost all of whom told his staff and the councillor and myself that there should have been a public meeting held by his department.

Mr. Speaker, I accept that obviously the minister was not given accurate information before writing the letter and claiming there was significant feedback - 12 can hardly be considered significant - so will the minister commit to reviewing the process for notifying residents in the area of proposed liquor licence applications?

MR. FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. I can tell my colleague that I've had discussions as recently as yesterday specific to the process and the need to ensure that the broad community is familiar with the process. We will continue with that work and engage the industry as we move those efforts forward.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou East.

INTERNAL SERV.: GOV'T. TRANSPARENCY - DELAY EXPLAIN

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Last week's Auditor General's Report revealed that government agencies, boards, and commissions are not yet required to disclose travel and hospitality expenses. This is one year after the Auditor General recommended that the senior management of agencies, boards, and commissions should be required to disclose these expenses. In response to this, when it came up in Public Accounts, the government said that the directive to require such disclosure would go out, but not until the end of the year.

I would like to ask the Minister of Internal Services, why is he dragging his feet on increasing government transparency and accountability?

HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : This falls under the Finance and Treasury Board Minister.

HON. RANDY DELOREY » : I'd like to advise the member opposite that, in fact, the letter directive out to the agencies and boards actually went out about a week or two ago from my office.

MR. HOUSTON « » : I'd like to ask the minister to table that letter for the benefit of the House.

[Page 140]

I was surprised that the Auditor General wasn't aware of this. He was clearly quite offended by what was happening, and rightfully so, after a full year. In light of the brewing spending scandals in some municipalities, the Minister of Municipal Affairs has been musing publicly about cracking down on municipal spending - and I'm sure some people would see the irony in that when we had this department sitting on an Auditor General's recommendation for a full year and finally deciding to act upon it in the last couple of weeks. Maybe the minister can explain, what took so long?

MR. DELOREY « » : Sure, I'd be happy, but I think it'll take longer than one minute or 45 seconds to explain to the member opposite all of the governance rules and responsibilities.

While the directive was of a financial nature and went out from my office, all those agencies, Crowns, and corporations do not report directly through me, so there is a process and a governance structure in place to ensure that the appropriate authorities were in place in order to move this through. That authorization went forward. I'm happy to table the letter for the benefit of the members of the Legislature. Indeed, although the directive just went out recently, in fact they will be required to report all the way back to April 2016.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Northside-Westmount.

PREM.: STEPHENSON HIRING - DETAILS

MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : My question is to the Minister of Internal Services. In June, Nova Scotians were shocked to learn The Chronicle Herald's former columnist Marilla Stephenson turned an 18-month contract into a full-time gig as one of Premier McNeil's top advisers in the civil service . . .

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. I'd just like to remind the honourable member not to refer to other members by their surname.

MR. ORRELL « » : I'm sorry - the Premier's top advisers in the civil service. After more questions were asked, it was uncovered that Ms. Stephenson actually had a hand in writing her own job description.

My question to the minister, does the minister believe that it's acceptable for a contract employee to write their own job description to ensure they are a shoo-in for a government job?

HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : I can assure this House that fair hiring practices were followed in this, as they are in all jobs (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The honourable Minister of Internal Services has the floor.

[Page 141]

MR. KOUSOULIS « » : I would also like to thank the person the Opposition is talking about for the great job she is doing in government and how she is helping One Nova Scotia come to fruition.

MR. ORRELL « » : Obviously those hiring practices weren't being followed when someone could write their own job description and be the only person from within to apply for that job.

Being hired directly from a contract position into the civil service with a full-time permanent job is not an easy thing, Mr. Speaker, and all this seriously brings into question the government's hiring practices. On top of that, the messy follow-up and spin doctoring of answers to the media suggest a cover-up - it took four days and 15 people to get a simple answer to the question, where was the job posted and how many people applied?

My question to the minister is, how could anyone trust this government and this minister when these kinds of shady hiring practices and insider jobs can leave a cloud of suspicion around the inner circle?

MR. SPEAKER « » : I'd like to remind the honourable member the term "shady" is unparliamentary.

MR. KOUSOULIS « » : Once again, I can assure this House that fair hiring practices were followed in this as they are in all jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

SNS - GOV'T. IDs: GENDER MARKERS - REMOVE

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia. In June of this year, the Government of Ontario announced it was removing gender markers from health cards and drivers' licences. In the release, the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care says, "The purpose of health cards is to show that the card holder is eligible for public health care. A person's sex is not relevant."

My question to the minister is, will the minister agree to remove gender markers from Nova Scotia Government-issued IDs?

HON. MARK FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. We work very closely with stakeholders around this subject most recently with birth certificates in the Province of Nova Scotia. We continue to engage the community here in these circumstances and certainly will continue those discussions as the public would expect.

[Page 142]

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, trans and non-binary Nova Scotians can face discrimination and harassment when their government ID does not align with their gender expressions. So, what does the minister plan to do to ensure trans and non-binary people are not at risk of transphobia because of gender markers on government ID; and, when will this plan be realized?

MR. FUREY « » : As I indicated in response to the first question, Mr. Speaker, we continue to work with the lesbian, gay, transgender, queer community. We have an open dialogue. It was that community who brought forward considerations around the birth certificates. We will continue to engage that community and entertain all points of concern that they bring to our attention.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Inverness.

JUSTICE: CONFLICT OF INTEREST COMMISSIONER

- OFFICER OF THE HOUSE

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : This is a question for the Minister of Justice. Mr. Speaker, did you know that Nova Scotia and the Yukon are the only two jurisdictions in Canada that don't have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner as an Officer of the Legislature and the independence that offers to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. Now, we know the Premier has taken a very progressive stance wanting to make Nova Scotia the most transparent province in the country. When will the Minister of Justice bring Nova Scotia into line with the rest of the country and into line with the Premier's commitment and make our Conflict of Interest Commissioner here in Nova Scotia an Officer of the Legislature?

HON. DIANA WHALEN » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member opposite bringing this to my attention. I was not aware that there were only two jurisdictions at the moment that have that situation although we'd certainly have to do more research to see if they all report to the Legislature - I'm not certain if that is the case or not.

MR. MACMASTER « » : Well, Mr. Speaker, last month, Nova Scotia's Conflict of Interest Commissioner made his first appearance in front of a Legislative Standing Committee. At the Human Resources Committee, Justice Nunn told the committee, "I think the safest place for the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to be is an officer of the Legislature because that means that he's dealing with the Legislature in important issues." I can table that.

My question for the minister is, does the minister disagree with Nova Scotia's Conflict of Interest Commissioner; and does that present a possible conflict of interest?

MS. WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the play on words as well, that's always good. I think that we all know Justice Nunn has done a tremendous job as the Conflict of Interest Commissioner for many years. I think he has been there for all the years that I have been a member of the Legislature - 19 years, I'm hearing - and I know he does a tremendous job on behalf of all of us. He is very responsive, he answers our questions, he keeps our records, and ensures that we are following all of the rules that are required. So at present, I have the utmost confidence in the work that he's doing and the structure that we have.

[Page 143]

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Argyle-Barrington.

PREM.: PHARMACARE PREMIUMS - SENIORS CONSULT

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. Last year, the government went back and forth on plans to increase Pharmacare premiums for seniors in this province. Once they realized the impact of the short-sighted decision, they promised they would consult seniors before they made more changes.

It is time that they start keeping their promises and were accountable to Nova Scotians, so my question to the Premier is, can he assure seniors that they will know the outcome of any Pharmacare changes before they organize their own personal budgets for 2017?

THE PREMIER « » : Yes.

MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : Well, Mr. Speaker, we're running out of months here before they actually have to make that decision. As you know, seniors are on a fixed income. By the time January rolls around they are trying to make their adjustments for their full season, so that only gives us two more months now to consult thoroughly with the seniors' groups. We know that under this government the cost of living for all Nova Scotian seniors has already been stretched beyond their limited budgets, and these people have committed and worked for our communities their whole lives.

My question to the Premier is, can the Premier guarantee that any changes to Pharmacare will not have a serious impact on seniors' fixed incomes?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. We've said we would be going out and consulting with seniors across the province. We are committed to that before any changes are made to Pharmacare, wanting to go out and have that full conversation with them and we're in the process of starting to do that. We'll continue to do so and no changes will be made to Pharmacare until seniors' voices are heard.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

COM. SERV.: FOOD BANKS - RELIANCE

[Page 144]

MS. MARIAN MANCINI « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. In 2013, Feed Nova Scotia provided assistance to 36,140 Nova Scotians. In 2015, the number of individuals needing assistance has risen to 43,682. Since this government took office food bank usage has increased by over 7,500 people, including 2,500 children.

Over the past year food banks have had to appeal to the public to help with the shortages caused by this increased need. Mr. Speaker, what is the minister's plan to get families and children out of food bank lines?

HON. JOANNE BERNARD « » : Thank you, and I appreciate the question from my colleague. Over the last number of years she would know, and many people in here would know, that we are going through a major transformation within the delivery of community services in the Province of Nova Scotia. It's a very ambitious agenda, it hasn't been done for 30 or 40 years. Part of that is looking at the benefits package and certainly working with our federal counterparts on the child tax benefit, which I am pleased to inform you that we did not touch, in terms of when that increase went up over the summer. We also had the largest increase in the history of the program of $20 last year. All this becomes part and parcel, and we'll continue to work on our transformation.

MS. MANCINI « » : Mr. Speaker, of the thousands of Nova Scotians who had to get their food from food banks last year, more than 13,000 were children. This government has been patting itself on the back, repeatedly congratulating itself about posting a surplus while families across the province do not have enough to eat.

Mr. Speaker, does the minister find it acceptable that in this small province more than 13,000 children have to rely on food banks for their meals?

MS. BERNARD « » : I would just like to say that when I became minister, my department budget was $898 million. Under this government it is now close to $930 million. There have been investments in community services across the board, whether it be persons with disabilities, income assistance, employment supports, or child welfare - there have been numerous and there have been significant investments by this government in community services.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings North.

TIR - CORNWALLIS BRIDGE (KENTVILLE):

REPLACEMENT - TIME FRAME

MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. The Kentville Bridge over the Cornwallis River is one of the oldest steel bridges in the province and it has long been in need of replacement. It's an important transportation link across that river. In fact, the minister has already announced a new bridge. My question for the minister is, when will work on that new bridge begin?

[Page 145]

HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I know the bridge is very important to the community he represents and the surrounding region.

The tender for that bridge has been awarded - $4.5 million to Dexter Construction. They're working with Nova Scotia Power to remove some of the power lines and make rerouting so they can get on with the job right away. They are fully anticipating they will get a good start on it this year, hopefully to do the bulk of the work. We'll see that completed probably in the third quarter of 2017, but it has been awarded to Dexter and it will begin this Fall.

MR. LOHR « » : I would like to thank the minister for that answer. In fact, my next question was about when the tender would be awarded, and I appreciate his answer. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Argyle-Barrington.

PREM. - SOUTHWESTERN N.S.: DROUGHT - IMPACTS

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. First of all, I just want to thank him for the phone call that he did get to me when we were talking about the drought conditions in southwestern Nova Scotia. It's really funny: Cape Breton gets a flood; we get a drought. It seems to me a sort of quandary of problems across this province. We could have used some of that water, but maybe not all of it.

The crux of our conversation was sort of, what are we doing short term and long term for the residents of southwestern Nova Scotia? Short term, of course, is providing water, but the second part was, are we going to be doing some geology, some water test, to find out what the long-term impacts of a drought in southwestern Nova Scotia are going to be?

THE PREMIER « » : The honourable member described the complexity of governing a province when we have the situation that took place in Sydney, Cape Breton, and then of course what's happening in the southwestern part of the province that he's a member of.

As you well know, this has been an ongoing problem for quite some time. There are a tremendous number of dug wells down in that area. We're looking at many options that are available in the short term, and then looking to see if there is a long-term way to work with those individual homeowners and community members, to ensure that we have a long-term, sustainable source of water for those communities.

[Page 146]

MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : I thank the Premier for that answer, but what I want to impart upon him and his Cabinet is that maybe there is some data that the communities require so that they can make decisions as well. We know full well - a lot of well references here - that digging a new well might not be the solution in some cases.

Is there an opportunity to bring in the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia, and the Minister of Community Services in order to look at the long-term viability of water service in southwestern Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for the question. Under the leadership of the Minister of Municipal Affairs, that work is beginning to happen - looking at the expertise in other departments to come together to fully understand what we're dealing with for a long-term solution. As well, through his department, working with our municipal partners to ensure that there are many options, because what will work for one region of the area may not work for another community or what works for one homeowner may not work for another.

So we're looking to make sure that we pull together all of the resources that we have in those departments to deal specifically with this issue and respond to it in a thoughtful way so those citizens can then make informed decisions about what's right for their individual households, and we can collectively work together to find out what's right for that community.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party.

NAT. RES.: CLEAR-CUT TARGET - GOV'T. STAND

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Last Friday, I asked the minister to explain why this government's announcement was stepping away from the commitment of the Natural Resources Strategy to reduce clear-cutting to no more than 50 per cent of all harvests. The minister said, "There has been no decision to take that action that he's talking about." The minister's comments run counter to the CBC report that claims the minister's five-year update officially abandons the clear-cutting recommendation. I will table that.

So I ask the minister, given that we are at the five-year mark and the target is yet to be reached, can he clarify what his government's stand is on the 50 per cent clear-cut target?

HON. LLOYD HINES » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. Forestry is not just about numbers. It's about the 11,500 people in Nova Scotia who are employed in this industry - 11,000 people that work in this industry. We work scientifically with the ecosystem to determine the process that it's going.

[Page 147]

The update that we gave in the Natural Resources Strategy is simply that. It's a snapshot in time - a five-year period. I would suggest that not everything you hear on the CBC or in the media reflects the actual state of affairs.

MR. BELLIVEAU « » : It's "not about numbers," Mr. Speaker, yet I get numbers for a response.

When asked about clear-cutting targets on Friday, the minister said, "We have listened to Nova Scotians, and we're following science-based decision-making." Well, it sounds like the minister has come across some new, fancy science that we were previously unaware of when the target was originally set.

I ask the minister, can he tell us what new, fancy science report he has uncovered, and will he table that by the end of this session?

MR. HINES « » : Our goal is unchanged. We are doing what the public has asked. As a matter of fact, there is tremendous new science available in the fibre industry. I would invite the member to visit the former Bowater plant, which is perhaps in his constituency, to see the wonderful things that are being done there to convert cellulose to diesel fuel.

So let's talk about new science. Let's talk about rebuilding our industry in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou West.

FIN. & TREASURY BD.: SKYROCKETING TAXES - GOUGING ADMIT

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, it is known that Nova Scotians pay some of the highest provincial income taxes in Canada. Nova Scotians are paying 17 per cent more in taxes than they paid just four years ago. That means that hard-working Nova Scotians take less money home to their families but give more to government.

Will the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board admit that this government is gouging Nova Scotians with skyrocketing taxes?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. What I can let the member opposite and the members of the Legislature know is how much this government continues to invest in programs and services that Nova Scotians value, such as in the health care sector and home care and in education and community services. We're continuing to invest in those priorities of the people of Nova Scotia, and that's where the hard-earned tax dollars provided to the government go on behalf of all Nova Scotians.

[Page 148]

MS. MACFARLANE « » : Well, Mr. Speaker, we know Nova Scotians pay $850 more in taxes than they did in 2012. When the Ottawa Liberals impose their carbon-pricing scheme on Nova Scotians, families will have to shoulder $1,250 more in taxes each year. This is a Party that used to want a lower HST. They said they would eliminate bracket creep and put an end to tax-on-tax on gas, but did nothing to any of these once they were elected. When will this government start growing the economy and start giving taxpayers a break?

MR. DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, again, I thank the member opposite for the question. I believe there are a lot of elements to the last part. But asking about when we're going to start growing this economy - if the member opposite reviewed the BMO report that just came out, indeed, Nova Scotia is leading Atlantic Canada for economic growth.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

MUN. AFFS.: WATER SHORTAGES - ADDRESS

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Drought conditions continue to impact the lives of thousands of residents across the province with no end in sight. Many household wells remain dry. Currently, many Nova Scotians are relying on bottled water for cooking and drinking and on provincial park facilities for their showers every morning. However, with winter on the way, these facilities are likely to close in the next few months, leaving these same individuals in a very precarious situation.

My question is, is it the expectation of this government that Nova Scotians will be bathing in bottled water, or is there a plan to address their urgent water shortage?

HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : I do want to thank the member for the question. We share her concern, of course, as we get closer and closer to the winter season, about the impact that this water shortage is having on many households. We are actively working with all municipal units to develop solutions to the unique circumstances that people are faced with in each community, and we will be moving on those if the need requires it.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, the fact remains that this government has not communicated a tangible plan to the residents, who are wondering in southwest Nova Scotia. Over 1,000 families have reported their dry wells to the province, some all the way back to August. This is all the more distressing given that Nova Scotia is expected to experience more extreme droughts as our climate continues to change, so we really need a plan and an action plan before the ground freezes for the winter, so that's what we're asking the minister to give us. Nova Scotians need to know - what is the plan of the government if water levels in household wells are not restored in the next few weeks?

[Page 149]

MR. CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, I am very happy and appreciative of all the work our local volunteers have done on the ground, our EMO officials, our municipal governments, our volunteer fire departments, Coast Guard, volunteers. All these people have really worked to ensure that everybody who is without water right now is receiving it for daily use and for drinking.

The province has been shipping out bottled water weekly and sometimes daily to all those affected communities, Mr. Speaker. Each situation in each community does vary and we'll be working directly with those communities and those municipalities to develop a tailored solution to the challenges each of those communities face in the event that this does continue but, in the meantime, of course all of us here are hoping for rain.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Argyle-Barrington.

PREM.: HEALTH CARE SYSTEM - FUNDING ENSURE

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, the federal government has failed to deliver on its promise to restore the Canada Health Transfer tax or transfers to its original funding levels. Nova Scotia has an aging population and a high prevalence of chronic disease. For years the PC caucus has advocated for these facts to be taken into consideration by the government, but the federal Liberals have abandoned that promise by the sound of Minister Philpott.

The Premier must be accountable to Nova Scotians and make sure that this change of heart by the federal Liberals does not impact our health care. Can the Premier outline specific steps to ensure that Nova Scotia's health care system will not suffer a serious funding loss?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Even though those changes made to the federal transfer were made by the Harper Government, what our Minister of Health and Wellness is doing now with his colleagues from across Canada - now in Ottawa yesterday provincial territorial ministers were meeting - all Canadian jurisdictions wanted to commit to and are looking to commit to a 6 per cent increase in health care funding. The national government is meeting with them today. They have a position and that negotiation is ongoing.

Mr. Speaker, when we come to a final conclusion of what that negotiation looks like, I'm sure the honourable member will have some input on that.

MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, the federal Minister of Health in her speech yesterday said they will not consider giving provinces more funding until they show innovation. Too many people in this province are already not receiving the health care they deserve - just look at the doctor shortage across this province.

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My question to the Premier « » : Will he guarantee Nova Scotians that our health care system will meet the requirements by the federal government for innovation so we can receive the health dollars necessary to protect the people of this province?

THE PREMIER « » : I want to thank the member for the question. The federal Health Minister was in town to announce My Health NS, which is the first of its kind in any Canadian province, Mr. Speaker, to have personal health records for every Nova Scotia. It's ongoing talk about innovation around one person, one record.

As you know we announced about a month ago now, we're hiring more nurse practitioners and more family practice nurses for collaborative practice teams, and 14,000 more Nova Scotians have access to a family physician in primary care health teams, continuing to work with our federal partners, continuing to work with our colleagues across the province to make sure we deliver the services that Nova Scotians expect in their community. (Interruption)

He keeps talking, so I think he wants more of an answer. Mr. Speaker, we're really encouraged by the work our partners are doing across the province to deliver health care and we're going to continue to do so to make sure it's in a sustainable way, one that is in every community across this province.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. LISA ROBERTS « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Immigration. Language training, employment services, and family counselling will always be needed in Nova Scotia to attract and retain new immigrants in our province. Most of these services are provided by organizations like ISANS and the YMCA, whose dedicated staff must reapply for the same provincial funding every time. This creates an unnecessary administrative burden for those working at the front lines of integration.

My question is, will this government consider moving to multi-year funding agreements with the handful of organizations assisting immigrants here in Nova Scotia?

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The time allotted for Oral Questions Put by Members to Ministers has expired.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON » : Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

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GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MS. SUZANNE LOHNES-CROFT « » : Once again, it is my privilege to rise in this House to speak to the Address in Reply to the government's Speech from the Throne as read by His Honour Brigadier-General, the Honourable J.J. Grant.

I've served the constituency of Lunenburg for three years, and I pledge to continue to represent the people of Lunenburg to the best of my ability each and every day to help this government build a stronger Nova Scotia. I am proud to hear that the Lunenburg constituency is often described as the most beautiful one in Nova Scotia, by both tourists and Nova Scotians. It is also diverse in its natural resources, industries, history, and culture - a tasteful blending of old and new. It encompasses the lands between the Martins and LaHave Rivers, and extends from the rocky coastline communities of Stonehurst, Blue Rocks, and Riverport north to the rich forest lands beyond the village of (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg has the floor.

MS. LOHNES-CROFT « » : Did you know, Mr. Speaker, that if you lived in Lunenburg, your mayor, your MLA, your MP, and your school board chair would all be women? The new mayor-elect of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg is also a woman whose municipality also includes the Lunenburg constituency. No other jurisdiction in Canada can make this claim, and it says great things about the people who live here.

I could not begin this Address in Reply without addressing once again the largest and most time-consuming file at my constituency office: roads, roads, and more roads. Although gains have been made, years and years of neglect have taken their toll on the patience of many users and constituents. I hear frequently that they have not seen gravel in 30 to 40 years. Ditching, culverts, and bush-cutting are needed on many of our roads in this part of rural Nova Scotia. An early and wet Spring made for flooding and mud-rutted gravel roads. This summer, the extreme dry conditions led many roads to be dusty and pot-hole-ridden, being too dry to grade or for chloride to seal. I know it has taken years of neglect to lead to these conditions. I hear about it, and I know that the repairs and maintenance work that are needed take time, and they cannot all be done at one time.

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But when I hear a constituent say, I hate the thought of going home from work because I know I have to drive over that road again, it really makes me stop and think. I cannot help but feel empathy for those people. Everyone should want to go home at the end of their workday.

I can say, though, that we are making a dent in improving the local roads through RIM work, plus much-needed chip seal was laid on the Cross Road, Indian Path and the Naugler Road. Paving to the Pine Grove is complete now, and we're just waiting on the Fauxburg Road for this season. I love checking these completed roadworks off my list.

I'm amazed, Mr. Speaker, that the area manager still returns my phone calls and responds to my inquiries through email. We can still manage to laugh and make a few jokes as we work together to cross items off our to-do list.

Speaking of infrastructure, I was pleased this summer to announce $2 million in funding for clean water and waste water, infrastructure projects that will be in Mahone Bay and Lunenburg; I did this on behalf of the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The Province of Nova Scotia will be contributing $2 million for six clean water and waste water infrastructure projects in these two towns. This is part of a total $8.1 million investment by all three levels of government.

We cannot forget our partners, Mr. Speaker. Without the portion from the federal Government of Canada, which contributes 50 per cent of the project costs, small provinces like ours, and municipal units like Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, could not afford such infrastructure work.

Mr. Speaker, maintaining safe and reliable water supply is a fundamental task of any government, building infrastructure and building a stronger Nova Scotia. Interestingly a study to identify properties on Main and Edgewater Streets in Mahone Bay, with straight pipes into the harbour in order to eliminate untreated sewage, is one of the projects which is going to be funded with this money.

I can't help but wonder if all the publicity about cleaning up the LaHave River has inspired other municipalities to get onboard. I am sure the name Stella Bowles rings a bell with you, Mr. Speaker, and to all members of this House. I introduced 12-year-old Stella to you all here last April, when she came to be present as I read a Member's Statement to acknowledge her advocacy work to have straight pipes into the LaHave River addressed once and for all.

Stella has been making headlines across the province, and indeed across the country, for her efforts to bring attention to an environmental issue near and dear to her heart. It all started when she wanted to go for a swim in the LaHave River where her family home is, but her mother told her it wasn't a good idea because of the sewage being dumped into the river, as their family home sits right on the riverbank. This prompted Stella to test the river water for fecal bacteria as part of a science project. Using a Facebook page devoted to the project gathered interest globally. She was intrigued when one of her posts went viral with more than 1,200 shares.

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Can one child make a difference, Mr. Speaker? Yes, indeed. I like to think of Stella as the girl in the river, much like the Dutch story of the boy and the dike. Her advocacy led the way for the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the province and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg. They will partner on graduated compliance programming, which includes increasing awareness about the environmental damage from straight pipes, developing a replacement program, and identifying properties with straight pipes.

Other local citizens' groups, like the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation, have championed concern and action around the LaHave River cleanup for several years. In September, the Lunenburg County Community Fund, a locally led leadership group, supported the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia, gifted $1 million to the LaHave River cleanup project. I would like to note that this gift was facilitated by the generosity of one local supporter of the fund.

Recently Stella returned home from a very exciting trip to Toronto, where she won the Evergreen TD Future City Builders Award, a most deserving honour. To quote Mayor Don Downe, "We have heard from our children, our citizens and our community that we need to protect our beautiful river." Thanks to Stella, other children will someday be able to swim and play in the clean river and perhaps someday there will be a story written about the girl and the river.

Mr. Speaker, the entire province welcomed a new ferry service provider connecting Nova Scotia to New England creating tourism and economic opportunities from Yarmouth to Sydney. The province made a 10-year agreement with Bay Ferries Limited to manage and operate a high-speed ferry between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine. This long-term support for a solid ferry operator provides stability and predictability for Nova Scotia businesses and tourist operators from all across the province, and that means more jobs for people in Nova Scotia as it has brought more visitors to the province.

Now that the ferry is being Yarmouth-based, it means leaving Yarmouth in the morning, travelling to Portland, and returning to Nova Scotia that evening. It has increased overnight stays in the region and provides an economic boost to Nova Scotia businesses. The travel time is now cut in half, and it eliminated the need for cabins on the vessel and extra overboard staff. It also was quicker than driving from Portland to Nova Scotia.

There has been a water link to the New England States since 1880, and the Baker steamships were the providers back then. Ferry services to the Gulf of Maine came following World War II. Ferry is a key transportation link in bringing U.S. tourists to all parts of our province.

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How disheartening to hear the Official Opposition constantly oppose the need for this ferry service just to get their names in the news. This is Nova Scotia's ferry. We all need to promote it, we all need to take advantage of the business opportunities this brings us. I know how busy the South Shore has been since the reinstatement of the Nova Scotia ferry. One can barely drive through the streets of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. Many restaurants have to close mid-afternoon to replenish and prep for the dinner meal, often selling out before the dinner hours are even over.

This is a great segue to tourism, one of Nova Scotia's most important economic sectors and it's poised for record growth this year. Nearly 400,000 non-resident, overnight visitors came to the province. That's an increase of 7 per cent compared to last August according to recent figures by Tourism Nova Scotia.

I have my office next to the local VIC, and that's in Blockhouse, and they have had record-setting days of serving visitors, and I know staff have had weeks when there was not a bed available for a visitor who had not made a prior reservation to coming to the South Shore. "We haven't seen an August like this for more than 15 years of tracking visitation," said Michele Saran, the CEO of Tourism Nova Scotia. These numbers confirm positive stories that we have been hearing from businesses right across the province.

Tourist revenues for this August are estimated at $406 million bringing the year-to-date revenues to $1.7 billion. Based on year-to-date performances, tourism revenues for the year are expected to be about $2.6 billion, up from $2.5 billion in 2015. Year to date, August visitation is up 8 per cent, for a total of 1,000,553 non-resident, overnight visitors. Year to date, room nights sold are 1,000,777, up 3 per cent from last year.

One local accommodation provider, Steven Hebb of the Prince's Inlet Retreat, told me that 2015 was an excellent season and this year was even better. The increased revenue meant that he was now able to invest in upgrades and improvements to the resort. Mr. Speaker, like many Nova Scotians, I am excited to hear the final report on the 2016 tourism season. By building on tourism we are building a stronger Nova Scotia.

My ancestors arrived in Lunenburg in 1753, having left their homes and families in France and Germany. They were among the large number of foreign Protestants to settle in Nova Scotia. Fleeing their homelands, they came to the shores of Nova Scotia to begin a better life, without fear of persecution on the grounds of their faith. They were some of our first immigrants to Nova Scotia's South Shore.

A total of 3,418 newcomers who arrived in Nova Scotia between January and June of this year is already slightly more than the 3,403 who arrived in Nova Scotia in all of 2015, a previous record. To quote the Minister of Immigration, "Immigration is a government priority and our hard work is producing results." Since December, Nova Scotia has welcomed more than 1,000 Syrian refugees through private, blended, and government-assisted sponsorships with more expected to arrive before the year's end.

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Refugee landings are up significantly. There were 1,079 in the first six months of 2016, compared to 365 for the 2015 year. Lunenburg Friends One and Two, Saint Normand's Roman Catholic Church, the Mahone Bay area's sponsorship, and Lunenburg and Area Refugee Committee are some of the groups bringing refugees to my constituency. When I went to a meeting in the later part of the winter, I was pleased, surprised, and very proud that outside of HRM, Lunenburg County had the highest number of groups bringing in refugees.

May I share a letter with you, Mr. Speaker, that I received from a constituent?

Dear Suzanne and Adam, I want to thank you enthusiastically for your roles in persuading our government to arrange for the subsidy for English-language training for our Syrian refugees. I realize that this is a huge investment of money, but we all believe that the results will be worth every dollar. We, the sponsors of two families - and we're still waiting on the second to arrive - appreciate this enormously. Until now we were spending $1,815 per person for 12 weeks of lessons.
If you could only see how far Baraa and Abdo have come in the past few weeks! This is a tremendous gift you have given and it will be repaid many times over in goodwill and successful integration into Canadian life. Abdo has been working at one of the local pizza restaurants in Lunenburg, and he has finally admitted that his English is not as good as he thought it had been, but that he is learning more and more every day. He now speaks in paragraphs. Baraa has much more confidence about speaking English, yet she lags far behind Abdo. But we know she will catch up soon. She loves the lessons, and we think she will keep going to school as long as the classes are available.
I must also thank you for the child care subsidy - I believe this is provincial - as without it, it would be a huge struggle to find child care for the older child while the parents are in school. Cheers and sincere thanks to all, Fern Jordan for Lunenburg Friends.

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In March, Mr. Speaker, the guidance teacher at Bayview Community School took the lead in collaboration with New Voice Language Academy to organize workshops for volunteers with English as an additional language. These were people being trained to be tutors with our new immigrants - 10 volunteer tutors stepped up and successfully completed the training. It was so inspiring to see age diversity of this group, from junior high students right through to seniors.

Recently, the Mahone Bay and Area Sponsorship welcomed the Isos family, Rezan and Shahnaz and their five-year-old son, Ali, a Kurdish-language-speaking family. They are settling in and adjusting to their new home.

I want to speak a little bit about the Mahone Bay group, which I notice is a little different than the Lunenburg groups. The Lunenburg groups were made up of basically church groups and retired people, whereas the Mahone Bay group's lead are young families. We know that there is going to be great effort in blending the young families of our refugees into the community with their families. I really took note of that difference in the different groups. Mr. Speaker, I want to say that by this government welcoming newcomers, we are building a stronger Nova Scotia.

I was pleased to join the Premier in the opening of the second Haskapa store and its first Halifax storefront, found in the former Unicorn boutique site. This took place in August. The success of the Haskapa Mahone Bay boutique, which opened last summer, has helped push the Bishop's Landing location towards fruition. The waterfront shop will carry everything from Haskapa ice cream, vodka, gin, jams, jellies, and the brand new Haskapa powder, which I've tried. It's a similar product to other health food powders, and it is produced from the haskap berry.

The mighty little home-grown berry currently sits at about $5 a pound, which speaks to its demand. It is a good indication of the excitement in the business. It is the most expensive berry in the world, and Haskapa is making products that are hopefully good enough that people will want to spend the money on them.

The haskap, Nova Scotia's wonder fruit, is growing at the LaHave Natural Farms in West Northfield. The farms and orchards are based in beautiful Lunenburg County and my constituency. LaHave Natural Farms was founded by a group of like-minded friends with a shared passion for food, natural agriculture, and forestry. They came together through a shared vision of discovering the tastiest and healthiest food to be grown naturally in Nova Scotia.

In 2010, the quest to find a new and exciting food was complete with the unearthing of the fabulous-tasting haskap berry from Japan and Russia. Since this discovery, they have grown considerably. Today, they have planted over 40 acres of haskap orchards, and more are planned.

The 2013 Haskapa juice vintage won the year's best entrant at the World Juice Awards in Cologne, where it was described by one judge to be "as a near perfect balanced 'Wine,' without the alcohol."

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The Haskapa story is one that I have heard the Premier tell across this province and in numerous media interviews. Their philosophy is built on the foundation of product quality, health design, and the environment. They are also passionate about making a positive impact on the future of agriculture in this province.

The owners and partners state that they are not perfect, but they are trying to be open-minded and to leave the world a little better. They farm with passion and in a natural and innovative way. They take responsibility for the impact of their activities on society and the environment. A strong part of the LaHave story is to become a truly sustainable business where they can net a positive effect on the world - be it in their orchards, forest, or compost bins. This government is encouraging business expansions such as the Haskapa as we build a stronger Nova Scotia.

There is a new kid in town. Well, not exactly - a new business in Mahone Bay, and it's in my neighbourhood. The Saltbox Brewery opened its doors for business in September, and much like the house it's named for, the historic saltbox, brewing small batches of quality beer is a deeply rooted part of the heritage and craftsmanship found in this part of Nova Scotia.

The saltbox house is identified by its sloping gable roof that gives the shape of a lidded wood box used to store salt during the Loyalist times. In those days, most brewing and drinking was done in the home. Some say the lower roof line jutting out from the main part of the house was an addition to allow owners to incorporate a small brew room into their living quarters.

The resurgence of craft brewing marks a renaissance in the kind of local brewing that took place before the Industrial Revolution, when making beer was a standard household chore as integral as baking bread. Some of that might come from the German heritage in the area as well.

Incorporating the iconic saltbox into their logo was recognizing the notion that quality, small batch beer brewing started in the home. The brewery is creating fresh, full-flavoured beer for consumption by the local community. Their motto, "think social, and drink local" fits quite nicely into the community, where one may purchase a growler and return it for a refill. So far the community is responding favourably - building a stronger Nova Scotia one business at a time.

As always, early childhood education is near and dear to my heart. I was thrilled, to say the least, when the government pledged to invest $6.6 million into child care that will support child care centres so that they can provide programming that prepares our children for school. This includes wage grants for early childhood educators.

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Released findings and recommendations from the child care review highlight several recommendations such as increasing child care options available to families with particular emphasis on how needs vary in urban and rural communities; improving access to infant care and to children with special needs; updating subsidy programs and making it easier for families to apply; improving the supports for low and middle-income families to make it easier for them to access child care; setting standards, guidelines, and curricula that will focus on the best practices on supporting child development outcomes; improving wages for early childhood educators; developing collaborative approaches to solving recruitment and retention issues in partnership with child care organizations; improving funding, accountability, and reporting requirements to ensure grants are being used as intended; making child care affordable for families by investing in higher subsidy rates and investing in addressing historically low wages for early childhood educators.

The minister was appalled to know that early childhood educators, some with four-year degrees, were earning a median hourly wage of $12.84. That has changed. Beginning this month - October – centres receiving provincial grant funding must pay early childhood educators based on a wage floor, ranging from $15 to $19, depending on the level of their training. Since July 1st, families eligible for a subsidy are paying less, and families with an income of $25,000 or less are eligible for the maximum subsidy, and families with incomes of more than $25,000, up to $70,000, are eligible for partial subsidy.

The amount families will pay will depend on the amount of subsidy the family receives, and the daily parent fees their child care centre charges, and caps will be placed. These will make child care more affordable for our families, and it narrows the gaps.

I hear from many school administrators and educators that many students are entering the public school system lacking crucial social skills that allow them to function in the classroom environment. Investment in early childhood education should go a long way to resolving this issue.

This government is committed to making early childhood education programs more affordable and accessible for families, enhancing the quality of care, and supporting early childhood educators who work with Nova Scotia's youngest citizens and their families. This is a positive step forward for the early childhood education profession and I commend this Liberal Government for recognizing these crucial years as a priority. By supporting families we are building a stronger Nova Scotia.

As a parent and educator, I am proud that this government has invested in the public education system, reversing the $65 million that was cut by the NDP Dexter Government. This government conducted the first provincial education review in over 25 years. They capped the class sizes from Primary to Grade 6 and expanded the delivery of Junior Achievement to all school boards for students in Grades 9 to 12. Part of this is learning financial literacy, career readiness and entrepreneurship.

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This government has also expanded the early year centres, the SchoolsPlus sites, Options and Opportunities, and skilled trade centres. The SchoolsPlus program brings a range of mental health services and other health programs together - mentoring, social work, homework support and justice services - into the school. Children, youth, and families can easily access them. Six more mental health clinicians are being hired to support the SchoolsPlus sites across the province, bringing the total to 29 clinicians.

This government listened to the voices that took part in the educational review and, as a result, it introduced a provincial Code of Conduct policy; it introduced new homework standards; it implemented a new literacy strategy; it offered skills trades in Grade 10 and Grade 11 to more students; expanding teaching the language, history, and culture of Acadians, African Nova Scotians, Gaels, and Mi'kmaq; increasing a number of Reading Recovery teachers and math early-intervention teachers; and developing a student attendance policy.

Mr. Speaker, to prepare for the new Treaty education our entire caucus, plus the staff, attended workshops on Treaty education. These were mandatory so that we have a better understanding of First Nations and the opportunity to experience the culture and curriculum. We are investing in educational supports to build a stronger Nova Scotia, and we are building that Nova Scotia.

Last month I was pleased to bring greetings on behalf of the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education at an open house to celebrate the launch of the new employment service, Nova Scotia Works. This now replaces the former job solution. Government began working with service providers in November of 2015 to redesign this $23 million employment service system. While the overall budget remains the same, the Nova Scotia Works system reduces administration and infrastructure cost from 53 per cent down to 27. More front-line staff were hired with the savings to focus on employer engagement-client service and outreach to schools.

This new system also includes increased focus on career counselling for youth, more effective recruitment support for businesses, expansion of services across the province for people with barriers to employment, support for career practitioners certification, and professional development.

You can see we are building a stronger Nova Scotia.

A few weeks ago I was pleased to emcee a waterfront development announcement where the Premier joined Dale Godsoe, Chairman of the Waterfront Development Corporation, Doug Prothero, Executive Chairman of Sail Training International Limited, and Mayor Rachel Bailey of the Town of Lunenburg, to make an announcement about the location of outports for Rendez-vous 2017 tall ships regatta in Nova Scotia.

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This is an opportunity to showcase Nova Scotia to the world. They are important economic boosts for our province - such as outport programs, promote local food and wine, local performers and artisans, and local businesses - to the thousands of visitors who will visit Nova Scotia. Between late June and mid-August, tall ships will visit 11 ports across the province including Lunenburg, Pictou, Sydney, St. Peter's, Louisbourg, Pugwash, Port Hawkesbury, Halifax, Shelburne, Digby, and end with an evening sail past the Annapolis Basin. That is a first for Nova Scotia.

For Lunenburg the tall ships will coincide with the annual Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival. Thousands of people of all ages will venture here, and we will welcome all who come to experience Nova Scotia's coastline and hospitality at Rendez-vous 2017 hosted by our own tall ship, Bluenose II.

Bluenose II has just wrapped up an amazing summer season which includes visits to nine Nova Scotia ports: North Sydney, Baddeck, Iona, Louisbourg, Arichat, Mulgrave, Canso, Clark's Harbour, and Halifax; 54,994 people walked the decks in all various ports including Lunenburg, her home port. The Bluenose did 84 harbour cruises in Lunenburg and Halifax, and 5,313 people sailed on those harbour cruises. By next sailing season, the replacement of the steel rudder system on the replica vessel will have taken place, and a new wooden rudder will have been built and installed by local shipbuilders.

On June 17th-18th, I participated in the Three Churches Foundation's Love Mahone Bay, a wedding vow renewal event in charming Mahone Bay, to celebrate my husband's and my 35th Wedding Anniversary. (Applause) Being a board member, I could hardly say no.

With the gathering of our children, Daniel, Samuel, and Jacob, and friends and family, Ken and I said "We still do." Of course, my granddaughter Roni and our daughter-in-law Lindsay were there too. It was wonderful to be surrounded by our loved ones and friends in the church where we actually made our first vows, Trinity United.

The weekend event started with a launch of Petite Riviere Vineyards' 2016 Three Churches Wine. All couples who took part in this weekend had the enjoyment of a Champagne and Chocolate Garden Reception and a swing band dance. This successful fundraiser will take place again in 2017, so save the date, any of you who wish to do wedding vow renewals: on June 16th and 17th you can come to Mahone Bay and say "I do" again.

Saying "I do" was a very popular theme in my family. Our nephew was married, and our eldest son, Daniel, married his long-time love Lindsay, supported by his brothers, Samuel and Jacob, as the best men. Our combined families, again along with close friends, witnessed their vows along the beautiful and historic waterfront of Mahone Bay.

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Nothing gives me greater joy than time with my family, and we all know, as politicians, that that time is very scarce and limited. I know all of us make the most of it. We have had many celebrations these past few months, and I cherish this time, as it always sustains me when I have challenging days or I am away from home.

I have been very blessed with many close and supportive friends who, in many ways, are just like family. Some I have known for years, and others, like my caucus colleagues, only for three. My constituency assistant, Adam Jacobs, is one of those dependable friends. I can count on him to keep the home fires burning - or more likely, putting out the fires while I'm here, or in my absence.

Besides my family, my best supporters are my constituency association executive and the members, always willing to carry out tasks and plan events. They ask the tough questions and give the best of themselves to the association. Many are the backbone of my campaign team, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank them.

Talk about building a stronger Nova Scotia - Mr. Speaker, I can give you two fine examples of individuals who have built a stronger Nova Scotia. In a few weeks, two dynamic and dedicated politicians will retire from municipal politics: Mayor Joe Feeney of Mahone Bay and Mayor Don Downe of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg.

The first year Joe Feeney moved to Mahone Bay, he was elected to town council. I wonder how often that happens. That was in 1978. Almost 40 years later, following this month's municipal election, the long-serving councillor and mayor will soon officially retire from a life of local politics. He retires after serving six terms as mayor, having chaired numerous council and regional government committees and having served as Chairman of the Electrical Light Committee for the six provincial municipal partners. The work Mr. Feeney has accomplished over the years has helped Mahone Bay become a welcoming and progressive community, and his presence will be a loss at Town Hall and it will be missed.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank Joe Feeney for the many years he has devoted to the betterment of his community through his life in public office and wish him the best in his retirement.

Mr. Speaker, many of us here will recognize the name Don Downe, a former MLA elected in 1993, a former Cabinet Minister and Deputy Premier. In 2008 he was elected as the first Mayor of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, a position he has decided not to reoffer for. I wish to congratulate and thank Don Downe for his many years of public service and for the many accomplishments he has made during his time in various roles. He truly is a man of the people. I am going to miss these two friends and mentors at local events. I wish them years of good health and joy-filled days in their retirement.

Just over two years ago, Mr. Speaker, the Premier on behalf of the province and all Nova Scotians, offered an historic apology to former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children. This, I will say, has been the proudest moment for me, as a member of this House of Assembly. Where previous governments put off addressing the residents' concerns, suggesting it wasn't their problem, this Premier did address it. During the last election campaign the Premier said he would settle the lawsuit and after he was elected, announced he would offer a formal apology.

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On Friday, October 10, 2014, he made good on that promise in the Red Room across the hall from this Chamber, before former residents, their families and supporters. To quote the Premier, "It is one of the greatest tragedies in our province's history that your cries for help were greeted with silence for so long. Some of you have said that you felt invisible . . . you are invisible no longer. We hear your voices and we grieve your pain and we are sorry."

Tony Smith, who accepted the apology on behalf of former residents and the group VOICES, said he's glad things are no longer confrontational with the government and the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children restorative inquiry is revealing and addressing the harmful legacy of racism in Nova Scotia by examining the experiences of former residents, as well as the impact on their families and their communities. Currently the VOICES group is doing a restorative inquiry that will look at the past with a focus on the future and addressing solutions, not only preventing more harm but making meaningful changes that will help us treat each other more justly and equitably in the future.

This inquiry will reveal and address part of the harmful legacy of racism in Nova Scotia by examining the home and experiences of former students, as well as the impact on their families and their community. This apology and healing process, Mr. Speaker, affirms the character of our Premier and the members of this government. We are moving forward and building a better Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, in my last Address in Reply, I quoted the honourable Joseph Howe's descriptive words, "the muddy waters of politics." Call it naive, but I was raised to treat others as you wish to be treated, the Second Commandment to some. I was not long into this mandate before I became disappointed at how many members checked their principles at the Commissionaires' desk. Or do they?

When the NDP chose Gary Burrill as their Leader last winter, I thought, wow, the Third Party maybe will rise above the muddy waters - that he would bring to his caucus and Party the principles of his past calling, being integrity and to restore decorum. But forget that. He checked his collar, too, at the Commissionaires' desk, traipsing the marginalized, and taking advantage of people's challenges to try to score points, sanctioning nasty accusations and social media ads using vulnerable seniors as pawns. My mother happened to be one of those seniors. My response to this is to borrow the well-used words of his elected colleagues, shame.

The Leader of the Official Opposition thinks that Thursday's Speech from the Throne is thin soup. Well, Mr. Speaker, I happen to like thin soup. I like to make soup, and I'm a very good soup-maker. I make soup from scratch at least once a week, and I can tell you that the base of a good soup is in the broth. The flavour and the nutrients are in the broth. The longer it simmers, the better it tends to be. As a matter of fact, the best soups do not need much fat or filler, and neither does a government.

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With that, I will take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER « » : I'd like to remind all members of the House to show caution with respect to calling into question the integrity of other members.

I'd also like to request that the member for Lunenburg table two items from her speech. I understand that you referred to a letter with respect to refugees, if you could table that and also table the document where you were quoting the Premier.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : The Speech from the Throne usually lays out a vision for the government, the direction that the government wants to take the province. In fact, in Graham Steele's columns, he suggests that the Speech from the Throne comes right from the Premier's office, so it's actually the Premier's vision of where he wants the province to go. It's from the highest echelons of government. We didn't see that this time, Mr. Speaker. In this Speech from the Throne, we didn't see a plan of where this province is headed. It was no plan. Some may say, hashtag no plan, because that's the common theme with this government.

What we did hear in the Speech from the Throne was kind of a recap, a recap of where the government believes they have done well. I guess that's the best way to put that. We saw a bit of a recap of the last three years - a recap, mind you, with some important details missing, Mr. Speaker.

One of the details that we like to talk about on this side of the House in detail is the economy. I know the government likes to refer to the economy in sound bites, but we like to talk about it in detail.

I went back, Mr. Speaker, and looked at the platform that the Liberal Government tabled when it was campaigning. In 2013 the Premier promised Nova Scotians to be a responsible manager of our economy. To put it as it was referred to in the platform, it was referred to as "responsibility first." I think that was a play on some of the campaign slogans at the time, which were "Nova Scotia first" but this was "responsibility first."

Doesn't that sound great, Mr. Speaker? Doesn't that just sound so nice? But did they do it? Did they follow through with a plan, a responsible plan, to put the economy first? The answer is clear. As the Auditor General reminded us just the other day, for the last three years, government spending has gone up, taxes have been increasing, and yet our economy remains stagnant. We're paying more for less. The Premier didn't put responsibility first. He has, in most cases, put politics first.

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What have Nova Scotians really got? They've gotten higher taxes, and they've gotten fewer services. When we look back at the governance of this province, some people would say it's just more of the same. Well, we can't have more of the same in this province. We need something better. Some Nova Scotians may ask themselves, so what? It hasn't hurt me, so what? It's what we've come to expect from government. But if it hasn't hurt you yet, you either don't realize or it will, is what I would submit today.

I know that Nova Scotians will remember the Premier campaigning when he promised to strengthen the film industry, when he promised to provide a doctor for every Nova Scotian, when he promised to lower electricity rates, when he promised to get an affordable, sustainable, fair ferry deal. I know Nova Scotians will remember the Premier promising all those things and I know that when they look objectively at the Speech from the Throne, they will see that it was pretty thin on those topics, on those major promises that the Premier made.

These are the things he promised, and unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, when we ask how this government has delivered on those, the answer is clear. The answer is, not even close. This government has wasted three years, and millions of dollars, and these major promises are unfulfilled - that's what we're looking at. It's old school politics. It's more of the same, and we need better.

Now we are expected to look at this Speech from the Throne, see a couple of promises in there and take them at face value. As we are asked to do that, we ask ourselves, do we believe it? Do we believe these promises in the Speech from the Throne? Will they actually follow through on these promises? Will these promises make the lives of Nova Scotians better? That's what Nova Scotians will ask themselves. My answer is that we should all have our doubts, because the track record is fully in place.

It wasn't that long ago that the Premier campaigned, and he went to people in the film industry, and he said if you vote for me, I will sweeten the credit, I will support you. And guess what? They believed him, and they did it, and they voted for him in droves. Then one of the first orders of business of this government when they were newly elected was not to sweeten the Film Tax Credit but rather to extend it. He extended the Film Tax Credit as is to 2020. The minister submitted a bill, the government rammed it through the House, and he went to those people and he said, I know I told you I would sweeten it. I did not sweeten it but I have extended it, I'll keep it in place. Very kind, Mr. Speaker. Then, the next time this Film Tax Credit came up in discussions, it was completely cut, gone; door slammed, we're taking it away.

Now, is that the way that this Premier wants to treat Nova Scotians? Promise them something, dangle a credit, and then gone, because when you seize power I guess you have a short memory. That's what's happened here. That was a big, big reversal. Thousands of people lost their jobs, thousands of people wondering what happened to that Liberal campaign promise. Is that responsible government? Is that Nova Scotians first? Is that putting the economy in a responsible place? I think we all know the answer - and I, in fact, see some members nodding furiously. They know the answer too.

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The Premier then promised that there would be a doctor for every Nova Scotian. Now, as a person campaigning in the province, how much more can you pull at the heartstrings of Nova Scotians other than to say to them, I promise you every Nova Scotian will have a doctor. Now, that's quite a significant thing to say to Nova Scotians and a very big promise, possibly the kind of thing that would make people switch their political affiliations. It would definitely make people cling to it - they want to believe a doctor for every Nova Scotian.

Well, we know the rest of the story on that one. And now, three years into this mandate - three long years into this mandate - they are now saying it'll take five years. That wasn't the promise. There's a word for those types of promises. It's old-school politics; it's what people have come to expect from politicians. It's not the truth, it's not the truth. A very, very big reversal.

People from Cape Breton to Pictou County to all over Nova Scotia are having massive community meetings to talk about the doctor shortage. Why are so many people turning up at these meetings? The reason is there are 100,000 Nova Scotians who don't have a doctor. There's not a doctor for every Nova Scotian; it's not even close. They don't even care. It's just a promise. Just a vote-for-me grab. That's the record of this government.

That's what we see from this government as if it's the most normal thing in the world. It's not to me, it's not to the 100,000 Nova Scotians, it's not to the thousands of Nova Scotians in the film industry, it's not to the members on this side of the House. It's not the most normal thing. It is politics over people.

I could go on with what happened with the Pharmacare. Massive, massive changes proposed to the Pharmacare system that would have endangered thousands of our seniors, literally endanger them and put their health at risk. Thankfully, a moment of common sense in the end, possibly after it was really flushed out of the Public Accounts meeting. Serious stuff, Mr. Speaker, politics over people.

How about this one, Mr. Speaker? How about this one - the big promise? The promise to break Nova Scotia Power's monopoly and to lower energy prices? It gets better on that one because this government will actually look into the camera and say we have broken the monopoly.

Well, I don't know about you, Mr. Speaker, but I know where I get my power and I know what my options are. The monopoly is well intact and they may not like to be asked about that, they may not want to speak about that, but Nova Scotians know - a big, big promise and yet electricity costs have not come down. Nova Scotians still pay some of the highest energy costs in the country. It puts our companies at a disadvantage, and it hurts Nova Scotians, and Nova Scotia Power still controls the electricity market in this province. That's a fact. It's called politics first, Mr. Speaker.

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Now, how about a sustainable ferry deal? Let's see how that plays out, and we're already hearing the talk from Portland and other ports about the things that have happened down there. We had the blackout dates that have happened in Portland - I'll be interested to see which direction they're going, because they're going higher, in my estimation. It's not a sustainable deal. It's a deal that when this Party formed government, they thought they had a political winner on their hands and they rushed out to sign what was actually the NDP-negotiated deal, without thinking about the long-term implications - just standing in front of the camera and taking a few pictures, as the Premier likes to say so often.

They have failed on their ability to deliver a sustainable, affordable, fair ferry deal - failed. Now we are starting to see what the deal actually entails, and it has been quite shocking to Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, and we all know some of those details. So this is not a deal that put Nova Scotia first. It's a deal that puts politics first as always, and this government's Speech from the Throne is unfortunately more of the same - promise nice things and avoid really dealing with the real problems, put them out there further until after an election.

The point is, Mr. Speaker, for those reading the Throne Speech, the advice is: buyer beware. This is a government that has proven itself unable to think through real, significant issues, and the solutions. They are not thought out, and that's why we see things like the Pharmacare deal, which, thankfully, they had the good sense to realize that it wasn't going to work. Some of the other things they've just plowed ahead with too many times.

It's a sound-bite government saying what they think people want to hear, but without any real plan or any real ability to execute it. It's a short-sighted government, Mr. Speaker - which brings me to education.

I talked about this Liberal Government doing less with more, getting more tax revenue than has ever been collected from Nova Scotians, collecting more and more and doing less with it. This is a government that does less with more - at the same time that they say to our teachers every single day, do more with less. Surely, Mr. Speaker, you can see the irony in that.

I was having dinner table chats last night with my own kids and they are starting to hear what's happening here. Kids are frightened for their own reasons - how they see things through their own perspective. My daughter is in Grade 12, she's worried about her year. She's starting to hear rumours that there may be a break in the year. They were talking about some of the things that they're hearing, that teachers may stop doing some of the clubs and stop coaching some of the teams and these types of things. My daughter very astutely said she didn't believe that would happen because she couldn't imagine her teacher stepping aside from some of those responsibilities because they care too much about his dad. That was my daughter's assessment. Interesting, from a 17-year-old - that much more astute than the collection of politicians we have across the floor from us today.

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Kids are worried, and rightfully so. The real issue here is that the academic-focused classroom is disappearing. It's disappearing to the chagrin of teachers. Teachers want to teach. That's what they want to do. For years now, they've been asking for somebody upstream to listen to their concerns. They're not getting that, and they're definitely not getting it from this Premier or his government. They're concerned about the time constraints. They're concerned about the ability to get to every child. They don't have enough prep time and they don't have enough valuable instructional time in the classroom.

Three years ago, maybe four years ago, we were talking about education one night, and a friend of mine said, come to my classroom of Primary students. You will see kids screaming at teachers. You will see kids kicking teachers, throwing things. You'll be amazed by what you see. I did visit that classroom, and I was amazed by what I'd seen. All I could say was, God bless you.

That's not enough. Two times now, back in December, the teachers voted "no" to a deal. They sent a message that they wanted to talk about how to improve the learning environment, and for nine or 10 months, this government refused to listen to them - went back to them with exactly the same deal, except with a promise that we'll look at the learning conditions later. This Premier, this government, have brought us to the point that kids and families are sitting around their dinner tables worried about their school year. That's what this government has done. They can say, we're not willing to talk - we'll wait and see what the next move is. That's a responsible government in the eyes of this cast, Mr. Speaker - we'll wait and see what someone else's move is, and then we'll react to it after having created the situation. It's really shameful.

It's really disturbing to Nova Scotians, and what we see between the department and the boards and the classrooms is massive disconnects. Many times we see the members opposite hiding behind, well, that's the board, or that's somebody else. And then we see boards trying to react to mandates that have come down from the department - talk about some of those things that come down. We see a bunch of shells moving around and nobody with the courage to take responsibility for what they're seeing.

You can talk to a teacher who would have 30 students in their class, and they may have six or eight of them on an IPP and 10 or 12 of them on adaptations. Imagine trying to prepare that many lesson plans to reach that many kids when you have no time allocated for it, and you have a Premier who doesn't want to talk about those things, or maybe we'll talk about them later; maybe we'll strike a committee and we'll talk about them later.

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In the meantime, teachers are asked to do more and more reporting, but there's no allocation made to do it. Imagine your day is completely full and you're already overworked, and then the boss comes in and says, now I want you to do these five other tasks - I'm not going to give you any time to do them, but I want you to do them.

The Premier has a massive do-over opportunity here. When the first vote was in December and the next one wasn't until October, that was a massive do-over opportunity which he decided not to take, and still in this environment the Premier is pushing down more manufactured chaos on the teachers.

I mentioned the number of IPPs that a teacher may have in their classroom. Just over the last couple of weeks, Mr. Speaker, I think you are aware of how this has been a topical discussion and teachers have been asking for help with more time and more opportunities. Just over the last couple of weeks, guess what the reaction of the Premier through the department was? To push down some changes to the way IPPs are administered. So the department has now come in October - by the way, the school year starts in September, it's now October - the department has come and they revised some of the systems around IPPs. They've dropped that in there with no training, and I've been told that some of these changes could be up to an hour per IPP.

If you have one class where you have six or eight people on IPPs, that's six or eight hours. You have other classes, you have kids on IPPs, it's hours and hours to be dropped on to people, in October people who are already saying, and we know are overstretched and overworked, to drop that on. That is extremely thoughtless and it's even more reprehensible to do it in this environment. You have to ask the question: Why? And I suspect the Premier would answer: Because I can. That is the root of the issue with what's happening in our education system.

A very similar thing happened with coding. We know the government introduced coding in the classrooms, and what they did is a PD day for all grades. What they did at the PD day was they showed the teachers, here's a $5,000 kit that was provided to each school and then they asked the teachers to play with the technology for a couple of hours, to learn it and become masters of it and go into the classroom.

You really can't make this stuff up, Mr. Speaker. How ill-conceived - how you can take a good idea and destroy it with no plan? Instead what they did is they've introduced to the teachers technology and coding outcomes that they must report on in November. So here teachers, here are the technology outcomes you must report on in November, but they didn't provide any - listen carefully, because you can't make this up - they didn't provide any curriculum or standards to correlate with the outcomes. It's just, teachers, do it - pretty thoughtless. Pretty thoughtless, and that is why we are seeing what we are seeing, because this government won't listen.

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We can talk about more teachers hired and most of those teachers are in the elementary schools. What is happening in our high schools? When kids come through the system, maybe they had EAs all through elementary, then they get to high school and there is no longer an EA - pretty thoughtless, Mr. Speaker. That's what our teachers are being asked to deal with.

When you think about some of the changes that are made, particularly a change around attendance policy - I talked to a professor at the community college who said he had a first-year student in his class who has come into class every second day or something. He sat him down and said, you have to come to class. The student said, no, I don't. You can't fail me. That's what the student's belief was, you can't fail me. That was in the elementary schools and in the high schools, but when you get to community college, guess what? That's what the system has socialized that young fellow to believe. When he gets a job, he probably thinks he can't get fired.

There's just so many things, and for this government and the Premier to stand up and say, we're not talking about that now; we'll talk about that later, or that's not an issue. It's quite laughable. What we're already seeing is teacher burnout, mountains of clerical duties that they have to do, mountains of standardized assessments, absenteeism - things that do not improve student learning. It's time for somebody to start to focus on them.

My colleague the Leader of the Official Opposition said last week that there has never been a strike in this province. There has never been a teachers strike in this province. He talked about all the things that the world would have experienced through that time frame, and there has never been a strike. Here we are, and this government has it right at the brink.

It's time for changes in the education system. The time is now. A teacher told me they pulled out their schedule, and it showed this period free, this period lunch. They showed me the schedule, and they said, Tim, that could be my schedule for 20 years ago because nothing has changed in the education system. Guess what, folks? The world has changed. People have changed. Technology has changed. It's time for the Premier to take the blinders off, step up, show some responsible government, show some leadership, and make the changes that are necessary by supporting our kids, by supporting our teachers, and by supporting Nova Scotians.

Let's finally put Nova Scotians first instead of Liberals first.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. LISA ROBERTS « » : I want to start by thanking my colleague the MLA for Queens-Shelburne. Last week he asked me if I was ready for this moment and said, you'll never forget your first speech. I'm hereby blaming him for the unusual case of anxiety and writer's block I experienced over the past weekend.

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It is a pleasure to rise in the House and to share with you why I am so honoured to represent Halifax Needham. Many of you probably know it. Maybe in recent years you've enjoyed a restaurant meal on Gottingen Street or on Agricola Street. My most frequent haunts in the Hydrostone Market are the ones I discovered in the 1990s when I first lived in Halifax, a Newfoundland student who desperately wanted to get away to a big city that was neither too big nor too far away from home.

Of course, Halifax became home, but more specifically, the North End of Halifax became home. I spent time away after my undergrad at Dal, but the best decision I ever made was to move back, not because I had a job and not because my family was here but because Halifax felt like the perfect size for me, a place where I could look forward to bumping into people two times and then three and then often enough again until we became friends.

The next best decision I made was to buy a house on Fuller Terrace, pretty much smack dab in the middle of Halifax Needham, on my own. I was so lucky. It was 2003, and I was almost finished my master's degree. I didn't have a job, just casual freelance work, but I had a strong feeling that I needed to claim this place. I bought the cheapest house on the Halifax peninsula that didn't need to be torn down. The roof was ready to give, but I got that done just before Hurricane Juan hit. My parents worried that the house was a lemon. Though the mortgage was small by today's standards, it was still more money than they had ever owed.

But I knew Fuller Terrace. When I briefly lived in the South End during my master's, I would regularly make the trek to Julien's in the Hydrostone on my bike, and I always made a point to travel north along Fuller Terrace, enjoy the shade of that tree canopy and envy the neighbours talking to each other on sidewalks and front porches.

I will ever be mindful of my privilege. My parents co-signed on that mortgage and gave me a loan to beef up the down payment. I graduated in 1995 without student debt, and my parents and scholarships helped through my master's, too. Lucky - not deserved, just lucky.

I became a regular at the North End Diner, I got invited to a birthday party when my next-door neighbour turned four, and I got interested in the dynamics of the bigger neighbourhood around me. In 2004 I produced a CBC Radio documentary for Maritime Magazine that looked at Joseph Howe and Oxford schools and how African Nova Scotian parents, teachers, and children felt about those schools. It was called Of Colour and Class. I was young in my journalism career, and it would not stand up as great documentary-making, but in the course of it, I met Marcus James, who is still a community leader, at the North Branch Library, and I interviewed Maureen MacDonald in her constituency office at the Bloomfield Centre.

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Fast forward 12 years. I don't live on Fuller Terrace, but I rent that sweet house to a woman who's not very different from me as I was in 2003, but who would have a very hard time buying in Halifax Needham. Joseph Howe School has survived the chopping block a couple of times and is now at full enrolment, thanks to an influx of more than 50 new Syrian children. A couple of weeks ago I met with the principal to talk about the sad state of its outdoor play space.

The Bloomfield Centre has been shuttered for a few years now, but thanks to the continued energy and leadership from residents who live on Fuller Terrace and Bloomfield and nearby, there are some clear principles for how that site should be redeveloped and influenced by the community.

I'm still learning the dynamics of my neighbourhood. In January 2014 I began to convene a monthly meeting of non-profit and public sector and social-enterprise superheroes of all sorts who work in Halifax Needham. For a long time that meeting, called the North End Roundtable, happened at Veith House, but it grew and grew until the board room was not large enough. Now Marcus James chairs the roundtable at the Halifax North Memorial Library, known affectionately and to all as the North Branch.

Through those meetings - and I took notes at maybe two dozen of them - I got to know Halifax Needham in a unique way. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to share with the members here a virtual tour of Halifax Needham by highlighting some of the organizations that I got to know through the North End Roundtable, travelling north to south. At the far north, of course, there are Africville and the Africville Museum. Here is an organization that honours the story of some of Halifax's longest-standing and most resilient residents. Africville is a National Historic Site, yet the museum is not on transit and there is no safe pedestrian route to get there. These are real challenges that the leadership and board of the Africville Museum face as they try to develop programming that will appeal to Africville descendants, to Nova Scotians wanting to learn our whole history, and to visitors to Nova Scotia.

Up over the hill, tucked in at the back of the Nova Scotia Community College IT Campus, which I had the pleasure of visiting this morning during their open house, is the Leeds Street Child Care Centre, one of several valued non-profit child care centres in Halifax Needham. Like the Needham child care centre, located in Needham Recreation Centre, the Leeds Street Child Care Centre saw its funding from the province decrease this year.

Next door I'll briefly mention the church I attend, St. Margaret's of Scotland. Clergy and volunteers from a number of churches, including Mulgrave Park United Baptist and the now-closed United Memorial, participated in the North End Roundtable because, with large facilities and dwindling congregations, they want to strengthen community and be strengthened by community.

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This Fall, St. Margaret's of Scotland started the first phase of their community garden, several beds of which will be gardened by NSCC students, and one by the Leeds Street Child Care Centre. Another will be dedicated to the food bank at St. Mark's. Newcomers to Halifax will garden some beds as well, through a connection with ISANS.

That community garden is the newest in Halifax Needham, and that makes it, if I'm not missing any, the ninth, including the amazing school gardens at St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay and St. Catherine's Elementary. One of the longest established gardens is next to the water tower between Robie Street and Prescott Street, and just across Prescott Street is the Prescott Group, a non-profit organization that works with 167 clients with intellectual disabilities and a wide network of partners in the private sector who provide employment in the community. Private sector companies hire the Prescott Group to do contracts for silk screening, sorting of second-hand goods and electronics, sewing of customized bags, and more. When I was executive director at Veith House, we bought our baked goods at Prescott Group.

For the people who go there every day to work in the kitchen or in the sewing room or in another workroom, Prescott Group is both a workplace and a community. For the management of Prescott Group, the board and its executive director, knowing that they are the community for those clients is a great responsibility, and they have been searching for more than a decade for a long-term home because they cannot afford the space that they currently lease and which will eventually come on the market. That is a common theme across Halifax Needham as property prices increase - where are people going to end up?

Now, back towards the harbour from the water tower - and let's stop for a moment at Needham Centre. Needham Centre belongs to the Halifax Regional Municipality. It's a hub in Halifax Needham and an incredibly important crossroads. Its summer camps provide employment for dozens of local people, not to mention affordable fund child care for parents in Halifax Needham. And if it weren't for the Needham pool, fewer North End Halifax kids would learn to swim. Some of my best chats with residents happen on the pool deck. A large and loyal group of seniors attend aquacise classes there in the morning.

Ever since I got engaged to my community, I've heard that Needham is going to close or that Halifax will rebuild it, but without the pool. As a politician for that area, it's a no-brainer to commit to fighting for that community centre with a pool included. Just down the hill is Mulgrave Park, part of Metro Regional Housing. Inside several converted units is the Mulgrave Park Caring and Learning Centre, a family resource centre. Last week, the Minister of Community Services spoke about the importance of family resource centres and taking a preventive approach to child welfare. I wholeheartedly agree and am so glad to now have the Parenting Journey Program in Halifax Needham based at the Mulgrave Park Caring and Learning Centre.

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Phoenix Youth & Community Centre occupies another couple of units in Mulgrave Park and offers pre-employment training, mentorship, homework help, and more for youth in the park. A kilometre away, in the Hydrostone, Phoenix Youth Outreach Program offers counselling for children aged 11 and up, along with their parents. But before we climb up from the harbour, I must mention Wee Care Developmental Centre, another non-profit child care centre but with a difference.

Wee Care offers child care for babies to pre-schoolers with special needs, and also typically developing children. It employs a part-time physiotherapist and a part-time occupational therapist, speech language pathologist, and resource teacher on-site. And enrolment at Wee Care means parents can go back to work, do normal life instead of running back and forth to the IWK Health Centre. Children get therapy where it makes sense. They learn to feed themselves at snack time with their friends. Yet, while those children come off the caseloads of IWK therapists, Wee Care does not get any funding from the Department of Health and Wellness, and so its management, the executive director and its board, fundraise constantly and to exhaustion to provide those therapeutic services for young Nova Scotians with special needs.

Just next door of course is Veith House, a neighbourhood hub with a part-time preschool that's been operating for 45 years; a supervised access program that is essential to the provision of family justice in Nova Scotia; a trustee program for clients on income assistance; a community kitchen; a boardroom with regular drop-in by donation; yoga classes; a coffee pot that is always on, a roster of dedicated, generous, kind-hearted volunteers, and amazing staff. That's where I was executive director until August 1st. Mr. Speaker, it is still the most challenging job I have ever had and I pledge to never forget how hard and how creatively leaders in the non-profit sector work.

Up the steep hill and over a couple of blocks to Ward 5 Neighborhood Centre. Executive Director Doug MacDonald rarely makes it to the North End roundtable because he's probably prepping a lunch for a crowd of Halifax Needham seniors or tidying up after breakfast for a crowd of Halifax Needham children before they head to school at St. Joseph A. McKay. I've eaten two meals there since I was elected on August 30th.

Around the corner, tucked upstairs in the Russell Food Building is Wonder'neath. I can't say enough about Wonder'neath. It's a place run by artists where every person who walks through the door is welcomed and supported to discover their own creativity. There are snacks, there are young and old, single and coupled, black and white and indigenous and new immigrant people enjoying themselves, engaged in the work of being human. Silk-screening and sewing and needle-felting and drilling and also visiting with each other.

Everything about Wonder'neath is perfect - except that the artists don't make a living wage, they could be kicked out of a space if the building is sold for redevelopment, and then where are artists supposed to find studio space in Halifax Needham anymore? And it's on a second floor, so it's not accessible.

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Okay, I'm almost at Almon Street. Let's jump to Northwood. It's another non-profit, it's an important provider of low-income housing in Halifax Needham. It's an innovator. In 2015, it opened the first mental health program within a seniors' facility in Atlantic Canada. Northwood, of course, also operates a long-term care facility and, as in all long-term care facilities, management and staff are doing the best they can to provide a dignified life for seniors, something that has been made more difficult by the cuts brought in by this government. Mr. Speaker, the management, board and staff of Northwood deserve our respect and our gratitude.

I'm crossing North Street now. Metro Non-Profit Housing Association is at the corner of Buddy Daye and Gottingen Street. Over 100 people come through the doors on an average morning at their drop-in. With six buildings nestled into neighbourhoods, Metro Non-Profit provides 86 tenants with affordable, supportive housing, using a unique approach that emphasizes community development within its buildings. They also help people move from homelessness to housed through Halifax and Dartmouth housing help, and support more than 300 people with their trusteeship program.

Across Gottingen Street is the Uniacke Centre for Community Development and Centreline Studios. These, again, are spaces where people can use their creativity, develop their entrepreneurship, be mentored and be mentors. Lindell Smith, the new municipal councillor for District 8 was a co-founder of Centreline Studios, along with Sobaz Benjamin. These are superheroes of our community, showing leadership, holding young people and nurturing relationships to let them imagine paths into a positive future.

Around the corner on Uniacke Street is the North End Parent Resource Centre - another family resource centre - so important. Nearby is the community Y where Halifax Needham residents can access employment counselling, and there's a lot of basketball but more important for kids, this is a space where they learn they are important, that they are loved.

Hope Blooms, on Cornwallis Street now, but with their garden and greenhouse down on Brunswick. Hope Blooms is an inspiration to people across Halifax Needham and beyond. As Jessie Jollymore, the founder of Hope Blooms often says, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

This summer in the middle of my campaign, I had the chance to attend the movie screening organized by the amazing North Branch Library, which I'll talk about on another occasion, where the movie was projected onto the side of Hope Blooms Greenhouse. Before the screening, young entrepreneurs sold salad greens by the compostable box. They'd grown this food in Halifax Needham. The end product of Hope Blooms is not just salad dressing or fresh vegetables; it's confidence, and it's pride. It's young people who are at ease serving customers, expressing their ideas, and working collaboratively for long-term goals.

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Hope Blooms has inspired other non-profits to look to social enterprise. At Veith House, I was a co-founder of Future Roots, which recruits, trains, and supervises North End youth to provide services like yard maintenance, weeding, and snow shovelling to older neighbours in Halifax Needham. I'll happily give a shout-out to Common Good Solutions, introduced by the Minister of Business earlier today, because they were crucial in helping us get that social enterprise started.

Back on Gottingen Street, the North End Community Health Centre is a crucial agency in Halifax Needham with a multi-disciplinary team and more than 24,000 patient encounters a year. In particular, I highlight Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH), which collaborates with other non-profit agencies like Adsum House, Direction 180, Shelter Nova Scotia, and Metro Non-Profit Housing which provide appropriate flexible care for some of the most vulnerable Nova Scotians. I thank the Minister of Health and Wellness and the Nova Scotia Health Authority for working with the North End Community Health Centre to arrive at a resolution to the centre's failing roof, a long-term lease at the Major General Donald J. MacDonald building announced last month.

Mr. Speaker, there are still other agencies too that deserve mention in Halifax Needham: the Black Business Initiative, Bryony House, the Youth Project, LOVE, the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute, the Black Educators, Family SOS and all the ones I'm forgetting. The non-profit sector is vibrant and responsive and delivers value to Nova Scotians. It provides meaningful employment, valuable volunteer and training opportunities, and services that Nova Scotians need.

I haven't mentioned all the other participants in the North End Roundtable, as public sector and private sector partners and individual volunteers have also sat around that table. I want to thank in particular the United Way of Halifax, which supported my part-time salary when I first convened the North End Round Table as part of a project of the Community Justice Society and which supports many of the agencies I mentioned.

I could give another virtual tour of small independent businesses in Halifax Needham. Those are businesses and entrepreneurs that I patronize and which support - by donating, by volunteering, and by serving on boards of directors - the non-profit sector. At the level of our neighbourhood, we work together.

I worry about the fate of non-profits and artists which may be priced out of Halifax Needham. I worry about small businesses which have seen their property taxes skyrocket out of all proportion with any increase in their revenues. I worry about renters who have seen their rents go up and up and affordable units disappear and who pay more each year on incomes that are fixed or just low. I worry about young people, young families, and newcomers who will not have the opportunity I did to make Halifax Needham their home.

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I will channel that worry into work in this Legislature and in my constituency to leverage the power that exists in good ideas, strong relationships, and collaboration to address the needs that exist in Halifax Needham, and to add my effort to the efforts of so many Halifax Needham non-profit and volunteer superheroes to protect and build the vibrancy of the district that I am so honoured to represent.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

HON. JOANNE BERNARD « » : It's my pleasure today to stand in my place and discuss where I live, where I work, and where I've gained friends and valuable experiences and expanded my love for public service.

The riding of Dartmouth North is as diverse as its people. Smaller neighbourhoods such as Lancaster Ridge, Crichton Park, Wallace Heights, Demetrius Lane, Highfield Park, Albro Lake, and Mic Mac all comprise this riding, reaching from the shores of Lake Banook to the northern tip of the Burnside Industrial Park. The area is comprised of people from all walks of life, experiences, challenges, and circumstances.

Over the years, the negative stereotypes saddled to North Dartmouth have demoralized an already-struggling community. Over my years of working and living in the community, I could see the burden of reputation wearing on the residents, community organizations, and business. Quite simply, the community became the butt of jokes surrounding crime and apathy, while becoming the chosen place of "where not to live in HRM."

I knew all of this when deciding to put my name on a ballot. I saw it every day. I heard it at the doorstep, I heard it at meetings, I heard it in the media. I also heard something else - and more importantly, I listened. People wanted change. People wanted to take back their neighbourhoods, fight the stereotypes, and resist the labels. The desire to step up, engage, and make a difference was there. The spark was there.

Enter Between the Bridges. In our first year of government, Ministers of Health and Wellness, Education and Early Childhood Development, Justice, Labour and Advanced Education, and myself, as Minister of Community Services, took a leap of faith and focused on the concept of collective impact in Dartmouth North - more specifically, the 20-block area between the bridges.

Unique to Nova Scotia, the concept of collective impact looks at supporting families from cradle to career. It brings together people with diverse experiences, knowledge, and skills, and resources to focus on priorities in the community. By working together, collective impact aims to create improvements in the areas of student success, healthy minds and bodies, and caring communities.

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The first year was spent holding multiple information sessions on what the here-and-now issues were for the people living between the bridges. They were very well attended. Hundreds of people came out to tell us what their struggles were in all areas of life as it related to government, quality of life, and challenges. More importantly, they told us what they saw as opportunities.

As the work was supported in the first year by staff from five different departments and the work of myself and constituency staff, it became clear: collective impact had found a home in Dartmouth North, and we needed to plant the roots permanently. This is where the United Way and the Nova Scotia School Board Association have provided the backbone function to what will happen with Between the Bridges in the next few years. An investment by our government of $500,000 in the last budget ensures its sustainability. Collective impact is here to stay in Nova Scotia, and I cannot tell you how proud I am of my government in being innovative and bold on this social policy direction.

Here are some of the direct outcomes we have seen in the infancy of Between the Bridges. We have seen youth in our community step up with poems, videos, and testimonies on how great their community is - youth like Cheyenne Harding, who with Eric Pardy was chosen to sit on the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development's youth advisory panel; youth like Kayley Dixon, whose spoken word, performed at Northbrook Centre, has gone viral with over 30 million views; youth like Carlos Beals, whose leadership in the anti-violence movement CeaseFire inspired him to run for city council in our district.

Good things are happening in Dartmouth North, Mr. Speaker. Under the leadership of our Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, who has come to my riding and met with parents twice surrounding their concerns of low outcomes and even lower graduation rates, new programs now exist in the Harbourview school and the Boys and Girls Club. STAR, or Share the Art of Reading, has assisted over 40 students to discover the love of reading through artistic means, and I am so pleased that this program has received more support to continue from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

A long-time goal of the Dartmouth Family Centre, the Dartmouth Community Food Centre opened its doors over a year ago and has created a nurturing space for sharing cooking, socialization, and volunteer engagement, while centred on the art of growing food and healthy meals. Their impact on North Dartmouth has been tremendous. The Dartmouth Family Centre has seen a substantial increase in provincial funding since we formed government. As part of our campaign commitment of $2 million per year, every single family resource centre in the province received an increase in funding of $75,000 per year. The government's expansion of Parenting Journey included Dartmouth North, and this additional $63,000 program now exists in our community for the very first time, having a much-needed impact on families struggling with parenting challenges.

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Mr. Speaker, the reason I put my name on the ballot was fuelled by the previous government's lack of political will to move forward with changes in the Children and Family Services Act. I'm proud of my work. I'm proud of the department staff, of foster parents, and of child advocates who recognized that the old Act was not putting the best interests of the child forward. I am proud of the over 100 amendments that were passed in this Chamber last December.

I'm proud of the $1.2-million increase in investment in taking Parenting Journey from 12 sites to 27 sites, including, for the first time ever, Parenting Journey tailored to the African Nova Scotian community, the Acadian community and the Mi'kmaq community. I am also very proud of the introduction and the launch of Families Plus in Sydney as the first pilot project to be expanded to Halifax, where a very small caseload works around the clock with parents who are in crisis and at risk of losing their children into care. I'm very proud of these investments and the changes in child welfare in Nova Scotia.

Another vibrant part of our community is Demetrius Lane, a predominantly African Nova Scotian community largely residing in social housing, which had been neglected for many years. I've worked diligently with the Demetrius Lane Tenants Association to identify and deliver on much-needed structural, safety and maintenance needs.

I'm proud to be the Minister of Housing Nova Scotia. I'm proud that this government has invested over $42 million from the deferred federal contributions, which went towards such things as increasing maintenance needs; revitalizing our seniors' manors, which had been ignored for at least two decades - particularly in HRM; and helping seniors stay in their homes longer. I'm proud of the investments we've made. I'm very proud and very excited about the way forward and the future investments which will be made in the coming months.

Perhaps one of my proudest efforts has been working alongside Josephine Downey as, together, we developed a recreational program for the kids of Demetrius Lane. For the last three summers, with funding from Housing Nova Scotia, this program has been tremendously successful in teaching children productive and co-operative play and pride in their community, and in fostering neighbourhood connections.

One of my proudest moments being a MLA was seeing to the long-overlooked funding gap of my former employer Alice Housing, which has both shelter and services in North Dartmouth. Solidifying funding for Healing the Bruises and their operational deficit has been very satisfying for me and a tremendous accomplishment for this government. More importantly, it has allowed that organization to do what it does best: provide long-term, second-stage housing and support for women and children leaving domestic violence.

Another organization that has recently planted roots in Dartmouth North is Family SOS, with their Honey Beez project, which I was pleased to invest a further $10,000 into so that they can not only expand in my community but also to other public housing neighbourhoods, most recently at Greystone, in Spryfield. I loved visiting and watching the kids hurry from school to perform their duties with the two hives located in the Guy Jacobs Community Garden on Jackson Road.

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In the next few months, we will see the results of the Dartmouth North sexual violence prevention grant given to Avalon Sexual Assault Centre but administered completely with the girls and young women of Dartmouth North. As part of the innovation grants of the province's Breaking the Silence strategy, Avalon has spearheaded their project, Stronger Together, with many conversations and projects focused on sexual violence and the experience of young girls in our community.

Some of these conversations involve participants from the Take Action Society, who live up to their name every day in Dartmouth North. These women, men and youth simply take action on challenges in our community. Empowerment is the key to their success. I have been so pleased to be able to financially support this group through community grants so that their work is now sustainable and forever free of charge to the people they serve. Whether it be community clean-up, yoga classes, cooking classes, martial arts training, partnering with other organizations on projects, or giving out Christmas bags at the bus terminal, the folks of Take Action represent what is the best of our community - identifying a problem or challenge, finding the solution, and more importantly, taking action. Many of these women have become friends, and I absolutely love my Monday mornings of knitting and conversation with Take Action. Yes, I said knitting. In the months that I have gone there, I have managed to complete one scarf, and I am now on my second scarf. I was absolutely floored when, last month, they made me an honorary member with the gift of their signature green hoodie. In their words, no politician has ever gotten this honour, and I was speechless.

Further north in our community is the amazing Freedom Foundation, a recovery house for men living with substance abuse. I have worked with Executive Director Joe Gibson for many years and admire his 30-year commitment to the program and his unwavering faith in the over-1,000 men who have walked through the doors of Freedom Foundation. In the past two years, our government has provided funding for a housing coordinator within the program to help men transition into their community. In the very near future, and this is very exciting, Freedom Foundation will make a tremendous step forward as they partner with Housing Nova Scotia on providing second-stage housing across the street from the recovery house. This is a tremendous accomplishment of staff, their board, and Housing Nova Scotia staff, who have all worked diligently to see this project through.

Another project our government has supported has been the development of the Dartmouth Housing Helps office, in the building which houses both my constituency office and the Dartmouth Learning Network. This office has been instrumental in assisting constituents find housing, advocating to landlords, working with both DCS and Housing Nova Scotia, and providing information on tenants' rights. It's a very successful project of Housing Nova Scotia and the Public Good Society of Dartmouth.

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On the topic of housing, as minister responsible for Housing Nova Scotia, I have aggressively encouraged private developers to partner more with Housing Nova Scotia for mixed-use, mixed-income development. Recently, a development agreement was approved by HRM for a 70-unit building on Wyse Road, of which 40 units will be designated affordable with a $1.125 million investment by Housing Nova Scotia. This is the wave of the future for affordable housing in Nova Scotia. Housing Nova Scotia is on the cusp of some very exciting program changes, pilot programs, builds, and enhancements of housing affordability. This project in Dartmouth North is a perfect example of how the private sector and government can work together to provide affordable housing for people on low or fixed incomes.

A further by-product of Between the Bridges has been a recent coalition formed to explore the need for a community health centre in Dartmouth North. The community engagement has been second to none, and I am pleased to have been asked to co-chair this grassroots initiative. Between the Bridges has done this. It has instilled a sense of action, a sense of pride, and a sense of hope. I am very proud every day to be the representative for Dartmouth North.

As I close on this reflection, I can honestly say that the last three years have been interesting. I knew from a very young age that someday, I would offer my skills, passion, and commitment to public service. That dream guided my educational path, culminating in a master's degree from Acadia University in political science. That dream also fuelled my quest to help women and children in the community, with my various work and volunteer experiences over the years.

But politics, Mr. Speaker, is very different. Quite frankly, governing is very hard. Making tough decisions which you truly think move the province forward while protecting services and those who rely on them is a daunting responsibility and not something that any one of us takes for granted. Nothing prepares you for this job. There is no manual, no video, no class. Your job interview is on the doorsteps of thousands of your neighbours. The job training is in your community, in your caucus family, and at your Cabinet Table. You're also supported by the committed and passionate people in your department.

Many things I expected, many I did not. I was not prepared for the homophobic hate thrown at me in my first two years until I took a very public stand to say enough is enough. The words and messages from strangers from across the province were overwhelming to me and my family. I am pleased to say that for now the vitriolic hate against my sexuality has lessened - not disappeared, but lessened. That has been the most poignant part of this journey - my little family.

One of the proudest days I have ever had as an elected official is the day from this seat I introduced Annette to this Chamber as my wife, an historic first for these hallowed halls. I was not prepared for the applause from colleagues from all sides of the House to that introduction. It was most heartfelt, and I am truly grateful. Annette is my steady, protective, nurturing wind beneath my wings. My son, a strapping, six-foot tall Red Seal welder is truly one of the best things I have ever accomplished in my life. When the job gets tough, it is his strength, his words, his opinion which matters. The day after I was elected, he took himself off of social media completely. That has saved his sanity and, quite frankly, mine as well. Let me make it clear - family should not be used for political gain. Family should not be a tactic - family is off limits, period.

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So as I take my seat, a familiar void in this Chamber, in my caucus, and in my heart returns. There is not a day that I don't think of Allan Rowe. I wonder if he would approve of that decision I just made, or the policy direction I was leaning towards. It was Allan I would call for advice and comfort. His presence is missed every single day by his wife, Yvonne, his daughter, Deborah, and his grandchildren, Michael and Hope. He is missed by our colleagues, he is missed by our friends, and he is missed by our Premier. He is missed by his community.

Finally, I'd like to thank my executive assistant, Aaron MacMullin, and my constituency staff, Patti Waller and Brandon Walker. These three individuals quite simply keep the wheels on the bus going every day, both in my role as minister and as MLA. I am proud to stand here every single day representing the beautiful and vibrant district of Dartmouth North, and I'll take my seat. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. We reconvene tomorrow between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and following the daily routine, it will be Opposition Day. I will call upon my colleague, the Official Opposition House Leader, to give us business.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Official Opposition House Leader.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : We will be sitting tomorrow between 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and after the daily routine and Question Period we'll be calling two resolutions. The resolutions will be Resolution No. 4, which I believe is doctor shortage, and after that, Resolution No. 11, which I think is cost of living. So that's the work for tomorrow.

With that, I move that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again on Wednesday, October 19th, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

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Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The House now stands adjourned until Wednesday, October 19th, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

[The House rose at 4:54 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

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RESOLUTION NO. 59

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Dave Culligan is a Halifax resident and video blogger; and

Whereas Mr. Culligan has used social media to exemplify his 365 Day project, a commitment to taking one professional video each day outlining his adventures throughout Halifax and Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mr. Culligan has used these videos to promote many local businesses, locations, and events, which inherently helps to promote tourism within the province;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Dave Culligan on his dedication to this project and wishing him all the best as he continues to explore the province and share his experiences.

RESOLUTION NO. 60

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Catherine and Ian Chapman started Operation Sunscreen as a way to get essential items like sunscreen and hygiene products to homeless people across Halifax; and

Whereas Mr. and Mrs. Chapman were able to raise almost $1,000 for supplies to help homeless people for the summer months;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in thanking Mr. and Mrs. Chapman for their dedication to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 61

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas all persons working in the field of Emergency Health Services play a crucial role in the health and safety of all Nova Scotians; and

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Whereas Shawn Welsh of Dartmouth was one of 63 individuals to be awarded the Emergency Health Services Long-Service Award for 25 years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Mr. Welsh on his years of service and wish him the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 62

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Emily Piggott, a former Dartmouth resident, recently graduated St. Francis Xavier University with an undergraduate degree in chemistry and has just begun working towards her Master's in Environmental Engineering at Carleton University; and

Whereas Ms. Piggott was hired as a summer student with the Oathill Lake Conservation Society to help rid the area surrounding Oathill Lake of invasive plant species, as well as monitoring water quality within the lake;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Emily Piggott on her dedication to the environment and wish her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 63

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Joan Helson is an instructor and dedicated to quality self-defence instruction for women of all ages; and

Whereas in August Ms. Helson opened SISU Women's Self Defence and is offering classes and seminars at their new location at 100 Main Street in the Westphal Business Centre; and

Whereas SISU has already garnered much attention with their "Be a Superhero" class and their personal safety and self-defence programs for seniors and teens;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Joan Helson on the opening of SISU Women's Self Defence and wish SISU all the best for the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 64

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Katie Hagen is a 16-year-old pitcher from Dartmouth; and

Whereas Katie played in three national championships for 16U, 21U, and Senior Women's teams; and

Whereas Katie won gold internationally at the 20U Women's International Cup in the Dominican Republic and won silver with the Canadian Senior Women's National team in South Korea;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Katie on her outstanding summer performance and wish her the best for her future in baseball.

RESOLUTION NO. 65

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas the Dartmouth Seniors' Services Centre is a non-profit organization that offers multiple services and programs for seniors in our community; and

Whereas the organization provides meals, transportation, physical activity, and educational workshops to seniors; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Seniors' Services Centre is celebrating their 40th Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating the Dartmouth Seniors' Services Centre on their dedication to the community and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 66

[Page 186]

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas the Dartmouth Community Concert Association supports the music industry in Dartmouth while bringing musical performances to the community; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Community Concert Association is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this 2016-17 season;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating the members and volunteers of the Dartmouth Community Concert Association on all of their hard work and we wish them the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 67

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Renée Lavallée opened up The Canteen, a sandwich shop, two and a half years ago in downtown Dartmouth; and

Whereas the The Canteen has announced they will be expanding their downtown business into a larger restaurant that will feature local ingredients, wines, and craft beers;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Mrs. Lavellée on her expanding business and wishing her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 68

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas SEDNA Epic Expedition is a world-class all-female team who will deliver hands-on experiential ocean outreach programming to Inuit communities; and

Whereas Kitrina Godding is a Dartmouth resident and the only East Coaster chosen for the eleven-women North America team; and

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Whereas Kitrina spent July 15 to August 4, 2016, empowering young women and girls on Baffin Island to become the next generation of Inuit leaders to tackle climate change and societal change in the Arctic;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Kitrina Godding on her being selected to SEDNA and wish her continued success with her future diving and scientific endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 69

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Skills Nova Scotia is an organization that strives to encourage youth to work toward gaining skills in a variety of industries, such as trades, technology, and much more; and

Whereas each year Skills Nova Scotia holds multiple trade- and skill-based competitions across the province, sending many of the winners on to a national competition; and

Whereas Steven Vanderkooy was one of the provincial competitors who attended Skills Canada in New Brunswick this year to compete in Aerospace Technology, for which he brought home a gold medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Steven Vanderkooy on his achievements and wishing him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 70

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Skills Nova Scotia is an organization that strives to encourage youth to work toward gaining skills in a variety of industries, such as trades, technology, and much more; and

Whereas each year Skills Nova Scotia holds multiple trade- and skill-based competitions across the province, sending many of the winners on to a national competition; and

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Whereas Kyla Welton was one of the provincial competitors who attended Skills Canada in New Brunswick this year to compete in Cooking, for which she brought home a gold medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Kyla Welton on her achievements and wishing her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 71

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Skills Nova Scotia is an organization that strives to encourage youth to work toward gaining skills in a variety of industries, such as trades, technology, and much more; and

Whereas each year Skills Nova Scotia holds multiple trade- and skill-based competitions across the province, sending many of the winners on to a national competition; and

Whereas Lucas Hum was one of the provincial competitors who attended Skills Canada in New Brunswick this year to compete in Cooking, for which he brought home a bronze medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Lucas Hum on his achievements and wishing him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 72

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Skills Nova Scotia is an organization that strives to encourage youth to work towards gaining skills in a variety of industries such as trades, technology, and much more; and

Whereas each year Skills Nova Scotia holds multiple trade and skill-based competitions across the province, sending many of the winners on to a national competition; and

[Page 189]

Whereas Kristin Moen was one of the provincial competitors who attended Skills Canada in New Brunswick this year to compete in Baking, for which she brought home a gold medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Kristin Moen on her achievements and wishing her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 73

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Skills Nova Scotia is an organization that strives to encourage youth to work towards gaining skills in a variety of industries such as trades, technology, and much more; and

Whereas each year Skills Nova Scotia holds multiple trade and skill-based competitions across the province, sending many of the winners on to a national competition; and

Whereas Zoe Bartel was one of the provincial competitors who attended Skills Canada in New Brunswick this year to compete in Baking, for which she brought home a gold medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Zoe Bartel on her achievements and wishing her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 74

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Skills Nova Scotia is an organization that strives to encourage youth to work towards gaining skills in a variety of industries such as trades, technology, and much more; and

Whereas each year Skills Nova Scotia holds multiple trade and skill-based competitions across the province, sending many of the winners on to a national competition; and

[Page 190]

Whereas Jessie Daley was one of the provincial competitors who attended Skills Canada in New Brunswick this year to compete in Job Search, for which she brought home a silver medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Jessie Daley on her achievements and wish her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 75

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Skills Nova Scotia is an organization that strives to encourage youth to work towards gaining skills in a variety of industries such as trades, technology, and much more; and

Whereas each year Skills Nova Scotia holds multiple trade and skill-based competitions across the province, sending many of the winners on to a national competition; and

Whereas Graham Bona was one of the competitors who attended Skills Canada in New Brunswick this year to compete in Sprinkler Systems, for which he brought home a bronze medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Graham Bona on his achievements and wishing him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 76

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Skills Nova Scotia is an organization that strives to encourage youth to work towards gaining skills in a variety of industries such as trades, technology, and much more; and

Whereas each year Skills Nova Scotia holds multiple trade and skill-based competitions across the province, sending many of the winners on to a national competition; and

[Page 191]

Whereas Dylan Langille was one of the provincial competitors who attended Skills Canada in New Brunswick this year to compete in Graphic Design, for which he brought home a silver medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Dylan Langille on his achievements and wishing him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 77

By: Mr. Andrew Younger « » (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Skills Nova Scotia is an organization that strives to encourage youth to work towards gaining skills in a variety of industries such as trades, technology, and much more; and

Whereas each year Skills Nova Scotia holds multiple trade and skill-based competitions across the province, sending many of the winners on to a national competition; and

Whereas Meagan Brown and Levi Marshall were both provincial competitors and attended Skills Canada in New Brunswick this year to compete in TV/Video Production as a team, for which they brought home a gold medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Meagan Brown and Levi Marshall on their achievements and we wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 78

By: Hon. Kevin Murphy » (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Emma Philpitt is a 20-year old former resident of Musquodoboit Harbour living with cystic fibrosis; and

Whereas Emma is a strong person who reaches out to help others who are living with physical and mental disabilities; and

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Whereas Emma has volunteered with several organizations, including Camp Brigadoon, where she was a peer support councillor for special needs people, and Cystic Fibrosis Canada, where she has helped with various fundraising campaigns;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in thanking Emma Philpitt for her leadership by example and giving her time and talents helping people with physical and mental disabilities.

RESOLUTION NO. 79

By: Hon. Kevin Murphy « » (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Ede Rossiter is a long-time resident of East Chezzetcook and has been active in her community by assisting those in need; and

Whereas Ede has been managing and providing leadership of the Marine Communities Food Bank for more than 20 years; and

Whereas during these 20-plus years, Ede has gone beyond the call of duty by organizing food drives, staffing the food bank facility, arranging for grants for the facility, and helping local families in need whenever called upon, day or night;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in thanking Ede Rossiter for giving her time and talents for the area residents who are served by the Marine Communities Food Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 80

By: Hon. Kevin Murphy « » (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Patricia Richards is a long-time resident of East Chezzetcook and has been active in her community in various volunteer roles; and

Whereas Patricia is a founding member and currently Chairperson of the Shore Active Transportation Association (SATA), whose mandate is to promote and enhance active transportation in the Chezzetcook and surrounding communities; and

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Whereas Patricia has assisted SATA through her leadership in moving the planning and development of trails in the Chezzetcook and surrounding areas;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in thanking Patricia Richards for giving her time and talents for the betterment of residents of the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 81

By: Hon. Kevin Murphy « » (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Ed Redman is a long-time resident of Porters Lake and has been active in his community in various volunteer roles; and

Whereas Ed has been a member of the local Boy Scouts movement for 30 years, helping out wherever necessary, and with the Chezzetcook Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary, helping with catering; and

Whereas Ed is a parishioner of St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church in Lake Echo, assisting in music ministry, fundraising, dinner theatres, stewardship committee, and being a Sunday school teacher;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in thanking Ed Redman for giving his time and talents for the betterment of residents of the Eastern Shore.