The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD15-53

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/



Second Session

FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2015

TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1560, Graham, Sen. Al: Death of - Tribute,
4218
Vote - Affirmative
4218
Res. 1561, Dennis, Charlie Joe: Death of - Tribute,
4218
Vote - Affirmative
4219
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS:
Dennis, Charlie Joe: Death of - Tribute,
4219
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 105, Education Act,
4220
No. 106, Colchester Regional Development Agency, An Act to Wind up the,
4220
[STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS:]
Ivany Rept. - Implement,
4221
Screen N.S./Fin. & Treasury Bd. - Agreement,
4221
MacDonald, Kelly: Film Tax Credit Cuts - Fix,
4221
McNeil Gov't.: Budget - Contents,
4222
Gerhardt, William - Lun. MLA/Fin. & Treasury Bd.: Meeting
4222
Villages/Towns: Status Change - Prevention Explain,
4223
MacDonald, Arlene: Cdn. Women's Fdn. Leadership Instit
- Participation, Ms. K. MacFarlane »
4223
Budget (N.S.): Rural N.S. - Effects,
4223
Scammell, Julia - Hockey Successes,
4224
Health & Wellness: Surgeries - Cancellation Backup,
4224
Teichert Gallery: Film Tax Credit Cuts - Impact,
4225
Gov't./Film Ind. - Agreement,
4225
Film Ind.: Short-sighted Decision - Prem. Apologize,
4226
Film & Creative Industries: Elimination - Costs,
4226
Film Tax Credit: Elimination - Impact,
4227
Film Production: Lib. Gov't. - Welcome,
4227
Prem. - Environment for Bus.,
4227
van Zyl, Capt. Bernardt: CO Flight 144 - Position Congrats.,
4228
McNeil Gov't. - Budget (2015),
4228
MacMillan, Mayor Barrie: New Glasgow - Dedication Commitment,
4229
Home Care Workers - Gov't. Treatment,
4229
Burgess, Karlee/Fay, Mary - Youth Olympics (2016),
4229
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 97, Quality-improvement Information Protection Act
4230
HOUSE RECESSED AT 9:46 A.M
4232
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 9:47 A.M
4232
[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:]
No. 97, Quality-improvement Information Protection Act
4232
4233
4234
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS:
No. 703, Prem. - Film Ind.: Production Grant - Details,
4235
No. 704, Prem. - Film Ind.: Arrangement - Details,
4237
No. 705, Prem.: Film Ind. Fund - Cap Confirm,
4238
No. 706, Prem. - Film Ind. Fund: Figure - Authenticity Confirm,
4239
No. 707, Prem. - Film Ind. Fund: Cap - Details,
4240
No. 708, Com. Serv.: Housing Grants - Threshold,
4241
No. 709, Prem.: Film Ind. Fund - Cap Confirm,
4242
No. 710, Prem. - Film Ind: Socio-economic Assessment - Conduct,
4243
No. 711, Prem.: Film Ind. Fund - Depletion,
4244
No. 712, Prem.: Film Ind. Fund - Cap Confirm,
4245
No. 713, Prem.: Film Ind. Fund - Cap Confirm,
4246
No. 714, Prem. - Film Ind.: Cap - Confirm in Writing,
4247
No. 715, Fin. & Treasury Bd.: N.S. Film People - Min. Confidence,
4248
No. 716, Fin. & Treasury Bd.: Film Ind. Fund - Cap Confirm,
4249
No. 717, Health & Wellness: Sterilization Equipment Search
4250
No. 718, Fin. & Treasury Bd. - Film Tax Credit: Old/New Versions
- Case Studies, Mr. A. MacMaster « »
4251
No. 719, Fin. & Treasury Bd.: Film Tax Fund - Cap: Depletion
- Effects, Ms. K. MacFarlane « »
4252
SPEAKER'S RULING:
Effect on business by the start of Question Period
(Pt. of order by Mr. T. Houston « » [Hansard, p. 4254, 04/24/15])
4254
[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:]
No. 97, Quality-improvement Information Protection Act
4255
Adjourned debate
4267
[GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:]
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CW ON SUPPLY AT 12:01 P.M
4268
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:10 P.M
4268
REPORT OF CW ON SUPPLY [Rule 62G(1)]:
Motion to Concur
4268
Vote - Affirmative
4270
[INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:]
No. 107, Appropriations Act, 2015,
4270
[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:]
No. 107, Appropriations Act, 2015
Hon D. Whalen
4270
Vote - Affirmative
4271
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 107, Appropriations Act, 2015
4271
Vote - Affirmative
4273
[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:]
No. 97, Quality-improvement Information Protection Act
4273
Vote - Affirmative
4273
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Apr. 27th at 4:00 p.m
4274
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1562, Fletcher, Robert et al: Shovelling - Entrepreneurship,
4275
Res. 1563, Walsh, Miranda et al - Commun. Vol. Award,
4275
Res. 1564, Diab, Michael/Israel, Christina - Engagement Congrats.,
4276
Res. 1565, Metlej, Paul/Toulany, Joanne - Engagement Congrats.,
4276
Res. 1566, Choueiri, Nassim/Jreige, Rosette - Engagement
Congrats., Hon. L. Diab « »
4277

[Page 4217]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2015

Sixty-second General Assembly

Second Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Kevin Murphy

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Ms. Margaret Miller

MR. SPEAKER » : Order, please. Just before we get into our first agenda item, I'm advised that we will be doing a moment of silence for a couple of notable Nova Scotians who have recently passed. I've just been advised of news out of Ottawa that the Speaker of the Senate, Pierre Claude Nolin, has passed away overnight. We will observe a moment of silence for Senate Speaker Nolin during the appropriate time a little later in the proceedings.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1560

[Page 4218]

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

Whereas yesterday Nova Scotia lost retired Senator Al Graham, a man who was passionate about our province and its people; and

Whereas Al served in many capacities in which he worked to strengthen our region and our nation, including as part of Canada's Senate and in Prime Minister Jean Chretien's Cabinet, and as president of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia and the Liberal Party of Canada; and

Whereas his respect for those he represented and his dedication to public service have inspired many, including the paths of his own children and their commitment to bettering our province and our country;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the lasting impact Al Graham had on Nova Scotia and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. I would ask for a moment of silence when you deem appropriate.

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 Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1561

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

Whereas Charlie Joe Dennis, a remarkable Mi'kmaq leader and elder in the Mi'kmaq community of Eskasoni, passed away yesterday; and

Whereas he's remembered for his leadership as a former chief, and his kind nature and great integrity and honesty; and

[Page 4219]

Whereas Charlie Joe Dennis was a leader in the development of the Eskasoni fishery, as well as a founder of the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources, an organization that continues to be a leader in its field across our province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the life and service of Charlie Joe Dennis and express condolences to his family and the Mi'kmaq community of Eskasoni on his passing.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate, and a moment of silence at the appropriate time.

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.

Now, with the unanimous consent of the House, we'll skip ahead to Statements by Members, to allow the honourable member for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg to make a statement about Chief Charlie Joe Dennis.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

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

DENNIS, CHARLIE JOE: DEATH OF - TRIBUTE

HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the House for this opportunity.

Today Nova Scotians mourn the passing of former Eskasoni First Nation Chief Charlie Joe Dennis. He was first elected as chief in 2006 and was re-elected to a two-year term in November 2008.

[Page 4220]

Chief Charlie was also a long-time executive director of the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources and continued his involvement with the institute, most recently as an adviser. He is being remembered as a true statesman and a tireless advocate for the environment and natural resources.

Today our thoughts are with Chief Joe Dennis' large family, and his many friends and colleagues. I was proud to call him my friend, and he will be missed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER « » : I'd ask all members to rise as we observe a moment of silence in memory of Chief Charlie Joe Dennis, Senator Al Graham, and Senate Speaker Pierre Claude Nolin.

[A moment of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Thank you.

With the unanimous consent of the House, we'll now revert to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 105 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Education Act. (Hon. Karen Casey)

Bill No. 106 - Entitled an Act to Wind Up the Colchester Regional Development Agency. (Hon. Karen Casey)

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 Cumberland South.

IVANY REPT. - IMPLEMENT

[Page 4221]

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, the Ivany report set out very specific and important goals for our province, and continues to be an important guiding light. The Liberal Government's incompetent handling of the Film Tax Credit goes completely against the spirit of the Ivany report.

We must rebuild our economy to bring our sons and daughters back home. The Liberal Government is doing the opposite, driving away young, creative, tax-paying Nova Scotians. Rather than dragging its heels on the Ivany report goals, the government should be enacting them in law as a framework for decision making, maybe then disasters like the Film Tax Credit crisis could be averted in the future.

This government's poor view of the young and vibrant film industry is causing irreparable damage. We can, and must, do better to create jobs and rebuild our economy.

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

SCREEN N.S./FIN. & TREASURY BD. - AGREEMENT

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, on April 9th the employees of Film & Creative Industries Nova Scotia were quietly given their pink slips and, later that day, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board introduced a budget that gutted the Film Tax Credit.

The backlash was swift. On April 15th, thousands circled this Legislature in the largest peaceful rally in recent memory. The Premier may have betrayed their trust and may not have listened to them, before making his drastic cuts, but they were going to make sure that he listened to them now.

Yesterday we heard that representatives from Screen Nova Scotia had reached an agreement with Finance officials that would allow at least a few projects to continue. Sadly, it leaves little room for the industry to grow and still leaves much uncertainty, frustration, and confusion. This is a feeling felt by many in relation to the McNeil Government's budget. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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

MACDONALD, KELLY: FILM TAX CREDIT CUTS - FIX

MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, Kelly MacDonald is a professional film technician. She has worked in the Nova Scotia film industry as a props technician with IATSE 849 for almost 10 years and she loves what she does. Kelly pays taxes, shops locally, and was looking forward to becoming a first-time home buyer this year. If the Liberal government doesn't fix the error it made with the Film Tax Credit, Kelly can't plan a future here in Nova Scotia. Kelly believes the government should be committed to job creation and keeping green industry and skilled craft people in our province.

[Page 4222]

Like thousands of other Nova Scotians Kelly hopes the error the McNeil Liberals made with the Film Tax Credit will be fixed. She wants to see a strong future for her industry here in Nova Scotia. She wants to continue to contribute to our province. She believes she belongs here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MCNEIL GOV'T.: BUDGET - CONTENTS

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, today marks the very first budget that the McNeil Government can call their own. This also marks a sad day for rural Nova Scotia with the loss of provincial park workers, closures of provincial satellite courthouses, Community Services and land registration offices. This budget froze health care spending, gutted the Film Tax Credit, and laid off hundreds of Public Service workers. It cut community programs and cut dental care for children and teens. Now the only improvement the Premier can point to is a new door in the Premier's office, this far in this mandate. The cost of this door to taxpayers of Nova Scotia is $42,000. Thank you.

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

GERHARDT, WILLIAM - LUN. MLA/FIN. & TREASURY BD.:

MEETING - REQUEST

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, William Gerhardt has written his MLA about his great concerns about the changes to the Film Tax Credit. William told the member for Lunenburg that a large amount of film work occurs in the Lunenburg area. He estimates that more than half of a project's budget stays in the area where filming takes place. Restaurants, hotels, hardware stores, grocery stores, rental accommodations, and everyday people who are hired as extras, directly benefit from the industry. William thinks the tax credit is a very small price to pay for what rural communities like his get in return. Without the tax credit, William feels that the alternative is the loss of an industry that plays a large but often unnoticed role in our area.

Mr. Gerhardt asked the member for Lunenburg to meet with the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to discuss this important issue for his area.

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

VILLAGES/TOWNS: STATUS CHANGE - PREVENTION EXPLAIN

[Page 4223]

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, on March 12th of this year the Minister of Municipal Affairs told the Canadian press that he would work with municipalities and villages to find sustainable government structures. Now, despite receiving a report that recommended existing villages, such as the Village of Chester, should be allowed to apply for town status if they wish, this government has now decided that, and I will quote the press release, "The change . . . prevents towns from becoming villages and vice versa."

Why has the McNeil Government once again gone back on their word this time hindering the independence of villages like Chester? Yesterday the Premier told rural Nova Scotians that they were on their own yet the McNeil Government continually brings in legislation to take away the rights of Nova Scotians.

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

MACDONALD, ARLENE: CDN. WOMEN'S FDN. LEADERSHIP INSTIT.

- PARTICIPATION

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Arlene MacDonald on being chosen as one of 24 women across Canada to participate in the Canadian Women's Foundation Leadership Institute. Ms. MacDonald is the executive director of the Pictou County Women's Resource and Sexual Assault Centre in New Glasgow. The program is an intense one-year program that focusses on personal leadership skills, organizational development to strengthen and lead effective organizations, community development, and policy advocacy skills to contribute to social change.

The program, a three-year pilot project developed in 2012, is a partnership between the Canadian Women's Foundation and the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University. Mr. Speaker, I'm honoured to wish Ms. MacDonald well as she begins her program.

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

BUDGET (N.S.): RURAL N.S. - EFFECTS

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, on November 23, 2011, the Premier, then the Leader of the Opposition, criticized the government for not doing enough to address the problems in Nova Scotia. He asked, "Why is the Premier ignoring the crisis in rural Nova Scotia?" He went on to ask the then-Premier to "stop ignoring rural Nova Scotia and provide a clear economic strategy to put people back to work."

It seems that rural Nova Scotia is only viewed as being in crisis when the Premier sits in Opposition. Now that he is in government, he thinks that rural communities should be left to figure out things on their own. This budget has sent a strong message to rural Nova Scotia: that their jobs, their health, their services, and their culture are not as important as others.

[Page 4224]

More than 20,000 jobs have been lost in Nova Scotia, including the constituency of Annapolis. Rural Nova Scotia is not a barrier to economic rural growth in this province. Rural Nova Scotia is the key to unlocking the economic potential. I urge the Premier to take his own advice.

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

SCAMMELL, JULIA - HOCKEY SUCCESSES

MR. LARRY HARRISON « » : Mr. Speaker, I'd like to shine the spotlight on a local athlete with dreams of representing Canada on the world stage. Murray Siding resident Julia Scammell recently took home hardware during the Nova Scotia Female Midget Hockey League's annual awards banquet, including an award for Top Defense. Julia represented Nova Scotia at the Canada Games this past March, and next month Julia will be one step closer to realizing her dream as she heads to Hamilton, Ontario, for Hockey Canada's strength and conditioning camp for the National Under-18 team. This camp is the first step in the selection process for the team to represent Canada for the Under-18 Women's World Championship in January 2016.

I wish to congratulate Julia on her hard work and successes, and wish her all the best at Hockey Canada's strength and conditioning camp. Good luck.

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

HEALTH & WELLNESS: SURGERIES - CANCELLATION BACKUP

HON. DAVID WILSON « » : This week more than 300 surgeries have had to be cancelled at the province's only tertiary hospital due to problems with sterilization of surgical equipment. People who have been waiting months for open heart surgery, for hip and knee replacements, are now having their surgeries cancelled. Health care workers are now saying this will have a ripple effect throughout the health care system that will be felt for months, if not even longer.

With a freeze in this year's budget, it will be very difficult for them to address this backlog. Why does the McNeil Government not have a backup plan in place so this situation doesn't happen again?

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

TEICHERT GALLERY: FILM TAX CREDIT CUTS - IMPACT

[Page 4225]

MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, the Teichert Gallery, a not-for-profit organization which supports local artists and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, has relied heavily on business they get from the film industry. Productions rent artwork to decorate their sets, and have always been a significant, reliable source of revenue for the gallery.

The recent tax credit cuts that will negatively impact the film industry will certainly affect the gallery's viability as well. The Teichert Gallery represents over 200 Nova Scotia artists and employs several staff members. The arts community of Nova Scotia, a large and important entity, can ill afford a step backward - as the changes in the Film Tax Credit are.

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

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, I'd like to make an introduction, if I could, before I start my statement.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

MS. ZANN « » : Thank you. In the east gallery today, we have many members from Screen Nova Scotia and from the film and creative industries. In particular, I would like to single out Mr. Gary Vermeir from IATSE, who is an old friend and an actor I used to work with many years ago. I'd like to give them a warm welcome for being here in the House today. (Applause)

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

GOV'T./FILM IND. - AGREEMENT

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm so proud to stand here today as a proud member of the film and creative industry and a 35-year member of ACTRA, the actors' union of Canada.

When industry was forced to deal with the situation about which they were not consulted, one that they knew was short-sighted and didn't take into account the economic spinoffs of the industry for actors, writers, producers, set designers, directors, and many others, when push came to shove, they did what they do best: they told their story. Many Nova Scotians listened and so did we. Thousands of people marched outside our Legislature in a show of support for the creative industries that the McNeil Government was gutting.

While yesterday's consultation or talk between the government and industry representatives is not nearly as competitive and as fully-done as it could be, at least we know that we stood together. People from across the country support this industry in our province and that's a story worth repeating. We look forward to further talks with this industry because the story is not over. Thank you very much.

[Page 4226]

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

FILM IND.: SHORT-SIGHTED DECISION - PREM. APOLOGIZE

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, the film industry in Nova Scotia has been in turmoil for several weeks. Why? Because the Liberal Government sees the sector as being a drain on the economy, measured not by wealth creation and employment but by government expenditures.

The McNeil Liberal Government has caused damage and is jeopardizing our ability to attract future business to the Province of Nova Scotia. Aside from eliminating any marketing efforts through Film & Creative Industries Nova Scotia, the overall cap size and per-production or per-company caps with likely first-come, first-serve protocols may make for meaningless or non-existent rebates in relation to large budgets.

The sad impact will be fewer and smaller productions, more downtime, and fewer employment opportunities for the very real Nova Scotians who work in this industry.

The Premier should apologize to the film industry for his short-sighted decision making and his handling of their lives over the last two weeks.

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

FILM & CREATIVE INDUSTRIES: ELIMINATION - COSTS

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, the elimination of Film & Creative Industries Nova Scotia has left many people and projects in limbo. Young producers, some making their very first professional films, are being denied access to funding previously promised to them. Some won't be able to complete their filming this year and will miss out on pre-arranged opportunities in international film festivals. Other producers and directors from outside the province who want to bring projects and money into Nova Scotia aren't having their calls returned by NSBI. Some filmmakers have had to turn down opportunities to partner with international production companies because they can't guarantee funding.

The upheaval caused by the McNeil Government is already being felt in the industry and has already cost our province millions of dollars. The Premier should realize that this is not how you create an environment for business. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

[Page 4227]

FILM TAX CREDIT: ELIMINATION - IMPACT

HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring attention to the impact of the Liberals' gutting of the Film Tax Credit. Patrick and Kimberly Charron moved to Marion Bridge from Ontario in 2007 with their two children. They made this choice because they, along with their children, were involved in the film industry. Their family has been involved in many TV and film productions, including Ice Castles, Blackbird, Christmas with Holly, Deep End, Haven, Mr. D, Wisp, Seed, and Lizzie Borden.

Patrick Charron has worked two jobs in an effort to stay here, but now with the film industry in turmoil, there's little reason for them to stay. Their 16-year-old son is an ACTRA union member and was looking forward to a bright future here in the film industry. The Charron family is now looking to move to Vancouver. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

FILM PRODUCTION: LIB. GOV'T. - WELCOME

HON. PAT DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, the Film Tax Credit is for all of Nova Scotia. This industry and these entrepreneurs are not only very important to our economy, but they are very important for our identity. The amazing stories that have been told through film right here in Nova Scotia offer a tremendous sense of pride. A competitive tax structure and stable regulatory environment are key for the continued success and growth of this vital industry.

The Liberal Government has caused irreversible damage to this important framework with this compromise. The Liberal Government must send a clear signal to the rest of the world that our film industry is open for business - and that requires a guarantee that no production will be turned away.

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

PREM. - ENVIRONMENT FOR BUS.

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, I can't help but wonder which sector the McNeil Government is going to throw into chaos next. We know they've already picked fights with nurses; threatened home care workers to "take the deal"; forgotten completely about front-line health care; and let our ERs get more overcrowded than they have been in years. They have pulled the rug out from under our creative industries and caused many film and television projects to be cancelled, including a $12 million project slated to film in Chester and a Jim Henson production has already been cancelled that was scheduled to film on the South Shore.

The Premier talks about creating an environment for business, but fighting with workers and slashing support for a growing industry that creates jobs is hardly an environment where anyone would want to start a business. Thank you.

[Page 4228]

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

VAN ZYL, CAPT. BERNARDT: CO FLIGHT 144 – POSITION – CONGRATS.

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Captain Bernardt van Zyl on his position as the new commanding officer at Construction Engineering Flight 144 in Pictou.

Captain van Zyl obtained a civil engineering degree and then joined the military in 2012. He began at Flight 144 in March 2013. Flight 144 is one of only four sites of its kind in Canada, operated under the direction of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The flight trains recruits in areas of construction including carpentry, wiring, and plumbing. There are currently 30 recruits and they receive training with hands-on learning by partnering with community groups and assisting with a variety of community-based projects. I am pleased to congratulate Captain van Zyl on his new position.

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

MCNEIL GOV'T. - BUDGET (2015)

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, in October 2013, Nova Scotians thought they were getting a government that would listen to them. Boy, were they wrong. Nova Scotians know by now that the McNeil Government doesn't listen. The McNeil Government makes decisions with no consultation, and their austerity budget slashes funding to important community organizations including those who work with at-risk youth and organizations that support individuals with mental health issues.

The Finance and Treasury Board Minister even came out yesterday saying they had a deal with the film industry - well, they beg to differ. Until this government opens up its ears and its heart instead of just its mouth, then they don't understand what a consultation really means because a consultation is a two-way stream. Until they deal with the fact that a $10 million cap is not going to work in this province for us to grow our creative economy, then they are certainly not listening.

The Premier may have been able to get the trust of Nova Scotians in 2013, but in his 2015 budget now we see his true colours.

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

MACMILLAN, MAYOR BARRIE:

[Page 4229]

NEW GLASGOW - DEDICATION COMMITMENT

HON. PAT DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to thank Mayor Barrie MacMillan of the Town of New Glasgow for his dedication and commitment to his community. His positive attitude allows him to remain calm and logical as he guides his town staff through challenges, priorities, and projects. He's a leader who will ask numerous questions, consider all options, and leads by example. Mayor MacMillan is always focused on the immediate needs of New Glasgow and is a good listener when residents have concerns. He has always demonstrated competence and respect through consistent leadership while implementing new ideas, programs, and policies in his community. Thank you.

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

HOME CARE WORKERS - GOV'T. TREATMENT

HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, over 170 people showed up at a meeting in Whitney Pier this week. They're concerned that the McNeil Government's plan to open home care to a competitive bidding process will result in the exact same problems we've seen in Ontario and British Columbia. There, home care workers lost their jobs and service declined as companies paying lower wages trimmed their budget to boost profits to the detriment of their clients. Home care workers have already been attacked by the McNeil Government in last Spring's budget, with Bill No. 30, and last Fall with Bill No. 1. Our home care workers deserve better - they deserve a government that listens when front-line workers raise concerns about patient care.

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

BURGESS, KARLEE/FAY, MARY - YOUTH OLYMPICS (2016)

MR. LARRY HARRISON « » : Mr. Speaker, Lillehammer, Norway, will host the 2016 Youth Olympics and Hilden's Karlee Burgess, along with her skip Mary Fay, have been named to the Canadian national team for curling. The pair will play on a mixed team alongside two representatives from British Columbia.

The exciting news from the Canadian Curling Association was icing on the cake to the phenomenal season this dynamic duo has just completed. In March, Ms. Burgess, Ms. Fay, and fellow teammates Jenn Smith and Janique LeBlanc won a silver medal at the Canada Games. The team also had a fourth-place finish at the Canada junior championships in February.

Congratulations are in order to the team for their amazing season, with a special hurrah to Karlee and Mary on earning the honour of representing Canada on the world stage next February in the 2016 Youth Olympics.

[Page 4230]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

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

HON. MICHEL SAMSON » : Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

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

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 97.

Bill No. 97 - Quality-improvement Information Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness.

HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I now move second reading of Bill No. 97.

I am pleased to rise in my place and speak on the Quality-improvement Information Protection Act. The bill, if passed, will expand existing legal protections afforded to patient safety and quality review information to the Department of Health and Wellness. Currently health professionals and health authorities involved in patient safety quality reviews are safeguarded from litigation and public scrutiny. The same is true for information collected through these investigations. These legal protections are meant to support the safety culture and encourage a positive reporting environment. This safe reporting environment is encouraged across Canada and by other countries around the world. It is a cornerstone of building a health care system that puts the safety of patients first.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Wellness is implementing a provincial patient safety incident reporting system. This will enable a more modern and strategic approach to system-wide provincial evaluation, planning, and ultimately an overall improvement to patient quality.

Under the new patient-centric model of health care, if one health care facility in one region is producing positive patient outcomes, we want to be able to quantify that data and share those lessons across the entire provincial system. This is one of the benefits of a united, single provincial health authority, plus the IWK.

Mr. Speaker, there is a current challenge in creating a single provincial patient safety incident reporting system that allows for access and data trending. Under existing legislation, once data is transferred outside the control of a health authority, that data is no longer legally safeguarded from litigation and public scrutiny. Existing legal protections only apply to quality reviews done in a health authority.

[Page 4231]

Today if the Department of Health and Wellness obtained access to that data, it would be vulnerable to litigation or public scrutiny. That means some health care professionals may think twice before reporting on patient safety.

Mr. Speaker, research shows that a critical aspect of a safety culture is the ability to report patient safety incidents in a supportive environment. Where this does not exist, health care professionals are less likely to report incidents of patient safety.

Mr. Speaker, less reporting means a potential reduction in patient safety. That is counter-productive to our goals of improved patient outcomes across the entire health system for all Nova Scotians.

The information that is collected from health authorities by the Department of Health and Wellness will be aggregate data that has personal identifiers removed. Indirect identifiers, such as age and sex, will be maintained as they provide meaningful information about particular populations. Let me be clear: this does not reduce or impede the flow or access to data or information as it currently stands. This only extends the current protections to include the Department of Health and Wellness.

The basic question is, why should the department have access to that data? The answer is simple. Being able to analyze patient safety and quality information at a province-wide level will allow for system-wide analysis. That means lessons learned in one region can be implemented across the province. If one hospital is doing something that is producing positive health outcomes, then we want to quantify it and ensure that every patient can benefit from it.

The Quality-improvement Information Protection Act is the key to unlocking meaningful provincial data analysis that will help achieve positive results for all Nova Scotians. With that, thank you, and I look forward to the members opposite and their comments.

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

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Before I get going, I just have a point of order. Last night when we concluded, the minister said, "That concludes the government's business for today, Mr. Speaker," and "Following the daily routine, we will resume the remaining four hours of Estimates Debate and then the final vote on the budget. At that point, that will conclude the government's business for the day."

He didn't call bills for today, so I'm just wondering what your ruling is on calling bills when they haven't been called the night before.

[Page 4232]

MR. SPEAKER « » : We'll recess for two minutes while I consult with the Clerk, and we'll come back to you.

The House will now be in recess for two minutes.

[9:46 a.m. The House recessed.]

[9:47 a.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER « » : After consulting with the Clerk on the precedent, it appears that, although it is normal practice for the Government House Leader to advise all Parties of the government's business for the following day, it is not required. The bills do appear on the order paper for second reading, and therefore we are able to move ahead with that business.

The honourable member for Argyle-Barrington.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Thank you for that, Mr. Speaker.

So, Bill No. 97. Good try. Protecting the information of health patients is paramount. As this province moves toward electronic health records, we need to be mindful of how personal information is protected. Any time personal information or personal health information is considered in legislation, people are nervous.

We share those concerns, but we believe non-identifying information can be very helpful to the advancement of our health care system. If you just look at the sheer data that is brought forward through our health system, it is amazing. If there's a way to use that - washed of personal information, of course - I think it is of value to any modern health care system as we're responding to different diseases, different outbreaks of one thing or another. If we can see the trends within our communities, I think it's a benefit to our health care system to respond to those risks.

This bill has very good intentions. Any time there's an issue or a risk of patient safety, it is a concern. We need to make sure that each and every mistake or misstep or accident comes with a lesson for all those parties involved. The ability of the department to compile data and develop trends to show which areas in the province are exceeding those facing problems will be helpful in helping others develop solutions.

We believe that an accountable, transparent health care system is essential, and the size of our province makes that possible. We need to recognize that the difference between health care delivery in rural and urban areas but this data has the potential to do just that. We share their concern and though we believe the intent of this bill is sound, we are eager to hear what Nova Scotians in the field and in the health care system feel about it and look forward to hearing their feedback at the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you very much.

[Page 4233]

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

HON. DAVID WILSON « » : I'm glad to rise to speak on Bill No. 97. This issue is extremely important and one that our caucus definitely supports. We initiated this process within the Department of Health and Wellness a number of years ago and I'm glad that the current government continued on with that work - especially, Mr. Speaker, with Deputy Minister Peter Vaughan. For those who might not know, the deputy minister has worked extremely hard and has been very dedicated to quality assurance not only in the region he represented but he has worked extremely hard province-wide, and I believe even on a national level.

I'm glad to see this piece of legislation come through. I would have been surprised if I didn't, knowing the background of the new Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness. But also there have been many strong advocates over the last number of years, and even decades, who tried to change the culture and the environment within the health care sector. What I mean by that is the fact that our health care delivery is delivered by people and when you have that type of delivery, there are mistakes that happen. There is human error. People do make mistakes. We don't want to see that, especially in health care, but it happens and the culture and the environment for many, many years have been that if you made a mistake you better hide it; you better not talk about it; you better not report it. People were fearful of losing their jobs and much worse, Mr. Speaker.

There have been people who have been trying to change that throughout a number a years. I know my interaction with some of them throughout my career as a paramedic - and the profession of paramedicine has a real strong emphasis on making sure that incidents are reported. We talk about it and paramedics talk about things that might have gone wrong. Part of the new system, when the paramedic system was transformed, was to have that built right in it, and part of the re-registration and the registration of paramedics, and for those who want to keep their licence, you have to go through a number of things.

One of the exercises that has taken place is something called M and Ms. This is a venue for our quality assurance, our medical control physician and the paramedics to interact, and not only for a case that someone might be involved in but for other medics, for example, to listen to those cases. It is brought to a meeting, to a gathering of those paramedics - and I know they do this in other sectors of health - and they talk about a case that might be not a normal case; something that may have gone wrong, for example, or something that you don't see often. The medics involved do a little bit of history. They are able to gain access to some of the information from the patient and the results of the incident that they took part in, trying to support that individual, and you learn from that. If there was something different that medic could have done, maybe use a different medication, it's talked about in a safe environment. It's talked about in an environment that welcomes input not only from those who are directly involved but those who are listening to the incident.

[Page 4234]

I have to say it was very beneficial as a medic, Mr. Speaker, to have the opportunity to hear these cases because often you do know that if there is a strange call that night that word gets around and it's a great opportunity for you to know that - okay if I'm ever faced with that in the future, this is the protocol that I should follow; these are the things I have to look out for as a paramedic. I know Dr. Croskerry, who has been working in that field also with Dr. Peter Vaughan for many, many years. He wrote a book - maybe several books - on it and definitely has been involved on a national level to try to change that culture and that environment within the health care sector.

I think this legislation goes along with doing that and ensuring that medical personnel who might find themselves witnessing something - an incident that may have a negative impact on that patient - can come forward, that they can talk about this and report it, and hopefully things can change. Maybe there's a change in the policy or a change in a protocol. That, I think, is important.

When we look at this piece of legislation, I think it goes hand-in-hand with work that has been going on for a number of years. I know there are more people who I may miss who have been involved in this over the years, but definitely I think this piece of legislation goes along with the work. I know that this will be welcomed by the health care sector. I think anything you do to try to improve quality care for the patients, for the health care delivery, or for the health care provider themselves is extremely important.

We do support this bill. I look forward to it moving through the process and I look forward to, I think, a health care system that will be better and stronger and safer for not only the health care providers, but more importantly the patients who receive services within the health care sector here in Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise this morning and speak to Bill No. 97. As the province moves toward electronic health records, we need to be very mindful of how personal information is protected. I have the great privilege to be a member of the Public Accounts Committee of this House. I know that over the last few sessions, we've had guests join us at Public Accounts Committee and talk about the very issue of protecting people's personal information when it is in electronic format.

We had a well-discussed breach, or possible breach, or weakness - whatever terminology you want to use. We've had a situation with different databases that the province maintains. If the member wants to refer to it as a weakness, I'll take that, because anytime you have a weakness around a system that contains personal information about Nova Scotians, I'm concerned.

[Page 4235]

Maybe some people want to slough that off and say, well, that's just a weakness. We don't know if it was exploited or not. That's not good enough for me, Mr. Speaker. If you have a database that is containing very personal information about Nova Scotians, you'd darn well better protect it. If you are alerted to a weakness, you'd better fix it.

As we talk about electronic health records in this province, we need to be very mindful of that. This week at Public Accounts Committee - the next week coming up - we're going to hear from the Auditor General about some weaknesses that were identified in the system that school kids use to log in. I believe it's PowerSchool or iNSchool or one of these . . .

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : iNSchool.

MR. HOUSTON « » : The iNSchool system. Thank you to the member for Inverness.

The Auditor General did a review of the iNSchool system and found significant weaknesses in there where ill-intentioned people could hack into it. There's a weakness in the system. When we see a pattern of weaknesses in government systems, we just need to learn from them. That's what my colleague from Argyle-Barrington was talking about - learning as we go.

When you're going to create a system to maintain the electronic health records of Nova Scotians, I hope you do a lot of that learning before you go and not as you go. These are the types of things that we need to fix, need to think about, and make sure we've addressed before we get there. So as I get into a further discussion of this bill, I'll just leave that with . . .

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The time allotted for Government Business at the moment has expired. We'll resume with the honourable member for Pictou East when Government Business resumes.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS

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

PREM. - FILM IND.: PRODUCTION GRANT - DETAILS

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Yesterday, the government announced a new Alberta-style production grant for the film industry. Unfortunately, it seems to have created more confusion than it actually has helped, largely around the issue of whether the fund, set at $10 million, will be capped or not. I'd like to ask the Premier to take this opportunity and clear up the confusion - is the $10 million production grant fund capped or not?

[Page 4236]

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question and I want to thank Screen Nova Scotia and all those who have been working diligently since the budget was introduced to work with government to find a solution that works. We have said all along that we had a budgeted amount in this fund of $10 million. We've committed that to the industry. They have looked at creative ways for us to be able to ensure that not only can they build an industry in this province, but that the breadth of the opportunity would spread beyond just labour. There are all kinds of other opportunities that can be put towards that cap. We're staying within that envelope that we have.

But like any fund, as we go forward, we're going to continue to engage the industry and work with the industry. If we see a need, we'll be more than happy to work with the industry as we go forward.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that answer, but in the interests of the 2,700 people that work in the film industry and for all those Nova Scotians that have rallied behind them who want to know that we're going to have a growing, vibrant, taxpaying film industry - I have asked the Premier directly, is it capped at $10 million? Yes or no? I just want to be clear with the Premier, is the fund capped at $10 million? Yes or no?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I just want to be clear with the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. We said we budgeted $10 million. All of that money is allotted into the fund. What we've said is we would continue to work with the industry if there are needs going forward. Like any fund that we have, if it's seen that we can make changes to that fund that would benefit the industry and benefit Nova Scotians for economic opportunities, of course we would continue to work with the industry to see that that happens.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, you're going to have to forgive an industry that was promised an extension of the Film Tax Credit for five years as is for wanting to know for sure what the government plan is. It is not enough to say, it's in the budget and we'll see. The government has lost the trust of the industry to take them at their word.

Here is an opportunity to be clear. When the fund reaches its $10 million maximum, will the government be declining film production applications? Yes or no?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member and again remind him that it was Screen Nova Scotia and the industry sitting down with members of government to find a common ground, a way to go forward to ensure that we broaden the opportunities in terms of spreading out the fund and the credit that would go towards not only labour in this province, but production costs. Any aspect that would be dedicated from the Province of Nova Scotia, that's a good thing. That is actually broadening the opportunity right across the entire spectrum.

[Page 4237]

We have said all along that we have $10 million in this fund. We're thrilled that the industry has committed with us. We've said to them that we would continue to review that as we go forward. If an adjustment needs to be made, we're prepared to have those conversations.

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

PREM. - FILM IND.: ARRANGEMENT - DETAILS

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, I think we're all trying to understand the details of the new film industry arrangement. The devil is always in the details as they say. There seems to be confusion about whether the cap that the government has imposed is a hard cap or a soft cap. I would like to ask the Premier if he could please explain whether the film investment fund is being capped at $10 million or not. Yes or no?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, it may come as a surprise to the Acting Leader of the New Democratic Party, but as a former Finance Minister, she would recognize that every fund has a set amount in it. Every time the Province of Nova Scotia enters into any fund, it gets reviewed over time as to whether or not there need to be adjustments made to it. We have said very clearly to the industry that there is $10 million in this fund and we've broadened the opportunities. I am very grateful for the work that they've been doing on behalf of all those in this province who are making a livelihood out of the film industry. They have been working diligently with the Province of Nova Scotia. We have said to them that we will continue to work with them and, if there needs to be adjustments to this fund as we go forward, we very clearly said we're prepared to listen.

MS. MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, a fair amount of damage has been done already to the industry, as well as the trust that members of the industry feel for this government. They feel betrayed, frankly, because they've broken a campaign promise.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is, how does he plan to fix the fallout from the bad and hasty decision to the Film Tax Credit?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, we're going to continue to do as we did in this budget. We put a tremendous amount of money on the table for the creative economy. We're very encouraged by the reception we've been receiving from sectors of the industry.

We recognize, Mr. Speaker, the film industry has pointed out very clearly the mechanism that we had in place didn't work for them. We said we would listen. We have a fund on the table that they have agreed with that has broadened the parameters and kept within the fiscal envelope. We've said to them that we will continue this conversation and, if adjustments need to be made to that fund, we're more than prepared to listen and work with them.

[Page 4238]

MS. MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that a cap on an industry doesn't promote growth within the industry and it doesn't help filmmakers leverage funding for future investments. So I want to ask the Premier, would he please explain how the cap will promote growth of this industry?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, the only member in this House talking about a cap is the Leader of the New Democratic Party. I very clearly said we budgeted $10 million that was in this budget, we have it on the fund. I have said and we have said we would continue to work with industry. If that fund needs to be adjusted, we are more than prepared.

Mr. Speaker, it is no different than any other fund that the Government of Nova Scotia has, you continue to look at it, continue to say how do we make it better for those who are accessing that fund.

Mr. Speaker, we are very encouraged by the way the film industry has co-operated and worked with this government. I am very pleased that Nova Scotians are listening to them and not the rhetoric coming across from the other side of this floor.

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

PREM.: FILM IND. FUND - CAP CONFIRM

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, let's cut through the rhetoric right now. The Premier believes it is only Opposition members asking about a cap. Well I have this morning's The Chronicle Herald right here and in the article on the changes for the film industry it says: "Finance officials say there won't be a hard cap on that figure" - the figure of $10 million.

I'll ask the Premier, yes or no, is The Chronicle Herald report saying financial officials say there is no cap - is it accurate, yes or no?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is a chartered accountant and he brags about that across this province. Even he should understand that the government has to put an amount in a fund to budget for. (Interruptions) It's a reality.

What we have said to the industry, Mr. Speaker - and let me tell you how grateful I am to those members in the industry who sat down (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order please. The honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER « » : Let me tell you how grateful I am to members in the industry who sat down with government, fully articulated the challenges they had with the way we were going to deliver them, Mr. Speaker, have worked with us to broaden the opportunities for more Nova Scotians to be able to participate and be able to earn an income from this fund, and how we can leverage more money from within this province - and we've said to them that if this fund needs to be adjusted on a go-forward basis, we're more than prepared to sit down and discuss that with you.

[Page 4239]

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, the $10 million number in the budget is either real or not. It either is meaningful or not. It's either a limit or it isn't. It doesn't take an accountant or a doctor or a teacher, or any other person, to know that we've got to know.

The industry itself, and I will continue to quote from today's Chronicle Herald: "That will be vital because the industry will quickly use $10 million." So, is this just a number in a budget or is it a cap?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, again I want to say how grateful I am for the work that has been done over the last number of weeks with the co-operation of those in the industry. They have understood the reality that government has and we've understood their reality. We work together to find common ground; we work together to put together a fund that will keep this industry here in the province. We made a commitment to them that we would continue that dialogue and if any adjustments need to be made - on any aspect of that fund - we are prepared to sit down and discuss that with industry.

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

PREM. - FILM IND. FUND: FIGURE - AUTHENTICITY CONFIRM

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, you have to shake your head, really. We're just trying to find out if this $10 million fund is real or not real. We have a budget in front of us here today that we're going to be asked to vote on shortly and we're trying to understand if the $10 million is an arrangement that the government has concocted for their budget and their own political objectives versus what's in the industry's interest and what's needed to grow and keep this industry vibrant in our province. I want to ask the Premier, is the $10 million a made-up figure? Is it real or is not?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker I want to thank the Leader of the New Democratic Party who was the mastermind behind the fictitious surplus that we took into the last election. The reality of it is we have financial challenges facing this province. We have said to the industry we have a fund that is $10 million. We broadened the opportunities to spread it out across communities. We're very encouraged by that. The continuing dialogue is going on and we have said to the industry, if that fund needs to be adjusted as we go forward, we are prepared to sit down and listen and work with them to ensure that happens.

MS. MACDONALD « » : I don't know if this government has learned anything at all throughout the last debate over the number of weeks we've been looking at this. The banking industry, particularly RBC, is one of the largest financial contributors to the film and television projects that come into our province. The funds that we have available are used as leverage to secure funding. How in the world is the industry going to be able to go and secure funding, when we don't even know what's available? We can't get answers from the Premier whether or not there is a cap on this $10 million fund or not.

[Page 4240]

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Again, I want to tell her that the production taking place in this province would apply to the fund. They would be given approval based on the amounts, on a broader set of criteria than just labour, from post production, from aspects that happen, catering services, from any aspect associated that's purchased, product that's purchased and services that are purchased here in Nova Scotia. That's a good thing, Mr. Speaker.

I'm very encouraged by the support the industry has. They would take that sheet to the bank and finance as they have on every other case. What we have said with the industry, we will continue to work with them, to look at this fund, and if there needs to be adjustments made in the future, we're prepared to make those adjustments but we have budgeted for a $10 million fund in the industry.

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

PREM. - FILM IND. FUND: CAP - DETAILS

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, if you just listen to what the Premier is saying, he is basically saying we have this made-up number of $10 million and just trust us. If we get to the maximum, we might or we might not change it. The trust of the film industry in this government is long gone. That's why they need to know - what is the plan? Instead, the Premier refuses to answer a simple question so I'll ask him this. How can he expect the film industry to trust him now about whether there is a cap on this fund or not, when he won't even answer that simple a question?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, again, I want to tell all members of this industry how grateful we are for the work they have been doing and their co-operation. We have continued to work with them. We put together a fund that will continue to allow and broaden a set of criteria that will broaden the opportunities in communities across this province, allow the productions to use a greater criteria of cost that they can actually apply against this fund to take the bank, to use to leverage funding. What we have said, as we go forward, is if the fund needs to be adjusted, we are more than prepared to sit down and discuss it like we do with every aspect of delivering services to the people of this province.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, apparently now we can't rely on any number in the budget because it's all fluid and it's all up for grabs and it's all under review all the time. Well, that's not the point of a budget. The point of a budget is to tell the industry what is going to happen to their funding under this new Alberta-style grant that the Premier has designed.

[Page 4241]

We all thank the industry for what they do, but show them some respect and just tell them - is it capped or not?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, setting aside $10 million for an industry; I don't know what the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party suggests that would be. We've continued to sit down and we will continue to sit down to engage the community and engage the industry if that adjustment needs to take place.

I have been really encouraged by the way and the professionalism that they've continued to go. They see a future (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER « » : The industry sees a future in this province. Nova Scotians are optimistic about the future. I just wish that at some point, the Opposition Parties would see a future here.

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

COM. SERV.: HOUSING GRANTS - THRESHOLD

MR. CHUCK PORTER « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Community Services. The minister would know that for a number of years now - and I don't recall the last time that there was a threshold figure that was changed for housing grants. We have a number of those in my constituency, and I'm sure all members do in this House who deal with housing grants. I'm wondering if there will be any change in the near future with regard to the income level and threshold number figure.

HON. JOANNE BERNARD » : I thank the honourable member for his question. Thresholds in Nova Scotia for community grants for housing depend on the region and depend on the bedroom count within the home. Last year, we were able to provide $17.6 million for different programs that will help particularly seniors stay in their homes. That was 200 more than the year before.

This year, the government has also invested another $1.5 million into that program, which will help another 200 homes. So approximately by the end of this fiscal year coming up, we will have close to almost 2,600 homes within that threshold.

MR. PORTER « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer. Could she just clarify the increase - does that mean there will be a change in the income level or just that there are more people working at a lower income level?

[Page 4242]

MS. BERNARD « » : The increase doesn't have anything to do with the income level. In the income level, we look at each case individually and we try to do a solution that absolutely will fit with the client. If they're $50 or $100 above one threshold, we look at other programs, including small loans or SPD if they are available.

I just also have to say that we are audited by CMHC and if we go over the threshold for applications, Housing Nova Scotia is penalized for that.

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is . . .

MR. SPEAKER « » : If we are going to flip-flop the order of questions, it would be nice to let the Speaker know. For my books, you've missed, but we'll go back.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

PREM.: FILM IND. FUND - CAP CONFIRM

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Let's just call it what it is. The government is trying to say one thing to the film industry - oh, the $10 million, don't worry, we're not going to stick to it - while they're trying to tell Nova Scotia taxpayers that they're holding the line at $10 million.

Both of those things can't be true at the same time. You know what? Here we are in the Legislature, where the Premier has a chance to tell all Nova Scotians the same story and not two different stories. So I'll ask him, is he sticking to the $10 million in his budget or not?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the honourable member that there's actually $24 million for the industry. As you know, we're going into the same criteria that we had; we had budgeted $10 million in a $10 billion budget. We are going to continue to move forward with the industry. We're very encouraged by the support they provided to us and the education that I think both sides are providing one another.

We've come to some common principles and ground on broadening this fund to make sure that the impact is felt more broadly across Nova Scotian communities. That's a good thing. What we've said to the industry is that we will continue to work with them. If there are more challenges, we'll continue to work with them to address those.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, this is what happens when the government goes behind closed doors and says one thing and then tells the taxpayers of Nova Scotia another. I'll show you what I mean. (Interruptions)

[Page 4243]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition has the floor.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, here is the report that Screen Nova Scotia sent to its members last night. It says that: It is important to note that the government has stated that this is not a hard cap. They have flexibility in the funding that they can devote for our industry's needs. That's what they told their members based on what the government told them. Oh wait, there's more. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. Does the member have a question?

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, here is the press release the government put out to all Nova Scotians. It says . . .

MR. SPEAKER « » : No, the question please.

MR. BAILLIE « » : "The proposed arrangement stays within the fiscal plan . . ." Which is true? Is there flexibility, or does it stay within the fiscal plan?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Screen Nova Scotia for the work that they've been doing. (Applause)

I believe this is a win-win. They have done a tremendous job, and we're going to continue to work with them to ensure that members of this industry see a future in this province. We have very clearly said that if the fund needs to be adjusted, we're prepared to sit down and listen to ways we can move forward.

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

PREM. - FILM IND.: SOCIO-ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT - CONDUCT

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, it's certainly the case that this government likes to pick fights and talk after they've picked fights, but they also make decisions without any study. I think that what's really required is that this government embark on a good socio-economic impact assessment of this industry in our province as we move forward. Better late than never.

I want to ask the Premier, as this discussion continues with the industry, will the government now do the homework they should have done initially and do an up-to-date socio-economic impact assessment of this industry on our province?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, again, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Yesterday we came to an agreement on a fund that allows the industry to continue to prosper in this province. It broadens the opportunity for the production to be able to associate more costs that are incurred during the production - more Nova Scotia costs that are incurred during the production - to be applied against this opportunity.

[Page 4244]

That broadens the win for communities that the productions have to be taken place in. It broadens the opportunity for more Nova Scotians to be part of this industry. It allows labour costs to be associated. It allows for the Nova Scotia content of these productions to be fully recognized - that's a very positive thing. It broadens the economic opportunity across communities. We're very grateful for the fact that Screen Nova Scotia and the industry want to continue to sit down and move forward.

MS. MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, without question, one of the other serious harms that this government's decision has had with respect to this industry is the way that the capacity inside government to work with the industry has been eroded - eliminated.

I want to ask the Premier, will he commit to rebuilding the capacity inside government so that this important industry does not suffer further harm?

THE PREMIER « » : I'm very proud of the men and women who work inside government for the people of this province. (Applause) Mr. Speaker, they do a tremendous job day in and day out, and I want to recognize them.

There is absolutely no question of the challenges this province has been facing. There had to be adjustments on how we deliver services to the people of this province. There is no great joy in having to provide layoffs - people who have worked on behalf of the citizens of this province - but we are limited in what we can do in terms of how much we spend on wages and how much we spend on delivering a particular service.

I am grateful in this case that Screen Nova Scotia sat down on behalf of the industry to help us build a fund with some criteria that broadens the benefit across the province. We'll continue to notify them that we're prepared to work with them.

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

PREM.: FILM IND. FUND - DEPLETION

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm going to try this again. We're not getting a straight answer on whether this $10 million is capped or not. Let's actually look at it from the point of view of the industry as they bring projects forward. I'll ask the Premier the question in a way that's important for the industry and the people who work in it: when the $10 million is gone, will the Premier be turning down film projects or not?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank, again, the honourable member for the question and to tell him, as we have said to the industry, the new fund has a broader criteria that will allow the benefit to be spread across many aspects of the Nova Scotia economy. We're very encouraged by that. We've also told the industry that we'll continue to work with them and monitor this fund. If adjustments are required, we're prepared to sit down and have them.

[Page 4245]

But I do want to remind all members of this House that in the current budget, there's $24 million set aside to allow the industry to continue to move as they were before.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Well, Mr. Speaker, we keep hoping for a yes or no answer. In New Brunswick, once their fund is exhausted - because it's capped - they actually turn away film production work and the jobs that go with it. That's what we want to know here in Nova Scotia. The Premier wants to tell us that there's flexibility, so I'll just ask him straight-up, yes or no, will he guarantee that film projects will not be turned down here once the $10 million fund is reached?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I can't speak on behalf of the New Brunswick Government, but I can speak on behalf of this government. What we very clearly said to the industry - and I want to thank them for allowing us to build a fund that broadens the benefit across many aspects of the community, that allows us to recognize the entire Nova Scotian content of the film production, not just labour, but the other aspects that are benefiting communities. We said that we will continue to work with them if adjustments are required.

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

PREM.: FILM IND. FUND - CAP CONFIRM

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, now we don't know which numbers in the budget are real and which ones are not. It's bad enough that the industry can't get a straight answer about whether they have to live within the $10 million, whether there's a hard cap, a soft cap, a baseball cap, I don't know. It seems like a simple question. Is it capped or not? We're not getting an answer. It's a simple question.

How can the Premier tell the industry to just trust him when the $10 million is exhausted when he can't answer such a simple question?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the honourable member and the industry that this budget actually has $24 million in it. What we're talking about is on a go-forward basis. The industry has sat down and began that conversation. We're grateful that we'll be transitioning from a tax credit to a fund which broadens the benefit for communities across this province and which recognizes the entire Nova Scotia content that is part of the production, not just labour. That's a good thing for communities.

What we have said to the industry is that we will continue to work with them. If there are adjustments required on how this fund is delivered, we would be more than prepared to sit down and talk to them.

[Page 4246]

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, the Premier just spent a year in this House telling us that he doesn't believe in grants and that he thinks if there are grants, they should be tied to labour and nothing else. Now he has completely switched; he's designed an Alberta-style grant and he's actually untied it from labour. That's why the industry needs to know whether this fund, once exhausted, means the end of their business for that year or not.

So I'll ask the Premier, when the fund is exhausted - the $10 million fund - is that it for the film industry in Nova Scotia for that year?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure what the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party is looking for. We have very clearly said we've laid out a fund (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to again tell all members of this House I'm very grateful for the work that has been done. We've created a fund that will be there which will broaden the opportunities for communities. Why is the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party against recognizing those members of our communities who rent equipment to the film industry? Why is he against those people who would sell equipment to be used or costumes? Why is he against people in this province who get a benefit from that? Why would he be opposed to broadening the opportunity to all those who work in the film industry?

Let me be clear again. We will continue to work with the industry. If adjustments are required, we'll work with them to make it happen.

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

PREM.: FILM IND. FUND - CAP CONFIRM

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear. What I am against is a Premier who promises the film industry that he believes in them, that he is going to extend their tax credit and he's going to strengthen it before the election, and then guts it after the election. That's what I'm against. I'm also against a Premier who won't answer a simple question, not for me but for the 2,700 families that need to know whether they are capped next year or not. Out of respect for them, if not this House, out of respect for them as they plan their work, as they hire their employees, as they go about making their production plans, are they done when the $10 million fund is used up - yes or no?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to say to all members of this House how this fund broadens the opportunity across - recognizing the entire Nova Scotia content of productions that take place in this province. We continued with the dialogue with members of that industry. We have said to them, very clearly, if adjustments need to be made in this fund, we are prepared to sit down and work with them to ensure that happens. But this is a good-news story for a broader sector of Nova Scotians who will be able to work in the industry. We recognize all Nova Scotians who have been working on productions, not just the labour component. This is a good-news story and we'll continue to work with the industry to ensure that we continue to build on the good news.

[Page 4247]

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, we have been willing to admit all along that the government just made a big mistake with the way they've handled the film industry. We truly can't believe they deliberately set out to disrupt the lives of 2,700 hard-working, taxpaying Nova Scotians.

Yesterday it looked like there might be a way out of this mess, but you know what? It would be a bigger mistake to leave such a fundamental issue as to whether the industry is capped next year at $10 million, or not, unanswered. Let's not have two mistakes in a row. Will the Premier not make the second mistake and please clear up, is the industry capped and finished their work when the $10 million fund is exhausted - yes or no?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Again, I want to tell him there is a $10 million fund that's broadening the opportunity for all Nova Scotians who participate in the production of a production in this province - not just the labour side. That's a good-news story for Nova Scotians.

We have said to the industry that we would work with them if adjustments need to be made to the program. Here's what leads to uncertainty and anxiety for families: the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party never once mentioned anything about the tax cut until he was going to wait to see what he read in the paper. Now he has been going around driving divisive politics at the same time we've been working with the industry to find common ground, to put in place a fund that will broaden the opportunity across this province. I want to say thank you to all those in the film industry.

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

PREM. - FILM IND.: CAP - CONFIRM IN WRITING

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, hello and thank you. The Premier has proven to be very good at spinning a story and making the public believe what he wants them to believe, but he forgets the film and creative industries are professional storytellers and they know the difference. The Premier has told this industry many things so far and now they feel they would like to know for sure whether there's a cap on their industry. They feel it is unreliable to not have a firm answer and they would like to have it in writing. Will the Premier be willing to put it in writing about whether or not there's going to be a cap or no cap, so this industry can grow in Nova Scotia?

[Page 4248]

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Again, I want to remind all members of this House there's $24 million in this current budget. I want to thank the industry for moving towards a fund that will broaden the opportunities across communities, will recognize all Nova Scotia content in the production of movies. We have said we'll continue to work with them, and if there are adjustments that are required, we're more than prepared to sit down and talk to them.

MS. ZANN « » : Well, I have to say that the McNeil Government has used their majority to pick fights with unions, with students, with filmmakers, and with the whole entire creative community, and they've used it to strip support and freeze funding for the most vulnerable people in our province. In this year's budget, for instance, income assistance rates were frozen for a second year in a row, and support was cut for many people with challenges - the deaf, the blind, the mentally ill.

My question for the Premier is this: Like everything else, does the Premier think it's up to the private sector to help the film community and vulnerable Nova Scotians, or does he actually understand that that is his job?

THE PREMIER « » : I want to thank the honourable member for her question. We very clearly understand why the finances of this province were in such a mess when we came to power.

Her Leader stood up two days ago accusing us of being on a spending spree last year because we dealt with a long-standing issue around the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children. It is absolutely offensive to suggest that anyone in this House would be asking the vulnerable and poor in this province (Interruptions) The reality of it is, Mr. Speaker, we have a fiscal challenge. On one hand they're asking us to deal with that, probably spend more money, and then do it on the other (Interruptions) Where is the balance?

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please.

The honourable member for Inverness.

FIN. & TREASURY BD.: N.S. FILM PEOPLE - MIN. CONFIDENCE

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

In a briefing yesterday a government official said that revisiting the Film Tax Credit decision has now meant the government has a better understanding of what tax credits and incentives are offered by other jurisdictions. This reminds us of how the Minister of Justice did not know what the rules were in other provinces in this country when it came to historical victims of sexual assault and abuse.

[Page 4249]

Knowing what happens in other jurisdictions is critical to understanding what is needed to attract film business here. Does the minister truly believe she has the confidence of people in the Nova Scotia film business?

HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member opposite. I think the important thing for all of us to know and for the people of Nova Scotia to know is that we've had a meeting of minds; we found common ground; we've worked together in what has been a highly charged and difficult time; and there has been goodwill on both parts, on the executive from Screen Nova Scotia who have had a very difficult role to play, and on our officials in government as well.

I think it would behoove everybody today to look at the fact that we have found common ground with the Alberta model, that that is a model that worked successfully in Alberta. It has been agreed to by both parties that it has good merit and can be used here in Nova Scotia. That's what we need to know.

MR. MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, I think the important thing to take from this is that the minister made decisions about people's livelihoods and she didn't understand the ramifications. Will the minister table case studies of examples showing finances for what would happen under the old tax credit and what will happen under her new plan, so that everyone can clearly see the difference?

MS. WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, again I thank the member for the question. I think the important thing again to realize is that work is underway, has continued, we've found common ground. A lot of work has been done.

The new system will be more transparent; it's going to be fair to the industry; and it is going to be fair to Nova Scotian taxpayers. We all know the examples across the country, Alberta is looked at as a best practice and it has been accepted with the industry. Thank you.

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

FIN. & TREASURY BD.: FILM IND. FUND - CAP CONFIRM

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

Well here we are folks, 39 minutes later, still trying to find out if the fund is capped or not. I understand that the government has $24 million for this year, $10 million for next year. A simple question for the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, is the $10 million capped or not?

[Page 4250]

HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I think there has been a lot of give and take in terms of the discussions that have been held with the industry. We have to put numbers in a budget, of course we do, and we try to manage to a budget. The honourable member opposite is also a chartered accountant - we'll soon all be CPAs - we understand that you don't run any organization without having some targets in mind, some way to move forward.

What's really missed here is that what we've done is come a long distance and we've got a common program now that we can look at and that we can monitor. We have promised that we will be monitoring, as we do with all of our spending, with updates and transparency, and that's how it will be. Nova Scotians will also know how it's going; it will be online.

MR. HOUSTON « » : The date of July 1st is very significant for next year's productions. It's not that far away. I don't want to try to put myself in the heads of this government and understand what they are thinking, and I am certain that members of the film industry don't want to take a gamble on what you might be thinking either. So the question is, is it capped or not?

MS. WHALEN « » : I think it's very important to recognize the value of the industry, the fact that we value the industry, the fact that a fund has been created. It will be in place for the 2016-17 year. Applications and information will begin to flow July 1st and certainly there have been no claims at all on that fund at this point in time so on July 1st it will begin. I think that gives certainty to move forward with summer talks, with continuing talks, with all the details that need to be put in place for the fund, and I think posturing in this House of Assembly does nobody any good.

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

HEALTH & WELLNESS: STERILIZATION EQUIPMENT SEARCH - STATUS

HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker. The McNeil Government's budget hasn't even passed yet and the freeze on the health care budget is going to have a negative impact on health care delivery here in our province. Over 312 surgeries have been cancelled this week and in Health and Wellness Estimates the minister has indicated that they were looking for equipment in the U.S. to bring into our province. So I would like to ask the minister, has that equipment been found and when will it be in our province?

HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : First of all I want to commend all those at the QE II Health Sciences and others across the province who have pulled together this week to make sure that all the emergency and urgent surgeries have gone forward. There are a number of areas that are in play. The staff meet every morning at 9:30 a.m. to plan for that day plus for next week. At this point we can say that they are looking at mobile sterilization equipment just in case the equipment at the Infirmary is not able to be made functional for the future.

[Page 4251]

MR. WILSON « » : It's not just in the film industry, Mr. Speaker, in the health sector the minister and the government have given mixed messages. He indicated in Estimates that they are looking at the U.S. for replacement equipment and today we hear reports that about a $1 million investment is needed to replace the sterilization equipment, that's in a frozen health care budget. I would like to ask the Minister of Health and Wellness, will the Minister of Health and Wellness and his government provide the $1 million to replace the sterilization equipment at the QE II Hospital?

MR. GLAVINE « » : While on the line item there is less money in the budget for hospital equipment this year because we were able to do quite a bit more ordering last year and we were able to put more into the equipment budget during the last fiscal year, what I can assure the member opposite and all Nova Scotians is that perhaps in the interim there will be mobile sterilizing equipment. If new equipment is needed to be replaced that surely will happen.

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

FIN. & TREASURY BD. - FILM TAX CREDIT:

OLD/NEW VERSIONS - CASE STUDIES

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. The minister has just said that we are posturing. I think what we need here are some facts. In my last question I asked a simple request, table some facts before the Legislature. Show how things will change, looking at the way things were done under the most recent credit before the change is made in this budget and what the minister is proposing now. Will the minister table that so people in this Legislature and people in the industry can understand what exactly she is proposing?

HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the question, again, from the honourable member. I think I've made it very clear that the industry and government are still talking and there are details that are being discussed. There are still elements that we need to work out together and that we have come to common ground. In fact, I think it's worth saying that yesterday was a significant accomplishment for both sides to come to that common ground.

The idea of coming up with other information at this point is a little bit early. It doesn't mean that it won't be available. I'd be happy to sit down with the member opposite when we're at that point. Thank you.

MR. MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, how can the government members expect us to support a budget when we're not even told how things that are affecting people's lives, how they're even going to work out for them? Table it in this Legislature. Table whether or not there's a cap, as has been asked, I think, about 30 or 40 times so far today.

[Page 4252]

All we want are some answers. Will the minister table this information before we vote on this budget?

MS. WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I have said that talks are underway and continue and that there are things that still need to be discussed. It is very important that when you come to common ground there are still more things. We've agreed on the Alberta model. It's successful. You can look at that; it works well in Alberta. They have a successful industry there. We'd like to be able to say that here in Nova Scotia we are competitive, and I can say that today.

I can say that the way we're moving forward is with a fair system for both the industry and taxpayers, a competitive system, and that we've looked at the transparency issue, which means everything will be very open and transparent. We also know there will be better and more measurable benefits to Nova Scotia. We'll be able to track it better. Let me put it that way, Mr. Speaker.

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

FIN. & TREASURY BD.: FILM TAX FUND - CAP: DEPLETION - EFFECTS

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. I have Bruised Productions in Pictou County - Steve Brazil. Yesterday he was very excited about the discussions. Today he's a little confused.

I think the question here to help him understand it is that he has $27 million in productions. He wants to know, once other companies reach that $10 million cap, does that mean that it's done for him, that he can't tap into anything? So that's just the simple question. Once that cap is reached, is there anything left for anyone else to tap into?

HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to see that the member's constituent was pleased yesterday. I think there is great reason for optimism, and I do think we should point to that and say that we need to move forward working with the industry and in good faith, and that a lot of the rhetoric that comes up here on the floor doesn't help.

This isn't where we'll make decisions about the industry. We'll make it with the industry, not here on the floor of the Legislature. That's important. Mr. Speaker, perhaps I'll let the honourable member have her second question.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou West - and I just want to remind her that it's not proper during Question Period to ask questions on behalf of a constituent. Just rephrase your question. I get what you're trying to do, but . . .

[Page 4253]

MS. MACFARLANE « » : Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My question, again, is to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. Will Bruised Productions then not be left behind?

MS. WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, again, yesterday was a very significant accomplishment. In fact, the industry said so in their message to their members. But they also said there is more work to be done. We agree with them. There is more work to be done, and we'll be working with them.

They understand that what we're putting in the budget and what we're discussing is for another full year away. It appears in our budget in the fiscal plan, which is a four-year outlook. It is one of the many, many factors of items that we list. I can't think of the countless items that go into a budget that are there for the following year, for 2016-17.

We will be continuing our discussions. I would suggest that people in the industry should take heart from the goodwill and from the common ground that has been found and the fact that there will be a program in place on July 1st.

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

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, the Alberta model existed a few weeks ago. Why not look at these things before you come in with these plans? Why not look through jurisdictional screens and see what's happening in the world before you make these decisions that turn people's lives upside down?

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.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Are we still on bills? (Interruptions)

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, as if there wasn't enough confusion already, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply unto Her Majesty.

[Page 4254]

AN HON. MEMBER: No. They can't do that.

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Before we went into Question Period this morning, we did not adjourn debate on Bill No. 97. In fact, very specifically, I remember you saying - I don't want to quote you out of context - the member will return to speaking this morning.

I would like to return to speaking to Bill No. 97 at this time. The debate has not been adjourned. I have quite a bit to say on Bill No. 97 and I would like to finish out my hour. That's my point of order. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : I will just consult with the Clerk for one minute and we will come back. The House will now recess for one minute while I consult with the Clerk.

[10:51 a.m. The House recessed.]

[11:03 a.m. The House reconvened.]

SPEAKER'S RULING

Effect on business by the start of Question Period (Pt. of order by Mr. T. Houston [Hansard, p. 4254, 04/24/15]) When the business before the House is interrupted by Question Period it stands over until Question Period concludes.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. I come back with a ruling on the member for Pictou East's point of order.

Having a fixed time for Question Period is a relatively new provision in our rules. This is the first time the question of how the interruption of business by the start of Question Period affects that business.

O'Brien and Bosc provides that under Government Business, any item that has been called and on which debate has begun must be dealt with until it is adjourned, interrupted, or disposed of. Our Assembly Rules do not deal with this issue directly. Rule 17(2B) provides that when Question Period interrupts the daily routine, we revert back to the daily routine.

Rule 2 provides that where our usage and precedents do not provide guidance, we look to the Standing Orders of the Canadian House of Commons. Standing Order 41(1) of the House of Commons provides that when business before the House is interrupted by Question Period, it stands over until Question Period concludes.

[Page 4255]

Accordingly, the member for Pictou East is correct. I said I would return to him after Question Period, and that is consistent with the authorities and the Standing Orders in Ottawa. We'll go to the member for Pictou East, who has 57 minutes left, and then to the NDP, and then to the government.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

[Bill No. 97 – Quality-improvement Information Protection Act.]

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou East, with 57 minutes.

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's a pleasure to stand this morning and speak to this bill. I have to confess that I wasn't expecting to be speaking to this bill today. But it is an important bill and when it is called for second reading, whether or not we expect it to have been called, we must speak on behalf of our constituents. This is what the order is before the business of this House today, so I'm pleased to speak to it.

Ensuring Nova Scotians receive quality health care is incredibly important. Every member in this House understands how important it is that we ensure that Nova Scotians receive quality health care. When incidents, or missteps occur, or a unique case presents itself at a health care centre, it is important that the steps and the lessons learned are communicated across the system.We have to learn from our mistakes. That's true in many things in life but it's absolutely true in health care. We think it's important that we have information available about quality improvements and patient safety from across the province. It's important that we aggregate that information, because it's only through having that information available that we can create a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of certain regions and make them known and help create a level playing field for the quality of the services that people receive.

This is very important. As I think about this, I'm thinking specifically about Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a situation that's of great concern to me; it's also a situation where there is some inconsistency, not just across the regions of Nova Scotia, but across Canada, in how people who present, who may have symptoms of Lyme disease, are treated. When we talk about getting a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses across certain regions, that's what I'm thinking about. If you present yourself in an emergency room in Shelburne or Lunenburg, or you present yourself to an emergency room at the Aberdeen or Sydney, you should have the benefit of having learned from other situations in other jurisdictions. It's very important to me because when I hear about somebody presenting in an emergency room and maybe a physician is saying, well, that particular disease doesn't really exist, maybe you have this or that, and then somebody else presents at another room and a doctor takes an immediate course of action, maybe prescribes 21 days or 30 days of antibiotics - well, those two people, regardless of where they live, deserve to have the same standard of care.

[Page 4256]

We need to learn lessons and we need to share information across the system, and that's a good thing. Now, how do we do that? Over the years, other jurisdictions have tried measures to get a clear view of what is and what isn't working in the system. It has been tried before. We should be trying it as well, and that's a good thing.

I'm reminded of the situation that we're seeing now, that is unfolding before our eyes in this House, we saw it with the Statute of Limitations, where we talked about what was happening in other jurisdictions, tried to make the government to look at that. Maybe they weren't interested, maybe they didn't understand, but eventually came back and said you know what, member for Inverness, you were right, we can look at other jurisdictions here and we can make this better - and they did.

Now today, in real time, before our eyes the government has decided, in the face of turmoil, hey, there's a system in Alberta that may work here. Let's try that. We need to - it's always important to learn from other jurisdictions and health care is no different. What's learned in one jurisdiction doesn't need to be relearned in another jurisdiction in the face of chaos - you can look at these things methodically and you can see what's out there and you can move forward with them. You can adapt them, you can change them, but you can use them as your base.

Evidently that is what's happening to some extent with the Film Tax Credit. There has been a revelation on the government side that in Alberta they do a certain thing and now we're going to try it here. That's my wish for health care. That's my wish for health care minus the chaos, minus the crisis, that we do it methodically. We have a chance here with this bill to look at what's happening in other jurisdictions and learn from them.

One interesting and very simple measure that I've heard of in other jurisdictions is a simple survey that patients would fill out when they leave a doctor's appointment. They could fill out a survey and this survey would ask a very straightforward and simple question - straightforward and simple, not often words used to describe the processes of government but in this case there could be. There's no reason why when you leave a doctor's appointment you couldn't answer a survey question that said, did your doctor explain the medication they prescribed? That would be a straightforward question you could ask and that would provide information back into the system that we could learn from. This happens in other jurisdictions; we can learn from that. We want to improve the quality of the system and there are examples out there, and I would certainly advocate for learning from those examples.

What about when you leave a doctor's appointment if a patient were asked a simple question, did the physician remind you about your annual exam? We can slowly and methodically start to gain knowledge about how the system is functioning in the eyes of the people who use it. Once we have that information, we can improve the quality of the system across the board. We could find that in one jurisdiction maybe doctors, on balance, aren't describing what they have prescribed but in another area they are, and we could learn from that. We could learn from that and we could go to the areas that are maybe a little weaker and improve them. I think that's what's happening with the Film Tax Credit as we speak.

[Page 4257]

Maybe that's what is happening with that. Maybe they are learning from another jurisdiction, maybe a little bit late but it's never really too late to admit you're wrong and to fix what's broken. We can do that in health care as well. It's my hope that we do that.

HON. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Previous rulings from your Chair, in fact, and numerous sessions of the Legislature, have indicated that the members must stay on the bill when speaking of it. The honourable member has strayed off into other areas a number of times lately and so I would ask you to be mindful of that. In fact, I would remind you that not only have you ruled on that, but your predecessor ruled on it many times when we were in Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER « » : I want to thank the member for Dartmouth East for bringing that up; however, I am listening intently to the honourable member for Pictou East and I believe that he's using the examples to demonstrate his point. I would assure you that I'm listening carefully and I will continue to listen carefully.

The honourable member for Kings North on an introduction.

MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce some people from my constituency. The Northeast Kings Education Centre political science class is up there. I would like to introduce Don Batstone and Peter Gebhardt, teachers from Northeast Kings, and the class in the west gallery - if we could give them the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

MR. HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, I was glad that in this House we recognize we can learn from other jurisdictions and we have many examples of that. As I try to stress upon the government how important it is to learn from the lessons of yesterday, I think there's no more poignant way to make those points than to talk about where things have gone wrong. We don't want things to go wrong. We want things to go right, so we should always be learning.

As a patient is leaving a doctor's office, a simple survey would get some quality information. Imagine if you had a follow-up survey to a patient after they left the office. Did your physician take your blood pressure? That's a simple question. It would provide information into the system, information that could be used to develop what is happening in other areas of the province. That's a good thing when you can learn from these things.

[Page 4258]

If we are sincere about improving the quality of the system - and I know the minister is certainly sincere about improving the quality of the system. Health care is a $4 billion spend for us, it's close to 40 per cent of our budget, and we always ask questions in this House about how that $4 billion can be made to go further. That's the objective of people in this House.

We know the financial situation of the province. The Premier has referred to the province being broke. The Minister of Business referred to the province being broke. In that context, we should be doing what we can to make things better, especially where it's particularly cost-effective.

Simple surveys to gain information about how people feel and about the quality of the service they are receiving can help make the system better, and it can certainly be done in a very cost-effective way. We could even drill down through the Department of Health and Wellness, looking to see whether maybe certain doctors might need a bit more direction or certain patients aren't feeling like they are being followed through with simple primary care necessities and directives. If we have quality information, then we can use quality information to improve the system.

Quality information can be obtained in simple ways, and that may lead to simple solutions. That's all we're talking about here. I just want to urge the government to consider ways to collect quality information. You get that directly from patients and you get that from doing a bit of analysis on what is happening in other jurisdictions, whether that is another part of the province. Maybe some of that will fall out naturally with the amalgamation to one health board. I'm sure there are things that were done in the various other district health authorities and there will be some best practices. Maybe we might get some of those simple, cost-effective things that make the system operate better. That's all we're talking about.

There are ways we can improve health outcomes. We can improve the health outcomes of individuals by zeroing in on small pieces of information because small pieces of information might show you where the gaps are. There are many simple ways we can do that. If we do it properly, if we think it out and have a plan, then we can make significant improvements and we can better the health and wellness of Nova Scotians. That's where I want to focus: making sure that this bill betters the health and wellness of Nova Scotians.

When we look at this legislation, we're always a little bit wary of legislation that deals with personal information, and particularly personal information about people's health history. You've got to be pretty wary about that because it's an important initiative, but this is one that has to be done right. We have to get this one right.

The health information of Nova Scotians and having access to that will enable health professionals to make better decisions. If you have no information, you can make poor decisions. Information, good decisions. No information, poor decisions. Where have we seen that before, Mr. Speaker? Where have we seen where people make decisions based on little or poor information? If you make decisions in health care on little or poor information, people don't get the care they need. People get hurt, people get sick, people don't get better.

[Page 4259]

I'm an advocate of more and better information. When you're speaking of people's health, cures and health improvements and the road to recovery for what ails you - it lies on competent decision-making with good and secure information. I don't want to go through the numerous examples - well aware to this House - of what happens when you make decisions with poor or no information, or when you believe you're prepared to put an exclamation point on something and say "Well, that's done, we've solved that" just by saying that you're going to without a plan. We know those examples exist in this House and we don't need to go through those examples today.

But I do see value in transitioning health records to an electronic format. If you do that properly, that's a good thing. I see value in recognizing that the Internet is important. Online electronic data is an effective way to distribute information to Nova Scotians and it's an effective way to give health care providers a history. I see value in that. I've been an advocate in this House of looking for opportunities to distribute more information electronically.

Members of this House may remember just a few days ago, we debated about whether or not ministerial expenses should be online. I heard one of the members of the House say, well, you know, maybe, but people don't look at that information anyway. That's not good enough for me. We need to recognize that if you make information available to people, they will use it. If you make information available to health care professionals, they will certainly use it. In fact, there are a few websites that have spawned from this where you can go and research different - if you have some symptoms, you can do a bit of self-diagnosis on the Internet.

Electronic information is useful, it's powerful, and we should be moving there as a province within the context of making sure that we know how to protect that information. I spoke briefly before we were interrupted for Question Period about some of my concerns where, as a province, we have access to very personal information about people. The Auditor General has identified some weaknesses in how we as a province control and maintain that data. We should be mindful of the Auditor General's concerns over our ability to maintain protection of data as we think about moving health care records online.

I spoke briefly about how coming up at Public Accounts Committee, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is going to come and talk about some weaknesses that the Auditor General identified surrounding the iNSchool system that students can use to log in and see what they had in marks on certain quizzes or see what their attendance was. My daughter is in Grade 10 and she's a pretty religious user of this iNSchool system. Knowing how she and her friends rely on this system to communicate with their teachers, to look at their marks, to see if they were marked absent or present - knowing how much they rely on it, I was pretty taken aback to hear some of the Auditor General's concerns about the weaknesses in that system. I look forward to exploring those weaknesses and finding out what the department may have done to close those weaknesses, next week at Public Accounts.

[Page 4260]

Mr. Speaker, I raise that in the context of within the government as it exists today there is an incredible amount of information about us: everything from our taxes to our social insurance to our family situations, there is an incredible amount of personal information that the government has at its hands and much of that information is in electronic form. As part of my privilege of being a member of Public Accounts, I have heard two departments come forward and have the Auditor General explain some weaknesses in how those departments were controlling that information. Man oh man, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to be there at some point if the Health and Wellness Department comes forward and the Auditor General has pointed some weaknesses in the control over people's health information.

So my focus is, we need quality information. We need to aggregate information, and we need to use that information but we better protect it; we better protect. Just imagine that information getting into the wrong hands and how devastating that could be to a person.

I remember when I was younger and I was working in an industry that had an interest in a lot of insurance companies. I remember one day I got an email, it was directed: Hi Tim, here is the file you've been looking for. And Mr. Speaker, this was before - it's kind of a common theme now to spread bugs and hacking and stuff like that, but back then it wasn't, and there was a file attached. The file that was attached was the Workers' Compensation file, the entire detail of a person's life and their accident at work and their medical records.

Within minutes I received another email from the same person saying, Tim, please disregard that email. It was a friend of mine and I did disregard it and I did delete it at that stage. At first I was wondering, I thought it might have been a claim file we were working on together but I did and he called me and he said: I was preparing to send the email, I hit Tim in my address book, I got the first one and I sent it. Man oh man, I'm so sorry and I'm so embarrassed.

These are the types of things that happen in the real world, Mr. Speaker, and they happen within this province, and so I would like to see a system in place around electronic health data where if that happens it's logged, it's known, it's discussed, and we know what's happening. That would have been a very minor breach in that case because it went into friendly hands, it went into my hands and I was a friend and I understood because I worked in that industry and that was that.

[Page 4261]

That won't always be the case, Mr. Speaker. If electronic information inadvertently or without knowledge gets into the wrong hands, it can cause quite a bit of turmoil for people. If we're talking about the benefits, if we want to talk about the benefits of moving to electronic health records, then we need to have a serious discussion about the risks and that's really just the point. It needs to be done properly. I think it's a good idea, but it needs to be done properly. We need to have a frank discussion, because if we get a good idea and we charge down the road and we try and implement that without consideration of other viewpoints or consideration of concerns, then we have a risk.

We've seen that risk. We've seen things that happen and decisions that are made and then have to be pulled back and say, well, wait a second, we didn't properly understand the consequences of that action. I don't want that to happen here.

I applaud the initiative. I raise some concerns of what can happen when decisions are made without proper information, without understanding. I remember, Mr. Speaker - I was thinking of this story the other day, in the context of another bill I was considering, and it has to do with the need for quality information in making decisions. I raise it when thinking about the need for our health care professionals to have quality information.

I'm going to tell a quick little story here about a situation that doesn't involve this House, but it shows how when you make decisions with poor information, things can backfire. It involves a house, but not this House, and it has to do with the need for quality information. I'm telling it in the context of advocating for systems that allow physicians to have quality information.

When we were newly married, Mr. Speaker, we were living in Bermuda. It was probably about 18 years ago, because I'm approaching 20 years of marriage this summer. We had been in Bermuda and we were living in an apartment. We had been there for two years. Lo and behold, a new building manager came along. The first interaction I had with the new building manager was when he handed me a piece of paper that said he was going to double my rent, effective the start of the month.

I was quite taken aback by that, Mr. Speaker. We were young and starting out, and we certainly couldn't afford to have that happen. We tried to have some discussions about that, and there was no budging. In discussions with some of my Bermudian friends, they said, well, Tim, you should check and see if your apartment has rent control.

It turns out that 4 per cent to 6 per cent of all the apartments in Bermuda are rent-controlled, and through some discussion, mine was. Working with the tenancy board, we got to a situation where we went and sat down with the landlord, and I said to him that not only could he not double my rent, but I asked him to leave it the same. He said no, I'm doubling it.

[Page 4262]

I said, well, sir, I have some information for you that might be relevant to your decision-making process. The information I provided him was that I was in a rent-controlled apartment, and actually, they had been overcharging me for the two years I had been there. So not only did he not increase my rent, he actually owed me a significant refund.

When I mentioned that to some of the other neighbours in the building, they were quite interested in this, Mr. Speaker. It turns out that there were only two or three apartments in the whole building, and mine was. If you make decisions without information, it can often blow up in your face, and that one blew up in his face.

I don't want to be in a situation where our physicians don't always have good information. If you have access to good information, you can make good decisions. If you don't have access to good information, maybe you make a decision that costs your boss a little bit of coin, in this case, Mr. Speaker, but we're talking about something much more serious than a little bit of coin, we're talking about the health records of Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness.

HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg the indulgence of the member opposite to do an introduction. In the east gallery we have the Warden of Kings County, Diana Brothers, with us today. If everybody would give her a warm welcome to the House, please. (Applause)

MR. HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, before I move to getting into the specifics of health records and some of the things I'm thinking about around health records, I do want to finish that story because I think the members of the House may find it interesting that the decision that was made around the rents was made with very poor information.

I'd just like to tell the members of this House, because I do think they might find it interesting, I remained in that apartment for quite some time after that but the landlord was gone in very short order. When you make bad decisions with bad information, there are often repercussions. That's a story about a house; it's a story about a different house but I certainly see how there are lessons to be learned by members of this House about making decisions and making sure that you have good information.

If you use the data available to you properly and you collect data through efficient systems and you make that available to the health care providers, then those in charge of health care delivery will have some very useful tools at their hands for better care for patients. If the department acts on that information, we may have more efficient decisions being made - and that's important; that's what we're here to do, Mr. Speaker.

If we can get to a point where different jurisdictions collaborate and share information from across the province, from among hospitals, across different regions, then we can share best practices and that would be a very positive thing for Nova Scotians. But it's only positive if it's done properly - and I've said many times I think some of the things that have happened in this House before are positive, well-intentioned ideas; unfortunately, for Nova Scotians, the execution on some of them has been pretty lacking and we've seen some failed things.

[Page 4263]

We don't want to see failure on well-intentioned ideas. We support well-intentioned ideas, and we have many times. We point out concerns we have with the execution, and I think the people making decisions should always be willing to receive concerns about execution; they should always be willing to take those concerns and respond to them.

Health care can be no different. If we're talking about improving the quality of the health care system, then we should be listening to all the concerns that are expressed by equally well-intentioned people who also want to improve the system. We can listen to their concerns and then we can address those concerns. That's what should be happening on the floor of this House.

Oftentimes I think of situations that I hear about, or that I read about, or that I see before my very eyes, and I wonder to myself, why? In our community we have people who would have known how to fix that, we have people in our community who would have known how to address that. Why do we need to bring somebody in from somewhere else and pay them a lot of money to tell us what we know in our own community?

I think oftentimes it's lost. That could apply in this House. If you listen to the concerns then you can address those concerns and make things better, and if you don't listen to the concerns then you can pooh-pooh them and ignore them and - maybe I'll withdraw that expression, but I think if you ignore concerns then you risk not getting the best that you can for Nova Scotians - and Nova Scotians do deserve the best. They absolutely deserve the best health care, and this is moving in the direction of improving the delivery of health care and I'm happy for that.

Now let's talk about the concerns, and I have concerns with this bill just like I have concerns with the rental rates in Bermuda. It is something that I'm a little less concerned about now after 2008 and some of the things that happened in the world economy, but it is something that concerns me when I think of my friends there. But I have concerns about many things and sometimes it causes me to lie a little restless at night, thinking of concerns of things that I have.

On this bill here, I wonder, how will this approach to health care records work in Nova Scotia? Is it modelled on the Ontario approach? It wouldn't be novel to model things in this province on something that's happening somewhere else. It would be novel to have the foresight to look for that, but is this modelled on what's happening in Ontario? In Ontario there is an electronic health information system and it falls into three general categories. For the benefit of the House the information about the eHealth Ontario is available on the Internet. You can Google eHealth Ontario and you will find information about their program. That is the beauty of the Internet.

[Page 4264]

If I may, it's the very reason we introduced a bill on putting ministerial expenses online, so no matter where you are you can access this information. If we think about the ability to sit here today and I could go into the room behind us and log-on to the computer and I could find everything I need to know about eHealth Ontario. That's a good thing because imagine if you were a physician in some area of Nova Scotia and a patient presented, maybe not ordinarily a resident in the area, with a health history and you could go on a computer and you could pull up that person's file and give them the treatment that they deserve and give them the treatment they need. That would be a big step forward for this province, and I hope we see that day - and I hope we see the day where that happens in the context of a safe, secure, information delivery system.

Electronic health records will bring together everything about your individual information. It's all registered with the health care providers and it's available to your family doctor, to specialists, to a doctor that you may see whom you don't ordinarily see, but as part of your health care team it would have everything about your provincial health care plan. This is the way of the future. Eventually electronic health records will include all the data from the hospital information systems and community care clinics and other providers as well. It's a good thing. But how are we going to do that? How does that happen? You're going to need an electronic medical record system. You're going to need some software. What software system are we going to use? How are we going to aggregate and distribute these systems? That's very important.

These are the types of concerns I have. I think it's a good thing. I think it's a well-intentioned thing. I think that when we think about it in the context of some of the well-intentioned things that have not happened for whatever reason - I don't want to use the word failed, but have just not happened. There are lots of well-intentioned things in life that don't happen and it's for a variety of reasons. With the electronic health records, it's a well-intentioned thing, but I have many concerns about how we're going deliver that.

It will be personal health care records - everything about your history. Let's think about the flipside of that. Let's think about the power of physicians to have more information about specific cases. I can tell you in my family, there is a hereditary medical condition that is very rare. Every time we have a new doctor, it's a big learning experience for that new doctor to understand the condition and understand the possible ramifications and to consider the treatment. So for me, it would be very helpful to have a little - maybe even when you move across countries, you can have your own information on a flash disk and you can say, here you go, here doctor, here's everything about me. That may help him with the treatment plan. It may help doctors coordinate and share data. These are good things.

When we think about the possible bad things that can happen in the health system from poor information or a lack of information, there are some pretty dire consequences. So let's make sure we have good information, let's make sure doctors can focus on patient care, and let's think about the positives that can happen.

[Page 4265]

At the moment, patients who wanted access to their records in the past have had to pay a lot of information to go into their records. The question is, will that happen in Nova Scotia? That's the question in my mind. In 2013, there was a quite a kerfuffle when a woman from Thunder Bay attempted to access her paper records. This lady was pretty shocked to find out that it would cost her $617 to access her records. Imagine the shock to try to find out that you want to access your own records and you have to pay $617 - for her own records. Could that happen here? What would happen under the new electronic system? We don't want that to happen. I don't think that's something that can happen, so let's get a good system.

Now, the law is pretty clear on that point about accessing your own records, but you know, you should be able to access your own records. The information belongs to the patient. The information about the patient belongs to the patient, but in some cases in some jurisdictions, the physical record belongs to the person or organization responsible for its creation. Just imagine that. It's your own health record, it's information about you, and that's your life, but the fact that somebody wrote it down and stored it in a file and created that file about it means that it belongs to that other person.

The Supreme Court ruled on this issue back in 1992. It was the landmark case of McInerney v. MacDonald. Mr. Speaker, you may remember that case - the case dealing with personal information and who owns personal information. It was a significant issue at the time. Somehow, it didn't make it onto my own radar screen back in 1992, but I think maybe the Speaker might have been paying close attention to that one.

In 2013, this issue came up again. According to a 2013 Globe and Mail article, "A patient has the right to see the content of the record for almost any reason; the only exception is if revealing the information will cause substantial harm to the patient or others. That doesn't mean you can traipse into your doctor's office and demand the file at any time, but you can make an appointment to do so, and you can ask for copies. The physician or hospital can, in turn, charge a 'legitimate' fee for providing the documents." Now that was quite shocking to the lady in Thunder Bay who wanted to get her files, and it's quite surprising to me even thinking about this today.

With control over a person's personal health information comes great responsibility. So what is the plan for controlling the information that's going to be collected here? What is the plan for then subsequently distributing that information - to whom, when, and what will we do if somebody does traipse in and wants their own electric health file? What will happen then?

The reality is that anyone who has read medical files will know they aren't always easy to read. Members of this House will be familiar with things that aren't easy to read if they have tried to read a bill. Legal bills are very hard to understand if you're not well versed, if you're not a lawyer. The reality is that the medical files will be hard to read too.

[Page 4266]

Let's think about what might be in those files. Those files may also contain mistakes. You could have mistakes in the medical files. They could be substantive or they could be de minimis, but there could be mistakes in those files that could then turn around and affect your insurance coverage. It could affect your treatment. If we have these files electronically, maybe we want to think about, as part of the goal of improving the quality of care, of offering it to Nova Scotians to review their files, maybe identify mistakes.

It's important, Mr. Speaker, that we know what we're going to do with these things, with these files. We should know how we're going to handle the information.

In time, I'm sure we'll hear from the minister as this plan develops - if there are going to be costs, if we're going to go down the same road as Ontario. What are we going to do with the information in these files? How can people access them? How can they get changes? How can we improve the system by distributing information?

I want to use my last five minutes to go back to where we started, on the need for privacy and the need to protect electronic records. This is a key issue for me in this case, particularly because the bill before this House changes existing legislation. This bill changes the FOIPOP legislation, and it changes indemnification around disclosure of information.

I don't want that to be lost in the details of this bill. This is a bill that changes other pieces of legislation, and attempts to change this legislation in other areas, in other jurisdictions, are being reviewed. So we have something before this House today on this bill that's actually under review in other jurisdictions. We should understand what's happening in those jurisdictions around this issue.

The Law Commission of Ontario has been reviewing this matter. Mr. Speaker, that review is available online. It's the way of the world, this online thing. If the members of this House are interested, they could go online, and they could look at the Law Commission of Ontario's review of the matter of a piece of legislation like this changing other pieces of legislation, changing the FOIPOP legislation, changing indemnification around disclosure of information.

If we're going to change that, we should understand what's happening in those reviews. A person's personal health information is the most private form of information that you can hold about somebody. It's extremely, highly sensitive in nature. The circumstances of vulnerability and trust under which it must be controlled and collected and distributed - it doesn't get any more important than that, Mr. Speaker.

I hope the members of the House see the importance of this bill and that we can have some further discussion about this bill this morning, because it is important. If we're talking about the collection of people's personal information, this is something that we need to think long and hard about.

[Page 4267]

We also need to think long and hard about changes to the FOIPOP Act. I certainly see the need in this case, but it's got to be done right. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Statutes in most provinces do protect personal health information in the custody of the government and public bodies. Public bodies encompassed by such legislation include hospitals, regional health authorities, and other health agencies. In addition to this, the federally-regulated public sector has privacy legislation in place to cover both personal information and personal health information that is in the custody and control of the federal government.

These are very serious things and I hope we get this right. It has the potential to be a positive thing for Nova Scotians. It will only be a positive thing if it's properly executed, if it's properly planned, and if it's done right. I don't want to see this fall by the wayside of good ideas and good intentions that don't make it all the way through, that don't make it across the finish line. Let's do Bill No. 97 right. Let's make every effort we can to improve health care in this province.

Mr. Speaker, with those very few words, I'll take my place.

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

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, I move that debate on Bill No. 97 be now adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is to adjourn debate on the bill. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye? Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

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

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is carried.

[Page 4268]

The House will now recess while it resolves itself into the Committee of the Whole on Supply.

[12:01 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CW on Supply with Deputy Speaker Ms. Margaret Miller in the Chair.]

[4:10 p.m. CW on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Kevin Murphy, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole on Supply reports:

THE CLERK » : That the Committee of the Whole on Supply has met, has come to agreement on 42 estimate resolutions, including votes on capital, and the Chairman has been instructed to recommend these estimates to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is that the House concur on the report of the Committee of the Whole on Supply.

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

There has been a call for a recorded vote.

We will ring the bells until the Whips are satisfied.

The Clerks will now prepare for the recorded vote. I would remind all members to remain in their seats and remain absolutely silent.

Apparently all the Whips aren't satisfied so we will ring the bells until all Whips are satisfied.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[4:11 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. Are the Whips satisfied?

All the Whips are satisfied. We will now proceed with the recorded vote. I would remind all members to remain in their seats and when your name is called, please stand and signify with a simple Yea or Nay.

[Page 4269]

I'll ask all other members to remain perfectly silent until the conclusion of the recorded vote.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

YEASNAYS
Mr. ColwellMr. MacLeod 
Ms. BernardMr. MacMaster 
Ms. ReganMr. Dunn 
Mr. SamsonMr. Baillie 
Mr. McNeilMr. David Wilson 
Ms. WhalenMs. MacDonald 
Mr. GlavineMr. Belliveau 
Mr. MacLellanMs. Zann 
Ms. DiabMs. Peterson-Rafuse 
Mr. FureyMs. MacFarlane 
Mr. YoungerMr. Houston 
Mr. HorneMr. Harrison 
Mr. HinesMr. Lohr 
Mr. Stroink 
Ms. Arab 
Mr. Delorey 
Mr. Kousoulis 
Mr. Ince 
Mr. Farrell 
Mr. Gordon Wilson 
Mr. Rankin 
Ms. Miller 
Mr. Maguire 
Ms. Eyking 
Ms. Lohnes-Croft 
Ms. Treen 
Mr. Gough 
Mr. Jessome 
Mr. Irving 
Mr. Porter 

THE CLERK « » : For, 30. Against, 13.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is carried.

[Page 4270]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 107 - Entitled an Act to Provide for Defraying Certain Charges and Expenses of the Public Service of the Province. (Hon. Diana Whalen)

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 107.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 107. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

There has been a call for a recorded vote.

We'll ring the bells for five minutes.

[4:36 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. Are the Whips satisfied?

We'll now proceed with the recorded vote on second reading of Bill No. 107. I would ask once again that all members please rise with a simple Yea or Nay when your name is called. I would ask that all members remain absolutely silent until the vote is concluded.

The Clerk will now conduct the vote.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[4:41 p.m.]

[Page 4271]

YEASNAYS
Mr. ColwellMr. MacLeod
Ms. BernardMr. MacMaster
Ms. ReganMr. Dunn
Mr. SamsonMr. Baillie
Mr. McNeilMr. David Wilson
Ms. WhalenMs. MacDonald
Mr. GlavineMr. Belliveau
Mr. MacLellanMs. Zann
Ms. DiabMs. Peterson-Rafuse
Mr. FureyMs. MacFarlane
Mr. YoungerMr. Houston
Mr. HorneMr. Harrison
Mr. HinesMr. Lohr 
Mr. Stroink 
Ms. Arab 
Mr. Delorey 
Mr. Kousoulis 
Mr. Ince 
Mr. Farrell 
Mr. Gordon Wilson 
Mr. Rankin 
Ms. Miller 
Mr. Maguire 
Ms. Eyking 
Ms. Lohnes-Croft 
Ms. Treen 
Mr. Gough 
Mr. Jessome 
Mr. Irving 
Mr. Porter 

THE CLERK « » : For, 30. Against, 13.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is carried.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING]

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 107.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 107. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 4272]

There has been a call for a recorded vote.

We'll ring the bells for five minutes. We'll conclude at 4:50 p.m.

[4:44 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Are the Whips satisfied?

The Clerk will now conduct the recorded vote on third reading of Bill No. 107.

Once again, I would ask all members to please stand when your name is called, clearly say Yea or Nay, and I would ask that everybody else please remain quiet until the conclusion of the recorded vote.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[4:55 p.m.]

YEASNAYS
Mr. ColwellMr. MacLeod
Ms. BernardMr. MacMaster
Ms. ReganMr. Dunn
Mr. SamsonMr. Baillie
Mr. McNeilMr. David Wilson
Ms. WhalenMs. MacDonald
Mr. GlavineMr. Belliveau
Mr. MacLellanMs. Zann
Ms. DiabMs. Peterson-Rafuse
Mr. FureyMs. MacFarlane
Mr. YoungerMr. Houston
Mr. HorneMr. Harrison
Mr. HinesMr. Lohr 
Mr. Stroink 
Ms. Arab 
Mr. Delorey 
Mr. Kousoulis 
Mr. Ince 
Mr. Farrell 

[Page 4273]

Mr. Gordon Wilson 
Mr. Rankin 
Ms. Miller 
Mr. Maguire 
Ms. Eyking 
Ms. Lohnes-Croft 
Ms. Treen 
Mr. Gough 
Mr. Jessome 
Mr. Irving 
Mr. Porter 

THE CLERK « » : For, 30. Against, 13.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

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

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 97

Bill No. 97 - Quality-improvement Information Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness.

HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : I now move to close debate on Bill No. 97.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 97. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, that will conclude the government's business for today. The House will meet again on Monday, April 27th, from the hours of 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. During that time, following the daily routine, we will be calling under Government Business: Committee of the Whole House on Bills - Bill Nos. 82, 87, 88, and 90; Public Bills for Second Reading - Bill Nos. 100, 101, 102, 103, and 105; and Private and Local Bills for Second Reading - Bill Nos. 104 and 106.

[Page 4274]

Mr. Speaker, as well I'd like to advise the House that the Law Amendments Committee will be meeting on Monday, April 27th, at 2:00 p.m., and we will consider Bill Nos. 70, 89, 91, 95, 98, and 97.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move that we do now rise to meet again on Monday, April 27th, from the hours of 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is that the House do rise to meet again on Monday, April 27th, between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The House stands adjourned until Monday, April 27th, at 4:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 5:00 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

[Page 4275]

RESOLUTION NO. 1562

By: Mr. Chuck Porter « » (Hants West)

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

Whereas what started out as a service to help the elderly during our harsh winter months of February and March turned into a lucrative business for three Hants County youth; and

Whereas Robert Fletcher, Dylan Hennigar, and Christian Fletcher picked up their shovels after our first major snowstorm at the beginning of February when an elderly woman needed assistance to gain access to her oil barrel, which was buried under several feet of snow; and

Whereas through word of mouth and with the help of social media, the boys remained busy throughout the rest of one of the harshest winters we have seen in Nova Scotia, shovelling driveways, walkways, daycare centres, and even the occasional roof whenever they received a call for assistance;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly thank these young men for caring enough to help out when they see a need for a service and wish them all the best in their future entrepreneurship.

RESOLUTION NO. 1563

By: Mr. Chuck Porter « » (Hants West)

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

Whereas volunteering is the practice of people working on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time and services; and

Whereas the Hants County Youth Ambassadors have been nominated by the Town of Windsor, comprised of students from West Hants Middle School, Avon View High School, and King's-Edgehill School; and

Whereas this enthusiastic youth group has been formed to create positive change in our communities and they are supported by the Windsor and West Hants Councils, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and West Hants Middle School, Avon View High School, and King's-Edgehill School staff;

[Page 4276]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Miranda Walsh, Jessica Kehoe, Breanna Kehoe, Katelyn Anthony, Emily Levy, Kristian Thorton, Layla Green, Kaylee Campbell, Kyron Williams, Annie Macritchie, Lily Beamish, Morgan Bond, Alex Creedon, Samantha Ho, Krishshain Nathan, and Gregory Wong on receiving the 2015 Community Volunteer Award.

RESOLUTION NO. 1564

By: Hon. Lena Diab « » (Justice)

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

Whereas Michael Diab and Christina Israel will celebrate their marriage on August 2, 2015; and

Whereas their family and friends look forward to seeing them commit their relationship publicly, officially, and permanently at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Halifax; and

Whereas Michael and Christina are beginning a new chapter in their lives together;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the couple on their engagement and wish them a marriage marked by many healthy and happy years.

RESOLUTION NO. 1565

By: Hon. Lena Diab « » (Justice)

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

Whereas Paul Metlej and Joanne Toulany will celebrate their marriage on July 19, 2015; and

Whereas their family and friends look forward to seeing them commit their relationship publicly, officially, and permanently at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Halifax; and

Whereas Paul and Joanne are beginning a new chapter in their lives together;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the couple on their engagement and wish them a marriage marked by many healthy and happy years.

[Page 4277]

RESOLUTION NO. 1566

By: Hon. Lena Diab « » (Justice)

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

Whereas Nassim Choueiri and Rosette Jreige will celebrate their marriage on July 25, 2015; and

Whereas their family and friends look forward to seeing them commit their relationship publicly, officially, and permanently at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Halifax; and

Whereas Nassim and Rosette are beginning a new chapter in their lives together;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the couple on their engagement and wish them a marriage marked by many healthy and happy years.