The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 10-12

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Charlie Parker

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

TUESDAY, APRIL 13, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Correctional Facility (Cumb. Co.), Hon. M. Scott 681
Fin.: Tax Increases - Halt, Mr. L. Glavine 682^
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 24, Financial Measures (2010) Act, Hon. G. Steele 682
No. 25, Emergency Health Services Act, Mr. C. Porter 682
No. 26, Elections Act, Hon. M. Scott 682
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 311, Blomidon Nurseries - Best of Kings (2010),
Hon. R. Jennex 683
Vote - Affirmative 683
Res. 312, Prest, Natasha: Accomplishments - Congrats.,
Hon. S. McNeil 683
Vote - Affirmative 684
Res. 313, Fraser, Dana: Hockey Achievements - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 684
Vote - Affirmative 685
Res. 314, Holmes, Benjamin: Haiti Fundraising - Congrats.,
Hon. S. Belliveau 685
Vote - Affirmative 686
Res. 315, Georges Bank - Moratorium: Energy Min. - Panel Convene,
Hon. C. Clarke 686
Res. 316, VanZoost, Heather - Pharmacists Assoc. Award,
Mr. L. Glavine 687
Vote - Affirmative 687
Res. 317, MacKay, Daniel: Literacy Award (2010) - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Ramey 687
Vote - Affirmative 688
Res. 318, Pictou Ctr. MLA: Election Misleading - Remind,
Hon. W. Gaudet 688
Res. 319, Emergency Rooms: Opening - Ensure,
Hon. M. Scott 689
Res. 320, Atkinson, Erin & Emily: Ryl. Winnipeg Ballet Summer Prog.
- Congrats., Mr. B. Skabar 690
Vote - Affirmative 690
Res. 321, Poetry Mo. (04/10) - League of Cdn. Poets: Effort
- Support, Ms. K. Regan 690
Vote - Affirmative 691
Res. 322, Morrison, Leif: Exit From The Twilight Zone - Publication,
Mr. A. MacLeod 691
Vote - Affirmative 692
Res. 323, Model Legislature (6th): Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Whynott 692
Vote - Affirmative 692
Res. 324, Allen, Rev. George & June: Wedding/Grad. (Anniv. 70th)
- Congrats., Mr. H. Theriault 692
Vote - Affirmative 693
Res. 325, NDP Gov't.: Fiscal Decisions - Efficacy,
Mr. A. MacMaster 693
Res. 326, Norseboats Ltd.: Investments in Fisheries Funding
- Congrats., Ms. P. Birdsall 694
Vote - Affirmative 695
Res. 327, Commun. Action on Homelessness Working Group: Efforts
- Recognize, Mr. T. Zinck 695
Vote - Affirmative 695
Res. 328, Lill, Wendy: Radio Series - Congrats.,
Ms. K. Regan 696
Vote - Affirmative 696
Res. 329, Fin. - Tax Hikes: Tourism - Effect,
Mr. K. Bain 696
Res. 330, Wood, Eric & Rachelle: Friendly Neighbours Prog.
- Congrats., Mr. L. Glavine 697
Vote - Affirmative 698
Res. 331, Primary Health Care: Access - Prioritize,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 698^^^
Res. 332, Fish. & Aquaculture: Fish - Grow,
Mr. H. Theriault 699
Vote - Affirmative 699
Res. 333, Maxwell, Judith: Teaching - Anniv (40th),
Mr. C. Porter 699
Vote - Affirmative 700
Res. 334, St. Mary's Bay Acad. - Stingrays Boys
Basketball Championship, Hon. W. Gaudet 700
Vote - Affirmative 701
Res. 335, Fresia, Isaac - Oxford Reg. Educ. Ctr.: Logo Design
- Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 701
Vote - Affirmative 702
Res. 336, Lagundjiza, Benny/Simms, Ross: Commun. Efforts
- Acknowledge, Mr. A. MacLeod 702
Vote - Affirmative 702
Res. 337, Whycocomagh Oilers - Midget B Hockey Championship,
Mr. A. MacMaster 702
Vote - Affirmative 703
Res. 338, N.S. Intl. Student Prog.: Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 703
Vote - Affirmative 704
Res. 339, Natl. Dental Hygienist Wk. (04/11 - 04/17/10):
Brushing/Flossing - Example Set, Ms. D. Whalen 704
Vote - Affirmative 705
Res. 340, Yarmouth Vanguard/Staff - Commun. Newspaper Assoc. Award,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 705
Vote - Affirmative 705
Res. 341, Mulley-MacDonald, Sherry: Bk. Release - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 706
Vote - Affirmative 706
Res. 342, Johnston, Debbie: Fundraising Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Bain 706
Vote - Affirmative 707
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 106, Prem. - Reg. Economic Coordinator (Southwest Reg.):
Bilingual Requirement - Details, Hon. W. Gaudet 707
No. 107, Health: ERs/Health Care Waits - Commitment Keep,
Hon. K. Casey 708
No. 108, Prem. - Drug Purchasing: Atl. Provinces - Bulk Purchases,
Hon. S. McNeil 709
No. 109, Health: Generic Drugs - Costs,
Ms. D. Whalen 711
No. 110, Prem.: Acadian Shores Fund - Breakdown,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 712
No. 111, Prem.: Barristers' Soc. Fees - Amount,
Hon. S. McNeil 714
No. 112, Prem. - Ship Hector Funding: Pictou Town Coun. - Meet,
Mr. K. Bain 715
No. 113, HPP - Health/HPP: Departmental Merge - Plans,
Ms. D. Whalen 716
No. 114, Prem.: Shubendacadie Canal Proj. - Funding,
Mr. A. MacLeod 718
No. 115, HPP - Lyme Disease: Concern - Seriousness,
Ms. K. Regan 719
No. 116, SNSMR - HST Increase: CBRM - Impact,
Mr. A. Younger 720
No. 117, Energy - Electric Transmission: NL/P.E.I./N.B. - Collaboration,
Hon. C. Clarke 722
No. 118, Fish. & Aquaculture - Georges Bank: Drilling/Seismic Testing
- Policy, Mr. H. Theriault 723
No. 119, Justice: Correctional Facility - Location,
Hon. M. Scott 724
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. A. Younger 726
Mr. C. Porter 731
Ms. B. Kent 736
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:33 p.m. 741
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:59 p.m. 741
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - ER Care (24/7): Campaign Commitment - Honour,
Hon. S. McNeil 742
Mr. D. Wilson 744
Mr. C. Porter 747
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:29 p.m. 751
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:17 p.m. 751
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 10, Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act, Hon. P. Paris 752
Hon. F. Corbett 752
Mr. M. Whynott 752
Hon. Manning MacDonald 753
Hon. C. Clarke 754
Hon. F. Corbett 758
Vote - Affirmative 758
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 14th at 2 p.m. 759
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 343, NSAC President's List: Col. North Students - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 760

[Page 681]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 13, 2010

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Gordon Gosse, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Alfie MacLeod

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll get underway with today's session, but before we get to the daily routine I just want to read the late debate issue, motion under Rule 5(5), and it reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP Government honour their campaign commitment to 24/7 emergency room care, as promised in last year's election.

It was submitted by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis, and that will be at the moment of interruption at six o'clock.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, here we are on day 11 - the 11th day of broken promises by this NDP Government. As you know, Cumberland County residents are very upset as a result of this headline which says, "Dexter says he'd keep Tory promises."

[Page 682]

681

Mr. Speaker, I have this petition, and the prayer reads:

"We, the residents of Cumberland County implore that Premier Darrell Dexter keep his word and build a correctional facility in Cumberland County!"

It is signed by 57 residents, bringing the total to date of 767, and I have signed my name, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to enter a petition with the operative clause:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature to preserve businesses and jobs by NOT increasing taxes. Balance the books over the medium term by rolling back the massive spending increases of recent years."

This is an additional 65 names from Kings County, and I have affixed my signature to this.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 24 - Entitled an Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. (Hon. Graham Steele)

Bill No. 25 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 2005. The Emergency Health Services Act. (Mr. Chuck Porter)

[Page 683]

Bill No. 26 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 140 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Elections Act. (Hon. Murray Scott)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 311

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

Whereas Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce is the chief advocacy group for more than 300 businesses, organizations and individuals in eastern Kings County; and

Whereas the EKCC held its annual Best of Kings Celebration on Wednesday, March 10th, at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich; and

Whereas Blomidon Nurseries of Greenwich was awarded the prize for Best Garden Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the management and staff of Blomidon Nurseries for their achievement in being named as the Best of Kings in 2010 and acknowledge their contributions to the Kings County community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

[Page 684]

RESOLUTION NO. 312

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

Whereas on May 11, 2009, Natasha Prest became the first female African Nova Scotian to become a career firefighter with the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Services; and

Whereas she made this remarkable career change at the age of 34 as a single mother of a 9-year-old daughter; and

Whereas Natasha has since become a firefighter engineer driving Engine 55 at the Seabright Station;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Natasha on her outstanding accomplishments and thank her for her dedication to protecting others.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 313

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

Whereas Dana Fraser showed exceptional hockey skills as he rose through the ranks of the Tatamagouche Minor Hockey Program; and

[Page 685]

Whereas Dana, as assistant captain of the Truro Junior A Bearcats for the 2009-10 season, not only had the most points in a single season, but also holds the record for most career points and for the most assists in a single season; and

Whereas the Maritime Junior A Hockey League named Dana the co-winner of the 2009-10 Most Sportsmanlike Award and a member of the first all-star team;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate this outstanding representative for the sport of hockey, for his community of Tatamagouche and for the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[12:15 p.m.]

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 314

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

Whereas 10-year-old Benjamin Holmes of Shelburne, Nova Scotia, has raised $1,845 to help earthquake-stricken Haiti by authoring and publishing the book Shelburne Ghosts in February 2010; and

Whereas Benjamin Holmes unselfishly gave of his time to write, illustrate, market and promote the book Shelburne Ghosts during the month of February 2010, in order to raise money for the Haitian Relief Fund; and

Whereas Benjamin Holmes has not only helped the Haitian people, but also helped keep alive his family's oral history through his writings;

[Page 686]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate 10-year-old Benjamin Holmes of Shelburne, Nova Scotia, for raising $1,845 to help earthquake-stricken Haiti by authoring and publishing the book Shelburne Ghosts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 315

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

Whereas on December 31, 2012, about 33 months from now, the Georges Bank moratorium is scheduled to end; and

Whereas the original Georges Bank panel took 32 months to study the issue and render a decision on the moratorium; and

Whereas in the last decade many of the issues and opinions have changed significantly, including the views of the Maritime Fishermen's Union Local 9, which now considers oil rigs to be potential job creators in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly support me in calling for the Minister of Energy to convene a panel to study the issue of the Georges Bank moratorium now, rather than waiting.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 687]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 316

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

Whereas the Canadian Pharmacists Association recognizes the contributions pharmacists make to their community, and the lives of their customers, on a daily basis; and

Whereas for the past seven years Heather Van Zoost has served the community of Aylesford at Chisholm's PharmaChoice, where she has proven to be a knowledgeable and approachable pharmacist, willing to assist her customers and offer qualified advice; and

Whereas in recognition of her commitment to her customers, Heather has won the "My Favourite Pharmacist, Nova Scotia Division" through the Canadian Pharmacists Association;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Heather Van Zoost on winning the "My Favourite Pharmacist, Nova Scotia Division" and wish her continued success in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 688]

RESOLUTION NO. 317

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

Whereas Mr. Daniel MacKay of Bridgewater is a student enrolled in the South Shore Work Activity Program; and

Whereas Daniel was one of four winners of the 2010 Literacy Nova Scotia Adult Learners' Week writing contest; and

Whereas Daniel received his award in this House of Assembly on March 2, 2010;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Daniel MacKay for his hard work in achieving this significant educational milestone, and wish him continued success in his educational endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 318

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

Whereas in the last election the honourable member for Pictou Centre ran on a platform that promised balanced budgets, no program cuts, and no increase of taxes; and

Whereas this NDP budget is proof that the honourable member for Pictou Centre ran a campaign based on false and misleading information; and

Whereas the NDP has created two deficits and will now pay for these deficits by increasing the HST, which will directly hurt the residents of Pictou Centre by making life

[Page 689]

more expensive, hurting local businesses and causing people to consider moving out of the community in order to find work;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly remind the honourable member for Pictou Centre that he misled his constituents in the last election and he broke his promises to the very people who voted for him.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 319

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

Whereas each and every day it is shown that the Dexter NDP Government misled the people of Nova Scotia by making promises they knew they would not keep; and

Whereas whether it be failing to balance the budget, increasing taxes, a broken promise of following through on commitments made by the previous government or other promises that have been broken; and

Whereas now the emergency rooms of Nova Scotia are under threat of closure or reduction in hours of service as the Dexter Government continues to rely on consultants and other outside non-elected individuals to use as scapegoats when making decisions that are going to negatively affect Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House support the rural communities of Nova Scotia by demanding that the Dexter NDP Government keep emergency rooms open across Nova Scotia as they promised they would during the 2009 provincial election.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 690]

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 320

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

Whereas identical twins Erin and Emily Atkinson have both been accepted into the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's 4-week summer program after their very first audition for the program; and

Whereas Erin and Emily, age 11, have been dancing for eight years and were recently invited to join the program's junior company; and

Whereas the girls are excited for the trip but will miss their family, friends and cats while attending the program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend our congratulations and good luck to Erin and Emily Atkinson.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

[Page 691]

RESOLUTION NO. 321

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

Whereas in the year 1998 the League of Canadian Poets decided it was not too late to make us sit up and notice; and

Whereas they decided April, National Poetry Month, should be to mark the contributions to culture of our Canadian poetry; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has tons of celebrated poets, it's appropriate to mark this month and the members here all know it;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the league's attempt to congregate Canadians together to celebrate April as Poetry Month.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 322

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

Whereas author Leif Morrison of Donkin, Cape Breton has published his first book, entitled Exit from the Twilight Zone; and

Whereas this book chronicled the true account of his search for adventure and excitement that placed him on a boat bound for the African country of Nigeria; and

[Page 692]

Whereas all copies printed thus far have been sold with future plans to approach publishers about a larger distribution;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Morrison on his accomplishments and wish him the best of luck with his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville.

RESOLUTION NO. 323

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

Whereas on March 13, 2010, Neil MacIssac, Chad Bowie and Schuyler Smith came together to represent the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and NDP while participating in the 6th Annual Model Legislature; and

Whereas this group of young people had the opportunity to sit in this historic House of Assembly, debate platforms, hold Question Period and pass legislation; and

Whereas Alexa McDonough acted as the Lieutenant Governor for this day of the model Legislature, a day, which was important to engage youth, teach the workings of our political system and simply have fun;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Neil MacIssac, Chad Bowie, Schuyler Smith and all of those who were involved in the sixth annual Model Legislature, and extend very best wishes for all of the future projects to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 693]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 324

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

Whereas Dr. Reverend George Allen was born in North Sydney, Cape Breton, on Good Friday, March 21, 1913, and turned 97 years old this year; and

Whereas Reverend George and June Sandford graduated from Acadia University in June 1940 and married on September 30th of the same year; and

Whereas Reverend George became a Baptist minister, his first pastoral charge was in 1940 and he retired unofficially in 1985, but he is often asked to take part in church services and continues to reach out with his stories, humour, good deeds and genuine love of people;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize Reverend George Allen for his wonderful contribution to our province, and wish him and his wife, June, happy 70th Wedding and university graduation Anniversaries.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

[Page 694]

RESOLUTION NO. 325

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

Whereas the Progressive Conservative Government made a conscious effort to bring tuition costs for students attending university in Nova Scotia in line with the national average by 2010; and

Whereas we changed the approach from providing tax credits on the back end to providing support on the front end with bursaries, because this is what students asked for, and the Progressive Conservative Government listened; and

Whereas the 2010-11 NDP budget changed that approach;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly agree that the fiscal decisions of this NDP Government are not working for Nova Scotians because the NDP have resorted to paying young people to stay in Nova Scotia, in recognition of the high taxes our young people have to pay, to pay off this second of five NDP budget deficits.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 326

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's NDP Government is committed to creating secure jobs our economy needs, and boat building is a traditional industry and a significant source of employment in rural coastal communities; and

[Page 695]

Whereas Nova Scotia has a global reputation for boat building and the long-term viability of boat building is important to our rural communities and the province's economy; and

Whereas Norseboats Ltd. of Lunenburg is recognized as a marine industry leader with an international reputation for quality, building innovative sailing and rowing boats with high performance and classic lines;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Norseboats Ltd. of Lunenburg on receiving funding from investments in fisheries to help build the long-term viability of boat building that is so important in our rural communities and our province's economy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[12:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 327

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

Whereas on March 10, 2010, the second report card on ending homelessness in HRM announced that 1,718 people were homeless and stayed in a shelter in 2009, an increase of 466 from the previous year; and

Whereas when low-income households have to make a choice between food and rent, this reduces their ability to participate in the broader society; and

[Page 696]

Whereas the Halifax Report Card on Homelessness is produced by the Community Action on Homelessness Report Card working group, made up of concerned individuals, First Voice Action Group, and non-profit leaders;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the efforts of the working group and encourage the government to work with its federal counterparts to develop a national housing strategy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 328

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

Whereas Wendy Lill is an award-winning playwright and former Member of Parliament; and

Whereas this Dartmouth resident has now written a timely and funny radio drama series, Backbencher, that follows the story of Nellie Gordon, a paramedic from Nova Scotia who runs for office on a whim and much to her surprise - and everyone else's - manages to get elected; and

Whereas the series is produced in Halifax and features an all-Maritime cast and began airing April 8, 2010, on CBC 1 at 11:30 a.m. and 11:05 p.m., and will air a new episode each Thursday until May 27th;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ms. Lill on her series which seeks to show the humanity of politicians via one woman's journey through Canadian politics, and wish her future success in her life after politics.

[Page 697]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 329

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

Whereas the 2 per cent hike in the HST launched last week by this NDP Government could not be coming at a worse time for Nova Scotia tourism operators; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance is off in a far-away world dreaming in Technicolor when he tries to convince Nova Scotians they support a tax increase, when he rightfully knows that 74 per cent of all Nova Scotians are against tax increases of any kind; and

Whereas a recent ChronicleHerald headline screamed, "Taxing Times in Tourism" with the story's opening paragraph saying, "The tourism industry will be warding off another blow if the province hikes the harmonized sales tax," which it has already done;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the government side of this House of Assembly at least try to understand the crippling effect a tax hike will have on Nova Scotia tourism for 2010 and beyond, and work with Nova Scotia tourism operators to ensure they have a successful season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 698]

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 330

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

Whereas Eric and Rachelle Wood are well known from Coldbrook to Kingston as Kings County's own Mr. and Mrs. Claus; and

Whereas Friendly Neighbours raise money through the local Christmas Mommies and Daddies telethon to collect toys and food baskets for those in need; and

Whereas hampers are provided to over 200 families throughout Kings County, each containing 23 items needed for a festive holiday including both food and toys;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Eric and Rachelle Wood for 20 years of this service, the Friendly Neighbours program, and wish them continued success as they strive to improve the lives of families in their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 331

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

Whereas the NDP made the bold campaign promise of ensuring that all emergency rooms would remain open during the last provincial campaign; and

[Page 699]

Whereas there have been more emergency room closures in some areas under the NDP Government than under previous governments; and

Whereas the NDP Government's solution to the problem was to hire a part-time consultant for $100,000 to address the problem;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly demand the NDP stop the litany of broken promises made to Nova Scotians and make access to primary health care a priority for all residents from Digby to Shelburne to Lunenburg to Pugwash to Glace Bay.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 332

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

Whereas the fishing industry of Nova Scotia has done well over the past four centuries by helping our coastal communities thrive and this province prosper; and

Whereas we still produce fish on a much smaller scale, which is creating a smaller population in our coastal communities that may soon become unstable; and

Whereas over 100 years ago the same unstable situation happened in the Prairies with the demise of the buffalo and, in turn, growing cattle was the answer to their future, which helped their provinces thrive once again;

Therefore be it resolved that with the growing demand for seafood which nature cannot produce, this government should start growing fish so our coastal communities can once again be sustainable and thrive like we have seen before and growing fish will be our answer for the prosperity of this province.

[Page 700]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 333

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

Whereas teachers play an important role in fostering the intellectual and the social development of children during their formative years, using classroom presentations or individual instruction to help students learn and apply concepts in subjects such as science, mathematics, and English; and

Whereas Judith Maxwell from Mount Denson has been a teacher at the Newport Station Elementary School for 40 years, where she has taught hundreds of children and has had the privilege to teach the children of those she taught 20 to 30 years earlier; and

Whereas what children learn and experience during their early years can shape their views of themselves and the world and can affect their later success in school, work, and personal lives, and having a loving and caring teacher such as Judith Maxwell will have a positive impact on their futures;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly wholeheartedly commend Judith on her 40 years of teaching and thank her for nurturing and supporting the little ones who were lucky to have her as their teacher.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 701]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 334

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

Whereas the St. Mary's Bay Academy Stingrays participated in the Division 3 Senior Boys Provincial Basketball Championships at Dalbrae Academy in Mabou; and

Whereas the St. Mary's Bay Academy Stingrays successfully defended their provincial championship from last year; and

Whereas the Stingrays defeated the Hants North Flames 67-54 in the championship game;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the St. Mary's Bay Academy Stingrays senior boys team and their coach, Craig Glavin, for winning the 2010 Division 3 Senior Boys Provincial Basketball Championships.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 335

[Page 702]

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

Whereas Isaac Fresia graduates from the new Oxford Regional Education Centre this year, however, his presence will remain and will be noticed by thousands of students in the coming years, for as long as the school stands; and

Whereas the new Golden Bear logo inlaid in the gym floor was designed by Isaac as he doodled on a piece of paper and came up with a small bear design which he thought had an Inuit feel to it; and

Whereas Isaac was honoured to see his design in the gym floor that will leave his mark there for many years to come;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Isaac Fresia on designing the new Golden Bear logo for the Oxford Regional Education Centre and wish him many years of success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 336

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

Whereas Benny Lagundjiza and Ross Simms of New Harbour, Guysborough County, identified a need in their community and worked tirelessly to ensure that it eventually became a reality; and

[Page 703]

Whereas Benny and Ross worked continuously toward a community centre to replace the local school which had been torn down and after countless hours of hard work and determination, the official opening is set for June 2010; and

Whereas this immense community spirit exhibited by these gentlemen has, and will continue to have, a positive impact on all residents in the area long into the future;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly acknowledge the efforts of these two men put forward into the betterment of their community and congratulate them on the success they have achieved.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 337

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

Whereas the 30th annual NewPage Invitational Minor Hockey Tournament in the Strait-Richmond area features 71 teams competing in 11 divisions; and

Whereas the Whycocomagh Oilers faced off against the very competitive Canso Blue Fins in the Midget B championship game; and

Whereas the Whycocomagh Oilers defeated their rivals 4 -1 by scoring three goals in the last nine minutes of the game;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly send our congratulations to the Whycocomagh Oilers for winning the 2010 NewPage Invitational Midget B Championship Banner.

[Page 704]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 338

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia International Student Program began in 1999 with just 12 students and has now grown to include 104 international students from 18 different countries this year in an area from Annapolis Royal to Mount Uniacke and, in fact, has become so popular that this is the first year there had to be a cap placed on the number of students participating; and

Whereas Director Shirley Drake, Project Manager Assistant Dawn Lee Swinamer and Homestay Coordinator Tena Moyles play significant roles in the Hants West area, matching students with compatible families and homes to ensure both an enjoyable and educational stay in our great community; and

Whereas the knowledge and experience the students gain from the Nova Scotia International Student Program plays an invaluable role in how they may view and interact with other cultures throughout the rest of their lives;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend Shirley, Dawn Lee and Tena on their tremendous achievements and wish them continued success as the program flourishes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 705]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 339

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

Whereas dental health is an essential part of overall health and well-being; and

Whereas dental hygienists play an important role in helping Nova Scotians maintain their oral health; and

Whereas April 11-17, 2010, is National Dental Hygienists Week, which focuses in creating awareness about preventive oral health care;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize National Dental Hygienists Week by promising to floss and brush their teeth every day.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 340

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

[Page 706]

Whereas the Yarmouth Vanguard has been providing quality news coverage to the people of the tri-counties for generations and is now dependent upon the citizens for reliable local news; and

Whereas now the Vanguard is being recognized nationally for its outstanding work by the Community Newspaper Association by winning two awards, competing against a field of just over 2,500; and

Whereas the Vanguard won a blue ribbon in its circulation group for the general excellence category, Fred Hatfield won second in the best photo category and Carla Allen won third place in the best feature series for her four-part series on depression;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Fred Hatfield, Carla Allen and all the staff of the Yarmouth Vanguard for their recent awards and wish them continued success into the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 341

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

Whereas Sherry Mulley-MacDonald, a Northside author, has published Island Treasures Revealed, a promotional book about little treasures around Cape Breton Island that deserve recognition; and

[Page 707]

Whereas Sherry, through her research, has discovered how hard many people continue to work to ensure the history of Cape Breton remains intact with examples such as the Nicolas Denney Museum and the Dominion Heritage schoolhouse; and

Whereas 100 per cent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go to help fund community development projects for her sponsor New Deal Development in Sydney Mines;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Sherry with the release of her second book and wish her continued success exploring the history, culture and people of her beloved island.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 342

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

Whereas Debbie Johnston, a resident of Ingonish Ferry, has recently completed 14 half marathons in 14 consecutive days; and

Whereas Debbie spent two weeks running the Cabot Trail as part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation Initiative, an HIV/AIDS support program in Africa; and

Whereas Debbie was able to raise an impressive $11,000 for the foundation, which works to support an estimated 22.4 million people diagnosed as HIV positive in Africa;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Debbie on her courageous fundraising efforts and commend her on the significant contribution made to such a meaningful initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 708]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:47 p.m. and will end at 1:47 p.m. Just a reminder to members no electronic equipment is to be on during Question Period. Secondly, direct all your questions and answers through the Chair, please.

The honourable member for Clare.

PREM. - REG. ECONOMIC COORDINATOR (SOUTHWEST. REG.):

BILINGUAL REQUIREMENT - DETAILS

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In late January, the regional economic coordinator for the southwestern region of our province retired. This position is one that requires full communication in both French and English and has been designated as a bilingual position in the past. However, when this position was posted, there was no mention of a requirement that successful candidates be bilingual. My question to the Premier is, has the government abandoned the requirement for this position to be occupied by a bilingual person?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. In fact, he's quite right - it was posted, but it was posted in error. That posting has been withdrawn and it has been reposted as a bilingual position.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker: I'm going to table a copy of that position. It says bilingualism will also be considered as an asset. This job services two of the largest Acadian communities in the province, now for the people of southwest Nova Scotia to be properly served, there needs to be a person who can communicate with the residents of the whole region. This needs to be clearly defined in the application process otherwise this government is sending out mixed messages to the people of Clare and Argyle.

[Page 709]

Again to the Premier - will the Premier clarify to the people of southwestern Nova Scotia that the position of regional economic coordinator will be filled by a bilingual candidate?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to ask the Minister of Finance to respond. He's familiar with this particular position.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: M. le Président, je répond cette question en temps que Ministre des affaires acadiennes. Évidemment, c'est très important d'avoir quelqu'un dans cette position qui est bilingue pour parler français, c'est pourquoi nous reconnaissons que c'était une erreur et nous espérons bien, comme tout le monde ici, dans l'Assemblée, que celui qui va remplir la position va être bilingue. Mais il faut attendre jusqu'à ce que le concurrent soit terminé. Merci.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the 2008 French Language Services Progress Report clearly states that the Department of Economic and Rural Development will continue to provide services in French in their Yarmouth field office. The job posting refers to bilingualism as an asset. Clearly bilingualism is more than just an asset to the people of Clare and Argyle, it's a requirement. If the office is to serve the needs of the entire region then the application must reflect this in plain language.

I will go to the Minister of Acadian Affairs. Will the minister commit to require that the successful candidate be able to fully communicate in both French and English?

MR. STEELE: Merci M. le President. Évidemment, nous reconnaissons que c'était une erreur d'avoir un tel poste qui n'a pas spécifié que ça doit ête bilingue. Nous somment confiants qu'avec le nouveau poste que nous allons avoir des candidats qui peuvent être bilingues. Mais pour répondre à cette question, il faut attendre jusqu'à ce que la concurrence soit terminée avant de prendre des conclusions. Merci

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HEALTH: ERs/HEALTH CARE WAITS - COMMITMENT KEEP

HON. KAREN CASEY: During the election campaign the NDP made seven commitments to the voters of Nova Scotia. The second of those stated, we would "keep emergency rooms open and reduce health care waits." My question to the Premier is this, is this a commitment that your government will actually keep?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that we have just seen the interim report of Dr. John Ross, who was the expert in emergency medicine, who was hired in order to facilitate keeping that commitment and, of course, we intend to pursue the commitment we made and to keep it.

[Page 710]

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, it's true that at the press conference on April 8th, 2010, when Dr. Ross released that preliminary report he said, and I quote, "Am I going to recommend to the minister that we close any emergency departments in Nova Scotia? My short answer is no." My question to the Premier is, will he again repeat that he will accept Dr. Ross' commitment of no emergency room closures?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, of course, we hired Dr. Ross to do a job. He has taken it on with great enthusiasm. He has spoken with many of the district health authorities already. He is consulting with the stakeholders. Of course we intend to accept his recommendations and we're looking forward to his final report so that we can move on this very important file.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, the election brochure, the statement by Dr. Ross and the commitment from the Premier are clear: Emergency rooms will remain open. Will the Premier tell all Nova Scotians that all of the 35 communities where there currently are emergency rooms that those people in those communities will continue to have 24/7 access to health care?

MR. PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know the honourable member said brochure, but I'm sure she means platform. The intention of the government is, of course, to make sure that the province has the best emergency services possible. We intend to pursue exactly what we said over the course of the election campaign. We believe that the job that is being done by Dr. Ross will lead us to sustainable emergency care services right across the province.

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

PREM. - DRUG PURCHASING: ATL PROVINCES

- BULK PURCHASES

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Health care

spending is expected to grow at 6 per cent this year, and that figure is clearly unsustainable. One area of possible cost savings for the government is with the purchasing of drugs. In western Canada, four provinces and three territories negotiate with drug companies as a block, saving millions of dollars for taxpayers.

My question to the Premier is, what steps have you taken with the leaders of the other Atlantic Provinces to explore the buying of bulk drugs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it's a good question by the Leader of the Official Opposition. He should know that we have been in discussion with the other provinces. In fact, last Fall we were, for the purposes of discussing, you know, how we can take advantage

[Page 711]

of any of these initiatives and to achieve any savings that may be able to be achieved by bulk purchases.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, some of the largest companies in Atlantic Canada, such as Bell Aliant, J.D. Irving, and Michelin Tire, are joining forces so they can access generic drugs at a lower cost. In private business this would be considered low-hanging fruit. In the Maritimes, when we buy generic drugs, we pay about 65 per cent of the cost of the brand name equivalent. That's compared to roughly 50 per cent paid by larger provinces with more buying power. So my question to the Premier is, have you calculated the amount of money taxpayers could save by buying generic drugs in bulk?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are many things actually going on in this particular area of health costs. We have put together the Drug Management Policy Unit, which is pursuing many of the things that the Leader of the Official Opposition just mentioned, and I'm sure he's aware that there is what the pharmaceutical companies are referring to this year as the "generic cliff," where many of the name brand pharmaceuticals now will start to come off of the brand list and will become generics. We're looking very closely at how we take advantage of that to be able to recover as much of the savings as we can. Obviously, that's important to the health care system as a whole, but in very difficult financial times it's incumbent upon us to take best advantage of it.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, Pharmacare is a cherished essential service in Nova Scotia. It is important that it is sustainable in the long term. Obviously, there's an opportunity for cost savings through bulk buying which can help sustain the service for those most vulnerable. So my question to the Premier, what direction have you given to the administrators of Pharmacare to explore bulk buying of generics in co-operation with other agencies, departments, or provincial governments?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Leader of the Official Opposition on a good question. I think that's three in a row. The reality is that we have - (Interruption) I'm not going to touch that one. It was a masterful question.

Mr. Speaker, what we're intending to do is to ensure that there's a coordination through all of the various departments of government that provide Pharmacare support, because there are different programs associated with different departments. So in fact, what we want to do is look at how we bring all of those together to make sure that the programs themselves are running as efficiently as possible, and also how they go about purchasing or taking advantage of the volume purchasing of generics and of brand name drugs.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

HEALTH: GENERIC DRUGS - COSTS

[Page 712]

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. During post-budget discussions, the Minister of Finance indicated a great deal of interest in addressing the high cost of generic drugs and the impact that these costs are having on our provincially-funded Pharmacare Program. We in the Liberal caucus agree that this issue needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. While the Minister of Finance expressed relief that the Province of Nova Scotia is tackling this thorny issue first so others can learn from the experience, we believe Nova Scotians should be acting now. My question to the Minister of Health is, will the Minister of Health be addressing this issue now with a made-in-Nova Scotia solution, or is she simply going to be content to wait for the results from the Ontario plan?

[1:00 p.m.]

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable Premier indicated, we are pursuing a number of initiatives to ensure that Nova Scotians have affordable access to drugs and, while we are watching what is occurring in Ontario, we are certainly not sitting idly by.

We have extended the current tariff agreement with our drug companies for the next three months while we are in negotiations with respect to a new tariff agreement. We anticipate that this tariff agreement will be one of the initiatives that will result in greater savings for Nova Scotians, in terms of affordable drugs, in the long run.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Health. The lessons that we learn from Ontario may well be lessons that we want to avoid here in Nova Scotia - the early days in Ontario have proven to be fraught with acrimony and mistrust between government and pharmacists.

Pharmacists in Nova Scotia don't want to be viewed as adversaries in this debate. They can, and should, be part of the solution when it comes to addressing the high cost of generic drugs, so my question to the minister is, has the minister struck a committee of representatives from the pharmacy association to address the high cost of generic drugs?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we are watching not only Ontario and learning from what is occurring there, but we also have other provinces that are working very hard as well for their citizens in terms of getting access to affordable drugs. Ontario is only one, B.C. and Alberta also are doing some very interesting things.

In the Atlantic Region I've had discussions with my counterparts, the Ministers of Health, from all of the other Atlantic Provinces with respect to their approaches to this and we will continue to collaborate across jurisdiction to get the best deal possible for the residents of Nova Scotia who deserve to have access to affordable drugs.

[Page 713]

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, given that we currently have an extension of the tariff agreement that the minister referred to and that we know that it had originally expired March 31st, so the negotiations are now underway with pharmacists, and also that here in the Legislature we're looking at an expanded scope of practice for pharmacists, the time seems right for us now to tackle this issue of generic drug pricing as well because they are really all wrapped in together.

My final question to the minister is, what time frame has she given her staff when it comes to dealing with the cost of generic drugs in Nova Scotia?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that, at the end of this process, Nova Scotians will have realized better access to more affordable drugs, and this will be a good deal as well for the taxpayers of the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

PREM.: ACADIAN SHORES FUND - BREAKDOWN

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier.

The province stated that it saved $600,000 by buying out its contract with Bay Ferries. The impact within the tourism sector has been severe, but we will only get to see the true impact as the tourist season goes on and we truly will be able to assess it, and while I welcome the investment in southwestern Nova Scotia, it is the tourism sector that has really been impacted the most. As I understand it, the NDP will be using this $600,000 fund not only for Acadian Shores but for Liverpool to Annapolis and in areas other than tourism, like agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

I was wondering if the Premier could give the House a breakdown of the $600,000 and what sectors will be receiving, and how much they will be receiving under Team West?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the member misunderstood what I had to say.

What we said was that we were fortunate enough to be able to save some $600,000 as a result of the buyout of the penalty clause put in place by the previous government. That money would go to Team West, which he knows now is going to co-lead the Team Southwest Nova Scotia group with ACOA and federal officials and that the membership of that organization would be made up cross-departmentally so that it wouldn't be made up simply of one department and that all of those departments would have input into a strategy that would be designed to try to strengthen the region of southwest Nova Scotia.

[Page 714]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Premier for that answer but he really answered my second question before he actually heard it. He was reading minds here and I hope he learns more of that because it is going to help him as Premier of this province.

Mr. Speaker, the Yarmouth Vanguard stated on March 31, 2010, that the $600,000 would go to support Team Southwest - and I will table that - which is comprised of federal, provincial and municipal community representatives. The release from the Premier's Office has the funding going to Team West but he still says that the fund will be used by all three levels of government in a collaborative approach. So I am just wondering if maybe he can elaborate, how will that collaborative approach between Team West and Team Southwest be happening?

THE PREMIER: Thank you very much, to the member, for the question and what he should know is that we were advised that the federal government was going to go forward with Team Southwest Nova Scotia. We contacted them and we set up a meeting with them, I think it was a week ago last Monday, in Cornwallis with the purpose of bringing the terms of reference for what that committee was going to look like. It was agreed that we would be co-leaders of the initiative. I believe that the first meeting is actually going to take place on April 16th and senior officials from ACOA will be travelling to Yarmouth for the purposes of having that first meeting and, of course, it will be up to the committee to set the initiative and the direction that they want to move in. But I think it is a very healthy sign that all levels of government want to make sure that we're working together in strengthening the economy of southwest Nova Scotia.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the press release that was issued by the Premier's Office on April 7th and the heading says, "Province Invests $200,000 to Market Yarmouth and Acadian Shores" and it actually says it three more times within this press release. It also says, "During a meeting with Yarmouth-area municipal representatives, Premier Darrell Dexter, announced the money will fund a marketing campaign to promote Yarmouth and Acadian Shores to the Atlantic Canada market . . .".

Is the funding announced for the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores area just for the area or are they for the other initiatives within the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage that might affect Yarmouth and Acadian Shores? I'm just wondering if the $200,000 is going to Yarmouth and Acadian Shores as a group, or is it going to be used wider on Team West?

THE PREMIER: The intention is to focus the promotion on the Maritime market for the areas that were identified in the press release and in that regard, Mr. Speaker, we're working with Destination Southwest Nova Scotia for the purposes of ensuring that it meets also their objectives and needs as well.

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

[Page 715]

PREM.: BARRISTERS' SOC. FEES - AMOUNT

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In the House last week, the Premier confirmed that taxpayers have been paying his Barristers' Society fees since 2006. At that time he committed to providing the House with the exact amount that the taxpayers paid on his fees and that was one week ago. So my question to the Premier is, what was the exact amount of money that the taxpayers have shelled out for your Barristers' Society fees?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe at the time that I committed to getting that information to the member opposite, I did bring it with me on Thursday and Friday and I didn't get a chance to see him at that time, so I will make sure that he has it by the end of the day. It was in the order of, I think, $9,700 or thereabouts. It was allowances over four years. I want to say that that money went to support a caseload in my office that provided legal services to many of my constituents and I am proud to have done that.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, he could have provided that information to the House. There are other members of the House who are interested in how much taxpayers have shelled out toward the bill he provided to the Province of Nova Scotia to pay for his legal fees. Last week the Premier also claimed, as he just did now, that the allowance "was one that was of great benefit to the people in my constituency." I assume by saying the fact that he's a lawyer, being an MLA, somehow that the people of Timberlea-Prospect have not been well served by their member. I would disagree with that - I think they have been. I would dare say as I look down the front bench and across there that those who aren't lawyers have well served their constituents. I would ask the Premier, did he perform $10,000 worth of legal work for the people of his constituency?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we all come into this House of Assembly with different skillsets, with different abilities, with different intentions. It was my intention when I came here to use the skills that I had, the opportunity I had to serve the people of my constituency. I was fortunate because I happened to have a particular skillset that was of particular value to some people who were able to come through the doors of my constituency. I didn't put a value on it, I didn't bill them, I didn't keep hours, I just simply did the work because there were people there who were poor, who were seniors, who were people who were lost in the system they didn't understand, and I provided the service they required for them. I think that was an honourable pursuit.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I've had an opportunity to travel this province in many constituencies, as a matter of fact in every constituency represented by a member of the New Democratic Party. I would dare say every one of those members have had people walk through their offices looking for the same advice, looking for help - they had challenges. The irony of it is, quite frankly, when the taxpayers were picking up the tab it was worth roughly

[Page 716]

$3,500 a year for him to maintain his Bar Society fees. Now that it's come to light that we've been paying for it, the Premier is now only going to be a $250 lawyer.

I'm wondering, is that in some way serving the people of his constituency better now than he was before or worse? The fact of the matter is, he knows it was inappropriate to bill the taxpayers of Nova Scotia for his Bar Society fees because it has nothing to do with his job. His skillset can be well used. My question to the Premier is, will you reimburse taxpayers of Nova Scotia for this inappropriate expense?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I said, we obviously disagree with this. I don't believe it was in any way inappropriate, and I don't believe that the former ministers in the former government thought it was inappropriate for them to receive it either.

As I said, I believe all the members here use the skills they have to the best of their ability to be able to serve their constituents. The Leader of the Official Opposition is in a position where they receive the same benefits and allowances that Cabinet ministers do, as the Leader of the Official Opposition knows. That's why it was extended to me by the former government - because I was in the position of being the Leader of the Official Opposition at the time.

The member pointed out that now that I was in the Premier's Office, it was more difficult for me to do that kind of work in my office, and I actually agreed with that, so that's why I changed my status.

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

PREM. - SHIP HECTOR: PICTOU TOWN COUN. - MEET

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. The Town of Pictou, one of the highest-taxed communities in our province, is faced with the difficult decision to shut down the ship Hector. A new sewage treatment plant that has to be built at a cost of $400,000 and maintained at a cost of $175,000 per year has taken a large chunk out of the town's budget. While we could all agree that keeping raw sewage out of Pictou Harbour is an urgent measure, so is keeping the ship Hector afloat. My question to the Premier is, has he or his minister been to Pictou to meet with the town council about how they can work together to keep this important tourist destination open this year?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I was in Pictou County just a short time ago. In fact, I had a number of meetings with the various municipal units. This was one of the issues that was raised while I was there, but I'll tell you the truth, I can't remember if it was specifically with the council at the time or with other people there. We're aware of it, but we're also aware that this was something that was taken on by the municipality. It was their responsibility to ensure that they were able to keep up with the costs associated with it.

[Page 717]

[1:15 p.m.]

We are considering - there are other proposals out there, Mr. Speaker, with respect to this matter. We're not ruling out being of assistance but we have to ensure that we are doing it in a responsible fashion.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, through you again to the Premier. I know that last week members of the Tourism, Culture and Heritage Department, along with Economic Development and ACOA officials, met with members of Pictou council. My question to the Premier is, have you been informed of the results of that meeting and has anything been decided in the six days since the meeting?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no, I'm not aware of that but I'm happy to look into it for the member.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the Premier. The MLA for Pictou West was quoted in the April 7th edition of the Pictou Advocate as saying, "It hurts us if our most important tourist icon is closed", and I'll table that. I'm please to say I agree with the MLA. This is yet another blow to the tourism industry in our province and this is just the beginning.

With the actions of your government discouraging tourists from even considering a trip here, the people of Nova Scotia have no confidence that you can fix the problems of the tourism industry. Our caucus will continue to raise the issue of the Ship Hector in this Legislature until it is resolved. When will that be, Mr. Premier?

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, that question is one that will have to be resolved as a result of the appropriate conversations with the municipality and with the federal government. If there is to be a resolve there, it is going to be shared. It is certainly going to be shared more broadly than just with the province.

I want the member to rest assured that we continue to invest in marketing Nova Scotia as a tourism destination and we intend to, of course, continue to do that, recognizing the difficulties with the high Canadian dollar and with fuel costs. These are all things that, of course, affect the tourism market and have, in fact, for many years.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

HPP - HEALTH/HPP: DEPARTMENTAL MERGE - PLANS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. As we are all aware, Nova Scotia is too often ranked number one

[Page 718]

in Canada in the health areas that we don't want to aspire to, like the prevalence of cancer, type II diabetes and heart disease. Recently stakeholder organizations that work to promote health in our province have expressed concern about future government cuts, which the Finance Minister has alluded to.

My question to the minister is, will the minister confirm whether there are any future plans to merge the Department of Health Promotion and Protection with the Department of Health?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be the Minister of Health, as well as the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. I guess I would say to the honourable member, we know that we are in a process, in a new government where we are examining all of our options, but I want to assure the honourable member that to pursue an option such as merging departments would not occur without a full discussion and consultation with important stakeholders.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, this question will be for the Minister of Finance. While the Minister of Finance has told us that he will find hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to programs, he has failed to tell Nova Scotians where these cuts are going to be found. As the Minister of Finance can appreciate, the statements and musings, with no plan attached, can cause a great deal of concern in the community.

My question for the Minister of Finance is, is the merging of the two departments, Health Promotion and Protection and Health, amongst the cost-saving initiatives he will be advocating for as Minister of Finance?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'll refer that to the Minister of Health.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we in the Department of Health and in the Department of Health Promotion and Protection are very focused on providing, not only services for people who are ill and have disease, but we're very much interested in pursuing better access to primary health care and preventative health care that will result in a lessening of chronic disease in our society.

Mr. Speaker, I find it very encouraging when officials from my two departments are in the room together with me to see just how collaborative their efforts are, and this I think is a good thing for the people of the province.

MS. WHALEN: I'm very pleased to hear the minister say that she's proud of being minister of both departments and that she certainly sees the value of health promotion. I simply want, today, to get a sense from her that there is a commitment to maintaining the two departments. I wanted to just quote from a June 1997 Health Canada report which looked at the need for health promotion in Canada and the quote says, ". . . it appears that generally the

[Page 719]

public health/health promotion voice is weak and the hospital and biomedical perspectives continue to dominate . . ." when the two are in the same department.

So my final question to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection is, as minister of both departments, are you committed to ensuring Health Promotion and Protection continues to stand alone as its own department to promote the health of Nova Scotians?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the honourable member that public health certainly has not suffered whatsoever under this government. If anything, it has been expanded. We're getting a new full-time epidemiologist, which is a long-standing area that needed to be addressed in the department. We're going to be getting an expert on dental health in the department. I foresee a very bright future for public health in the Province of Nova Scotia under this government.

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

PREM: SHUBENACADIE CANAL PROJ. - FUNDING

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you will be to the Premier. It appears the Shubenacadie Canal is the next project to be abandoned by this NDP Government - NDP, which I believe now stands for no delivery on promises. While both the federal and municipal governments have committed their share of the money for this project, the provincial government failed to hold up its end of the bargain. My question to the Premier is, why does this government not value the Shubenacadie Canal project?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's question and I know it came as a surprise both to the minister and certainly to myself because the simple answer to the question was there was never an application made to the provincial government for funding.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it's amazing that there was a member of their own government on the commission, it says so in this story which I'll gladly table. They were there, they were at the table when all the questions were asked. They were there when the decisions were being made and they were there when they knew what was going on, but now they decide they're not part of it. It appears that the history of this whole project, the economic spinoffs, the tourist revenue and the standing commitments to this project by this government in deciding what projects should happen for infrastructure, have been going downhill very fast. Opening these locks, as the canal project would do, would generate construction dollars and economic opportunity in the form of - even future boat tours. Of course, I forgot, this government when it comes to boats, they will suffer, the same as Ship Hector and The Cat.

[Page 720]

My question to the Premier is, at this time when our provincial economy could use a boost, why is the government turning its back on measures that would sustain and stimulate the local economy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the member actually misunderstands the story. There is a provincial appointee to the Shubenacadie Canal Commission, but if there is going to be an application made on behalf of the commission, then it would have to come from the board and be sanctioned by the board. It would have to come to the department to be properly considered. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MACLEOD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and there are some canals on that side that should be cleared as well. The project could have been funded for less than 2 per cent of the money put into purchasing the land. While this government claims it is showing restraint, the budget continues to grow and land continues to be purchased. No wonder, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotians are confused and frustrated with the direction of this government.

My final question to the Premier is this, will your government commit today to funding the Shubenacadie Canal project, a project that makes job creation and economic growth in the province a priority? Just a simple yes or no, we don't need a dance.

THE PREMIER: See, Mr. Speaker, that was the problem with the previous government - they tried to give simple answers to more difficult questions.

Mr. Speaker, there is a process. We have a process of looking at potential projects for funding, we do an analysis of it, we do it on the basis of applications. That is the way that this government operates. I'm not sure how the previous government operated but we operate in a reasonable fashion and we're certainly happy to receive an application from the commission.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

HPP - LYME DISEASE: CONCERN - SERIOUSNESS

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. My question to the minister is a simple one, does the minister agree that Lyme disease is a serious health concern?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there have been 48 cases of Lyme disease identified in Nova Scotia since 2002. Certainly for people who contact Lyme disease, it is a serious matter.

[Page 721]

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, if the minister believes that Lyme disease is a serious health matter, why have they not approved the Y-Tex tickicide for the 4-Poster Deer Treatment Bait Station as a viable component of the tick management plan for Admiral's Cove in Bedford?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we're very aware of the concern of residents in the Admiral's Cove area and the Capital District Health Authority are working with that community with respect to their concerns.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that the people who are working on this issue for HRM are very frustrated with the lack of response they've had from this government. In that neighbourhood there are two people living on the same street - one is a young boy, he is going to have arthritis for the rest of his life. The other person is a man and he will have neurological complications for the rest of his life from Lyme disease.

Of the 48 confirmed cases since 2002 in this province, one-quarter of them were from last year alone. My question for the minister is, how many people have to become sick and suffer lifelong complications from Lyme disease before this minister takes action?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there are, as well, two other areas of the province where this has been identified as a concern - Gunning Cove in Shelburne County, as well as in Lunenburg County. The Department of Health Promotion and Protection works very closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada, who are conducting a monitoring process, particularly in the Lunenburg County area.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

SNSMR: CBRM - IMPACT

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Just recently, the Minister of Finance announced that he was going to go against the wishes of businesses, municipalities, and most residents of Nova Scotia - 74 per cent, according to a recent poll - and raise the HST. Now, the burden of this NDP tax hike will be borne by the middle class and the working poor, primarily, and municipalities will struggle, of course, and will have to recover much of these revenues as they don't get all of their HST back, and the main method that they have is to increase property tax.

So my question to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is, have either the member for Cape Breton Nova or the member for Cape Breton Centre talked

[Page 722]

to you about the negative impact the HST increase will have on the Cape Breton Regional Municipality?

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, we do recognize, of course, that there will be an impact, but this government is supporting municipalities. They receive 57.4 per cent of their HST back. In regard to the question about if I have spoken individually to the two members, I haven't, but I recognize that I will probably be asked a question regarding that.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, it might interest the minister to know - and perhaps it might interest those two members to know - that CBRM will take a hit of about $1.6 million on their budget this year as a result of this NDP tax hike. The gap in HRM is going to be closer to $2 million. Up in Cumberland County, where we already have a problem between prices on either side of the border, there is going to be a hit there as well and, guess what? Not only are they going to be paid more for goods and services, but businesses and residents will pay more in property tax too.

So, Mr. Speaker, my question is, since the other two members didn't talk to you about it, has the member for Cumberland North spoken to you about the fact that working people from his community will probably pay higher property taxes as a result of the HST increase?

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I feel that is speculation around increased taxes. I have not had a discussion with the member regarding that, but that is just speculation. This government is flowing over $10 million to municipalities this year alone with the cost-sharing things that are happening around the province. This government is supporting municipalities and will continue to do so.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I think some municipalities may have a different view on how much support they're getting from this government, since the only thing that they received from this budget that they weren't expecting was an increase in taxes and a hit on their bottom line.

Even small municipalities, towns, and villages are going to take an average of a $25,000 hit, which may not seem like a lot somewhere like HRM or maybe even in CBRM, but in many of these small towns that may mean the difference between survival or not. So my final question, Mr. Speaker, has the member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour - who has Canso in his riding and is already under significant pressure - spoken to you about the negative impact that the HST increase will have on the Town of Canso?

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I just would like to recognize that the President of the UNSM has recognized that they did not get everything they wanted to get in the budget. However, in a press release, he was pleased that the province is honouring our commitment to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in November 2007.

[Page 723]

I just want to repeat that this government is supporting our municipalities, and we will continue to work with them. If any municipalities need for me to meet with them around any discussion of any hardship that they're having, I will be there to meet with them. I would like to table this response from Clarence Prince.

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

ENERGY - ELECTRIC TRANSMISSION: NL/P.E.I./N.B.

- COLLABORATION

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Energy. In March, the Provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan made a concerted collaborative effort to work together to develop new electricity transmission opportunities. My question to the minister is, what specific actions has the Minister of Energy taken to work with Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., and New Brunswick in a similar fashion for Atlantic Canada?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. From my perspective as the Minister of Energy and the opportunities I've had recently, particularly when it comes to regional issues, I want you to know that it is with some delight that I can tell you that from other interactions I've had with Energy Ministers, it has been a positive relationship. At this time I'd like to refer the question, if I may, to the Premier.

THE PREMIER: What I'd like the member opposite to know is that there has been an ongoing dialogue between myself, the Premier of New Brunswick, and the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador with respect to energy transmission, with respect to grid issues. We are pursuing actively the issue of connectivity between the provinces and I'm hopeful that in the not-to-distant future we will have more to say on it of a more concrete nature.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, since the Minister of Energy obviously has defaulted to the Premier for his portfolio responsibility, I guess I'll go to the Premier.

As the Premier would know, Nova Scotia's electricity transmission infrastructure is in need of upgrades and a collaborative effort building on the Lower Churchill opportunity as well, as Nova Scotia-based opportunities such as tidal and renewal projects for long-term economic and energy security is very important. What I'd like to ask the Premier is - and he's talking discussions - what financial provisions have you made to invest and support the renewal of Nova Scotia's transmission infrastructure?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as the member may know, the transmission infrastructure in this province is privately owned. We are, of course, active in the discussions

[Page 724]

that are taking place around what the grid is going to look like. But I would like to make this recommendation to the member, if you don't mind.

We have for some time now proposed to the federal government that there be investments in smart grid technology, and I know he goes to Ottawa occasionally and speaks to his colleagues there, and if he would be so kind as to remind them investments in smart grid technology that will strengthen the transmission system in Atlantic Canada would be a welcome initiative for us, that would be of great help.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to tell the Premier I have and will continue to go to Ottawa and do the work that he's supposed to do and won't do for Nova Scotians - that's why we've gone to Ottawa to take on the task of representing the interests of Nova Scotians.

We know that the energy security and infrastructure of this province is one that the province plays a very important role, one that the Premier should be making sure that his minister is playing a leadership role throughout Atlantic Canada. We saw the inaction of this government when it came to the New Brunswick and Quebec deal there. Will the Premier commit to this House to have his Minister of Energy convene a meeting of Atlantic Energy Ministers so we can move forward and build on some of the things that he has not done and maybe he can get his minister to do?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Energy works diligently with respect to the issues that the member has outlined.

Just a very short time ago, the other Atlantic Canadian Premiers and myself actually went to Churchill Falls, we met in Churchill, we went and viewed the actual sites, and we had wide-ranging discussions about the necessity for strengthening the transmissions grid. (Interruptions) There are ongoing negotiations. The member may not be satisfied, but one thing he cannot accuse us of on this file is inaction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE - GEORGES BANK:

DRILLING/SEISMIC TESTING - POLICY

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. What is your government's policy on drilling for oil and allowing seismic testing on Georges Bank?

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question regarding Georges Bank. As you know, we're gathering information and this particular government

[Page 725]

does the right thing. We go out and we make sure we have the appropriate information before we make the decision, and that decision will be done before June 1st.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, Georges Bank is one of the most unique and productive marine environments and fishing grounds in the world. When this minister and his Party were in Opposition, they criticized any drilling on Georges Bank. My question is, why did you campaign last year to Nova Scotians that you would not drill on Georges Bank, only to back away from this promise now?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, basically this particular question, one thing that this government does - we alluded to it earlier - is that we go out and we make the smart decision, and there's a time frame that the Minister of Energy will make the appropriate decision, and that decision can be done before June 1st. That's what we do - we do our homework here.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, on October 26, 2009, in his response to the Speech from the Throne, the member for Eastern Shore said that something he would like to establish would be to "protect Georges Bank fisheries." As well, when in Opposition, the member for Shelburne asked the former government about its position on the moratorium on the bank. On April 30, 2008, the member for Shelburne had this question: "What has changed in the past nine years that would lead you to a different conclusion?" My question to the minister is, what has changed in the past nine months that would lead you to a different conclusion?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, the member for Digby-Annapolis asked what has changed. On June 9th there were a lot of changes that took place. (Interruptions) We elected a government that's going to make the right decisions, and I'm very familiar with the visibility around Georges Bank. Thank you very much for the question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE: CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - LOCATION

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, through you, sir, my question will be to the Minister of Justice. In a recent meeting I had in Ottawa with the Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Vic Toews, I raised many issues, one of which was the present federal correctional facility in Springhill and the possible synergies between a provincial and federal institution if one were to be located there. Minister Toews expressed interest and believed there was a lot of merit to this possible partnership.

My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, if the Dexter NDP Government's claim of fiscal restraint is a serious one, why would the minister not look at a long-term operational savings as was proposed for this location of a new facility for Springhill?

[Page 726]

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, the member raised the question to me some time earlier about a possible relationship there, and led me to believe that there was some type of analysis or research done on that very issue - only my discovery is that did not occur. We did look at how do we save money, and the best choice for Nova Scotians and for Correctional Services was to do a proper analysis of where a facility would go, what type of a facility to build, and we're well underway on that process. We should have in the next few weeks or so an answer as to where the correctional facility will go.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I want to table an excerpt from Hansard dated March 30th, where the minister himself said, "in the examination that we got, it would be limited." That was in regard to the possibility of, I assume, savings or other possibilities of partnership. I asked the minister at the time, and I'll ask again today if he would table for this House any documents or discussion they may have had with the federal government that would support his assertions here today. I would also like to ask him, if he gave so much due diligence to removing the facility from Cumberland, why did he not pay as much attention there both in regard to savings and to the possibility of saving jobs there?

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, I think the member should really go back and read Hansard a little closer to see that any potential examination of that facility was with regard to me going back to my staff based on a conversation I had with him that tried to lead me to believe that there has actually been some analysis done by his government with regard to that matter, only to find out within the Justice Department that there was absolutely no recorded record, no acknowledgment that anything between the previous administration and the federal government had occurred.

In fact, the conversation I had with the member was that he had a conversation with somebody in Moncton from the federal government and I hear today that recently on their trip they spent over $12,000 to go which they could have done by telephone, found that they had some consultation with the government with regard to that matter. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order. Order.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bring out the travel bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The member for Cumberland South has the floor.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, in Cumberland County, NDP means New Definition of Promise. I listened to what the minister had to say and I'm aghast to hear the minister get up and say he's questioning my honesty and my integrity. I can tell you . . .

[Page 727]

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

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Earlier in Question Period, the Premier had suggested to this House that for the last Thursday and Friday he had been carrying around a piece of paper in his pocket; I assume he must have changed suits today. If he wouldn't mind tabling the information regarding his Barristers' Society fees and the length of time and how much taxpayers have shelled out for him. If he had it last week, he should be able to do that before the end of the day today so all people in this House would have that information.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'd be happy to.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I'd like to introduce, in the centre portion of the east gallery, a couple of my friends. They're much more than friends, but first of all the first lady is Beverley Brannen who was my official agent in 2006 and 2009 and one of the reasons why I'm here today. (Applause)

The second person is my wife, probably the main reason why I'm here and I want to welcome her here and I guess that's why I was of such good manner today. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: I'd like to bring the members' attention to the west gallery where we have Christina MacLeod, she's the policy and government relations coordinator for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. She's here today to see Question Period and to participate during estimates for the Minister of Health and Health Promotion and I welcome Christina to the House today. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

[Page 728]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, in terms of speaking going into Supply, I was wondering what I was going to talk about and then we had Question Period and the Premier provided some misleading facts about the Canal Commission so I'm going to address those facts right now. I want to thank the member for Cape Breton West for raising the question today because it is an important one.

Let me start by saying the department has a staff person on the commission who was involved in the application to the federal government and the municipality over the past year and a half. The commission members, both the executive met with the Minister of Natural Resources in March. The minister, at that meeting, committed to reply to the commission on whether the government would be able to provide any current or future funding commitment to match that by March 31st, and no commitment came. In fact, we only found out last night during estimates when he gave an answer then, and has since been able to give it.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is incorrect to say that there are only government appointees on it. There are government appointees, it is a provincially mandated commission but there is also a staff person who attends all the commission meetings and is involved. In fact and in fairness, it's kind of amusing to hear the Third Party answer the question since the Minister of Natural Resources for the Third Party wouldn't even meet with the commission for the past nine months before they were there. That was funny. So, as the Premier just suggested, they are no better than the Third Party and I have to agree with him on that - they are no better than the Third Party.

Here is the thing and here is what we need to understand, Mr. Speaker - now, I had the privilege of serving on the Canal Commission for five years, and I believe there are other members of the House who may have been on that. Here is the thing that we need to understand - this is a provincially mandated commission, and these members who serve on that commission receive no stipends, no mileage, no per diems, nothing. Unlike many of the other committees, they don't get a dime, and some of these people travel from Maitland, from Truro, to attend meetings in metro once a month, and at executive meetings. They were asked by the department to prepare a business plan to address the crumbling infrastructure in that canal, infrastructure which, in fact, will result in flooding along the canal, along farmlands and impact water source protection for the Municipality of East Hants.

[Page 729]

The Municipality of East Hants, in fact, has been trying to get funding for a couple of years to rebuild one of the canal water control structures so that they can actually provide safe and ongoing water supply to their area. They can't get permission for that and the commission has been working with them. They have been held up in terms of trying to get a Heritage River designation because of a lack of support from the Department of Natural Resources and in estimates last night, the Minister of Natural Resources admitted that the commission really wasn't a priority for him and that, well, it never makes it to the top of the pile to go and discuss it at Cabinet anyway.

It is intriguing to me that we would have a commission that is established by an Act, we have a waterway that was first used by the Mi'kmaq many hundreds of years ago and was developed into a commercial canal by the likes of Samuel Cunard and Alexander Keith and so forth, and yet there is no interest. The commission at the same meeting when they asked the Minister of Natural Resources for an answer on cost-sharing with the municipality and the federal government that had already put in $0.5 million each, contingent on the provincial money, also gave him a list of nine things the NDP Government could do, that would cost nothing, to assist the canal.

In estimates, the minister couldn't remember receiving that piece of paper and, more important than that, wasn't all that interested in looking at any of them and, to his credit, admitted as much during estimates. I have to give him credit, he was immensely honest in estimates in terms of his feelings, so much so that he mused about the fact that maybe the commission should be under the control of another department. In fact, through the former member for Dartmouth South, previous to the current Education Minister, the former Tory member, he threw him under the bus by saying that, well, he probably should never have moved the commission from Tourism to Natural Resources when he was minister.

The fact of the matter is you have a group of very dedicated people who are trying to achieve their legislated mandate under provincial legislation and yet the province and the provincial Department of Natural Resources, under two governments now, has been provided with two options. One, either start providing the funding to allow some of this work to happen; or two, you give them a small increase in the $32,000 a year they get for operating now and allow them to go out and use that to seek private donations. There are two options on the table, but the government doesn't seem to want to take either one.

The interesting thing is they do get a $32,000 operating subsidy from the provincial government. Now that may sound like a lot, but of course they're not hiring staff because you can't hire anybody with $32,000, but they're expected to pay all the maintenance costs, under the Act, for all the canal infrastructure - and I might add that the last canal infrastructure repair bill was over $200,000. They are expected to maintain all of the trails along the waterway for the Trans Canada Trail; they are expected to pay the power and light bill at the Fairbanks Centre and do repairs at the Fairbanks Centre - the last repair, for a leak in the roof which would have shut down that building, was $40,000.

[Page 730]

Now in fairness to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, I do want to thank him for jumping in when we got a letter back from the Minister of Natural Resources saying they weren't going to be able to do anything because they had no money. The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is trying to find a way to solve the leak in the roof, which is good, because the $32,000 isn't gonna pay that bill.

The fact of the matter here is that the department keeps asking this commission to expend funds to do things like business plans and come up with ways to ensure this infrastructure stops crumbling, to ensure that you don't get flooding in farmland upstream and yet then when they do all that work, won't actually work with them to provide a long-term funding strategy to address those issues. This is the second successive government that this has been an issue for.

If the government has decided that the commission doesn't serve a purpose, let them know that, so they don't have to go to meetings, coming up with plans that they're asked to come up with by the government that ultimately aren't going to get addressed.

I honestly believe that when they went to the Minister of Natural Resources and the staff person who was there and said, listen, we need $500,000 from you, they made it very clear they weren't looking to walk out the door with a cheque, they didn't even need the money this year. They just needed a letter that said, we will be able to provide you this money to match municipal and federal money over the next five years, 10 years, eight years. They just needed a commitment that money was coming to trigger the federal and municipal dollars that have now been lost.

The question becomes, where do we go from here? Obviously those plans have to go on the back burner and they still wait for an answer on other projects. For example, in the Minister of Education's riding - the Starr site or the inclined plane site - we managed to get some signs up there and there was a site of a major archaeological dig last year that was extremely important and actually was covered nationally on the news because it was so interesting to many people. Again, it's another site that is a Brownfield redevelopment site in the heart of downtown Dartmouth. I know it's important to the Minister of Education, but it's one where, again, in order to trigger these federal dollars and these municipal dollars, you need to have the third partner at the table otherwise you lose those dollars.

The Minister of Finance talks a lot about cost savings and so forth, well the easiest way to get cost savings is to pay for projects with 33 cent dollars instead of 100 per cent dollars. The fact of the matter is, we all know from the deferred maintenance on things like this building, or City Hall up the street here, that the longer you let things go, the more expensive it gets. The proposal that has been lost that was for March 31st, that was one that was lost and that was one that's now going to just get more expensive as time goes on because the stones are already crumbling on locks two and three and the fact of the matter

[Page 731]

is, the further they crumble, the more expensive it gets to fix them, so much so that the last lock that they had to do - which was up in the Minister of Economic and Rural Development's riding, which must be six, seven, eight years ago now - new stone had to be brought back in because it crumbled so far they couldn't even reuse the old stone. That stone had to come from the U.S. because there isn't anywhere here now that cuts that kind of stone.

This is about getting back to organizations, getting back to our volunteers and letting them know the state of things. I don't think any of them - I said before - expected to get a cheque in the mail for $500,000, although they would have liked it. What they did expect was to get a response from the minister by March 31st one way or the other and he didn't even have the courtesy to send them a response, yes or no. What he did was he said, go talk to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, go talk to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

He's the minister responsible for that department. It's his responsibility to go to those ministers and say, listen, can you look at this and see if you can help them? Maybe the answer is still no, but at the end of the day, it is the minister's responsibility to ensure that they respond to provincially mandated organizations when they are doing the work that they're asked to with an answer that says, whether it's yes or no, get back to them with an answer, and that's what failed. You can imagine the shock of the commission member sitting in estimates last night watching to hear what was said, when they learned from the minister answering a question that it wasn't going to get funded instead of getting the letter that he was promised by March 31st, that's the problem.

The member for Cape Breton West was right, there is a tourism issue here in terms of that. They put together the business plan that they were asked for but there were also other issues. The commission is responsible for one of the longest sections of the Trans Canada Trail in the province. They've built more kilometres, more cost effectively than any other group in this province for Trans Canada Trail development. They've been seeking for some time for the provincial government to address the easement issues to make the last few links so they can finish it to Truro.

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, they are doing a lot of work for very little money. They were involved in putting on the ICF Canoe Championships last year, which was very successful and watched by 60 million people around the world. I mean, this is a group that's doing a lot with very little; they're achieving a lot, yet they are not being allowed to achieve the very job that they are mandated to do under legislation by the provincial government because they can't get the answers from their own department.

The best I can say for this government on this issue is that at least the minister has met with them a few times when the last government wouldn't even arrange a meeting with

[Page 732]

the minister, but that is a small step, a very small step. If that's how we're going to have to measure success, it's going to be a long wait for not only them but for many other groups around the province as they try to get work done on behalf of their constituents.

I hope things change. I hope that the commission will receive that. I hope the commission will receive a response from the minister to their business plan that the department asked them to do, and the last thing I hope that they will do is there are six vacancies on the Canal Commission at the moment. Whether the NDP chooses to fill them with NDP appointees or choose a variety of people, that's their choice, but the fact of the matter is the commission is also in a point of view where they can make executive decisions but can't make full commission decisions because these vacancies have sat for so long. They weren't even advertised until this morning, and that's the thing that has to happen. You can't let vacancies on these commissions that have mandated work to do sit for that long.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance, who I know has been trying to kayak the entire canal, and the Minister of Natural Resources both have the list of nine things that are free for this government to do, that they could move ahead on. I hope that they will move on some or all of those items, and I hope that they will move to respond to the commission on their business plan, and finally, I hope that they will fill those six vacant positions on the commission so at least there's some move forward. Even though we've lost one opportunity, let's not lose any more.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, it's great to have a few minutes today to stand and speak on a couple of issues as we go into Supply. I think it's only fitting that we're talking a little bit about the dollars and cents, some of the new tax issues that have been brought forward. Over the last number of days I've had calls and yesterday, a very busy day in the constituency with people dropping into my office and even again this morning, the phone ringing about the issue of tax: how are we going to survive with 2 per cent more tax?

The government saw fit to travel around the province and spend a few dollars. I guess it costs money when you're travelling all over the province and trying to host these meetings. I even had in one of my last conversations this morning with a businessman - a very intelligent man, I might add - he left me a message and we spoke a lot. We spoke yesterday, we spoke recently, and we'll be speaking a lot more, but he wanted to know how it was that these meetings could be held and we could walk away with such a high percentage of people thinking that it was okay to add 2 per cent to the tax rate. Well, he doubts that very much. A businessman, like I said, a smart guy, an engineer with a huge corporation, both provincially and internationally in business. We talked a lot about that over the period of the last little while and how could this possibly be, and more importantly, what does that mean?

[Page 733]

Mr. Speaker, to the small business community, I spoke yesterday to a guy who owns a music store in town, Willard Wood. He and Edgar Card are co-owners of Moe's music, and about eight or nine years ago they opened this store up. They've done fairly well, I think, with the local sales; they've probably done some of the bigger stuff. Willard asked me yesterday, he said, well, what am I going to do at the end of this year when I'm probably not in business anymore? The 2 per cent is going to have a huge impact, because people will not be able to afford to spend 2 per cent more on an instrument. In case anyone doesn't know - I'm sure there are a few musicians around here - instruments are very high in cost regardless. They're not cheap, they're not $20, $30, and $50.

These items are quite expensive and, you know, if you were to go out and buy a decent guitar today, you'd pay anywhere from $1,000 probably to $3,000 or $4,000 or $5,000. Add 2 per cent more on that, people are going to stop buying those things. They're going to wait, they're going to hold off, they're going to hope for better things. More importantly, they're probably going to leave the province and go somewhere else and buy it. They're probably going to go to the U.S., they're probably going to go to another province in this country, perhaps over to New Brunswick where the rates are cheaper. Even on-line now you can shop for just about anything. They will be looking for the deals. The point of this is, they are not going to be supporting our local businesses.

Willard passed me on an interesting new phrase yesterday, one that I hadn't heard for some reason before, locavore, which means people who shop local, support local businesses as much as they can. It costs a little more to go to the big industries like the Wal-Marts and what can't you buy at Wal-Mart? You know quite often you can go and you can even get your groceries there now, you can get your tires there, you can get whatever you want there, as a matter of fact. The fact of the matter remains, people will go where the prices are the best because this province is not a have province. We continue to struggle along, the jobs are not big paying jobs as a rule and here we are again, we're adding 2 per cent more tax.

People want the best deal for their money. There's this philosophy that you can drive maybe from Windsor to New Minas and go to Wal-Mart and buy it $5 cheaper, but what did it cost you to get there? That piece seems to be missing sometimes and we don't focus enough on local. Local is not just about buying produce and farm goods, huge piece. Over the last number of years I've been here, Mr. Speaker, we've heard a lot of the discussion around buying-local campaigns related to the farming industry, which is a good thing. I think there's been some uptake on that and we see people who are very concerned. I think that everybody is actually very concerned about the local but do they actually act and do they buy local? I know that we try to buy just about everything local. It may cost more, but we'll buy whatever we can buy, as local as we can buy it. If it's available, we're looking to buy it there.

As I said, I think that people are coming back to that, but this small-business community is going to struggle. The Finance Minister and the government can talk all they want about the 0.5 per cent decrease in the tax and when asked - and I've asked these folks

[Page 734]

that I've talked to, well, isn't that going to help you because the Finance Minister said this was a great thing for small business in Nova Scotia. Well, after they get up off the floor from falling out of the chair laughing, they are very quick to tell you that this is of no use whatsoever, Mr. Speaker. This is no good because you've killed us with the extra 2 per cent. It was bad enough, businesses are just surviving now.

Mr. Speaker, we need to do more for the small-business community. We're by no means doing enough. We do have some initiatives, certainly for the bigger businesses, for the manufacturing sector. That's a great thing. We've seen NSBI involved, we've seen the Industrial Expansion Fund involved in supporting manufacturing businesses. The problem is, again, Nova Scotia is not a big manufacturing province, perhaps like Quebec and Ontario are. These are benefits, there's no question, the dollars that are invested in places like Nu-Air, those are great investments. The payroll rebate, great as well; it needs to drop down again from where it is. Perhaps this is a way that the small businesses could take advantage of some of these things. Right now you need to be a certain size business - if you've got 20 employees you would probably qualify for that rebate but if you don't, you don't. That would be a significant help.

Now here's Willard - back to his little music store - who not only will lose out on sales this year, he is already down in staff. He has had to let go a couple of his staff and he's not sure if he's even going to be able to keep his part-timer. He and Edgar both work, they do their best to employ local people and they pay them fairly well and they learn while they are there. That's the best part, they're learning a little bit about the music industry, they're learning a little bit about business, too, and what it means to be a small business in rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, one of the questions that Willard asked me yesterday, he said, to me, I want you to ask the Premier if he'll have a job maybe driving a car for him or something like that or one of his departments when I'm out of work, because he's a business owner who doesn't qualify, of course, for EI benefits when his job is closed up. So I look forward to having an opportunity to talk to the Premier and see if he might have a job opportunity for Mr. Wood and maybe Mr. Card. Mr. Card is a former police officer here in the HRM, worked many years, retired, and decided he would invest in our community.

Mr. Wood, who worked for many years for the Shaw Group, again, thought, well, look, great music lovers, somewhat of a hobby but we're going to get into this. We hope to at least break even and on a good day we'll make a little money and will employ a few people. That's what small business in Nova Scotia is about. Here we are, putting people out of business, not assisting them in business, not looking for them to stay in business whatsoever.

One of the things that could help in a business like that, and I'm only really picking on one business because I know my time is short, but you know we get back to this music

[Page 735]

business, we've got one music store in the Town of Windsor, basically it represents all of West Hants, that is a private industry, that has a very difficult time. You have Long & McQuade that are big international suppliers of instruments and they are the ones that seem to be getting all of these contracts, to supply the schools, for example, we're not even offering a guy like Willard an opportunity at Moe's music to bid, why is that, Mr. Speaker?

You talk about trying to assist a business that is struggling, well, here we go, we got 2 per cent, even within the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board, where probably - I don't know what the numbers would be - but every year you would have a new group of music kids coming along, something maybe as simple as a recorder, I don't know what a recorder costs, $100 or $75, I think back to what my kids used in elementary school and I just can't recall the price. But again, they're not $20 items and they're probably going out in bulk numbers in a contract for the school board, maybe 50, 60 or 100 items, I don't know, and that's just one instrument.

Mr. Speaker, here we are, we're not offering small business in Nova Scotia the opportunity to take advantage of even bidding, not just getting the contract, but even to bid on the contract. We need to look at it; if we're going to put in place initiatives for small business, there is one that costs absolutely nothing, but it allows them to get in on the bidding, allows them to be somewhat competitive, to look at, they know what these things go for and the quality that they purchase, they can get the best quality, it is not coming from China.

It is not going to be a cheap brand of something that is going to be put together by the Chinese market, which a lot of people will say, well, the Chinese market is no good, but it's funny, we buy an awful lot of it here in Canada. They are a huge, huge exporter around the world, and Canada and Nova Scotia are no exceptions. You can go to the Wal-Marts, or any kind of store, for that matter, and you can buy something that says, Made in China, Made in Thailand, made in wherever, Made in Mexico. We are big, big purchasers of foreign goods, as we all know, in imports to our country, and here we go. All they want is an opportunity.

Again, I would repeat for the Premier, two things - one this fellow is going to go out of business and I'm glad to see that the government is listening and the Premier is listening because one of the questions, and I know that he was in the Valley one day last week and I think he was in Windsor and visited the Hants Journal. Mr. Willard Wood, Mr. Premier, wanted to know, he said, "I heard the Premier was here, I just missed him," he had gone down to the Hants Journal office, the local paper, and said, "I'm going to put an ad in" or something like that with regard to the business and Nadine Armstrong or whoever who had interviewed the Premier said, "Oh, you just missed the Premier." Willard said, "Oh, that's too bad, because I really would have liked to have spoken to him about a couple of issues, one being the increase in tax." I can assure you that he is not a happy camper.

[Page 736]

He said, "Twelve months ago, he probably would have stopped in and wanted to shake my hand, he would have wanted to come and knock on my door and say, 'hey, I'm the best choice, as we move forward into this election.'" Funny how he didn't walk up the street, I don't know, it would not have been as far as the length of this building to that store. Mr. Speaker, he didn't walk up the street and say, "How are you, Willard, how are you, Edgar, how's business?" What were you doing in town, worrying about a media article? All that mattered is that he was worrying about the media. Trying to get his pitch in on how good this budget - not how good this budget is but how good this budget isn't.

You can laugh, Mr. Premier, if you want, but I can tell you that the small-business community is not laughing and the average Nova Scotian taxpayer is not laughing about things. They would have loved to have two minutes of your time or maybe even five or 10. You can shake your heads, too, over there, all of you can, but I can tell you, if you think you're helping Nova Scotians with 2 per cent you are sadly mistaken. You are not. They're all speaking and they're speaking out and they're not happy. The government will hear about it. I'm talking 50-year members of the NDP are telling me, do you know what? I will tell everybody, never again will I support that. They promised, Mr. Speaker, the documentation has been tabled in this House every day. They promised no tax increases. July 1st, it is in print now, tax increases.

Well, Mr. Speaker, people are not happy. The business community will suffer, they will go out of business, Willard Wood and Edgar Card at Moe's music are struggling along to make ends meet and I hope they make it through the next three or four years. They're asking, what do we have to do to have an election right away? That's what they're asking because they want rid of what they now have. So there are a lot of people. (Interruption) I'll tell you what, Mr. Premier, you can argue, I would debate this all day with you. (Interruptions) Yes, ask people. Yes, defend this. Sure you can defend it but they're looking back now and they're saying, what a mistake we've made, and what gets me, what's most interesting is all of these people who supported the NDP for years, hey, let's give them a chance. Well, you know, that's democracy. Nothing wrong with democracy in this province. Great. We gave them a chance and now they're being burned. That is just how they feel.

That's the reality of Nova Scotians, Mr. Premier. You can say that is not true, but come on with me down to Windsor and talk to Mr. Wood and Mr. Card and they'll tell you what's true. Come on down and talk to a couple of your other 50-year supporters, card carrying. Check your e-mails. I'm getting them, I know that you're getting them. Don't sit there and tell me that's not true. We know (Interruption) Don't sit there and tell me that's not true. We know what's true. (Interruption) Yes, Yarmouth. Well, Yarmouth is a whole different story. (Interruption) That's right but you won't have to worry.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 737]

The honourable member for Hants West has the floor.

MR. PORTER: I'll be back another day - no worries.

AN HON. MEMBER: You still have the floor.

MR. PORTER: Oh, I thought you were sitting me down, Mr. Speaker. I thought my time had expired. How much time do I have to continue?

MR. SPEAKER: You have about three minutes.

MR. PORTER: Three minutes, all right. Mr. Speaker, the NDP - this government has to realize they were given a great opportunity and have disappointed Nova Scotians. They really have and it surprises me - well, it doesn't really surprise me - when I talk about these long-time New Democrats who have supported this Party because it was promised, the Premier and his colleagues who are elected today, and everyone of them who canvassed, went around and promised numerous things. That taxing is a big thing because that affects everybody right here, Mr. Speaker, right in the pocketbook.

Every dollar they make, every dollar they spend, the 0.5, Mr. Premier, I want to tell you the business community is laughing at that. They're saying it's not worth even putting it on paper and not worth giving it to us. That 2 per cent is killing us. You're going to put us out of business. That's what's going to happen. Every taxpayer is going to feel the pinch of your 2 per cent increase and how you can go around this province and try to tell people that this is a good thing - I can't wait to see the comments that come out of the media stories that you did in the Valley last week. I'll be sure to forward them to you and I'm sure you're getting copies. As I said, the e-mails that are coming to me, are not it's a good thing - it's a bad thing, it's a poor thing, and I know you're getting them and I know your associations and I know your membership and your executive and everyone else are getting these e-mails from your members because they're coming to me.

None of them are good. (Interruption) Well, maybe you're not getting them. Maybe they don't want to break your heart and give them to you and disappoint you on all the fine decisions you think you've made, but you've made no good decisions for Nova Scotia - none. Even the tax breaks you talked about for seniors, they're saying hold it now, I don't pay that income tax, how is this helping me, this isn't helping me any.

The reality is starting to set in and it's going to set in on July 1st and it's going to be painful, it really is, and why you cannot see that and how you can sit there and deny that, it just baffles my mind. They're not going to have more money and we both know it. They're not going to have more money and the average working man and woman, the middle-class

[Page 738]

working poor in this province are having nothing. They're going to pay more for everything - simple as that. They're going to pay more for everything.

There has been nothing more than what we've seen elsewhere - it's the tax and spend philosophy. We're going to continue to see it, Mr. Speaker. This government has to step up, make some changes, and support the people here in this province. Taxes, taxes, what tax are we going to see next year - more taxes. I'm wrapping it up. Unfortunately, again as I said a few moments ago, I want to thank you for the opportunity and I will be back to harp and go on some more with the Premier and debate this further. Thank you very kindly.

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

MS. BECKY KENT: Mr. Speaker, it's certainly my pleasure to rise today to offer a few comments on the debate on Supply. It's always a pleasure to take a few moments to speak of the people whom we represent here in the Legislature, the people whom we represent in our communities, and certainly the good people of Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage.

Mr. Speaker, I know that you know, and I know that all members of the House of Assembly know, that working here in the Chamber during a House sitting is only one part of the role that we roll out as MLAs. Much is happening in our constituencies and I would like to take a few minutes just to talk about some of the things that are still going on while we are here making good decisions with our government, but I had the pleasure yesterday of attending an announcement with the good Minister of Community Services at the Nova Scotia Community College Harbourfront Campus.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if you recall, but early childhood education and childcare is very near and dear to my heart. It is an experience that I had the pleasure of being an owner/operator in the community of Eastern Passage, Passage Pre-School, for a number of years. So to be able to be part of an announcement that is such good news, good news for so many families, for child care providers, for this industry, was a real pleasure for me.

Our government - and it's indicative of where we're coming from as a government, as a Party - our government cares about the future of our children. They are our destiny. They are the most important valued assets that we have and we have to think clearly and approach things strategically and, yes, in a balanced way that can create a positive opportunity for them in the future. These announcements that I had the pleasure of hearing with the minister yesterday are part of that - $15 million annually to licence full- and part-time child care facilities is good news. Good things are happening in this province, and that is just one example of what our government is doing. I'm so pleased and proud to be part of that.

Mr. Speaker, owning and operating a child care facility in Eastern Passage before I became an elected official was a benefit that I bring to the Legislature. I know that so many

[Page 739]

of my colleagues bring different experiences - that's what gives us, as a team, the balanced ability, the ability to have good dialogue about where this province is going.

To offer this industry, these families, the children in their care, an opportunity to give them tools and resources that they can use to be the best that they can be is positive, and this money will help centres recruit and retain talented and caring people to care for our children.

The minister's announcement of 400 new child care subsidies and the elimination of fees for families and grants for new child care providers is good news that will allow more parents to meet the needs of their families, Mr. Speaker. They will be able to access quality child care which, in turn, allows them to engage and be part of good jobs in Nova Scotia. It allows them to work in gainful employment and help relieve some of the financial pressures that they face.

Mr. Speaker, many of my colleagues on the opposite side have addressed, and it's their job to bring it to our attention, some of the challenges that our families face in Nova Scotia. It is awfully easy for them to sit there and tell us about all the difficulties that they might have - and I want to make a note, because it just happened very recently, about the concern around small business, and I wonder if I should draw attention to the fact that since 1992 there hasn't been a decrease in the small business taxes for small businesses in Nova Scotia and we've done it, we've brought that forward. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I would challenge those members to reflect on their participation in government at that time - where were they when those businesses needed them? We're here for them now.

Around the experience that we had yesterday, I do want to draw attention that my kids are all late teenagers now, and the minister and I were actually able to sit down with these preschoolers and the young people and draw dinosaurs and talk to them. The message that we gave to them and that the child care providers and the parents that were there, and the children, was so positive, and I'm just so proud to be part of it.

Another thing that is happening and you can't help but notice, Mr. Speaker, out there on our roads that businesses are moving forward. Our Spring weight restrictions have just lifted, truck are on the go, they are everywhere. Heavy equipment is out there. Eastern Passage, for instance, I know has a large contingency of industry, of families providing for their families through heavy equipment, through development, through road construction and it's out there. Our province and our minister and our government right now is moving forward with infrastructure money that is allowing for these roads to be repaired, and we have families working. There are drivers and heavy equipment operators and there are good things happening on our roads that will benefit the families who are in our communities, and Eastern Passage-Cole Harbour is no different.

[Page 740]

The things that are happening in our communities are all over Nova Scotia, but particularly the Eastern Passage. Some of the very positive things are things like our - a conversation that I was able to have yesterday with community people who have been working very hard on a memorial to the fishermen, the fishing industry that is very much a part of the heritage and culture of the Eastern Passage and Cole Harbour area.

We had a very dedicated community group, Mr. Speaker, that worked for the last couple of years on a memorial, a monument dedicated to people who have lost their lives, fishermen who have lost their lives through the industry, and it has been sitting in a storage container - and I have to thank the former government for participating in some of the funding required to get that monument up and going - but we finally feel like we're at a point where we're going to get that monument in the ground. It's very positive. The community as a whole is looking forward to the unveiling of it. That's an indication of the kinds of communities that we have in Nova Scotia. In Eastern Passage, Cole Harbour, all over, there are a dedicated people who are willing to step up to the plate, work with their communities, work with their stakeholders and their partners, including government, and get good things happening in their community and that is an example.

Our volunteer firefighters association took the helm on that, Scott Wheeler, Larry Varin, and a few other dedicated community members have worked tirelessly to see that come to fruition and we are very, very close.

Another important aspect of the priorities that have come forward to me, not only as an MLA but as part of that as a councillor, was community safety and crime prevention. I want to focus on that because it has been a priority and advocacy that I have been part of for a number of years, even before becoming an elected official in the community, and the recent decision at the Halifax Regional Municipality around remaining with status quo of RCMP policing services within our communities was a very positive decision. We're very pleased to hear that and I commend Halifax Regional Municipality for moving forward with that.

[2:30 p.m.]

Our Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker, recognizes that the citizens in Nova Scotia and the provincial support regarding community safety and crime prevention is a priority. Our Lighthouses grants, for instance, are proof positive of this. In February, 15 organizations across this province received grants from the Department of Justice. The funding helps organizations provide recreational, educational and cultural, and skill programs for our youth. We all know that everyone in our community - when you have youth that are at risk or potentially involved in something negative - we want to give them opportunities, we want to give them alternatives and this kind of funding can do that.

So I believe that a key component to crime prevention is keeping them away from negative influences - substance abuse, peer pressure and violence. Positive alternatives, Mr.

[Page 741]

Speaker, and the Lighthouses Program is doing just that. It is helping communities achieve those goals.

Mr. Speaker, communities across Nova Scotia are doing their share. Eastern Passage has a Community Safety Office that is receiving some funding to help continue to operate that through a program, again, through the Department of Justice. These are just a couple of things that our minister, our government is doing for better and safer communities, for a better life for Nova Scotians.

Seniors in our province, we all know, are important. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt, everywhere we turn, we all have people in our communities who are in need of support, help, quality of life and our seniors, of course, will be benefiting from the budget announcements around tax reductions for low-income seniors. The recent funding from the department, Positive Aging Fund grant, funds our Ocean View Manor's Snoezelen Room, which I recognized here in the House in a resolution, is one example of that, Mr. Speaker.

Now, the type of room that this is providing at Ocean View Manor - Ocean View Manor is a long-term care facility that provides tremendous care to many residents, not only from the local area, but from other areas of the province - and this particular room will offer a therapeutic tool for residents with physical, cognitive and sensory disabilities; a room that will assist in the treatment of a variety of age-related illnesses. Certainly it will help many qualified staff and administration at Ocean View Manor do their job, which is providing the highest quality long-term care in this province.

Our government is helping make that happen, Mr. Speaker, a government that I am proud to be part of. I probably could go on and on about the good things that are happening in my riding of Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. I have four communities, essentially, in my riding: Cole Harbour, which I have the pleasure of sharing with the honourable Premier; Shearwater, which is the area associated with 12 Wing Shearwater Base; the Eastern Passage area; and then the Cow Bay area. All have unique identities; all have tremendous community spirit, volunteerism, community engagement; all have varying aspects and assets that they are proud of.

In the Cole Harbour area, of course, we have our own Sidney Crosby, who we're all proud of. I think the whole province gets to share in the aspect that he is like the boy next door, so he feels like he is one of our own. I'm no different. On the night we won the Olympic hockey I was with my mother and she ran around the room with a Canada blanket on: That's my Sidney. I was not unlike her, I am sure there were many people in Nova Scotia doing the same thing, we feel like he is our own and that's the way it should be. I know that he leaves Nova Scotia, after he has had a visit, he leaves with strength that we are all there behind him.

[Page 742]

Mr. Speaker, there are so many parks and trails in my riding that I speak specifically of the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association, which connects the Shearwater Flyer Trail to the Bisset Road and the Salt Marsh Trails and then we have the beautiful McNabs and Lawlor Islands, both of which have community groups that are dedicated, passionate and give of their time and energy. Cathy McCarthy from the Friends of McNabs, for example, and Holly Woodill and Jim Tudor from the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association, they all give much of their time and energy and they work collaboratively, Mr. Speaker, with the levels of government - municipal, federal and certainly provincial - to get the job done, to offer assets to our community.

I had the pleasure of walking the trails in the HRM area, particularly on the Dartmouth side as it is more convenient. I can tell you - and I would like to invite any member in the House, and you in particular, Mr. Speaker, I don't know how often you get a chance just to relax, but I'd be happy to take you for a walk on the trail out in the Cole Harbour area. It's a jewel that I am sure most of you have no idea is really out there. I know the member opposite from the Dartmouth area can attest to that, I am sure he has been out there. It's well worth a walk on the trails and I'd be happy to take you along.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know how much more time I have but I just want to say that it's a pleasure and an honour to represent the Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage riding here in the House. I will have, I hope, many opportunities to talk about them.

Before I leave the Sidney Crosby aspect, I do want to recognize that in 2011 HRM will be hosting athletes from all over Canada. I'd just like to put out a word of encouragement for people to get involved. In order to provide an event like that, to let our young athletes become the shining stars that they aspire to, that they want to, we need your help. So volunteering, being part of it, I think is so important and I ask you to step up to the plate. There are so many jobs that you can do, big and small, and it's all a tremendous help to shine the light on Nova Scotia. All eyes will be on it, Mr. Speaker, and we will provide a venue, we will provide an event that is second to none and in Nova Scotia style, with smiles and lots of energy.

I thank you for that and I hope that you'll take the time to understand what aspects of our government - that we've rolled out a balanced approach to providing for Nova Scotia in a way that is about the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member.

The motion is carried.

[2:33 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gordon Gosse in the Chair.]

[Page 743]

[5:59 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Hon. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The adjournment motion was submitted by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis:

"Therefore be it resolved that the NDP Government honour their campaign commitment to 24/7 emergency room care, as promised in last year's election."

[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

HEALTH: ER CARE (24/7) - CAMPAIGN COMMITMENT HONOUR

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: What timing it is for us to have this debate on the promise that was made during the election campaign as we've been debating health estimates. It's been interesting to listen to various questions put forward to the minister of the department by members of all Parties who have recognized that when the campaign started last May that Nova Scotians believed this Party - the governing Party today, the New Democratic Party - believed them with their commitment of keeping emergency rooms open 24/7 .

One of the concerns that I have, and I'm sure the members of all Parties have, is that when Dr. Ross introduced his interim report, he said there would be no emergency room closures. What he didn't say though was that it would be 24/7. I know the member for Sackville-Cobequid will be responding, I believe, for the New Democratic Party and he's lived in a community that has had an emergency room, but it's always closed at 10:00 p.m. Interestingly enough, that community said they didn't want the emergency room to be open beyond 10:00 p.m. but during the election campaign they made that commitment so they're going to go ahead and do it.

At the same time there's a growing anxiety across Nova Scotian communities, like Annapolis Royal, where Dr. John Ross has come in and assessed the facility, looking at what to do to deal with the emergency room closures that are there. But he has not, nor has this government said that community will have 24/7 emergency room access.

[Page 744]

One of the things I had a conversation earlier with the Minister of Health in estimates about was I think we're focused on the wrong problem. I don't think the problem is whether or not we should be closing emergency rooms, because, quite frankly, I don't believe there's a community across this province who believes their emergency room should close. As a matter of fact there's one looking to be open even longer. The problem is, why are so many Nova Scotians going to the emergency room to access health care? That's the conversation we should be having, not creating the kind of anxiety that's happening in communities across our province.

Nova Scotians took the New Democratic Party at their word. As in so many other instances since that election campaign, I think they may have regretted that. They've been concerned as they've hidden behind report after report to back away from commitments that they have made. That's why they are concerned about Dr. Ross going around Nova Scotia and delivering a report about emergency rooms. What is he going to tell them?

They've already committed to keeping them open 24/7 unless they're looking for a way to back away from that commitment. The people of my constituency in Annapolis Royal and in Middleton, absolutely without question, believe their emergency rooms should be open 24/7 and that's what we'll continue to fight for and hold this government to account on when it comes to keeping their word. And 24/7 means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - not 15 hours a day or 16 hours a day. It's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

By the time we move away from the charade of hiding behind so many other reports and start focusing on the real issue - and what the community at home is doing and I know communities across our province are doing, trying to find solutions to accessing health care whether it's a diabetic clinic or expanding the scope of pharmacists to allow them to fill prescriptions.

Believe it or not, there are Nova Scotians going through emergency rooms in the province today so they can have prescriptions renewed. There are diabetics across this province who are going to an emergency room for treatment when in actual fact a diabetic clinic would be a much better place and environment for them to receive that care. What we have, though, is a government that is wrapped up in the emergency room debate and backing away from its commitment as opposed to seriously looking at the challenge that is in front of them.

I know the community of Clare suffers from the fact that the Digby emergency room is closed more often than it's open, and the challenges that community has - your community has - when it comes to accessing health care. The same thing is happening in Annapolis Royal and in Middleton, it's happening on Cape Breton Island, the South Shore - you can list them. The anxiety in those communities is growing because since June 9th, the Premier has not come out and said, we will keep our word and we will keep your emergency room open

[Page 745]

24/7. That's all that Nova Scotians are looking for, that their government will keep their word during the election campaign.

Mr. Speaker, they moved away from balanced budgets. They moved away from no tax increases. They've moved away from no program cuts and service reduction, and Nova Scotians are growing with this real concern that they're now going to back away from the promise of 24/7. It's not acceptable. This is less than a year from your first mandate, and it has been one broken promise after another. When the Premier won't stand in this House or go to a community and say, your emergency room will be there 24/7, just like we told you, it is concerning.

As I spoke to the minister earlier, Nova Scotians recognize the challenge facing government. They recognize the challenges facing their tax dollars, quite frankly, and what they want to be is part of that solution, but they only want to be part of a solution that begins with the conversation that the emergency room will be open 24/7, and then we'll begin to find other ways to solve the other challenges with the Health Department.

Access to health care is the issue we should be talking about. During Question Period today, the member for Halifax Clayton Park and myself raised the question around how we purchase drugs in the Province of Nova Scotia. The western provinces have been doing it for quite some time - saving millions of dollars to put back into the system to provide access to health care, to create programs that will allow their citizens to have access to the right kind of health care in the right place at the right time. That's just one solution of how we can reshape how we deliver health care to Nova Scotians, providing that those savings get plowed back into the system to make sure that we're getting access in the appropriate manner and appropriate time.

The member for Kings West was talking earlier about an educational piece. It's alarming to me how many Nova Scotians do not recognize that accessing health care through an emergency room is more expensive, that there's a greater cost to the taxpayer, to the tax base of this province. It's incumbent on government to ensure that Nova Scotians understand what happens to the bottom line when we begin to access through the emergency room door.

I would dare say, Mr. Speaker, there are many people in this House who didn't recognize that until they got here and started becoming involved in the debate. It goes back to an issue of access, though. It goes back to making sure that Nova Scotians have access to primary care. I believe the emergency room challenges facing our province will look after themselves if Nova Scotians know that they have primary care access somewhere else. Annapolis Royal and Middleton are not unique. It's the same as they are in other communities. There are thousands of Nova Scotians without a family physician. There are thousands of Nova Scotians who have not been provided the opportunity to access health care from another type of health care professional.

[Page 746]

In northern Canada, nurse practitioners are the primary health caregiver and they deliver it in a wonderful way. There's no reason why that can't be happening in this province. The community of Bridgetown has now a health clinic that the community fundraised for, and it's sitting vacant because there's no family physician; they've moved to Middleton. There is absolutely no reason why a nurse practitioner could not be delivering health care services to my community out of that clinic? The only reason is we have not been creative enough and we have not been able to move forward quickly enough to allow them to move out in the community and really respect the expertise that they have. The last number of times that I have accessed the health care system in my community of Annapolis Royal, it was through the nurse practitioner; no knock on the doctor that I had been receiving health care from.

There are solutions to the challenge but we need to focus on the right challenge and it will begin by this government standing up and telling Nova Scotians, you can believe what we said when we said that we would keep your emergency room open 24/7. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the Leader of the Official Opposition, especially around opinions of the residents that I have represented for nearly seven years and I know full well their expectations around the Cobequid Centre and I have to say that they're a little different than what the Leader of the Official Opposition has just stated.

The NDP Government is keeping our commitments to make the right decisions, Mr. Speaker, for Nova Scotian families and this includes ensuring that emergency care is available to Nova Scotians when and where they need it. Emergency room closures have become a chronic problem, especially in small rural hospitals. In the larger emergency room departments in our regional hospitals, the issue is overcrowding and long wait times. These are long-standing problems that didn't develop overnight and they won't be solved over night. But I can assure you that this government is making progress in that sector. (Applause)

I have said many times in this House, as an Opposition member, Mr. Speaker, and as a member of the government caucus, about why we have the situation we have today. Just recently, I read an article from a medical journal, The Medical Post - I will table a copy in a few minutes after I read from it - from a physician who practised here in Nova Scotia some two decades ago and I will quote from that, "Two decades later, we still see the effects of economists' flawed vision of health care":

"It's been almost 20 years since the infamous Barer-Stoddart report gave Canadian politicians a supposed quick fix 'solution' to curing soaring health-care costs.

[Page 747]

. . . Zealous politicians in many provinces offered incentives for early retirement and contemplated other ways to reduce physician supply, such as capping billings. In Nova Scotia, where I practise, then-premier Dr. John Savage issued a series of draconian edicts to expedite this reduction.

The Nova Scotia government's first step was to renege on a signed contract with the province's physicians. Instead of a 1% raise in fees, doctors were subjected to a reduction in the value of their master unit, a reduction of the number of units and later to an additional 3% reduction. . . "

Many of those physicians, we know today, Mr. Speaker, left the province; they left for the U.S. I will quote here again, ". . . it was the underserviced rural areas in Nova Scotia that lost the most physicians. For example, the town of Parrsboro lost all three of its doctors and Springhill saw six of its nine physicians head for greener pastures."

That's just an indication of why we have the issues we have here today. Because it was the cut-and-slash approach of the Liberal Governments in the 1990s and the do-nothing approach of the Progressive Conservatives in the early 2000s.

But things are going to be different. Our approach is going to be different, Mr. Speaker. My government took an important step in addressing health care concerns last September with the appointment of Nova Scotia's first provincial adviser on emergency care and that was Dr. Ross. We asked Dr. Ross to provide leadership by working with district health authorities, doctors and other health care providers, to ensure that emergency department delivery . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. It is extremely difficult for the Speaker to hear the honourable member address the Chamber.

Again, the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor.

MR. WILSON: Thank you. We asked that he work with the district health authorities, doctors and other health care providers to ensure that emergency departments deliver the kind of health care that Nova Scotians need. We also asked him to investigate the root cause of the ongoing closures and put a province-wide plan in place to address these closures.

[6:15 p.m.]

I want to state very loudly and very clearly that we did not give him a mandate to close emergency rooms, Mr. Speaker; that was not a mandate that we gave him. Dr. Ross' interim report summarized his progress and observations during the visits to district health authorities and communities across this province, especially in rural communities. It

[Page 748]

highlights the need to collect and share reliable, consistent data for emergency departments and the need to increase the access of primary care that will give people more options. That is the key - giving residents in our province more options to seek the medical attention they need in their own communities.

This report also highlights the need to take an integrated system approach that recognizes the interdependency among hospitals, district health authorities, and the province's ambulance service, Mr. Speaker - something that I know a little bit about. We here in Nova Scotia have a great ambulance service and it's not just myself saying that. I think all members recognize that and we need to ensure that they are an integrated part of our health care system.

With this interim report, Dr. Ross has set the groundwork for a collaborative provincial approach to improving the whole emergency health care system, Mr. Speaker. It provides meaningful information that will support the right decisions for families in difficult times - something we take very seriously on this side of this House.

Mr. Speaker, last November my government passed legislation to increase accountability by requiring district health authorities to consult with communities on emergency room closures, something that hasn't happened in the past. Most of these meetings have taken place, and this Spring the Minister of Health will table the report in this Legislature concerning emergency room closures.

We also introduced an Emergency Room Department Accountability Act, Mr. Speaker, with respect to emergency care, and that legislation was tabled in the Fall. As a result of the legislation, there have been some public meetings around the province with district health authorities and communities, looking at how to better primary care as well as emergency care that will be provided to people in their communities. The Minister of Health will table a report coming out of some of these community meetings before this session ends, in the Spring.

In the 2010-11 budget, $3 million has been allocated for an emergency department protection fund which will be used for initiatives identified in the plan Dr. Ross will present and the minister will table in this House. This was a commitment that we made during the last election and it is a commitment we're going to keep, Mr. Speaker. This will allow some short term and particular initiatives to occur in various places around the province where they need not a system approach but more of a tailored, localized approach to addressing the concerns in those communities.

Another commitment we had was a promise that our government will invest $1.3 million to set up pre-hab programs to reduce the wait times for surgeries. In working with a patient priority surgery prior to surgery, Mr. Speaker, the stress on the system will be reduced and those patients will fare much better after those surgeries.

[Page 749]

Another area - and I know my time is coming to a close - is the use of nurse practitioners, Mr. Speaker, something that our province hasn't utilized to its full potential. Plans must be made today to accommodate our growing senior population. Nurse practitioners will be placed in nursing homes to improve care, save money, and relieve the pressures in the areas of the system that we see a high volume of long-term care patients utilizing emergency rooms. For seniors at home our government will fulfill its promise and implement a self-managed care allowance and the personal alert assistance programs.

One last thing, Mr. Speaker - a commitment that we made was to take the deposit off the long-term care facilities that seniors were required to pay. I am very proud of our government's initiative to ensure that our seniors are taken care of in their golden years and there is not an added burden placed on their families when they have to make that tough decision to enter a long-term care facility.

So, Mr. Speaker, I'm proud to say that we've been moving forward with our plan, we'll continue to move forward with our plan. We'll continue to move forward with our plan and address the concerns in the health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, the first thing I want to say is how disappointed I am in the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid that he would have to stand there - now this is a guy whom I watched in this House, I had the pleasure of watching actually, I'll say that, a former colleague of mine, we both worked in EMS, we know what it's like in emergency room closures and what that does to the system - he stands there and he reads a speech that's prepared for him. I can't understand it.

Now look, I have a speech that was prepared. Perhaps I should read from a speech that was prepared by his honourable Leader, Darrell Dexter, about promises. That's what that was worth right there, not worth the ink nor the paper it was written on. I don't understand how he could stand here and read a speech that nobody listened to. He knows the facts, he spoke passionately when on this side of the House, he spoke passionately about the issues of emergency rooms, the closures and he was part of the crew that had all the answers. Well, he was tossed the opportunity for the last 10 minutes to spill out an answer or two, a suggestion. I didn't hear anything in all of that spiel, only a bunch of promises that were on the document that was produced, that were never kept.

Let's get back to what's important here and it is the emergency room closures. It's a huge issue, it has been for years, this is not new. However, we heard the NDP had promised they had all the answers and so far they've had none except to hire a very reputable guy, Dr. John Ross, who I think is a great doctor. He probably should be working in the hospital

[Page 750]

versus running around taking $100,000 of taxpayers' money, putting together a report that we're just going to put on a shelf and not do anything with anyway.

I do hope, for the sake of all Nova Scotians, that this report has something in it that is not repetitive, that has some ideas that will help cure the problem. This just keeps on accumulating, it keeps on going and every aspect of this system is struggling because of the emergency room backup.

Now, I'm interested in something that works very well in our area, and I think it works well in other areas, and that's the clinics. The clinics have a great place in our communities. The same doctors who are working in the clinics in my area - most of them are doctors who have been around for 30 years, who no longer work emergency, but they're providing a great service. It's easy access to health care for the minor things, whether it's prescriptions for sore throats, whatever it might be, as opposed to going to that emergency room and waiting three, four, five, six hours to be seen for the exact same thing.

The only problem that we really have is that these clinics are only open a certain couple of nights a week and only for a couple of hours at a time. They don't meet the needs 100 per cent, hence, again, the reason why at the physicians' offices there are wait times that are lengthy just to see the physician for very simple things.

Others spoke about the prevention piece of this, the education of Nova Scotians when it comes to why we should be going to emergency room facilities. There is a need for very well-trained people who would remain just as busy if we had these folks going to more adequate places like clinics, like doctors' offices, but we need to create some incentives. We keep talking about the shortage of doctors, we've been talking about this forever and a day.

This has been a problem and it's only been getting worse, but we need to look back because there was a time - and I don't think it was too many years ago - when it worked in this province and in this country that people weren't waiting for eight and 10 hours in an emergency room for anything. We need to take a look back and we need to see what did work, why did it work and where did we go wrong? Is it just the expectation that people's minds have changed? I have a sore thumb so I'm going to go to the hospital. I don't think that's quite it, but we do run and we know that we have great access to health care.

We have excellent health care, it's just accessing it in a timely fashion seems to be the issue and we need to be able to work more toward the educating of Nova Scotians. I know that our population is getting older, or so they keep telling us, but I remember when I was quite a bit younger there always seemed to be lots of the older generation around and we still didn't have those problems.

Now, one of my colleagues here who is hollering at me, he's on the older side of things, I can appreciate that and his urgency about making sure he has access to medical care is needed because you never know when he might need it and let's hope that it's not for a

[Page 751]

very long time. I shouldn't joke, that's not funny at all, I wish my honourable colleague and all colleagues nothing but the very best when it comes to their health in this place, and it's important that they are able to do that.

Also mentioned here this evening was the nurse practitioner. Now, I've spoken about the nurse practitioners before. We have an excellent nurse practitioner who works in Hantsport with Dr. Iona Wile and she could be working on her own. More nurse practitioners should be coming into play. We had nurse practitioners down your way in the past as well, Mr. Speaker, and that system worked very well. If we're having an issue recruiting doctors and the incentives aren't there for physicians, perhaps we can put incentives in place for nurse practitioners to come. Certainly as they come right out of school, very well trained, there are lots of opportunities but the struggle continues as to how we get them into these remote and more rural hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices and so on in rural Nova Scotia.

What kind of incentives do we need to make that happen? It's more than money. You can't just keep throwing money at it because it seems to me that doctors are quite well paid and there are often things that are put on the table by way of offerings to help get these physicians here but still communities struggle. Perhaps there needs to be more. We're not looking deep enough and there has got to be better ways to draw physicians to our communities, whether that's supplying them with houses, I don't know what that is, but I don't think it's solely money. Everybody likes money, there's no question about that. Doctors are coming out of school with very high loans, thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of dollars, probably $100,000-plus when they're all done with their education to become a doctor.

Mr. Speaker, there has got to be some kind of incentive and we can keep creating positions, well, that's great, but it takes many years to get that doctor finished through the system and to come out. It has got to be on the front end and that's sort of on the back end of things and creating those positions is all wonderful but that's not working either. So, you know, we come back again to a government that says we have all the answers. Well, how long will we wait for the answers? That's hard to say. I don't think that they really have all the answers. I think if they did, they would have started implementing them by now and I think there was a realization when they got to the other side, although I think they knew it going in, it's just nice when you're campaigning to make promises in hopes of getting elected and it all helps, you know, we've never been there, we're new, we've got all the answers.

I guess they call that politics and that's putting politics ahead of the people in my opinion. They should have been saying, do you know what? We want to work hard for people. I think people have been there before. I think that there was an expectation that new faces and new ideas would have brought maybe some fixes to some of the problems but we know that's not real and we know that we're not going anywhere near there. I think that's safe to say, Mr. Speaker, and they can hire, consult and report and so on all that they want, it's not going to happen.

[Page 752]

I think that there are opportunities and most of them are going to have to be around education, the prevention methods of health care as we grow older. The clinic piece, Mr. Speaker, has to be put in place and the incentive piece to draw doctors here. The idea of nurse practitioners, as I said, has to become a reality and something that's very near and dear to my heart, of course, is the paramedic that we've trained and we pay quite well in this province, who are now working very reasonable hours compared to what they used to when my honourable colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, and I used to work.

They are about half of that now, certainly more reasonable. It's certainly a profession now as compared to those days and I think we have to better utilize those folks because they are more than well trained. They can do more than nurses in most cases. These guys are doing everything that there is and then some in the street as opposed to a hospital setting. So why wouldn't you take these if there was a little orientation into a facility, an emergency, or another part of the unit and expand on the use of these paramedics?

We're not doing it, not near enough. We have done it. There are examples - the Long and Brier example. I remember doing it in Springhill back a number of years ago and their issues with closures there. Shelburne may have done it in the past and some of the others, New Waterford, throughout Cape Breton, some of these facilities have done it.

Why isn't it a regular thing? Why isn't there a paramedic working in every hospital regularly anyway to help offset that assessment? They're more than capable of doing assessments, even writing prescriptions or forwarding the chart over to the doctor here. It has all been done. The trust is there, write the prescription and you're out the door. If you haven't got the clinics and the space to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, use the hospital, a piece of it, use the paramedic, use the nurse practitioner, do that minor assessment on minor type injuries, the prescriptions that need to be done, handed out the door, and I think that there are things like that that I just don't hear being talked about, but I hope that they'll consult Nova Scotians, consult us, consult everybody and really put some serious thought around how this is going to go.

I would say also that I do wish Dr. Ross the very best when it comes to this assessment that he's doing and I really, for the benefit of the people of Nova Scotia, hope that he does come back with something, Mr. Speaker, that's not just another report that we're going to say thanks very much, throw it on a shelf, and get nothing out of it.

Thank you, I see my time is just about ready to end. Thanks for the opportunity this evening.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the late debate has expired. We will now resume with the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

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[6:29 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Alfie MacLeod in the Chair.]

[7:17 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Gordon Gosse in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: 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. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.

Bill No. 10 - Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand here on behalf of the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage to open debate on Bill No. 10, the Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act.

First of all I'd like to acknowledge my colleague from across the way, the member for Cape Breton South, who introduced a Private Members' Bill on this very levy a few sessions ago. Nova Scotia currently has marketing levies in Halifax and Yarmouth that provide financial resources to promote these regions as tourism, meeting and convention destinations.

[Page 754]

Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased to introduce the amendments to the Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act that will make similar resources available to promote the Island as a tourism destination. The tourism industry contributes significantly to the economy of Cape Breton Island. These amendments will allow five Cape Breton municipalities to implement a marketing levy on accommodations to support marketing tourism on the Island. We also give the municipalities the option to opt out of the levy and exempt properties with less than 10 rooms, as well as accommodations that will be used for medical-related stays. As a result of these changes, municipalities will be able to determine how revenue from the levy is spent to promote their region as a visitor destination.

Mr. Speaker, the amendments introduced in this bill are the result of community leadership, collaboration to address a need for more resources to promote Cape Breton tourism potential. This has truly been a collaborative effort, with municipal councillors, Destination Cape Breton, Enterprise Cape Breton and various industrial leaders and, indeed, leaders throughout the tourism industry that brought this bill forward, a group from Cape Breton that wished to find a solution that will provide a source for funding for tourism on our great Island.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 10 and will now take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville on an introduction.

MR. MAT WHYNOTT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the east gallery. We have someone in the gallery today who is very prominent in our Party. He is the co-chairman of the Young New Democrats, Schuyler Smith, so if he could stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The House of Assembly welcomes all guests, and enjoy the proceedings this evening.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, at the outset I'd like to thank the Deputy Premier for his kind remarks regarding the bill. It seems like yesterday, but I brought this bill before the House, I think, five years ago now. It went through first reading in October 2005, second reading later in October and third reading in November, with some committee amendments.

Mr. Speaker, the bill at that time was given Royal Assent but not proclaimed into law, pending amendments and a clear statement of support from the five municipalities and Destination Cape Breton Association. There was much debate, Mr. Speaker, at that time and

[Page 755]

I suggest that because the bill went through the House unanimously, most of the debate came after the bill went through the House because people started to question the bill.

You know the Premier of the day just couldn't sell it in his own riding and that's why the bill languished where it did for a few years. You could never get anybody to admit that, but the Premier was uncomfortable with the bill, which brings me to the point of saying - and I've said it in this House many times, but I'll say it again - when a bill goes through the House of Assembly, this is the House of the people, and if a bill goes through the third reading and is given Royal Assent by the Lieutenant Governor at the end of a session, that bill should be law. It then should not be subjected to the whim of a particular Cabinet of the day to decide, post-bill, being approved, whether or not somebody told them it wasn't a good idea, so let's not proclaim it.

I can remember the Minister of Finance talking about the role of the House and the people's place many, many times in Opposition. The rule of this House should be that if the 52 legislators around here approve a bill, that bill should become law. That's why we're here. We're here to debate and to prove laws that we feel are in the best interests of the people of this province. Not after we approve the bills, somebody other than this place decides whether they are good for the people of Nova Scotia or not based on, maybe, some other considerations.

I'm a firm believer that if this House approves a bill - particularly unanimously, which is what happened in this bill - then that should have been the end of it. But it took five more years, and I congratulate the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and the government for bringing this bill back. Hopefully this bill will be proclaimed immediately after this House approves the bill and it gets Royal Assent, and I would hope that would be the case.

Already there are some disturbing comments that we hear from the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage that perhaps it would be proclaimed next year, and I don't know where that came from. I'm appealing to the good will and the former commitments of the NDP Government when they were in Opposition that this place is the House of the people. This place makes decisions on behalf of the people we represent here, and the decisions we make in this place should become law.

I'm a firm believer in that, and I've said it before. I know the Minister of Finance has agreed with me in the past, and I hope he would agree with me in the future. I see the Deputy Minister is catching a (Interruptions) Yeah, that's right. Anyway, the levy is expected to raise an estimated $500,000, and that's significant for Cape Breton tourism. The current budget is only $50,000.

If you look at the Doers and Dreamers Guide in the past, very little mention of Cape Breton Island. That, to me, was a shame. The province doesn't begin and end at Peggy's

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Cove or some other beautiful locations on the mainland. There are some beautiful locations in Cape Breton, and I just felt over the past number of years - certainly I can't look over there and blame anybody there for that, but I have to sort of look to my left here, currently sitting to my left, not philosophically to my left. Anyway, it was a shame that Cape Breton tourist people, Destination Cape Breton and all of the good people in Cape Breton Island who are trying to promote our little piece of heaven in Cape Breton Island, that we had to resort to going out for a marketing levy instead of getting adequate funding from the province to promote the Island of Cape Breton.

But it is what it is, and we're here today. I'm thankful the bill has come before the House, it's going to get our support and I suspect it will get the support of the Third Party as well. Then we can get on with perhaps asking the question every week, Mr. Deputy Premier - is that bill going to be proclaimed this week or next week? Then I'm sure he'll look out for the best interests of Cape Bretoners in this bill and we'll see a speedy approval of this bill.

I'll end with this, in keeping with what should be the tradition of this House, if a bill is approved by all of us, no matter what Party we belong to in this House, this is the House of the people, this is where the decisions should be made, and this is where the laws should become the law of this province. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased to rise in the House this evening and speak to Bill No. 10. Indeed, as we know the history around this, and it did, as the Deputy Premier said, come forward from the member for Cape Breton South. As the member indicated, it came through with unanimous consent of the House and passage here.

However, there's also the fact that concerns were raised within the sector, and some of those concerns have been addressed by virtue of this revised, amended bill. In that case, and as was the case - and I remember the member for Cape Breton South referring to the member for Halifax Fairview, now the Minister of Finance, who went through great pains to always remind us about the proclamation clauses that would be put in any piece of legislation. We heard it in this Chamber, we heard it in the Law Amendments Committee, we heard it out in media scrums . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Over and over and . . .

MR. CLARKE: Rather repetitive. Interestingly enough, the good Minister of Finance, the member for Halifax Fairview, sees fit to be able to have those same provisions, but that's consistent with what we've seen about a Party that complained when they're on this side of the House and does the opposite when they get to that side of the House. (Interruptions) It is the reality. I mean, the honourable members over there have some objection. I do support this piece of legislation, but there is a reality around how it was formed.

[Page 757]

The Deputy Premier referred to the marketing levy in other areas and I think of the marketing levy for the community of Yarmouth, and we now know the people in Yarmouth need a lot more support than we've seen from a marketing levy. We've also heard some platitudes about support for marketing, yet if you look at the very estimates themselves and the budget numbers, we see that marketing for the Province of Nova Scotia is now down between last year and this, $426,000. We've seen the budget for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage has been slashed almost $2 million - that represents about a 21 per cent decrease in marketing.

Those are just the numbers that are on the paper - I'm not going to debate the budget, I'm just saying those are the numbers and we're talking about marketing and we're talking about a levy that is about dollars that are supposed to go with the budget dollars from the government being brought forward - so it is relevant with regard to this bill before the House.

We see, on one hand, talking about supporting this and, indeed, we should support it. It has come forward and I would say there are provisions in here with regard to making sure - we talk about the number of units with a minimum of 10 or more and that was a concern from small operators, and it was not just an Inverness County item. The Municipality of Victoria County had the same concerns, so it wasn't isolated to one county in Inverness, it was a municipal item, it wasn't just a political or Party issue. The council came forward with a concern and the government, in looking at implementing this and putting in the appropriate measures, had looked and said there would be more consultation. People went back, they've done their work, and they've come forward with modifications.

For instance, one of the items we're very pleased to see here, which originally hadn't been anticipated but it is very relevant, and that is an exemption for medical-related stays, that they wouldn't be subject to a marketing levy. I know the Minister of Health would know that that is important. I know in our own area the people who would travel in from around the Island to go to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, people who are there for cancer care, who would have medical stays, that indeed they shouldn't be subject to an additional penalty versus those who are travelling for leisure or business travel.

[7:30 p.m.]

Those are measures, which we welcome, however as well, Mr. Speaker, when we look at some of the outstanding items - and to my colleague for Cape Breton South again, I supported his bill, I'll support this one - part of the reason why I know I'm sure the good Deputy Premier and his colleagues have probably put a proclamation clause in because there are outstanding issues that have still not been resolved with regard to Destination Cape Breton. I would say probably the reason why it was there before, even though people had indicated - even the Chairman of Destination Cape Breton has noted - that they've had questions from their own industry sector, that this is a change that's moving from a member-

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driven process now to one that's going to be those that participate, and there are questions about how that will be implemented.

But who is going to collect the levy? That was a question they've received from the industry. What kind of leveraging will actually take place even though we do know that Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation is interested? The province through the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage obviously want to take advantage of what would be up to $600,000 that they hope - half a million to $600,000 that could be realized. Where are the target markets? It's a lot different if you're a small operator versus a large operator. And what is the balance between any of the niche marketing? Those are questions that have not been articulated since the time the honourable member for Cape Breton South brought this forward. Who will decide where the money is spent?

So this is a Cape Breton destination marketing charge. Does that mean if the department feels that their dollars aren't being leveraged they're going to hold a hammer over that? Is the federal government, or are the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia and municipal units going to provide and be co-operative of what it is the industry decides as their priorities versus what the governments' marketing priorities are? That is something that should be factored into it and I think that is a very important one.

These are legitimate things that have come forward. That is why we debate them in this House. That's why we have taken time and paused with regard to not proclaiming legislation that would have created more problems than the solution we were aiming to achieve.

There is also the restructuring of Destination Cape Breton itself. That's an aspect of the governance model that will be in place to implement this. Mr. Speaker, I don't feel these are small or frivolous matters. They are legitimate matters that have to be considered. I know that the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage and the government, when they look at any regulations associated with this, will have to make sure that they are addressed. So that is very important, and again, I go back to the concern that was raised with regard to the small and large operators and making sure that there is an effective balance.

So those are things, and I am very pleased to be supporting this move forward, because I think it is an important thing. It is something that the industry - as a whole, not in its entirety, but the vast majority - has wanted, especially of operators who can see an opportunity to expand capacity within Cape Breton.

I hope that that capacity, when it expands, will help with the investments, that when the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection looks at the investments and things like Centre 200, which will be a regional trade centre, and the request that they have for support from the Province of Nova Scotia to invest in that, to expand the ability of the events that they can attract and integrate Centre Cape Breton and the Membertou Trade and Convention

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Centre, to the Savoy Theatre, to the Joan Harris Pavilion, and then throughout Cape Breton in those facilities. But there is a request before the government; there is a $4.5 million project there. That is just as important as leveraging the infrastructure to go with the marketing. You have to have something to support the people when they come.

I know there have been operators looking at another business class hotel that could be accommodated in the area, and that Membertou is looking at a hotel. That builds capacity, and hopefully more room nights will mean more revenue, but again, it is very important that those are supported. I think of the YMCA in Sydney, and people say, well, what does that have to do with tourism? It is key infrastructure in the largest urban core within Cape Breton. It is supporting infrastructure for people who come. It is programming infrastructure, and right now there is an outstanding request of $1 million from the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, and without that, for instance, the pool facility is not going to be available for people who travel and families who would want to get a motel and take their children to that. So it all gets integrated, is what I'm saying. So it is not just one small matter.

I do want to thank the government and the minister for bringing this piece of legislation forward. I want to thank the Deputy Premier for moving this tonight, and again, the member for Cape Breton South for his initial leadership and continued support for this. There is more work to be done, I'm sure; we may hear from the industry through the Law Amendments Committee. But hopefully this will get it right as it moves through, and government will be able to allow Destination Cape Breton to do the work that they want to do to grow the economy and tourism. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the Government House Leader it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues from across the way for their kind and somewhat insightful comments on this bill. It is a good bill. It is one that, as I mentioned in my opening remarks about it, has the vast majority, and I think the honourable member for Cape Breton North said that it doesn't have unanimity, but not many things in life do. For that group, it has come a long way, and I agree again with my colleague, the member for Cape Breton South: when we pass a bill, we see it to the end because this is the people's House, and I agree with that.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I close debate on second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 10. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, before I close the government's business today, there was an issue that I think the Leader of the Official Opposition wanted information from the Premier to be tabled today and I will table that forthwith.

That concludes the government's business for today and now I pass it over to the Official Opposition House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Official Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will meet from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., and Opposition business will be Bill No. 20 and Resolution No. 188.

I move that we do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment is before the House.

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 will now rise, to sit tomorrow between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 7:38 p.m.]

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NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 343

By: Hon. Karen Casey (Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party)

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

Whereas each year, top students at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College are recognized for outstanding academic achievement by being named on the President's List; and

Whereas to receive this honour, students must be within the top 10 per cent of their program of study, have a term average of 80 per cent or higher, and must be enrolled in four or more courses per semester; and

Whereas nine such students from Colchester North have been named on the President's List from the winter and Fall semesters of 2009;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the following students for this great honour: Sarah Jane Archibald, Belmont; Kaleigh Brinkhurst, Earltown; Krista Brouwer, Upper Brookside; Renée Garbes, Central Onslow; Leah McNutt, East Mountain; Ross Hayman, Tatamagouche; Kenton McNutt, Valley; Mark Schooten, Upper Onslow; and Nicholas van Hattem, Five Islands.