The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 10-23

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

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Correctional Facility (Cumb. Co.), Hon. J. Scott 1487
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
TIR: Emergency Workers - Roadside Protection,
Hon. W. Estabrooks 1488
Natl. Day of Mourning (04/28/10) - Mark,
The Premier 1491
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 788, Pink, Noah: Filmmaking - Recognition,
The Premier 1493
Vote - Affirmative 1493
Res. 789, Natl. Day of Mourning (04/28/10): Workplace Safety
- Remember, Hon. M. More 1494
Vote - Affirmative 1494
Res. 790, TIR: "Move Over Law" - Follow,
Hon. W. Estabrooks 1495
Vote - Affirmative 1495
Res. 791, Kelderman, Diane: Top 50 CEOs (2010) - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Jennex (by Hon. P. Paris) 1495
Vote - Affirmative 1496
Res. 792, Joggins Fossil Ctr.: Green Award - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Jennex (by Hon. P. Paris) 1496
Vote - Affirmative 1497
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 793, Educ. - Healthy Schools: Students/Educators/Vols. - Thank,
Hon. M. More 1497
Vote - Affirmative 1498
Res. 794, Dolliver, Shyanne - N.S. Female Athlete of Year,
The Premier 1498
Vote - Affirmative 1498
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 50, Correctional Services Act/Police Act,
Hon. M. Samson 1499
No. 51, Revenue Act,
Hon. R. Jennex 1499
No. 52, Insurance Act,
Hon. G. Steele 1499
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 795, Natl. Day of Mourning (04/28/10) - Acknowledge,
Hon. S. McNeil 1499
Vote - Affirmative 1500
Res. 796, Natl. Day of Mourning (04/28/10): Organizers - Commend,
Hon. K. Casey 1500
Vote - Affirmative 1501
Res. 797, Pig Dogs Rugby Club: Vol. Work - Congrats.,
The Premier 1501
Vote - Affirmative 1502
Res. 798, Colby Village Elem. Sch. - Earth Day Cleanup,
The Premier 1502
Vote - Affirmative 1502
Res. 799, Killam Properties: Mental Health Campaign - Donation,
Mr. T. Zinck 1502
Vote - Affirmative 1503
Res. 800, Buckie, Catherine/Kaulbach, Kathy:
Parliamentary Democracy in N.S. - Publication,
Hon. W. Estabrooks 1503
Vote - Affirmative 1504
Res. 801, Daewoo - Trenton: Importance - Recognize,
Hon. R. Landry 1504
Vote - Affirmative 1505
Res. 802, Hfx. Public Libraries - Make Yourself Famous Awards,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1505
Vote - Affirmative 1506
Res. 803, New 7Wonders of Nature: Bay of Fundy Entry
- Endorse, Hon. J. MacDonell 1506
Vote - Affirmative 1506
Res. 804, Pinkney Rink - Sr. Women's World Curling Championship,
Ms. L. Zann 1506
Vote - Affirmative 1507
Res. 805, Natl. Day of Mourning (04/28/10): Trenton Service
- Recognize, Mr. C. MacKinnon 1507
Vote - Affirmative 1508
Res. 806, Queens Co. Crime Prevention Assoc. - Senior Safety Grant,
Ms. V. Conrad 1508
Vote - Affirmative 1509
Res. 807, Chisholm, Matthew: ECO Student Award - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Smith 1509
Vote - Affirmative 1509
Res. 808, East. Shore Food Bank/Lions Commun. Ctr. - Opening,
Mr. S. Prest 1510
Vote - Affirmative 1510
Res. 809, Smiley, Norene: Book Publication - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Skabar (by Mr. J. Morton) 1510
Vote - Affirmative 1511
Res. 810, Hatfield Farm Cowboy Adventures - Anniv. (18th),
Mr. M. Whynott 1511
Vote - Affirmative 1512
Res. 811, Lohnes-Croft, Suzanne/Kirkpatrick, Kathy: Prov. Vol. Awards
- Congrats., Ms. P. Birdsall 1512
Vote - Affirmative 1513
Res. 812, Myatt, Jenna - Canso Vol. Award (2010),
Mr. J. Boudreau 1513
Vote - Affirmative 1514
Res. 813, Pictou Co. Health Auth.: Workplace Healthy - Lifestyle Progs.
Hon. R. Landry 1514
Vote - Affirmative 1515
Res. 814, Prospect Rd. Commun. Ctr.: Opening - Congrats,
Hon. W. Estabrooks 1515
Vote - Affirmative 1515
Res. 815, Charter of Rights & Freedoms (Sect. 15) - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1515
Vote - Affirmative 1516
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 816, Lacey, George: Milford & Dist. Lions Club - Serv. (35 Yrs.),
Hon. J. MacDonell 1516
Vote - Affirmative 1517
Res. 817, Peters, Lori - Westville Vol. of Yr. (2010),
Mr. C. MacKinnon 1517
Vote - Affirmative 1518
Res. 818, Van Dyk's - Cdn. Liver Fdn. Award,
Ms. V. Conrad 1518
Vote - Affirmative 1518
Res. 819, People's Place Proj.: Bldg. Comm. - Commitment,
Mr. M. Smith 1519
Vote - Affirmative 1519
Res. 820, Musquodoboit Hbr. Library - Anniv. (25th),
Mr. S. Prest 1519
Vote - Affirmative 1520
Res. 821, Cumb. Co. Blues: Hockey Championship - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Skabar (by Mr. J. Morton ) 1520
Vote - Affirmative 1521
Res. 822, Lake Dist. Rec. Assoc. - Vol. Awards: Recipients
- Congrats., Mr. M. Whynott 1521
Vote - Affirmative 1522
Res. 823, Roberts, Bill - Canso Vol. Award (2010),
Mr. J. Boudreau 1522
Vote - Affirmative 1522
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 215, Prem. - Coun. on the Economy: Sm. Bus. - Exclusion,
Hon. S. McNeil 1523
No. 216, Prem. - Coun. on the Economy: Members' - Views,
Hon. K. Casey 1524
No. 217, Prem. Southwest N.S. Transportation Study - Availability,
Hon. W. Gaudet 1525
No. 218, LWD: Workplace Health & Safety - Address,
Ms. K. Regan 1526
No. 219, Prem.: Coun. Appts. - Members' Comments,
Hon. M. Scott 1527
No. 220, Com. Serv. - Directions Coun.: Funding - Adequacy,
Mr. A. Younger 1528
No. 221, Prem.: Coun. Appts. - Explain,
Mr. A. MacMaster 1530
No. 222, Com. Serv.: Rockcliffe Apartments - Tenant Concerns,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1531
No. 223, Prem.: Party Exec. Member - Beliefs,
Mr. K. Bain 1534
No. 224, Health - Dept.: Budget Cuts - Details,
Ms. D. Whalen 1535
No. 225, Prem. - N.S. Fed. of Lbr.: Pres. - Agreement,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1536
No. 226, Com. Serv. - Income Assistance: Recipients - Income Tax,
Mr. T. Zinck 1537
No. 227, Educ. - East. Passage HS Const.: Min. - Support Confirm,
Ms. K. Regan 1539
No. 228, Health - Capital Health: ER Problems - Address,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1540
No. 229, Gaming: Responsible Gaming Devices - Details,
Mr. L. Glavine 1541
No. 230, HPP - Facilities: Fed. Funding - Amounts,
Mr. C. Porter 1543
No. 231, Prem.: Self-Managed Care Allowance - Application,
Hon. M. Samson 1544
No. 232, TIR - Paving: PC Gov't. - Commitment Continue,
Hon. M. Scott 1546
No. 233, Educ. - Expenditure Mgt. Init.: Reduction - Info. Table,
Ms. K. Regan 1548
No. 234, TIR - Hwy. No. 101 (St. Croix-Garlands Crossing): Paving
- Details, Mr. C. Porter 1549
No. 235, Nat. Res.: Clear-Cutting - NDP Policy,
Mr. L. Glavine 1550
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 593, Fish. & Aquaculture: Fish - Grow, Mr. H. Theriault 1551
Mr. H. Theriault 1551
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1553
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1556
Mr. A. Younger 1558
Mr. A. Younger
Res. 481, SNSMR Min.: Cabinet Income Tax Cut - Justify,
Hon. K. Colwell 1561
Mr. L. Glavine 1561
Mr. G. Steele 1562
Mr. A. MacMaster 1565
Hon. K. Colwell 1567
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr.29th at 12 noon 1571
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32 (3):
Res. 824, Maxwell, Lloyd & Ida - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. D. Wilson 1572
Res. 825, Funke, Bob - New Glasgow: Contribution - Recognize,
Hon. R. Landry 1572
Res. 826, Natl. Day of Mourning (04/28/10): Workplace Safety
Importance, Ms. P. Birdsall 1573
Res. 827, Taylor, Deborah: Mural Completion - Congrats.,
Ms. V. Conrad 1573
Res. 828, Nelson, Harry: Greenfield & Dist. FD/EMO Queens
- Vol. Serv., Ms. V. Conrad 1574
Res. 829, Rotary Clubs (West. N.S.): Haiti Fundraising - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 1574
Res. 830, Gov't. (N.S.) - Rural N.S.: Plans - Reveal,
Mr. C. Porter 1575

[Page 1487]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 2010

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll get our session underway here today.

We'll begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South. (Interruptions)

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Members are asking, what day is it? This is day 22 of broken promises by this government, as everybody in Nova Scotia would know. (Interruptions) Yes, I'll give a speech, every day in this House.

Mr. Speaker, what brings this petition to the House today is Cumberland County residents are very disturbed by a headline that was in the paper last year, May 13th. It says, "Dexter says he'd keep Tory promises," and we all know what happened there - broken promises ever since. The prayer of this petition says:

[Page 1488]

1487

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

Mr. Speaker, there are 180 names on this petition to date. This brings the total to 2,503 very upset Cumberland County residents and I have signed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in the House today to mark legislation coming into effect May 1st that will help protect emergency workers stopped at the roadsides and roadways and streets in our province. Police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency personnel risk their lives every day, and on occasion every night, to help protect Nova Scotians.

Legislation will require motorists to slow down to 60 kilometres per hour, or the posted speed limit if it is less, when passing a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights flashing. Drivers travelling in a lane adjacent to a stopped emergency vehicle must also move into another lane to pass, if one is available and if it is safe to do so.

This legislation was first introduced by a private member, a colleague, an ex-student - and did I write this? - a star Sackville High athlete. I know I may, with the permission of the House, refer to him by his name, David Wilson, the MLA for Sackville-Cobequid who, as a former paramedic, understands the dangers that emergency responders face while on the job. For our emergency responders the side of the road is their workplace and we have to keep it safe. We have a responsibility to keep it as safe as possible when they are responding to emergencies on our busy highways.

Mr. Speaker, by slowing down and moving to an adjacent lane, drivers will be better equipped to respond to unexpected roadside activities and emergencies. Our emergency workers deserve to be protected and they will be protected. The fines, including courts costs, will range from $340.21 to $2,410.21, depending on the speed of the vehicle.

[Page 1489]

Many jurisdictions within Canada and the U.S. have enacted similar legislation. As you know, today is the National Day of Mourning for people killed or injured in the workplace. Too many workers are losing their lives at work, and this legislation is another effort on behalf of workers, emergency workers, to help prevent deaths and injuries in our province.

Mr. Speaker, today in your gallery we have visitors from the RCMP, the Halifax Regional Police, Fire Services, and EHS. You may recognize some of these colleagues from our public education campaign - which you all received copies of, and which I would like to table at this time - when you look at the paramedics, you look at the firefighters and the police officers who are included.

I thank the members present for their responses when we did circulate those, and I thank our emergency responders for their partnership in helping to spread the word about this important new law. These are men and women who respond to emergencies day in, day out, night in, night out. It is vitally important to give them as much protection as possible.

Mr. Speaker, in a few weeks we'll also start our annual Work Zone Safety Campaign involved with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. This campaign will remind motorists to watch their speed and be considerate of workers when passing through road construction zones. In exchange for better roads, we ask motorists to be patient and exercise caution when travelling through work zones. Whether it's road construction crews or emergency responders, we all have to play a role when it comes to keeping our workers safe.

[2:15 p.m.]

As I conclude, Mr. Speaker, I would like to have the opportunity to ask our guests who are in your gallery, to stand and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise and reply to the minister's statement. First of all, I want to thank the minister for providing me with a copy of his statement in advance. This is good legislation. Anything we can do to help and support our emergency service responders is valuable. A first response unit such as police, fire services, and emergency workers need as much help as we can provide them. This legislation provides more assistance.

However, I am a little concerned about the enforcement of this legislation and I raised this last Fall. I think it will be very hard to enforce, and even some emergency responders at the bill briefing last Fall, stated that the law would be difficult to impose on motorists.

[Page 1490]

Nevertheless, it is positive and constructive legislation. Many jurisdictions within Canada and the United States have enacted similar legislation.

In Spring 2008, I introduced Bill No. 150 that requires a sign to be posted in or approaching a temporary work area, and advising drivers that the fine for speeding in a temporary work area is doubled. I'm pleased to say that the bill passed and is now enforced. This new legislation from government is somewhat an extension of my bill, as it also protects workers on our highways.

So, in concluding, I would like to thank the minister for his statement and the member for Sackville-Cobequid for first bringing this legislation to the attention of our House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by first of all thanking the minister for his statement today, and for the advanced notice, and obviously for marking today as a very important day in this province with regard to those who the minister very aptly pointed out, trying to help protect them in their workplace. This is a great day for this to happen.

I just want to make note, the minister indicated that the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid brought this forward, and I'm hearing from behind me that he may have received some instructions, actually, from the member for Hants West, not so much in politics but in light of his previous career. But I do want to congratulate the member, as well, because this legislation will go a long way to ensuring the protection of those who, in their workplace, provide a very valuable service to Nova Scotians and to those who travel our motorways.

Mr. Speaker, for those of us, and I know those of us who are former police officers here in this House, obviously former paramedics, there are firefighters who are present-day serving firefighters who have been at those situations and scenes, particularly on highways where the weather, or maybe the traffic, or the scene itself was very dangerous, and anything that can be done to help make that safer so that a woman or man gets home safely to their families is absolutely the right thing to do.

I always say when we pass legislation like this, regardless of what the legislation is, a lot of the time when we pass legislation in this House, we always talk about it but we may never know the life of the person that we save, and that's a good thing because obviously, we've seen situations in the past, very tragic, where we often have to wonder - and the positions we've been in this House to pass legislation, could we have done something to prevent that? I'm very pleased that this is being enacted and that we will see our highways safer as a result of this.

[Page 1491]

Again, I want to congratulate, obviously, the member for Sackville-Cobequid for originally bringing it forward, and I want to thank the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal for his comments today. I think we would say on behalf of all those in Nova Scotia who would benefit from this, and to this House and to the minister and his departmental staff, thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. DARRELL DEXTER (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to mark the National Day of Mourning. Earlier today I attended a ceremony to commemorate workers who have lost their lives or who have been injured in the workplace. Each April 28th, families, government, labour officials and others mark this day across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, for most of us our daily routine involves getting up, going to work and then returning home to our friends and families. Tragically, some Nova Scotians never make it home to their loved ones. Last year 32 Nova Scotians didn't make it home. They didn't hug their spouse or play with their children, or talk about their day to their parents. They lost their lives while they were at work - 32 is too many. Frankly, one is too many.

Workplace deaths can strike anyone. The youngest worker who died on the job last year was 22 years old. The oldest was 78 years of age. To all who have lost a loved one at work, the government extends its sincerest condolences and deepest sympathies. It's a terrible thing to suddenly lose a loved one. Today on the National Day of Mourning we need to take a step back from our daily routines to stop and reflect, to remind ourselves that every workplace fatality, indeed every workplace injury, is preventable. Far too many communities, families and loved ones have been affected by workplace fatalities and injuries. Today we must remember that all of us, each and every Nova Scotian, has the power to prevent workplace deaths and injuries.

Mr. Speaker, the Workers' Compensation Board reports that 28,009 Nova Scotians were injured on the job last year. About one in 10 Nova Scotians are injured on the job each year. These are staggering numbers. Nova Scotia's workplace injuries declined 11 per cent from the year before and that is a welcome improvement, but there are still too many workplace injuries.

All Nova Scotians must be vigilant for hazardous and unsafe workplaces. We could all become better educated about how to create a safe and healthy workplace. Workers and employers must continue to work together, and health and safety committees, to reduce the chance of workplace injuries, occupational illness, and ensure proper safety training. Government has an important role too. It will continue to work with its partners to ensure a strong safety culture is present in our province's workplace. My goal, and I'm sure it is the goal of everyone in this House, is to mark a National Day of Mourning with the knowledge

[Page 1492]

that no Nova Scotian had died in the workplace during the previous year. Working together, all Nova Scotians can make that happen.

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

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to thank the Premier for an advanced copy of his remarks and I want to associate myself with the heartfelt comments that the Premier has made here in the House today. On behalf of our caucus and I know all of our colleagues, and indeed all Nova Scotians, I want to also pass on my condolences to the 32 families in this province who lost a loved one at work last year and the countless other families that have received a loved one home who has been hurt in the workplace. As the Premier said today, I too look forward to a day, on April 28th, that we'll be celebrating the fact that no Nova Scotian had lost their life at work.

Today, the statement that came from the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, and my other colleagues in the House referring to the emergency workers who every day go off to protect us with the knowledge that perhaps they might not get home, it is paramount that those of us who have the ability to make legislation and decisions that will help improve the workplace for Nova Scotians, to make it a healthier environment for them to work. Also to make it an environment that will ensure they get the opportunity to return home to their loved ones.

On behalf of my caucus, Mr. Speaker, I want to again say to those Nova Scotian families who lost a loved one at work last year, how sorry we are and add our condolences.

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

HON. KAREN CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the Premier for his comments and the sincerity that I know he feels and shares. I rise today also to honour the 32 Nova Scotians who have lost their lives on the job last year and the more than 28,000 who are injured. On this National Day of Mourning, we must remember the importance of workplace safety and continue to take the necessary measures to implement safety protocols that will reduce injury and more importantly, prevent workplace fatalities.

I listened to the Premier and I could not help but think of those Nova Scotians who did not make it home from work and who did not enjoy their families. I certainly welcome his comments and I share his goal of being able to mark National Day of Mourning with the knowledge that no Nova Scotian has died at the workplace the previous year.

[Page 1493]

On behalf of our caucus, I would like to extend condolences and deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those Nova Scotians who have lost lives in their families and friends. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 788

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

Whereas Halifax filmmaker Noah Pink will have his movie ZedCrew featured at the Cannes Film Festival in France running from May 12th to May 23rd; and

Whereas this is not the first time Mr. Pink has been recognized at film festivals around the world including the Berlin International Film Festival and the Atlantic Film Festival; and

Whereas not only is Mr. Pink a filmmaker but he also writes scripts and is currently working on writing two feature films for Los Angeles producer Robert Cort;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Noah Pink for being recognized amongst some of the best filmmakers from around the world and wish him continued success in his filmmaking career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1494]

The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I ask permission to make an introduction related to my resolution. I would like to introduce in the east gallery members of NSGEU's Health, Safety and Environment Committee who are here from all over the province to attend the National Day of Mourning ceremony this morning and other meetings. I would ask them to stand as I call their name and then invite my colleagues to give our usual warm welcome to the group.

Carol Gaudet, chair; Don Goss, executive liaison; Sue Ann Abbot; Sharon Cameron; Dolores Graveline; Beverley Hiscock; Robert Jordan-Robichaud; Rosemary Mills; Catherine Peori; Darrell Westhaver; Jeff Brett, who is the NSGEU occupational Health and Safety officer; and, Ian Johnson the NSGEU policy analyst. Welcome and thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 789

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

Whereas April 28th marks the National Day of Mourning, started in 1984 by the Canadian Labour Congress, to recognize and remember workers who have been injured or killed in the workplace; and

Whereas in 2009, 32 Nova Scotians lost their lives on the job, which is 32 too many; and

Whereas all workplace incidents are preventable and the province continues to work with its partners to promote occupational health and safety awareness;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage Nova Scotians to reflect and remember today on the National Day of Mourning and always that workplace safety is a shared responsibility and that we must be vigilant in order to eliminate injuries and fatalities on the job.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1495]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 790

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

Whereas police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency personnel risk their lives every day to help protect Nova Scotians; and

Whereas legislation coming into effect May 1, 2010, will require motorists to slow down to 60 kilometres and move to another lane when passing a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights flashing; and

Whereas this legislation was originally introduced as a Private Member's Bill by the MLA for Sackville-Cobequid who, as a former paramedic, knows first-hand the dangers faced by emergency workers while on the job;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank emergency workers for their dedicated work and encourage all Nova Scotians to follow the new "move over" law when it comes into effect May 1, 2010.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1496]

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 791

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Dianne Kelderman's work as CEO of the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council has been exemplary and has helped to build the co-operative council into one of the most innovative in Canada according to a 2007 survey done by the University of B.C.; and

Whereas Atlantic Business Magazine has named Ms. Kelderman as one of the top 50 CEOs for 2010; and

Whereas Ms. Kelderman has been selected as one of 25 people worldwide to attend the prestigious, week-long potential leaders program offered by Harvard Business School in early June;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dianne Kelderman on being named one of the top 50 CEOs of 2010 and her commitment to business excellence, entrepreneurial spirit, and contributions to the growth and prosperity of our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 792

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 1497]

Whereas the Joggins Fossil Centre received the International Green Built Award, which recognizes its innovative and environmentally friendly structure; and

Whereas the UNESCO World Heritage Site helps keep energy and resource use to a minimum, while showcasing the world's most complete fossil record of life in the Coal Age; and

Whereas through its proven dedication to the environment and preservation of our province's rich geological diversity, Nova Scotia is recognized on a global level for its commitment to sustainable prosperity;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Joggins Fossil Centre for being recognized as an international leader in sustainability, conserving the Earth's resources, and preserving the diversity of our province for future generations.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 793

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

Whereas Nova Scotia students and educators are engaged in several Health Promoting Schools initiatives involving mental health, physical activity, nutrition, and overall healthy development; and

Whereas student volunteers are actively involved in Health Promoting Schools activities across the province including Playground Activity Leaders in Schools, Strive for Five, and breakfast programs; and

[Page 1498]

Whereas Nova Scotia hosted the 2010 National School Health Conference, April 21st to April 23rd, uniting the efforts of those working to promote healthy schools with community schools, safe schools, and SchoolsPlus programs;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank students, educators, and volunteers across the province for helping to provide a safe and healthy school environment, and therefore improving learning for all of our students.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 794

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

Whereas the Special Olympics is an inspiring event showcasing the athletic talents of people with mental and physical disabilities, and a time for coaches and athletes to come together, compete, and make new friends; and

Whereas January 27th marked the 15th Annual Special Olympics Festival Dinner and Auction, a major fundraiser supporting the Special Olympics and a night to shine a light on Nova Scotia's award recipients; and

Whereas Shyanne Dolliver, a student at Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour, was named this year's Female Athlete of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature recognize all the athletes and coaches who participated in the Special Olympics, and congratulate Shyanne Dolliver for being named Nova Scotia's Female Athlete of the Year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1499]

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 Guysborough-Sheet Harbour on an introduction.

MR. JIM BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I beg the indulgence of the House to make the following introduction. Today in the east gallery we have Mr. Robert Robichaud, who is a resident of Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia, where we have the largest museum in the province. He is the collections presentation manager at Sherbrooke Village, and Robert is very much involved in his community and the promotion of the Village.

One of the activities that Robert is involved in is the Old Fashioned Christmas, which I would recommend to anyone because it is certainly an activity that is well planned and well worth taking part in.

The other thing Robert is actively involved in is working toward bringing wage parity to the museum workers in that area. I certainly thank him for his efforts and wish the House to give him a round of applause to welcome him here. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome all our visitors here this afternoon and hope they enjoy the proceedings of the House.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 50 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 37 of the Acts of 2005. The Correctional Services Act; and Chapter 31 of the Acts of 2004. The Police Act. (Hon. Michel Samson)

Bill No. 51 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 17 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Revenue Act. (Hon. Ramona Jennex)

Bill No. 52 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 231 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Insurance Act. (Hon. Graham Steele)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

[Page 1500]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 795

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

Whereas April 28th marks the National Day of Mourning - a day to remember those hurt or killed in the workplace; and

Whereas in 2009, 32 Nova Scotians tragically lost their lives while at work, leaving behind families and friends whose lives were forever changed as a result of these tragic accidents; and

Whereas the National Day of Mourning brings into focus the importance of precautionary planning and the daily efforts required by everyone to make the workplace as safe as possible for workers throughout our province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature acknowledge today, April 28th, as the National Day of Mourning, and renew our commitment as legislators to the importance of ensuring safe and healthy workplaces throughout 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.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 796

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

[Page 1501]

Whereas today is recognized in Nova Scotia, across Canada, and around the world as the National Day of Mourning, or Workers Memorial Day; and

Whereas a worker is injured across Canada every nine seconds, which in 2009 resulted in 28,000 injuries and 32 fatal accidents in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas we mark this day to remember colleagues who have lost their lives or suffered debilitating injuries on the job - we must make awareness of job safety a priority for our employers and our workers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend the organizers of the National Day of Mourning as we strive to ensure a safe working environment for all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 797

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

Whereas the Dartmouth PigDogs Rugby Club was created in 2002 and now has close to 100 male and female members who regularly volunteer with such local charities as the Metro Food Bank, the Q104 Children's Trust Fund, and Molson's monthly Give-R; and

Whereas the club's mens team finished third in the regular season, won the Nova Scotia title and went on to capture gold in the Maritime Championship in Belleisle, New Brunswick, last November; and

[Page 1502]

Whereas next month 56 members of the club are travelling to Ireland and Scotland to compete against local rugby teams;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the members of the Dartmouth PigDogs Rugby Club for their volunteer work, congratulate them on winning the Nova Scotia title and the Maritime Championship, and wish them the best of luck in their matches in Europe.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 798

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

Whereas on April 22nd, more than six million Canadians took part in Earth Day activities across the country; and

Whereas among those millions of Canadians were the Grade 6 students at Colby Village Elementary School in Cole Harbour; and

Whereas those students, as part of HRM's Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE Program, joined RCMP officers on Earth Day to pick up trash on their school grounds and surrounding pathways;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the students at Colby Village Elementary School for being socially aware, for helping clean up their community on Earth Day 2010, and for setting a positive example for their peers by saying no to drugs.

[Page 1503]

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 Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 799

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

Whereas one in five Canadians live with some form of mental illness, and both former and existing patients of the provincial mental health system are now being offered tenancy in reasonably priced, well-appointed apartments; and

Whereas Sandra Hennigar is the special projects lead for Capital Health's mental health programs and heads up the 250 homes initiative, a program that has seen 33 successful placements with Killam Properties Inc.; and

Whereas on February 15, 2010, Mr. Philip Fraser, president and CEO of Killam Properties Inc. proved further commitment to addressing issues of mental health by making a donation of $100,000 to the Opening Minds mental health capital campaign;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the efforts of Killam Properties Inc. on being good corporate citizens and further assisting in addressing the issues of mental health.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1504]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

RESOLUTION NO. 800

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

Whereas Parliamentary Democracy in Nova Scotia: How it Began, How it Evolved, written by Catherine Buckie with design and illustration by Kathy Kaulbach was published as part of the Democracy 250 celebration; and

Whereas this valuable booklet reviews the history of Nova Scotia and our significant role in the evolution of democracy while outlining the day-to-day workings of the present Legislature; and

Whereas Parliamentary Democracy in Nova Scotia sends a clear message to future generations of voters to get involved and get their voices heard;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Catherine Buckie and Kathy Kaulbach on the publication of Parliamentary Democracy in Nova Scotia: How it Began, How it Evolved with best wishes in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 801

[Page 1505]

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

Whereas March 5, 2010, proved to be a very prosperous day in the Town of Trenton; and

Whereas Daewoo Shipping and Marine Engineering Ltd. company has established its first North American manufacturing facility for wind turbine towers and blades here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the company will help create up to 500 jobs, provide a green, clean form of work and bring the former TrentonWorks plant back to life and bring life back into a once thriving community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognize the importance of the Daewoo Shipping and Marine Engineering Ltd. facility both to the Town of Trenton and all 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.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 802

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

Whereas the awards ceremony for the Halifax Public Libraries' annual Make Yourself Famous creative arts contest will be held tomorrow evening, April 29, 2010, at the Halifax North Memorial Public Library at which the Dr. Marie Hamilton Award and the Heinish Award will be presented; and

[Page 1506]

Whereas the Make Yourself Famous award recognizes and celebrates artistic achievement by local youth in Grades Primary through 9; and

Whereas the participating schools in 2010 include Highland Park Junior High, Oxford Junior High, St. Patrick's-Alexandra School, St. Stephen's Elementary, Joseph Howe Elementary, the Shambhala School and the Maritime Muslim Academy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly thank the Halifax Public Libraries for its efforts to celebrate the artistic accomplishments of our young people and congratulate the award winners and all the students who participated in the 2010 Make Yourself Famous awards.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 803

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

Whereas the highest tides in the world were measured in the Cobequid Bay at Burntcoat Head which is in the constituency of Hants East and part of the Bay of Fundy tidal system; and

Whereas the New 7 Wonders of Nature has short-listed the Bay of Fundy as a finalist as one of the 7 Wonders of the natural world; and

Whereas the Bay of Fundy system is the only Canadian entry still in contention;

[Page 1507]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly endorse the Bay of Fundy entry as one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature and encourage all Canadians to vote for it.

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 Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 804

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

Whereas Colleen Pinkney and her teammates Wendy Currie, Karen Hennigar, Susan Creelman and coach Judy Burgess have become world champions by winning the gold medal in the recent Senior Women's Curling Championship in Russia; and

Whereas residents of Truro and surrounding area turned out last night to welcome Team Pinkney home with a lively parade and a reception that saw over 200 people packed into the historic Truro Curling Club; and

Whereas this extraordinary women's team from Truro is an inspiration to other women and young girls worldwide to strive for excellence in their chosen fields and their success exemplifies the qualities of team spirit, friendship, discipline and dedication that are necessary to take a team or a community from being simply good to being great;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Team Pinkney on winning the Gold Medal in the Senior Women's Curling Championship and thank them for instilling a sense of pride in their community, their province and their nation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1508]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 805

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all three Pictou County MLAs, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas April 28, 2010, is the National Day of Mourning; and

Whereas this day commemorates workers who have lost their lives or have been injured in the workplace; and

Whereas the services held in Trenton, Pictou County, every year to remember those who have lost their lives or have been injured, flags will fly at half mast, candles will be lit, workers will don ribbons, wreaths will be laid and a moment's silence will be held to honour and remember;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate those taking part in tonight's remembrance in Trenton and take a moment to remember those who have lost their lives or have been injured in the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 806

[Page 1509]

MS. VICKI CONRAD: 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 protecting seniors at risk of financial, emotional, physical and other forms of elder abuse; and

Whereas Nova Scotia offers funding for grants to any non-profit organization that proposes new or expanded activities for seniors; and

Whereas the Queens County Crime Prevention Association has been very involved in presenting seminars for seniors throughout the community, promoting the initiative to prevent and reduce crime and were recipients of a Seniors Safety Grant from the Departments of Justice and Seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Queens County Crime Prevention Association on receiving a Senior Safety Grant funded by the Departments of Seniors and Justice, to help protect seniors in our communities.

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 Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 807

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

Whereas the GLOBE 2010 conference and trade fair, dedicated to the business of the environment, was held in Vancouver from March 24th to March 26th; and

[Page 1510]

Whereas Antigonish native and St. Francis Xavier political science student Matthew Chisholm attended the GLOBE conference and presented a poster on his research on potential and current low-carbon economies; and

Whereas Matthew Chisholm was one of five recipients of an ECO Canada Student Ambassador Award for his work;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate Matthew Chisholm for his research on low-carbon economies and his 2010 ECO Student Ambassador Award.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 808

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

Whereas the Eastern Shore Food Bank has moved to the Lions Community Centre at East Petpeswick Road in Musquodoboit Harbour; and

Whereas this new location, the Lions Community Centre, is better facilitated to housing of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon and the Eastern Shore Food Bank; and

Whereas the Lions Community Centre is having the official opening of their new location on May 1st;

[Page 1511]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Eastern Shore Food Bank and the Lions Community Centre on celebrating the opening of their new location.

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 809

MR. JIM MORTON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Cumberland North, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in June 2009, the IWK's Child Safety Link program, in partnership with the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Halifax's Nimbus Publishing, launched a new children's storybook on playground safety, entitled Simon and Catapult Man's Perilous Playground Adventure; and

Whereas this book, written by Pugwash author Norene Smiley, follows the inter-galactic exploits of characters Simon and Catapult Man, in a world where swings are rocket boosters, a slide is the secret escape hatch and the sandbox is a Lunar Bog; and

Whereas this funny, well-crafted book illustrates to kids in an entertaining and adventurous way how they too can play more safely in their neighbourhood playgrounds;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend our congratulations to Pugwash author Norene Smiley on writing the book, Simon and Catapult Man's Perilous Playground Adventure for Child Safety Link, which will be available in every elementary school library in Atlantic Canada

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1512]

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 on an introduction.

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery opposite is a constituent from Victoria-The Lakes and someone I know is no stranger to many people here. Especially those who have been around this Legislature and anybody that's read the newspaper over the last number of years. I'd ask Parker Donham to stand up and receive the warm welcome of the House.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 810

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

Whereas in the month of April 2010, Hatfield Farm Cowboy Adventures has announced an expansion to their 156-acre operation on the Hammonds Plains Road; and

Whereas owner Brian Hatfield plans to spend a budget of $5 million over this eight-year project to renovate and expand his business, which currently offers wagon and trail rides as well as corporate events and weddings; and

Whereas the expanded operation will provide additional services and amenities to meet the needs of the many happy clients they have served over the past 18 years and will entice new clients to choose Hatfield Farm as the destination for their next event;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Hatfield Farm Cowboy Adventures for the 18 years of outstanding service they have provided and wish them best of luck in the expansion of the operation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1513]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[3:00 p.m.]

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 811

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

Whereas in 1990, the third week of April was designated as National Volunteer Week in all communities across the country to recognize the 12 million volunteers in Canada and the essential and valuable work that they do; and

Whereas the 36th Annual Provincial Volunteer Awards were held on April 12th at the Westin Hotel in Halifax, attended by Lieutenant-Governor Mayann Francis, Premier Darrell Dexter and Minister Marilyn More and recipients from all municipalities and towns across the province; and

Whereas volunteer Suzanne Lohnes-Croft was recognized by the Town of Mahone Bay and Kathy Kirkpatrick was recognized for her volunteer efforts by the Town of Lunenburg;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Suzanne Lohnes-Croft of Mahone Bay, Kathy Kirkpatrick of Lunenburg for their recognition during the 36th Annual Provincial Volunteer Awards and commend them for their continued commitment to their communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1514]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 812

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

Whereas the Town of Canso held its Volunteer Awards night on March 13, 2010; and

Whereas each year the town recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to their community; and

Whereas in recognition of her contribution to the Eastern Communities Youth Association, Jenna Myatt is one of the 2010 Town of Canso Volunteer Award recipients;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Jenna Myatt on her volunteer award and wish her continued success in her 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 Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 813

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

[Page 1515]

Whereas the Learn to Run Program teaches staff with the Pictou County Health Authority to run and be active; and

Whereas the survey which was completed by staff clearly showed that they wanted to be more healthy and active; and

Whereas the Learn to Run Program has already seen two sets of graduates complete the program with a new set being mentored now, and staff members feel healthier, more active and less stressed at the workplace

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognize the important value of promoting an active lifestyle in the workplace and congratulate the Pictou County Health Authority for listening to their staff and allowing them to incorporate a healthy active lifestyle into their workplace.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

RESOLUTION NO. 814

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

Whereas the Prospect Road Community Centre will be officially opened on Saturday, June 19, 2010; and

Whereas this Community Centre will provide valuable service to the residents of all ages of the Prospect Road and area; and

Whereas this project has been achieved due to hard work, dedication and commitment of countless community volunteers;

[Page 1516]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank all involved from the communities along the Prospect Road on the official opening of the Prospect Road Community Centre on June 19, 2010.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 815

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

Whereas April 17, 2010, marked the 25th Anniversary of Section 15, the equality section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which constitutionally enshrines equality rights for women; and

Whereas the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), a national charitable organization which works toward ensuring that the law guarantees substantive equality for all women in Canada, was founded in 1985, 25 years ago; and

Whereas yesterday, April 27, 2010, LEAF celebrated both its own 25th Anniversary and the 25th Anniversary of Section 15 of the charter with an event called Equality Day: A Celebration of Women;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly join with LEAF and all Canadians in celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the constitutional entrenchment of women's equality rights and also congratulate LEAF on its quarter-century of work to ensure the effective equality of women in law.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1517]

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 South on an introduction.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today in the west gallery we have Mayor Frank Fraser joining us from the Town of Canso. Mayor Fraser is in the city today to bring to the attention of the government the serious plight facing the people of Canso. I would ask the members of the House to give Mayor Fraser a warm welcome here today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 816

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

Whereas volunteers are crucial to improving the quality of life in communities; and

Whereas service organizations such as the Lions Club have long been instrumental in focusing the energies and talents of volunteers; and

Whereas on January 30, 2010, George Lacey was recognized by the Milford and District Lions Club for 35 years of service;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate George Lacey of the Milford and District Lions Club for his 35 years of volunteerism and thank him for his selfless service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1518]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 817

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future

day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Westville, Pictou County resident Lori Peters, mother of three young boys, became a volunteer at Walter Duggan Consolidated School when her oldest son began his education; and

Whereas Lori Peters has expanded her volunteerism as a Sunday school teacher, soccer coach, helped re-establish minor baseball, team manager and former president of Westville's minor hockey program, former board member of Tearmann House, team captain of the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life, and over the years demonstrated a commitment to her community in ways too numerous to mention; and

Whereas Lori Peters was recognized by Westville on April 20th as the 2010 Westville Volunteer of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Lori Peters on being named the 2010 Westville Volunteer of the Year and for helping to create a stronger sense of community in Westville and by extension, throughout 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.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 818

[Page 1519]

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

Whereas the Canadian Liver Foundation's LIVERight Award competition addresses the need for convenient food options that are both delicious and nutritious; and

Whereas a family-run business located in Caledonia has won the Best Beverage 2010 Award in this competition; and

Whereas Van Dyk's Health Juice Products Limited's award winning beverage is Nature 100% Pure Wild Blueberry Juice;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Van Dyk's Health Juice Company of Caledonia, Queens County, for winning the Best Beverage 2010 competition in the Canadian Liver Foundation's LIVERight Awards.

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 Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 819

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

Whereas the People's Place Project, a joint initiative of the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, the Town of Antigonish, and the Municipality of the County of Antigonish will replace the current public library in Antigonish with a 14,000-square-foot environmentally-efficient building; and

Whereas the People's Place Project, having previously received funding from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, the federal and municipal governments, and a number

[Page 1520]

of local organizations, recently reached its initial funding goal with a commitment from ecoNova Scotia to contribute up to $409,000 for green elements in the new building; and

Whereas invitations for artistic expressions of interest and construction tenders for the People's Place were recently announced, with construction to begin in May with an anticipated completion date for this Fall;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House recognize the commitment of the building committee members and congratulate the People's Place Project for reaching their initial goal.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 820

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

Whereas on Saturday, May 1, 2010, the Musquodoboit Harbour Library will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary; and

Whereas the Musquodoboit Harbour Library has been the focal point in the community for 25 years, providing a place for community members to discover more about their community; and

Whereas through the library programming, members of the community connect for literacy and learning opportunities and the Leading Readers program, which connects teens with children for reading support, is a prime example of this;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Musquodoboit Harbour Library on its 25th Anniversary.

[Page 1521]

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 821

MR. JIM MORTON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cumberland North, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Cumberland County Junior B Blues are now Atlantic Canadian champions upon winning their first Don Johnson Cup Atlantic Junior B championship on April 25th; and

Whereas the Cumberland County fans hit the road and filled over half of St. Margaret's Centre Arena to watch and cheer on the Blues as they claimed victory over the host team, St. Margaret's Bay Ducks; and

Whereas Blues' players Matt Noiles and Jordie Shaw each scored once, and Seth Crowe twice to beat the Ducks by a satisfying score of 4 to 1;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend its congratulations to Matt Noiles, Jordie Shaw, Seth Crowe, and all of the Cumberland County Blues players, staff, and fans on winning their first-ever Don Johnson Cup.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1522]

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. 822

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

Whereas later today, April 28, 2010, the Lake District Recreation Association of Lower Sackville will be hosting their 31st Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner, honouring 27 exceptional volunteers; and

Whereas volunteers in the communities of Lower, Middle and Upper Sackville and Lucasville have been dedicating their time for many years to help enrich the lives of others, and improve the neighbourhoods in which we live; and

Whereas each of the organizations honouring a volunteer tonight gives thanks for the tireless efforts of their many volunteers and notes that many of these organizations could not exist without the countless hours contributed by their volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate all of the volunteers in Lower, Middle, and Upper Sackville and Lucasville, with special mention of the 27 volunteers being acknowledged at the Lake District Recreation Association's Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner on April 28, 2010, and wish them the best of luck in all of their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[3:15 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.

[Page 1523]

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 823

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

Whereas the Town of Canso held its Volunteer Awards Night on March 13, 2010; and

Whereas each year the town recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to their community; and

Whereas in recognition of his contribution to various organizations, Bill Roberts is one of the 2010 Town of Canso Volunteer Awards recipients;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Bill Roberts on his volunteer award and wish him continued success in 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 time now is 3:17 p.m., Question Period will go until 4:47 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

PREM. - COUN. ON THE ECONOMY: SM. BUS. - EXCLUSION

[Page 1524]

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday the Premier unveiled the members of his Council on the Economy, a handful of entrepreneurs and business leaders are included. Small business, which creates half the jobs in the province, were conspicuously absent, so my question to the Premier is, why did you exclude representatives of the small businesses from your Council on the Economy?

THE PREMIER: Well, of course that's not true. Valerie Payn from the chamber of commerce, which has many small business members, is a member of the council. There are small business people like Jim Spatz and J.P. Deveau who are on the council as well. Mr. Speaker, we sought to have a broad balance on the council.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is being disingenuous here today in the House. He knows that the advisory panel is top-heavy with union leaders. What we know is that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has been critical of this government's policy and the NDP's HST increase. We also know that the CFIB, which represents over 5,000 small businesses across this province, was excluded. So my question to the Premier is, why did you exclude an important organization such as CFIB from your advisory panel?

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, they weren't excluded. We picked a broad-based group. There are six members from the business community, there are six from the trade union movement, there are six from community organizations, community-based initiatives. It was intended to be that way. We didn't look necessarily at individual sectors, it was to ensure that we were able to bring the province together rather than divide it.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, it was a broad base of union leaders, two of whom have been bashing Nova Scotia small business and one of whom knows how to do creative accounting. The government's motives in excluding the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and picking only a handful of business people for their advisory panel, are transparent.

The message to business is clear: if you don't agree with government's policies, you are excluded from the conversation. Your freedom of expression ends the moment you disagree. That is one way to silence opposition. My question to the Premier is, will you extend an invitation to the CFIB to join your council? After all, they only represent 5,200 small businesses across this province.

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, the composition of the council is set. The fact is that small business people are represented on the council, as is appropriate. The reality is that this is an opportunity for these people to give something back to the province and I believe to work to make the economy of the province stronger.

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

[Page 1525]

PREM. - COUN. ON THE ECONOMY: MEMBERS' - VIEWS

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. Yesterday we learned that three New Democrat supporters and union leaders - all of whom have come under intense scrutiny for anti-small business remarks and illegal campaign donations - were appointed by the Premier to his Council on the Economy. A large number of hard-working Nova Scotians are employed by these small businesses in the province and Nova Scotia small business industry contributes 24 per cent of the total GDP of this province. My question to the Premier is this, do you support the anti-small business comments and positions of these individuals?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, my job of course is to represent, protect and defend the interests of the people of Nova Scotia, that's what I do. What I do not do is engage in any kind of disparaging remarks about other interests, whether they're unions or businesses - that's not what we're here to do. We're here to bring people together around a common cause, which is to strengthen the Province of Nova Scotia.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, first it was an attack on Nova Scotians the Finance Minister called "the elite" by removing the surtax, then it was an attack on the middle class through the increase in the HST and now it appears to be an attack on small business. Two of the recent appointees have declared an all-out war on the CFIB and small business in this province and the other was involved in the illegal campaign contributions. My question to the Premier is this: In the best interest of Nova Scotians, in order to bring integrity and credibility to the economic council, will the Premier reconsider the appointments of Joan Jessome, Danny Cavanagh and Cordell Cole to the council?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the economic council is to allow for good advice to come forward, to strengthen the economy of the province. What it is not, though, is an attempt to disparage or to castigate people who only want to ensure that we have a better province to live in.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would assume that answer is no so through the Speaker to the Premier, these three individuals themselves should recognize the controversy their appointments have caused and the disrespect for small businesses that they have shown. I trust they will do the right thing and immediately step down from the council. My question to the Premier is this, how now do you look small business owners in the eye after appointing the very people who called for a boycott to their businesses?

THE PREMIER: Actually, Mr. Speaker, we had great uptake from many businesses right across the province. They called, they were interested in being involved in the economic council. The ones who have been appointed, in fact, are very happy to be involved so I wish the economic council good luck in its deliberations. I know that they're taking it on enthusiastically and I look forward to receiving their advice.

[Page 1526]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

PREM.: SOUTHWEST N.S. TRANSPORTATION STUDY

- AVAILABILITY

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday the Premier said that he has been working with the federal government on both Team West and Team Southwest. The South West Nova Scotia Transportation Study was due at the end of March. Months ago the Premier said he would fast-track this report. Not only did he fail to fast-track anything, this study is long overdue. My first question to the Premier is, when will this House see the study?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, just for the sake of correctness - and I know that the member for Clare would want the facts to be clear on the record - I didn't say that I would fast-track it. I said I would request that ACOA, who is in charge of the study, fast-track it and get it to us as soon as possible. I can give him the same information that I gave him, I think, last week, which is my understanding is that a draft has now been distributed to the stakeholders and, again, as soon as I have a copy of it I'll be happy to review it and provide information about it to the House.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the provincial government has three departments represented on this steering committee - there are only five representatives on the committee. Surely the provincial government has some say as to when this study will be released.

My question to the Premier is, will you direct your Ministers of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Economic and Rural Development, and Tourism, Culture and Heritage to ensure this study is tabled before this House rises this Spring session?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the member opposite understands that this is a study that's being funded by ACOA; they have control over it. What I can tell him is that as soon as we receive it and have had an opportunity to consider it, I will also consider his request.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the federal government is attempting to divest their interest in the Yarmouth wharf where The Cat used to dock. My question to the Premier is, will you ensure the federal government does not completely wash its hands on this wharf and leave the Town of Yarmouth high and dry?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that - in a positive light - this is out of the hands of the former operator and is now back in the hands of the government, so if there are new operators who come along there's actually an opportunity for them to have appropriate wharfage space. I think that's good news with respect to those docking facilities.

[Page 1527]

I was not aware they are attempting to get rid of it or off- load it, but I'll take that information from the member opposite and I'll ask the departmental officials to look into it.

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

LWD: WORKPLACE HEALTH & SAFETY - ADDRESS

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development. Today is the National Day of Mourning, a day to reflect on lives lost, on lives forever altered. But it's also a day to ensure that we, as legislators, are fulfilling our role when it comes to workplace health and safety. My question to the minister is, what is your government doing to address workplace health and safety issues?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I think it's obvious from the actions of this government that we place a very high priority on workplace safety. We recognize the need to work together with all the stakeholders, but particularly the employers, the employees, and the unions and the different safety associations to ensure that we reduce the number of accidents - be they injuries or fatalities - in this province, and we are committed to improving workplace safety in this province.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, in 1997 a government strategy was devised to promote compliance with the internal responsibility system, IRS. It seems this plan has been ignored. What actions has the minister taken to promote the internal responsibility system and will she commit to promoting this system in the future?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, unlike the honourable member, I had the opportunity to meet with the members of the NSGEU and Workplace Safety Committee today and they certainly raised that issue with me as well. I believe the former government had done a consultation sometime within the last couple of years on that issue. Some of that information is being analyzed. I've set up a meeting with my senior officials to get more information and I've committed to getting back to the NSGEU with an update on where that might move into the future.

[3:30 p.m.]

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister could update us on that information as well when she gets it.

Mr. Speaker, several years ago regulations were developed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to address air quality issues. These regulations have also been ignored and they have not come into effect. My question is to the Minister of Labour and Workforce

[Page 1528]

Development, when will your government ensure regulations to the Occupational Health and Safety Act address air quality issues?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, that's another issue that was discussed today with the NSGEU. As I recall, there has been a serious study on this issue, I believe some regulations were drafted by the former government but were not proclaimed.

I committed to doing my homework, checking into the situation, finding out what the status is of those and see if there are challenges to moving forward on those regulations. It's a very serious, comprehensive issue and I fully expect that the financial or funding implications of moving forward might be one of the problems, although I don't know that officially. Certainly I've committed to looking at it, making sure that if there's anything we can do within our means, that certainly this government is committed to making workplaces safer in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

PREM.: COUN. APPTS. - MEMBERS' COMMENTS

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you will be to the Premier. For the past 10 years the Leader of the NDP has spent a lot of time complaining to the media about every little thing that was done by the previous government. I have a very simple question through you to the Premier, if the previous government had made an appointment to an important economic advisory board of someone who had called for a boycott of all businesses represented by the Nova Scotia Chamber of Commerce and the Atlantic Canadian Restaurant and Food Services, the Premier agreed today that he would have been asking for a review of that appointment.

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, as I said in response to the previous question, my job in this office is to bring people together, not to try and divide them. I am not commenting on what people have said or not said. This is about us having an economic council that provides sound advice and that is committed to moving this province forward.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the Premier, and that's exactly the point, the Premier has appointed someone who is dividing business, dividing union members, dividing communities, as he has done on every issue since he became Premier. If the Dexter NDP Government thinks it's okay to appoint Joan Jessome, someone who went out of her way to tell her members to basically put small business out of business, he put her on the Premier's Council on the Economy. That's quite ironic, Mr. Speaker, when small business employs such a large part of the Nova Scotians. Will the Premier admit today that appointing Joan Jessome to this panel may have been the wrong decision?

[Page 1529]

THE PREMIER: Well, no, Mr. Speaker, I don't think that is true at all. In fact, I think it's very important that we have a diverse group of people on the Premier's Council on the Economy. It was important, particularly one of the largest trade unions in the province is represented so I'm pleased with the make-up of the economic council.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the Premier, I'm going to quote from Ms. Jessome's news release of April 21st, demanding a boycott of small businesses, which is still up on the NSGEU Web site today, by the way. Here is what she said, "Take that money away, and what will happen to the businesses represented by McInnis and Erjavec?" I can tell you what will happen to them, they'll start to lay off non-unionized employees. Mr. Speaker, a great way to stimulate the economy.

Now the Premier just said a moment ago about uniting the communities, uniting the province, bringing people together. Ms. Jessome comes with ideas like that in this Premier's panel, it won't be very long before this province and businesses in Nova Scotia are in deep trouble.

Will the Premier now agree that maybe he made a rash decision in appointing Ms. Jessome to the panel and, for the good of the province, ask her to excuse herself from the panel because of her past statements and especially for the credibility of this panel?

THE PREMIER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am really disappointed with the fact that the member opposite would disparage and castigate someone who is coming forward to volunteer to sit on a council with many business people, with many other community representatives who are there for the purposes of trying to strengthen the economy of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

COM. SERV. - DIRECTIONS COUN.: FUNDING - ADEQUACY

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. I'd like to begin by recognizing the fact that in the west gallery to join us today are: Darren Ruck, the chairman of the Dartmouth Adult Service Centre; Cathy Deagle-Gammon, who is the executive director of DASC; and also Norm McNeill, who is the treasurer for that organization. DASC is one of the member organizations of the Directions Council of Nova Scotia, an umbrella group for 28 organizations, which provide vocational services for individuals with disabilities.

I'm pleased that the minister this year announced $750,000 in extra funding for the council but, for 28 members that amounts to an average of only $26,000 each if split evenly for their operating budgets. Does the minister think that funding is adequate?

[Page 1530]

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, of course I always would like to have more money, but if the former government wouldn't have put us in the mess we were in, I would have had more money to be able to use. At least, over all the years that they did not get an increase, they got an increase within the first year of this government.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, maybe if the minister hadn't voted a tax rebate for herself she would have had more money to give to organizations like DASC, wouldn't she? It's all about choices and, at $26,000, that amounts to 1 per cent of DASC's budget, assuming they get some of that money.

In the time since their last increase 18 years ago, the CPI has increased 32 per cent. Life has become much more expensive and the government departments have increased their budgets by more than that, including this government this year. There has been little recognition by this government of what organizations face, just like there was little recognition by the Third Party.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, does the minister have a plan to increase funding and properly support DASC and the other Directions Council members?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I think it was last week that the Canadian Comedy Show was here, I didn't know it was continuing because when we look at 18 years ago, the members on the Opposition were the governments of those times, both of those Parties. The honourable member made it very clear that it took 18 years (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Community Services has the floor.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: It was very clear from the honourable member that he spoke about 18 years and as I mentioned in my first response, it took us our first year in order to go forward and make an increase, so I think that says it all, thank you.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, if the minister had bothered to listen to my remarks, I thanked her for the very small increase. What I pointed out was the fact she could have done more if she hadn't given herself a tax break and that was her choice and her government's choice and what they put money in and they made the wrong choice.

Government should see that funding for - the Minister of Finance talks about it all the time, give us options to save money. Well, the fact of the matter is, the work of DASC and other vocational institutions like that save the government money because otherwise these people are spending money and using money that is funding other provincial programs.

[Page 1531]

Will the minister tell me, how is DASC supposed to address a wait list of 50 people who are being funded on much more expensive government programs without a substantial increase in funding?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I think, as I mentioned before, the years that it took us to get to this point. The fact is that the Adult Residential Centers are very important to us in the Province of Nova Scotia, we believe in them. They work very hard and that is why we worked very hard in our department for after 18 years to make a difference and bring forth that $750,000 and hopefully, in the future we will be able to do more because they deserve it.

The honourable member for Inverness.

PREM.: COUN. APPTS. - EXPLAIN

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. I find it hard to believe that union leaders can provide an objective, balanced view of our economy. Now, I have some proof of that and I would like to table it. Mr. Danny Cavanagh was appointed to your council on the economy and during his 2009 Labour Day statement to members of CUPE, he said the following: "Deregulation, privatization and free trade have been the mindset of the right wing for decades and are the root causes of the economic difficulties facing us today." (Applause) Obviously, there are some other misled people in this House as well.

These are the words of a man whose sole intention in life is to hold back prosperity so he can extract his pound of flesh from those of our society who are working to pull the cart that is our economy. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Cavanagh's own personal agenda will hurt the work of the economic advisory council. To the Premier, why not appoint people who are motivated to serve the common good of Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that Mr. Cavanagh is, in fact, dedicated to the common good of the people of Nova Scotia but I do agree with this - I don't believe the member opposite believes that unions can provide a balanced view. I do believe that.

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, I would simply ask, why appoint people who are combative and insensitive to people who are growing this economy in Nova Scotia, like entrepreneurs? The Premier laughs and he's smug about it, but these are the people who are taking chances in our economy, they are the ones who are creating jobs and you're appointing people to your council who are combative and insensitive to them. They are not going to help the future of our province.

Mr. Speaker, why does the Premier continue to choose to appoint these people to his panel?

[Page 1532]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, they are appointed to the economic panel because the economy of Nova Scotia is made up of may different interests. The point is to bring those together so that business, labour and community organizations have an opportunity to be in the same room and to benefit from each other's point of view and experience. That's what brings forward a balanced view of our economy and that's what will benefit the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, these views are hardly balanced and they're hardly what's right for Nova Scotians. I think it is time for the Premier - and I will ask him - when will you stop paying back election favours and start looking out for the interests of all Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, giving somebody an opportunity to serve is hardly repaying an election favour. It is taking advantage of an offer to provide the benefit of experience, the benefit of years of dedication to important interests in the province. One of which, I'm sure, that this member is not aware of - that Mr. Cavanagh is also a small business operator. (Applause)

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

COM. SERV.: ROCKCLIFFE APARTMENTS - TENANT CONCERNS

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today my question is for the Minister of Community Services and Housing. The minister is aware of the ongoing problems in Sydney at Rockcliffe Apartments. Yesterday, the new landlord for Rockcliffe distributed new leases to tenants, all 104 units and on July 1st, there will be an increase in rent of $150 for most of them, whether it is the anniversary date for an individual's lease or not. The new landlord has told tenants that the new leases must be signed by Friday or else they will receive an eviction notice.

Mr. Speaker, the people cannot afford these increases, the people who live at Rockcliffe, and were assured by the minister that she would help. My question to the minister is, what has the minister done to address tenant concerns in light of these recent developments?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, actually this particular situation with Rockcliffe has been one that I have taken under my wing in order to work with the residents and the tenants of Rockcliffe, along with staff, and along with my colleague. What we've been doing is that we've been maintaining very close communication. I actually have met with some of the residents who were representing Rockcliffe tenants. I've been in conversation with a particular lady who has been seen as their representative. I spoke to her on April 16th. I had a staff member actually call her last evening. So we've been maintaining

[Page 1533]

close communications and working with the residents there, along with Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations who has been working with them in respect to the Tenancy Act.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, when the minister says under her wing, I think perhaps we might say if that is the case, and that she has taken this upon herself to help these people, then I fail to understand why they're getting eviction notices or rent increases as of this Friday. We only have one more day and one full day after today.

These constituents have been treated as second-class citizens by this government all through this debacle that's going on down at Rockcliffe. The local MLA is powerless to intervene in this situation because he's afraid of embarrassing the minister. The minister has botched this whole file from day one, and the people of Rockcliffe are telling me that it's no good contacting their own MLA in that area because he can't do anything. The minister is controlling this situation, and only the minister. She says she's handling the situation but, Mr. Speaker, she has done nothing. All she did (Interruption) No, that's right, she has done more than nothing. She sent a representative to explain to the people the Tenancies Act. They were all given a copy of the Tenancies Act, and that's the extent of what the minister has done to date to help these people out.

My question to the minister is, has the member for Cape Breton Nova expressed his concerns about Rockcliffe and asked you to intervene on their behalf?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Well, Mr. Speaker, this issue came to our attention last Fall, and actually my colleague - the member for Cape Breton Nova - brought it to my attention that he was very nervous about what may happen there. This is a private deal. We actually, we wanted to make it - we worked very hard to make this work. In fact, I had our legal department look at if the agreements between the previous owner and the new owner could be an equal agreement so we could just carry forth and this issue wouldn't occur. I also not only had the Community Services' legal staff look at it, I took it outside for a second opinion.

Unfortunately, the agreements were not equal agreements, and we could not risk $1.2 million of taxpayers' money. On the other hand, I know it's a very difficult situation because it's people's homes. However, I do not have control over a private owner and what he decides in terms of his rental agreements. But we've been working very closely, Community Services' staff has been available, and we encourage them to call. My colleague here has done everything under his power to work with me because we work as a team trying to resolve issues.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it looks like and sounds like we're experiencing an NDP love-in over here today, that's what's going on. If the MLA for Cape

[Page 1534]

Breton Nova contacted the minister last Fall, why when we're in the 11th hour now has this matter not been settled? The minister states this is a private matter. It's not a private matter. This minister knows that the department was previously subsidizing some of those units, and the simple thing to do would be to continue subsidizing, but for some reason this minister does not want to act in the best interests of the people who are living at Rockcliffe.

Mr. Speaker, I'll also say that the people of Rockcliffe know that this government is doing nothing and have expressed their concern to this Party and, I would imagine, to the other Party in the House as well.

When is this minister going to solve this issue? She said that the housing department would look after anybody that was displaced, and she knows that's not true because there are 360 people on the waiting list now, down in my area for public housing units. Are these people going to be out on the street in July? My question to the minister is, will you do something about it, not just talk in this House?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, what's most important, and the reason why we have maintained good communication with the tenants at Rockcliffe, is to provide them with facts. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. The honourable Minister of Community Services has the floor.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: The number one fact is, it was not a subsidized apartment. It was not subsidized, it was affordable housing. Affordable housing is where we go into an agreement with the contractor in terms of when they build the residence and when they are also repairing it. It was not subsidized in that manner.

The issue is, to carry on or bring in subsidy to a private landlord means that would set a precedent throughout the entire province, that every landlord in this province could ask the province - (Interruptions) He doesn't want to hear the truth, that's the problem. (Applause) Let me tell you the truth. I am working with these people and he wants me to sit down - he doesn't want to hear the truth.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, thank you.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: What I'd like to say is that if he wants to help out, he should go back to those tenants and tell them to talk to the tenancy board so they know their rights. (Applause)

[Page 1535]

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, thank you. The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

PREM.: PARTY EXEC. MEMBER - BELIEFS

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. For years the NDP has been trying to cultivate its image, worked very hard to appear moderate in the eyes of the electorate, and attempted to hide its far left beliefs in order to be elected. Now Kyle Buott is raising doubts as to the true beliefs of the NDP and its members. Mr. Buott, a recent Party executive and current donor, is speaking out against G8, capitalism, and our system of democracy. My question through you to the Premier is, do you and your government share the beliefs of this influential Party insider?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure what part of that question to try and debunk so I'll just say this. The members who were elected in the last election represent the diversity of this province. We come from small towns, we come from urban areas, we come from different backgrounds - professional and working class. That is why the Party was elected - it was because we reflect the province which we represent.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier, thanks to the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of our people, Canada has become a major economic force in the world. We are indeed a beacon for other nations to follow. Due to this success, Canada has earned its rightful place in the influential G8. Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, do you support the G8 and its initiatives?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I do is I promote, protect, and defend the interests of Nova Scotia, wherever they may be.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, maybe I can get a direct answer from the Premier on this one. Many of the NDP's more left-wing supporters - and I'm sure some members in the caucus sitting behind it - might share the views of Mr. Buott and others performing outside these G8 meetings. Through you to the Premier, how do you reconcile the views of your Party members and supporters while having to strike a moderate tone in order to conduct your duties as head of the provincial government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the responsibilities of government, of course, are broad but one of the things that I do endorse and support, of course, is the right of every citizen to take their right and to participate in society. We don't foreclose people's rights, we think it's one of the strengths of our society that people have the right to voice opinions, which may be unpopular, which may dissent from everyday opinion. That is what it is to live in a truly free society.

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

[Page 1536]

HEALTH - DEPT.: BUDGET CUTS - DETAILS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In December the Minister of Finance issued a directive to all departments to find savings within their ministries. This was followed up with the government's Expenditure Management Initiative, which yielded a 1 per cent reduction in discretionary spending, as well as a program analysis within each department. My question to the Minister of Health is, could the minister please indicate how much has been cut from the Department of Health budget as a result of the directive in December and as a result of the Expenditure Management Initiative to date?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I believe we covered this territory when we were in Budget Estimates but we were able, through that process, to identify approximately $5 million in expenditure in grants. In addition to that, we identified 1 per cent of our budget inside the Department of Health. We additionally asked DHAs to look in their budget for 1 per cent in non-salaried areas of expenditure.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, although we had exhaustive discussions here during estimates, I think that we're all perfectly within our right to ask questions again here in the House during Question Period and I'm sure the minister appreciates that.

Diabetics in this province found out early what expenditure management meant to them. In February, persons with type 2 diabetes had their test strips reduced, an extremely short-sighted move that would cost the health care system considerably more in the years ahead. Thankfully that decision was reversed. Nova Scotians deserve to know what's happening with program cuts and who is responsible. My question to the minister is, who specifically was given the mandate of finding administrative and program reductions in the Department of Health?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to make it perfectly clear, there was no change, no reduction in strips for diabetics in terms of what we cover. We have a very strong finance department in the Department of Health and we are working hard to identify efficiencies so that we can direct precious health care dollars to the most important priorities of the people of the province.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, although you say that there have been no cuts to the diabetic program, they were threatened to have the number of strips available to them cut significantly and they had to make a strong case that that would be harmful.

I wanted to table just now from the Department of Justice a one-pager that we got during estimates from the Minister of Justice that showed where the savings were found

[Page 1537]

within his department and where the cuts were made. I would like to ask the minister directly, my question to the minister is, will the minister table by the end of Question Period or by the end of the House today, a one-page summary that would reflect the Department of Health's savings and cuts that would be similar to what the Department of Justice has provided?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, I did table most of this information that was available from the department during Budget Estimates. We're still in the process of working with the DHAs to finalize their budgets and I do not have the information to table until that process is complete.

[4:00 p.m.]

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

PREM. - N.S. FED. OF LBR.: PRES. - AGREEMENT

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. Yesterday, following a barnburner speech on Monday to his union brothers and sisters in Sydney, Rick Clarke, President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, praised the Premier and his new government. The headline in the Cape Breton Post yesterday states, "Labour leader says unions lucky to have Dexter as premier." (Applause) Well, I'm glad somebody is happy that he feels that way.

During Mr. Clarke's tirade he blames business, the media, and the Opposition Parties for the government's declining fortunes. My question to the Premier is, do you agree with Brother Clarke in his assessment that, among other things, business and the media are working against your government?

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, what I do is I agree with the headline, except that I would add in that I think there are a lot of Nova Scotians who are lucky that we are in government. Thank you.

MR. MACLEOD: The NDP dream continues. Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier once again. My guess is that Brother Clarke had good reason to be happy with the Premier. He is the co-chairman of an important new economic advisory panel that has been loaded down with his union brothers and sisters. It appears that under the Dexter Government, union bosses will have more influence over the governing of our province than his very own backbenchers. Is this the Premier's way of paying back the hundreds of thousands of dollars in union donations to the NDP over the past decade?

[Page 1538]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the intention of the economic panel, of course, is to be fair, balanced and to be open-minded, which I know is something that that member doesn't recognize.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to table the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act for the reporting period January 1, 2006, to December 31, 2006, for the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party. In it there is over $400,000 worth of donations from unions to that Party.

Now, Mr. Speaker, through you once more to the Premier. In the past there has been talk about the union bosses sitting around your caucus table, now they are about to dictate economic policy in our province. Do you agree that small business, that had been blasted by these union leaders and your Finance Minister, has reason to fear the power given by you to the unions bosses of this province?

THE PREMIER: I think this is - it reminds me of a throwback to the 1950s and I guess that's one of the things about being in this position, you do have the unique opportunity to have a look into the kind of 19th Century mind.

I have to say that the economic panel is broadly based. It is made up of business leaders, it is made up of trade union leaders, it is made up of community leaders, the purpose of which is to ensure that we get a balanced view of the economy so that we can strengthen the Province of Nova Scotia for all of our citizens.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COM. SERV. - INCOME ASSISTANCE: RECIPIENTS

- INCOME TAX

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, today my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Here we are again at the end of another tax season and many Nova Scotians are rushing out to meet the April 30th deadline. The new poverty reduction credit also requires income assistance recipients to have their taxes done, and I can tell you right now that the lineups are long, the free services are soon ending. I would like to ask the minister what her department is doing to ensure that these individuals have their taxes done and what information has been provided about the tax credit to the caseworkers?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the taxes, actually well over 90 per cent of people on Income Assistance file their taxes. So that's very important to us and we encourage that because that's part of the process for the tax credits that we now have available. For those who don't, we're always encouraging them through our caseworkers and any information that we have on any of our new programs going forward, and as you know this is a new program, we make sure that all staff have an

[Page 1539]

understanding of those programs and that's just now going out, but we are encouraging individuals to do their tax returns.

MR. ZINCK: That's good to hear, Mr. Speaker, but I want to inform the minister that I have received a number of calls from caseworkers who don't understand how the tax credit will apply and a number of caseworkers who said they simply are at a loss to help these folks get their income taxes done. So it's going to be important to see what comes of this.

My second question to the minister, you know, once again in this budget we see no shelter allowance increase - individuals residing in our communities, single people earning $300 a month for shelter, $535 if you're disabled, $570 if you're living with two people, $620 for three or more. Now, the minister has spoken about the affordable housing money. It's $128 million - 180 units will be allotted to the province. That is not nearly enough to eliminate the waiting list. So I want to ask the minister how she expects these individuals with the increase in taxes and the increases in rents to find affordable housing?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, one thing that I would mention about caseworkers, if there are any caseworkers that the honourable member knows who are having some knowledge issues, all he has to do is come to me or a staff person and let us know and then we can make sure that they are informed.

With respect to the shelter allowances, as the honourable member knows, we're working very hard on a housing strategy and what I'm very proud about is the fact that we did bring in and we did recognize the issues that people are facing, and that's why we brought in both the affordable living tax credit and the poverty reduction tax credit which increases the amount of money in the Income Assistance individuals and their pocket way, way more than ever has been for many years in this province.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that all caseworkers whom I deal with on a daily basis do a tremendous amount of work for the people in my community and I have the utmost respect for them. However, I do feel for them when they don't have that proper information to relay to the clients.

I'm happy that the government has continued the challenge of revamping the ESIA Program but the important thing here that I need to know from the minister is - it's looking in its early days that the Dexter NDP Government, that it's going to be a first term government, a one term only government. I'm wondering if those changes are going to be implemented in your first and only term?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, the ESIA restructuring review is very important to our government and we know that it takes time to stratagize. So what we're doing, we're looking at those type of changes in policies or regulations that we can initiate in a timely manner. So we're not looking at way off down the road when it's a complete

[Page 1540]

strategy. We know that as we get there, there are changes that we can make along the way and that's exactly what we're looking at, and there will be changes coming soon.

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

EDUC. - EAST. PASSAGE HS CONST.: MIN.

- SUPPORT CONFIRM

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Last week I attended the Halifax Regional School Board public meeting. A lot of parents spoke passionately about their desire for a high school in Eastern Passage. Does the Minister of Education support a new high school for Eastern Passage?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member probably realizes, there is a process for school boards recommending capital construction to the department. Then there's a provincial capital construction committee that goes around and views the sites of potential new schools and they make recommendations back to the department. We have not received any requests from the Halifax Regional School Board for a new high school in that area at the moment.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, that school is currently not on Halifax Regional School Board's list, but the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage promised a new school for the riding during the 2007 by-election and made a request to overturn Howard Windsor's decision not to recommend a school for the riding. She promised again during last year's election to have a school built.

Since that time, board staff have recommended a school not be built in the area. They say it is an inappropriate use of taxpayers' dollars. Is the minister prepared to tell the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage she won't get a new school for her riding?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, my responsibility as Minister of Education is to safeguard the processes that are in place to make informed decisions. I will continue to do that. I have not received a request from the school board, therefore it is not something I'm considering at the moment.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, several individuals in the Premier's riding have been organizing to fight against a new school in Eastern Passage because it would lead to the closure of other schools - schools in the Premier's riding. My question is to the Premier, are

[Page 1541]

you prepared to close one of the schools in your riding so a new high school in Eastern Passage can be built?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think, very much like the Minister of Education has said, there is a process that's involved in the building of schools. I certainly intend to respect that process. If they should come to the conclusion that there should and will be a new school in Eastern Passage, I think that would be great for Eastern Passage. I don't see a conflict between people's aspirations for their children in Cole Harbour and the aspirations of people in Eastern Passage for their children, which I know are well-represented and articulated by the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH - CAPITAL HEALTH: ER PROBLEMS: ADDRESS

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. In the last couple of days we're seeing code oranges at the emergency rooms at the Queen Elizabeth II and the Dartmouth General. Patients are waiting to see doctors and there are ambulances waiting to drop off patients. My question to the minister is, how long can the NDP avoid the fact that they've done nothing to address the ER problems at the two largest ERs in Capital Health?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, we have seen Code Census in these facilities. Code Census is merely an indication that patients need to be moved safely through the emergency room into beds upstairs. It focuses the attention of the staff so that ambulances are able to off-load patients into the emergency department and get on their way.

In terms of what this government is doing, in addition to Dr. Ross and the Ross report, we have added a rapid response unit into the Queen Elizabeth; it's being worked on. There are going to be additional family medicine beds there and an intense medical unit with 13 beds, I believe, or 12 beds. This was all contained in our budget and it will take pressure off of these two very busy emergency departments.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the NDP had all the answers when it came to fixing ER problems, whether it was ER closures or addressing ER Code Oranges. The people in metro Halifax voted for them based upon the health promises contained within the NDP manifesto. There are measures to address: open more hospital beds, a need to admit patients stuck in overcrowded ERs, the emergency department protection fund to hire doctors, keep ERs running, open Cobequid Medical Centre 24/7 - and add three more beds, mind you - and ministerial accountability for emergency departments.

[Page 1542]

So far the minister has met the obligation to hire an ER advisor, but downloading a minister's responsibility to a consultant shows no leadership by this minister. Mr. Speaker, my question is, when will the NDP honour the commitments that they made to Nova Scotians, or is the minister content to break election promises and blame someone else?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I've already indicated, the budget that we just passed on Monday, our first budget, had in it three components to address the emergency room situation here in metro: a 13-bed intensive medical care unit, additional family medicine beds, and a Rapid Response Unit, in addition to the work that Dr. Ross is doing around the province.

I remind the member that Dr. Ross in his interim report indicated that one of the first priorities that needed to be addressed if we are to address the problems across the province was to address the problem in the tertiary care facility at the Queen Elizabeth II. Mr. Speaker, that is entirely what this government is doing, and we will see improvements as a result of the budget that passed on Monday.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, on January 24, 2009, in a ChronicleHerald article, the member for Halifax Needham stated this regarding the Code Oranges, that ". . . the hospital and the government have known about the root causes of overcrowding for years and have not acted quickly enough." The current minister also stated, "I proposed a new response system three years ago and it met with ambivalence, which is why we got to where we were . . ."

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, if you had all of the answers in 2006, what's stopping you from implementing them now that you're the Health Minister in a majority government?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, I've laid out the actions that this government is in fact undertaking, and this will have great benefits for people in the province in terms of the emergency system.

Mr. Speaker, before this House rises, sometime in the coming months, it is my intention to table here a report that flows from the Ministerial Accountability Act that we introduced in the Fall. I want to say to that member, this is a member who sat in the Ministry of Health for numerous years and did absolutely nothing to address this problem, and in a fairly short period of time this government is taking very concrete action that will result in significant changes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

GAMING: RESPONSIBLE GAMING DEVICES - DETAILS

[Page 1543]

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. The Video Lottery Informed Player Choice System has been in effect in some form or another for the past several years. The Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation's 2008-09 Annual Report states that the IPCS was to complete its rollout in 2009-10. It is now Spring of 2010 and the IPCS has changed its name to the My-Play System, and an update on this initiative would be warranted.

My question to the minister, has the rollout been completed? Are there now so-called responsible gaming devices on all VLTs in the province?

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for an excellent question. The system will be rolled out and my understanding is that the rollout of the system will be completed in June of this year.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the players use a card that gives them information about how much time and money they have spent on the machines. If they use their cards, players have the options to set limits. Problem gamblers, gamblers at high risk to develop a problem, even those with a moderate risk to develop a problem, won't find this program effective, as I've heard from very informed sources. They may know how long they've been gambling in each session, they might notice how much they have spent in that particular session but it follows that they will simply increase their frequency. In the end this program will not be effective for anyone who does not already possess a high degree of self-control when it comes to gambling, it does nothing to help the problem gamblers who pump $100 million into provincial coffers.

My question is, will the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation explain just how effective the My Play system is for those Nova Scotians who are or who are likely to become problem gamblers?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, let me say first of all that Nova Scotia is the leading jurisdiction on this matter and that the system has been developed right here in Nova Scotia by a Nova Scotia company. It is a very good question, a very serious question, and it is that we don't know how effective this system is going to be. It is something that I have concerns about, something the member has concerns about. That is why, when it is fully rolled out across the province, it will be carefully studied to see whether it is working as intended or not.

MR. GLAVINE: Well, Mr. Speaker, we hope that this study will see the light of day. From all reports, the system works for those in the no-risk or low-risk categories of gamblers. We should take a moment to consider what that means. It means that this $5 million initiative is targeted to help those who do not actually need it.

[Page 1544]

Access to more information is fine, Mr. Speaker, but these are the people who already are very aware of their play at machines and have absolutely no problem in controlling their gambling. My question to the minister is, how is the My Play initiative effective in any way whatsoever for people who are already at no risk to develop a problem?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I think it is only reasonable for the system to be fully rolled out, to see how it works, to be very carefully studied before we reach conclusions about the effectiveness. The honourable member says that he already knows what the result is going to be. With respect, I think we're going to wait for the full rollout and wait to have the facts before we draw any conclusions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HPP - FACILITIES: FED. FUNDING - AMOUNTS

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. The federal government allocated $19 billion for infrastructure stimulus spending in their 2010-11 budget. Is the minister able to tell Nova Scotians today how much of that $19 billion has been allocated for the health promotion facilities across Nova Scotia?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't have that information with me but I will undertake for the honourable member to see if I can get it.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that and it sounds like there is potentially some money there, so my first supplementary would go to the Acting Minister of Economic and Rural Development.

The minister is keenly aware of the need for available ice time and there is a push for it here in Halifax as of late. Now if a cost-sharing arrangement can be worked out between the federal and provincial governments, and either the municipal levels of government or private investors for Windsor-West Hants, is your department, along with Health Promotion and Protection, prepared to consider investing in a new, multi-purpose athletic facility for Windsor-West Hants that would include a sorely needed hockey rink, an indoor walking facility, and other athletic venues?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member for Hants West for this question. I have not had the opportunity to actually talk to the minister on the topic but I can assure you that when he does return, I'll make sure that your question is brought to his attention because having spent many hours in a couple of those fabulous rinks in your community, we know that they have made their contribution but the

[Page 1545]

historic contribution perhaps should be over at a future time, but I do thank you for the question.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer and then I'll go back for my final supplementary to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. If meetings could be arranged and active interest shown by the local public to get their one-third share raised, is your government prepared to fund the feasibility work required prior to the actual start of a new hockey arena/athletic facility in the Windsor-West Hants area?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, we do have a small program grant in the Department of Health Promotion and Protection to assist with the hiring of some expertise to do a feasibility and some preliminary work. I would encourage the honourable member to secure that information. If he's unable to get it from the Web site then I certainly would be more than happy to facilitate an application to that program.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

PREM.: SELF-MANAGED CARE ALLOWANCE

APPLICATION

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, caregivers in Nova Scotia play a vital role in the sacrifices they make in keeping loved ones at home. At the same time, this saves a tremendous amount of money for our health care system. Caregivers face many challenges in their work, a major one being financial. Many caregivers leave work to care for a loved one and in doing so, they encounter additional expenses.

The Caregiver Allowance Program brought forward by the NDP Government led to a great deal of disappointment for caregivers. Although there are currently 614 families receiving this benefit, hundreds of families were rejected due to restrictions on the program. The NDP campaign promised an NDP Government would implement a program to help caregivers and keep seniors at home. In fact, the Minister of Finance announced a self- managed care allowance for seniors in his Budget Speech.

My question to the Premier is, could he inform caregivers and seniors in Richmond County where they can obtain an application for your promised self-managed care allowance for seniors?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, of course as the member for Richmond knows, we are engaged currently in the important business of getting the budget through and the Financial Measures Act. That is what, in fact, allows the government to go on with its planning. I look forward to the passage of that and will be happy to let the member opposite know the details once the department has had an opportunity to work them through.

[Page 1546]

MR. SAMSON: The fact is, Mr. Speaker, the Premier knows well that there are no applications ready, there is not even a program that has been developed yet by his government as promised.

The Minister of Health and the Premier went to great lengths this past Fall to criticize the Caregiver Allowance Program, saying it was put together by the previous Tory Government, yet they have failed to make any changes to the program to allow more Nova Scotia families to qualify. The proposed NDP self-managed care program will apparently allow seniors more flexibility than the provincial Home Care Program, but only seniors who are waiting for placement in a long-term care facility will qualify. At the same time, funding will be limited to 250 seniors.

The Premier should know that seniors often make application for long-term care when their caregivers are no longer able to take care of them at home. In many cases, caregivers can no longer afford to keep the loved one at home, therefore the proposed self-managed program is not meant to keep seniors at home, it is simply meant to assist them while they await placement in a long-term care facility. My question to the Premier is, will he explain to caregivers why his NDP Government has abandoned them?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it's quite the opposite but I will ask the Minister of Health to respond to the member's question.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, seniors are very important to this government. We've been developing and implementing a number of initiatives in the Department of Health. We have, for example, eliminated security deposits in long-term care, which was one of our election commitments. We do have the Caregivers Allowance Program of the previous government, which we went forward with and implemented back in August.

We have been doing an evaluation of that program and a consultation with many stakeholders around the province to get their feedback on the program and they are very favourable about having a caregivers allowance. In addition to that, this government made a commitment to have a self-managed care program that we would bring forward in this year. That particular program is currently under discussion and development in the Department of Health and as the details are finalized, we will certainly be sharing them widely, including with members of this Assembly.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the former Liberal Government had the In-home Support Program which provided a direct financial monthly benefit to caregivers in Nova Scotia. The Tory Government came in and cancelled that program. Since that time, caregivers have been waiting for the government to provide them once again with some form

[Page 1547]

of financial support and, yes, Mr. Premier, I assisted enough families getting that program, it was to help take care of seniors, keep them at home, keep them out of nursing homes, and save taxpayers money at the end of the day. That's what it was meant to do and that's what it did.

Nova Scotians know that the Premier spent 11 years in Opposition seeing the plight of caregivers, seeing the plight of seniors who were trying to remain at home, and knowing what the problems were, only to be told today they are still contemplating what a program will look like. So my final supplementary to the Premier is, after 11 years in Opposition and seeing the plight of caregivers, how much longer is it going to take before you help caregivers in Nova Scotia in keeping loved ones at home?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we made a commitment to the people of this province that we would develop this program in this year. We will do that. I will hand the question over to the Minister of Health who can more fully explain the process to the member.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm not one to defend the former government for many of the things they've done, but I want to say to the honourable member that the former government cancelled that program because of one big flaw in that program. People who were receiving that money had to come off the wait list for long-term care, even when that is profoundly what they needed. So that was a very good thing to do because people do need to go into long-term care.

We will be rolling out the new In-home Support Program as it is developed, and we will go through a very detailed analysis and consultation process so that we ensure we have a program that will get it right, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

TIR - PAVING: PC GOV'T. - COMMITMENT CONTINUE

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you will be for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Through you to the minister, the previous government made a commitment to repave 2,000 kilometres of Nova Scotia roads over a four-year period. My question to the minister is, is he still committed to that goal and those very important projects that were previously announced under that program?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. Coming into government as a new minister, of course, it is important for us to review and look at some of the earlier commitments, particularly when we're looking at the amount of roads that we're responsible for across the province. I've heard from members of all Parties in making sure there's a continuing commitment, a commitment that I have given

[Page 1548]

to any of the members of this House, and the members of the public, that we will do as much as possible with the money that's available, and in as timely a fashion as possible.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, I have a letter here from Mr. Dara Bourgeois, which I have provided a copy to the minister, and I will table. Also I have a set of photographs that were provided by Mr. Bourgeois, through me, to the minister which I provided him as well. In fact, in this letter Mr. Bourgeois is offering a visit to the minister, if he so wishes, if he wants to go for a nice drive this summer down through the Lower Maccan area of Cumberland County. I'm sure the minister would be pleased, I know he has been there himself before, but Mr. Bourgeois wanted to highlight the issue about the Joggins Fossil Centre. Of course, it has the designation of a world heritage site in that area of our beautiful province.

My question to the minister is, can he tell me and the residents of the Lower Maccan Road if they can expect to see any paving on this very bad stretch of highway this construction season?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member opposite. I, too, have received correspondence from Mr. Bourgeois, and it's really of some importance as the member continues to lobby on behalf of his constituents. A picture is worth a thousand words but I can assure those pictures indicate the fact the Lower Maccan Road is a road I'm familiar with.

In fact, I want the member opposite to know I'm going to take him up on his offer because this summer I will have visitors from Alberta, they want a tour of Minudie, River Hebert, the Lower Maccan Road and, more importantly, they do want to go to the Joggins Fossil Centre because, after all, it is significant part of the province. I'm looking forward to the opportunity, I'm looking forward to working with Mr. Bourgeois. A member of my staff will be meeting with him. I'm sure you know the thoroughness of the people in Cumberland South and North who work with the concerns with the residents of that community.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his very forthright answer. The minister would know, I've talked to him before about the many projects in Cumberland South including Trunk 4 through the Wentworth Valley, Trunk 2 leading from Southhampton to Parrsboro, Lake Road in Cumberland, Wyndham Hill, and of course Route 242 which leads from Maccan towards the Joggins Fossil Centre, including the Lower Maccan Road. I'm asking if the minister will give consideration to these projects which are very worthwhile and I know some of them have been partially completed and the residents are looking forward to completion. Will the minister commit to meet today to review these projects I've brought forward on behalf of the residents of Cumberland South?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thought you were going to break into a verse of Hank Snow's I've Been Everywhere. But I do appreciate the fact you're doing your job

[Page 1549]

and we're not in estimates, we didn't have the time to be able to stand and go over some of those important priorities.

The member opposite has brought forward his concerns in the past. He's brought them forward in this House, more importantly he's brought them forward to me in a written form and I appreciate how, in his thorough way, he's done that. I want the residents of those particular areas that he's mentioned - I've travelled some of those roads for summer travel - those will be reviewed as time comes along. Let me assure you, the people of those particular communities, especially that Wentworth highway, will be taken care of in a timely fashion.

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

EDUC. - EXPENDITURE MGT. INIT.: REDUCTION

- INFO. TABLE

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. During estimates I requested information from the minister re the reduction in departmental spending as a result of the Minister of Finance's Expenditure Management Initiative. At that time, the minister indicated she would table the information. My question to the minister is, have you tabled that information and, if not, could you table it by the end of Question Period today?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm a minister who keeps their commitments. Part of the reason that it hasn't been tabled is that we don't have all the information yet. Some of it will be known after the consultations with the school boards as they develop their budgets. Certainly, as those budgets are finalized and we can develop that list, it will be tabled in this House and also a copy will be made available to the honourable member.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, parents and educators deserve to know what changes are happening within the Department of Education and while some changes may well make sense, others could have a significant impact on the provision of programs and services delivered to both schools and to students. My question to the minister is, can you tell us the names of individuals who were charged with the responsibility of determining reductions in the Education budget?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know the names of those individuals but I'm assuming it comes under the senior executive director of corporate services, Mr. Youden, who accompanied me here during estimates. I'm sure he has assigned some of that to his staff but also the deputy minister has taken a very active role in maintaining a close working relationship with the superintendents as I do with the school board chairs. It's at different levels that these discussions are going on. I'm sure the honourable member recognizes that

[Page 1550]

improvements and changes to a system as complex as public education in this province happen every single day. I'm not sure if we made a list, I think we'd have to kill a lot of trees in this province, but we'll try to condense it into the major changes and when that information is available, it will be tabled.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I don't doubt for a second that expenditure management is an easy process to manage. Government has set itself ambitious targets - they have reduced a total of $52 million this year in departmental savings and they are poised to reduce departmental spending by another $198 million next year. Can the minister please tell us how much in savings was found in her departmental budget this fiscal year?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if she's talking about the efficiency reduction or if the honourable member is talking about the expenditure management review. The expenditure management review is actually in a very preliminary, early stage so the decisions have not been made around that process, but I certainly could get a list of the efficiency reductions for the Department of Education, understanding that of course most of the money that comes into the department is forwarded to third party groups like the universities, the community college, the public libraries, and the school boards. So the department itself has a very small administration budget, but if the honourable member is looking for that list we could certainly supply it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

TIR - HWY. NO. 101 (ST. CROIX-GARLANDS CROSSING):

PAVING - DETAILS

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. I want to compliment the minister for proceeding with the paving of the newly constructed stretch of Highway No. 101 between St. Croix and Garlands Crossing. Coming in each morning I notice the vehicles out there working, evidently preparing to pave this eight-kilometre section, widening another dangerous stretch of this highway. Does the minister know when the paving is actually supposed to begin and when motorists can expect to be travelling on that stretch of Highway No. 101?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I am aware the important priority this project is in the Valley. I am under the impression that as soon as we are ready for some asphalt, that will be the number-one project in the Valley. Hopefully, as soon as it is completed, after some appropriate road testing, motorists will then be on it. It is an important stretch of road, you have brought it to our attention in this House on numerous occasions and it will be done this summer.

MR. PORTER: I thank the minister for that answer. It has come to my attention that talks are underway prior to the issuing of another new tender concerning the construction of

[Page 1551]

a new roadbed between Garlands Crossing and Exit 5A, which is the Windsor-Wentworth Road area, the town limits. Is the minister able to tell me today exactly when this tender will be called and construction possibly started on this stretch of Highway No. 101?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you to the member opposite. Mr. Speaker, when it comes to this time of year, the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister often feels a bit like Santa Claus, because everyone is interested in what gift they're going to get under the tree and the gift arrives in the form of a tender. (Interruption)

I want you to know that although I don't need any encouragement from the member for Cape Breton Centre, I know that it is always important when tenders arrive on my desk and the fashion of how it proceeds. My executive assistant has made it very clear that when a tender is signed, there will be a timely fashion when it appears in the local press and the minister is committed to the fact that you or the members on this side of the House, as a member of this House, you will be informed that the tender has been let.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister again for that answer. My final question is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

If we get the stretch done that I was just referring to, that will only leave a stretch between Exit 5A and Exit 7, which is the Falmouth area. You have to cross the causeway, and I know the previous government was undertaking an environmental assessment report prior to anything happening with the causeway. Does the minister feel this environmental report could hold up the final leg of twinning between Exit 5A and Exit 7, or will the causeway be just left in its original form and twinning stopped at Exit 6 and then picked up again at Exit 7?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Now the member opposite, I want to continue if I may, Mr. Speaker, with the Santa Claus analogy. So the Christmas gifts have arrived - and I don't want to use any first names here - but the recipient of the gift is not satisfied with what he or she has received, and when that begins to happen Santa says he is not going to return to that particular Christmas tree again. Let's be clear, the member opposite should be very gracious and thankful, that if you still believe in Santa Claus he'll be back before the paving season.

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

NAT. RES.:- CLEAR-CUTTING - NDP POLICY

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'll get right to my question with the short time - whole tree harvesting and clear-cutting, very much out of step with past NDP policies. In fact, on several occasions the NDP tabled a bill that would have banned clear-cutting as a harvesting method unless it can be shown that no other form of harvesting can be justified.

[Page 1552]

For instance, in December 2007 it was introduced by the member for Pictou West; in July 2006 it was introduced by the member for Pictou East, now very much silenced; and in May 2006, April 2003, and May 2001 it came from the member for Hants East, now our current Minister of Natural Resources. My question to the minister is, is this bill introduced several times by the NDP still the policy of the NDP Government?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that NDP policy is certainly still along those lines. The strategy process that we have engaged in as a government, and certainly as a department, is coming to its final conclusion. At some point in the very near future, those recommendations from the strategy will be available for the member and for all members of the House to have a look, and my staff in my department will be charged with the job of writing policy along the lines of the recommendations.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'd say I am being waved home. Thank you.

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

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. During Question Period today the member for Dartmouth East said that the Minister of Community Services voted for the budget for personal gain, and we believe that's imputing motive. I would ask you to rule on that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I believe if you check the Hansard record, you'll find I did not say that. I just indicated she voted for a budget which included a tax break, which obviously in her income she would be beneficial to, so I would suggest you check the Hansard.

MR. SPEAKER: I will take it under advisement at this point in time.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 593.

[Page 1553]

Res. No. 593, re Fish. & Aquaculture: Fish - Grow - notice given Apr.22/10 - (Mr. H. Theriault)

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

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to stand today and speak to Resolution No. 593 concerning the Georges Bank area. As you may remember, last week I spoke about Georges Bank a bit and the dangers that the weather can bring to that bank out in the middle of the Atlantic with the depth it has on each side of it and the shoals show water at the top of it.

This week, to this resolution, I want to speak to the dangers of what an oil spill could do if oil was ever drilled for on this bank. I want to tell you what lives on this bank and how this bank works and what it does for the whole Gulf of Maine - not only the Georges Bank, but the whole Gulf of Maine, the United States, New Brunswick and most of Nova Scotia. It doesn't really include the St. Lawrence - that's something we really don't know about, but it could even include the Gulf of St. Lawrence - but the Gulf of Maine is a big area.

I want to start off by telling you that Georges Bank is a nursery in the middle of the Gulf of Maine. It's a nursery 140 miles long and probably 50 or 60 miles wide. It's a huge nursery, and I'm going to tell you why I believe it's a nursery, because scientists still really don't know. Scientists are saying these last few days that they need to have this moratorium lifted so they can go out there and study this a little bit more, to see what lives there and what doesn't live there, and when it spawns and when it doesn't spawn. My grandfather before me told me how Georges Bank worked and I'm telling my children right now how it works.

I scallop fished in the Bay of Fundy for 10 or 12 years out of my 40 year career in the fishery. I see us scallop fishing in that bay and in that bay catching a few baskets of scallops each tow, day in and day out, all over that Bay of Fundy . All of a sudden, Mr. Speaker, these small scallops would show up out of nowhere, big as a toonie or as big as a loonie. Where did these scallops come from overnight? Overnight they would show up in the Bay of Fundy, not big enough to save, very, very tiny, but it was the future and we knew it was there. It was a miracle that they all landed there, baskets and baskets full. Overnight this happened. In about three years when they got up into that bay, the Bay of Fundy especially, in the shoal waters, the warmer waters, in three years these scallops were ready to keep. You could go out there and get 2,000 to 3,000 pounds a day of these scallops and we watched this cycle and cycle over time.

Well, Mr. Speaker, these scallops never came from Heaven, well, I suppose part of Heaven maybe, they came from Georges Bank. They came from Georges Bank and the bigger scallops that are on Georges Bank never leave that Bank. I'm looking at the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture over there and he is nodding his head, yes, he knows exactly what I'm talking about. The big scallops on that bank stay there and they spawn. I'm not sure

[Page 1554]

when they spawn. I know that the haddock and cod and pollock on that Bank spawn from January to June, you will find the most, in the groundfish. But I've caught scallops on that Bank with spawn in them in the Fall, spawn in them in the winter, spawn in them in the Spring, they're just there all the time and they spawn.

As they spawn in this big, huge nursery out in the middle of the Atlantic, nature spins those little ones off as they grow up. The spat, when they get into the water, comes to the surface, just like the lobster and then it goes to the bottom and somehow the currents, the ecosystem of Georges spins them off over on to the Maine shore, spins them off into the Bay of Fundy, spins them up to the Eastern Shoal, above Browns, on German Bank, St. Marys Bay. Some spawning goes on in our inland waters but our main spawning area is Georges Bank. The same thing happens with lobsters.

Now, I haven't got much time here, Mr. Speaker, but we've done the same thing. You'll see, especially these past few years, our young fellow is out there fishing or coming in and saying, Dad, overnight these little three- or four-inch lobsters came out of the blue. They are caught in the wire, caught in the meshes of the net and the same thing, these lobsters, the main brood stock of lobsters stays on Georges Bank and they just continue to spawn until they die off and then another lobster replaces it.

The holes that I talked about last week in the Corsair Canyon, that was their home, to stay there and just spawn and put these small fish into the whole Gulf of Maine. It was just amazing. My father told me before that and his father told him the stories and we see it. When you live out there on the water, Mr. Speaker, you see it.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, there is a lot more I could talk about, I could talk about this for a while. There are the whales, there is the Greater Shearwater, a bird that never ever comes to shore in North America, out there. I've heard you talk about whales and the tuna that's there but the Greater Shearwaters come from North America. They go down south in the winter and the only place they go ashore is South America. They have their babies and in the Spring they come back to the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, the Bay of Fundy, but you'll never see one within a mile of our shores anywhere. It is amazing what's out there.

For something to happen on that bank, as has happened down in the Gulf there right now, Mr. Speaker, would be a disaster. I don't know what would ever happen. But I'll tell you what I would do if I was making the decision. If I was making the decision to open that Bank for exploratory reasons to look for oil and gas, I would ask myself two or three questions. The first question I'd ask is, what is going to be more important on this earth in the next 50 years - food or oil that we're trying to wean the people off of on this earth?

The second question I'd ask myself is, what is going to happen if we open this moratorium, take this moratorium off and the Americans don't? Are we going to go in there and hurt our relationship with the United States while we're exploring and looking for oil

[Page 1555]

and they are not and they own three-quarters of the Bank there? What is that going to do to the relationship of these two countries? I'm telling you, it will create a war, that's what I'm telling you.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my place. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the member opposite for bringing forth this resolution. It is an important issue, it's a sensitive issue and I also am aware of the fact that it is an emotional issue. I do know that my colleague from Shelburne, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and I on many occasions have had this conversation and as the minister who is going to be advising my Cabinet colleagues eventually on the decision, I want you to know that I have listened very carefully to the member opposite. I share his passion, I don't share his personal experience but I do want him to know, as I am sure he does, that I am listening. Good decisions are made on the basis of good information.

I also want the members of this House to know that people be assured as the minister responsible, I am continuing to ask those tough questions, I am continuing to ask questions on this issue and many other questions. As a teacher, I've said to my staff in whatever department I'm representing that day, there's no such thing as a dumb question, just keep asking them.

I'm going to continue asking those questions. More important, I'm going to continue as you have urged me to do, member opposite, to ask the questions of myself. Those are questions that I have to answer eventually and take this recommendation on to Cabinet.

The moratorium is still in place on Georges and we understand why some people feel so strongly about keeping it. When the moratorium was extended, the government of the day committed to the following- and it is important for members in the House and members opposite to get these important points in our Hansard. When the moratorium was extended, the government of the day committed to the following: encourage fishing and patrolling interests to work together; to carry out more work to develop and gather information on the Georges Bank ecosystem, particularly regarding fishing and petroleum activities and technologies.

We've been told they're getting better but are they good enough? There's a question, member opposite, I ask myself and I ask my staff. We also must continue to make efforts to work with the United States of America. I want members opposite and members of my

[Page 1556]

caucus to understand that is exactly what the Department of Energy has been doing and that's what I've been doing as the Energy Minister.

In order to make the right decisions, you need the right information. I can assure the members of this House, I've received lots of information. There are many occasions when I take home those briefing books, the first and probably most important thing I've turned to is Georges Bank - the science, the media coverage and some of the letters and e-mails that I've received from constituents of the member opposite and members from my side, as they continue to lobby the minister.

Research on the environmental, economic and social impact of Georges needs to be conducted before a decision can be made. That, of course, is underway. Do we need to do some work to better understand the environment and the surrounding ecosystem? No decision should be made in haste, including the decision about a public review and, of course, the moratorium itself. That decision needs to be based on facts and we need more of them. I understand the passion, and passion is important but at times, as a minister, I step back and say to myself, do we have enough information?

I speak for every member of this House when I say we value and respect the ecosystem; we value and respect the fishing industry; we value and respect our oil and gas sector. Those all have to be balanced as we are going to make this decision.

You realize the Sunday Herald - while I had the opportunity to be in New Waterford and in Dominion this past weekend - had a front page article. When I returned home that evening - actually it was very late in the evening but I won't give you the specific time because we drove back through the night - I had a number of messages from people who wanted to talk to me about the front-page comment that the Minister of Energy had made about Georges Bank. I said at that time, I'm listening, and I'm open to listening, as we continue to make the decision. I mean the opposite side of that would be, I've closed my mind, and I'm not going to listen to anyone.

[5:00 p.m.]

As a minister, I'm obliged to make sure that I have the opportunity to listen to the member opposite, and he knows I'm listening to him, and to listen to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, of course, who is a member of our caucus, but to listen to Nova Scotians generally. The decision is going to be made in a timely fashion and it's going to be the right decision.

In 2008, the province granted $500,000 to two offshore research associations to conduct scientific research, to fill in the gaps identified in the 1999 Georges Bank Review Panel Report. They can speak best to the nature of the research, but I know they're looking at a number of important issues. From what I understand - and that's the key point, and I

[Page 1557]

think all members of this House have to understand this, I will be the first one to tell you I don't have all the answers, but I continue to have a lot of questions.

From what I understand, the first research project is conducting an independent, third party review. That project outlines the current state of the knowledge on the science and issues that led to the 1999 panel's recommendation to extend the moratorium. The consultant is also doing a preliminary review of issues related to potential environmental and socio-economic impacts on the offshore petroleum activities off Georges Bank, if such activities were to be permitted at all. I want the member opposite, and I want members of this House to understand that it's important when you're making these decisions, that you take the time to clearly review the literature, you clearly look at the responses, and then after that, I guess, I take my eventual recommendation to my Cabinet colleagues.

The second study is assessing technologies and practices in the offshore exploration, drilling and production. All of these are important. It's assessing the reliability of the technologies and practices, that environmental risks are adequately addressed. That's the balance. I never could do what the member did the other day, as he did a workout, but I can tell you, as I sway unevenly on my bad knee, that's the balance. That's the balance that I'm going to continue to look at. That's the balance that I will eventually have to decide on.

The research associations want to take existing seismic records, they want to digitize them so they can better evaluate the resources of what's happening on Georges Bank. Estimates on the potential for discoveries vary. The OETR is undertaking research to update reserve estimates, using modern software to interpret historic seismic data. The process has accessed the 1980s data that was on tape, and with current technology is digitizing, reprocessing, and analyzing seismic data from Georges Bank.

I know those are all words that I'm reading from a prepared text, but I take the time to make sure that they are out there, but those are some of the things that I, as the minister, am responsible for and, of course, DFO was involved. The DFO and the federal government have a role, and this is not going to be one of those times where I'm going to say I'll defer to anybody, but I will defer to the people who are the experts. I will defer to the people locally, who understand the issue best, and I will defer at times, when it comes to the fact that the member opposite knows well, as the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture knows well, I am listening. Since Georges Bank is partly under the jurisdiction of the United States, I'm watching what has happened there - another very important issue.

Our commitment is to keep the public informed about the progress. Our commitment is to make sure we continue to listen to the public with this issue, and I want you to know, and I assure all members of the House the Georges Bank decision is one that will have the full attention of the Minister of Energy in this province. Thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

[Page 1558]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it's my honour to stand to speak a few moments to this resolution. I want to thank the Liberal Party for bringing this one forward. The minister spoke very well of the true nature of this situation. He said it's going to be a very emotional issue.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure him it is going to be an extremely emotional issue in southwestern Nova Scotia. I know that as we get closer to it, and I'm starting to hear it today, and have been hearing it for a number of years now, are we going to extend the moratorium on Georges Bank? The member for Digby-Annapolis spoke very well of what Georges Bank is. Georges Bank is a wondrous place of what it can do and what it has provided to generations of Nova Scotians. The fishing villages that dot our coasts for the last 100 years or more have depended on the riches of Georges Bank for their livelihood. Even today communities all through southwestern Nova Scotia, whether it is the Pubnicos, the Wedgeports, Long and Brier Islands, the Meteghans and Saulniervilles, Woods Harbour, Shag Harbour - these all depend solely on the riches on Georges Bank.

Now this has been an issue that has been floating around since the 1980s, when Texaco first expressed their interest in drilling, looking at the resource, seeing what is on Georges. There are a number of tapes, there was some initial seismic done but Mr. Speaker, even today we cannot be certain what is on Georges Bank. Is it some light crude? Is it some heavy crude? Is it gas? Is it nothing at all?

What seismic does is, it will show where there is a possibility of salt dome, where it will look at the geology of the area to see if there's a capability to hold hydrocarbons at the bottom of the ocean. So, Mr. Speaker, we don't know today what could possibly be on Georges Bank. Which brings me to this issue - we can look at the tapes, we can look at the information that we do have but what is going to happen is that there are going to be companies that are going to make requests to do further seismic work on Georges Bank.

Now, Mr. Speaker, here is where the science gets fuzzy. As we know, when we get fuzzy science, people can play either side of that information. The fuzzy science is that we don't know the effect of seismic work on fish stocks. We don't know, the scientists will tell you they don't know. Does it affect them? Does it affect the young? Does it affect crustaceans? Does it affect finfish? We don't know. I would ask the minister to find a scientist who would dare say one way or another, or not counteract the information that another scientist has brought up.

I can say from the work when I was Minister of Fisheries, that work that was happening off Cape Breton and the science work that we had them do at that time, it was a

[Page 1559]

stalemate - well, we think there might be, in fact, but we're not sure. Is that good enough for the coastal communities of southwestern Nova Scotia?

I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, no, it is not. That is just the seismic part of oil exploration, not to say if that should go forward, should we find a hydrocarbon there and we put up a rig. Now I've said before that this is a wondrous place but it is not super large. I would say that should we get to that point maybe there will be one rig there, maybe there will be two but the risk of that rig is too great.

They said in the Gulf of Mexico, ah, there will never be a disaster. It is too safe, the technology is too good, look at what we have. Well, I think we proved them wrong - I don't say "we" but I mean it was proved wrong. There was a humongous disaster just last week. I forget the name of the rig that basically blew up and sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. There are millions of litres of oil now bubbling up from the bottom of the ocean, through the drill hole that was there.

Where would that end up, Mr. Speaker? It would be a disaster far beyond anything we've seen before and Nova Scotia has seen a number of disasters in oil rigs, oil tankers going ashore and cleanups having to happen, but they've been localized. They have been in bays and we have been able to clean them up. I know today, even out - I forget the name of the point just off of Halifax here and I forget the name of the boat that actually sank off there, but there still today you can find hunks of oil drifting on the beach, or you can dig and you can find it. It's still (Interruption) The Arrow, that's right. Thank you to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for that one.

The point I'm trying to make is there's nothing that's 100 per cent, and the people of southwestern Nova Scotia - the people in my riding, the people who depend on the fishery for their livelihood - will not accept anything but 100 per cent. The science might say it's 50 per cent - you know, there's a 50-50 chance or there's an 80-20 chance or a 90-10 or a 99.9 per cent chance it will never happen. A 1 per cent is still too much. It's still too much for the wondrous gift we have in Nova Scotia that is Georges Bank.

I know that there is science to do, but I think the inevitable is still upon us. We are going to expend a lot of time, hundreds of thousands of dollars, I would probably guess, to come to the conclusion that I think all of us know in our hearts. I hear it from the people from one end of this province to another - it is too great to jeopardize the future of Georges Bank with the possibility of another oil boom. I don't think it's there, I don't think we should jeopardize it, and I think we should just do the right thing and extend the moratorium on Georges Bank. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 1560]

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to stand and speak on this very important issue. I'd like to start somewhere where the member for Argyle left off. He mentioned the Arrow, and as many members will know, that's one of the many sites around Nova Scotia that I've spent a lot of time diving on. The interesting thing over the past few years is there is an oil tanker that is very quickly collapsing, actually took quite a bit of impact from Hurricane Juan, and is now actually the focus of some concern about whether the remaining oil in those tanks will leak onto the shores around Arichat and the Canso area. As a matter of fact, when you dive on the Arrow now, you can see oil leaking from there at times.

The first job I had after I finished my Marine Biology degree working for Fisheries and Oceans Canada was actually to monitor air gun testing off Sable, just before Sable Gas started. Everybody was worried about whales at the time, because the issue with whales was whether it would disrupt migratory patterns in what was being looked at as a whale protection sanctuary. In the end, while it didn't affect the migratory patterns, what has been found in recent studies - including one by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association in 2004 - was that the seismic air guns can actually be heard up to 3,000 kilometres away underwater by hydrophones, and also disrupt the foraging and feeding behaviour of small marine species that tend to stay in the same area. Of course, those can include filter feeders like scallops, as well as some of the crab and some of the other animals that are well-known to inhabit Georges Bank. In particular, they've noted that marine mammals - and we all know that Georges Bank is the site of a lot of marine mammals - can have impacts in terms of hearing and so forth.

It's also worth noting that when I worked for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the fishermen used to tell me, when I'd go to Yarmouth or down to Pubnico, the stories of jumping in the water when the Gulf Stream came close enough with turtles that would be coming through. Of course, we all know that Dalhousie has had some significant turtle research done out of there.

This is one of those things that I've heard the argument said, well, the technology has come a long way in the oil and gas industry, and it has, but I'm not sure it's really come all that far in the past 10 months, and that's what frustrates me. We only need to look at the very tragic accident that has occurred now down in the Gulf of Mexico to see the worst case scenario of what can happen.

We know very clearly that Yarmouth and many of the towns and villages along that shore owe their creation to Georges Bank in many respects. These fishing communities actually were created solely because Georges Bank was so close. Yes, they've come along with other industries and so forth, but fishing remains a primary one, and I don't think there is any argument that we should be risking that.

[5:15 p.m.]

[Page 1561]

Interestingly, on March 31st of this year, Barack Obama, the U.S. President, issued a seven-year stay of exploration, they're calling it, in the U.S. on Georges Bank. That will take the rules of having no exploration on Georges Bank right to 2017. It's interesting now to watch the headlines that have appeared in U.S. newspapers. The Minister of Energy talked about receiving his information on the briefing in the media, and I hope they're including some of the U.S. newspapers where you have headlines, for example - and I'll read a bit of this and table it.

In Cape Cod Today, the headline was "Experts Fear Moratorium on Georges Bank Will be Lifted," and it talks about - there's not much time, so I won't read from it, but the minister can read this and I'll table it. There's concern in Cape Cod, wondering what's happening up here, since Republican and Democratic senators and representatives are working together in the State Legislature in Massachusetts and elsewhere to achieve long-term moratoriums. They won that battle for Georges Bank.

As a matter of fact, at a time when Barack Obama opened up the possibility of seismic air gun testing in the offshore and inshore waters around much of the States, he specifically excluded Georges Bank until 2017. So to me the question is, if there is oil and gas there, in commercial quantities - and let's remember there were 10 wells drilled by the U.S. on Georges Bank and they all came up as uncommercial quantities. We can't assume that there are even commercial quantities there, but let's assume there are - it's not going anywhere. It's going to be there in 20 years, in 50 years, in 100 years, and maybe by then the technology will have changed. Maybe the technology will have improved.

Technology hasn't changed substantially in the past 10 years in the oil and gas industry to make it worth the risk on Georges Bank. We look at it and we say, what is unique about Georges Bank? We heard some of the stories from the member for Digby-Annapolis the other day, and there is something unique about Georges Bank. It is one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world.

I've had the privilege to be underwater in a lot of the more productive ones, including the Great Barrier Reef, which is up at the top. Well, Georges Bank is in there with the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea, the Blue Hole down towards Belize, and so forth, that are some of the world's most productive sites for fisheries.

This is not just about Georges Bank, this is about areas that allow some of the other areas such as Roseway, off Sable, to be productive. We know just from the tourism business that you have the whales migrating through that area, and why are they migrating? Because of the high levels of plankton, which then go on to support everything from scallops to marine fish.

Interestingly, there was a gentleman on CBC Radio this morning - the minister may have heard - who was talking about the average size of cod that live and are produced on

[Page 1562]

different fishing banks around Nova Scotia, and they've shown now that the cod that come off Georges Bank - obviously not that many cod left - but they are larger coming off Georges Bank than they are on any of the other major fishing grounds off Nova Scotia. That's attributed to the high plankton content, the location of the Gulf Stream, its geographic significance, and so forth.

There's well over 400 years of fishery in that part of the world, in that part of our province, and we should be proud of that. Between 1976 and 1982, there was a lot of concern that there was going to be drilling on that bank, a lot of concern. That's when those exploratory wells were drilled on the U.S. side; that's when they came up dry. We have reached international agreements with the U.S. on the line there, on our fisheries and everything else. So the question becomes, why would we even consider not now being a partner and matching their efforts on the oil and gas side?

We try to co-operate and match one another's efforts on the fisheries side, not always perfectly, but we do what we can, and we should be doing exactly the same thing when it comes to the oil and gas side. The president of the United States has issued this effective moratorium until 2017, and why would we not say, we're going to match that in lockstep? Guess what? The technology that they use in the U.S. in oil and gas is exactly the same as the technology that's used here.

This is too much of a risk. There are risks worth taking and there are risks that are not worth taking - and this is a risk that is not worth taking. As I said, the oil and gas isn't going anywhere and if one day there is some really safe way to do this and we are all absolutely 100 per cent certain, just like the member for Argyle suggested, then maybe we would go for it. We're not there yet - and we are not even there yet to allow the seismic air-gun testing, in my view, which also has the potential to have disruptive effects.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the minister as he comes to his decision, and the Minister of Environment as well, live up to the commitments they made in Opposition - don't allow drilling on Georges Bank.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Official Opposition.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 481.

Res. No. 481, re SNSMR Min.: Cabinet Income Tax Cut - Justify - notice given Apr. 20/10 - (Hon. K. Colwell)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 1563]

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased today to have the opportunity to speak to Resolution No. 481. The essence of this resolution is that in the process of changing the income tax structure in Nova Scotia we have actually moved to one of the five levels where in fact there has been a tax reduction. This is in the process of removing the surtax which has historically been part of our income tax structure in Nova Scotia.

So what in effect has taken place now is that the category between $93,000 and $214,000 will have some tax reduction with the actual salary of $150,000 being the one with the best return of over $1,000. This is either a very calculated process to give this particular group of wage earners in our province a tax break, or it's part of unintended consequences with moving to a fifth level and trying to push some of the tax burden out to those making over $200,000 - and we know that's a very small group of Nova Scotians, actually less than 7,000 Nova Scotians who are in that wage area.

The issue, however, as we put this in context is that if we are losing this tax dollar from the $193,000 to $214,000 wage earner group, and perhaps not collecting from the upper fifth level of taxation, you know that we have to pay for this somewhere. Income tax, as the minister will confirm, is a very significant part of the revenue of Nova Scotia and we want to at least be receiving the same amount as we have historically.

So what has taken place is that the majority of Nova Scotians - we all know that over 0.25 million Nova Scotians actually earn between $30,000 and $34,000 in actuality that won't get some tax relief up to $93,000. This is the bulk of wage earners in Nova Scotia and they're the ones who will, in fact, be taking on the greatest burden of the HST. So the HST is in some ways perhaps, you know, a compensatory process for not getting the tax generated through the upper middle class and beyond the $93,000-plus earners.

This is a tax now that, in fact, will, I think, bring an additional burden to the families of Nova Scotia, the very families that the NDP in Opposition and during the campaign said they were going to provide a much better deal. We're going to see that with every purchase, this 15 per cent will be identified with this government every time that cash register rings up the 15 per cent. It will be registered strongly in the minds of Nova Scotians that it was a tax that the minister and his government calculated would bring in revenues to make up for those that are actually getting a tax break.

This was a group of wage earners that most of the members of this House fit into. Certainly the ministers and others that I have talked with over the last couple of weeks since the budget came in, did not expect to receive a tax break. They, in fact, had words to the contrary; that, in fact, they expected that they could very well be in the tax bracket that would receive some additional costs to them with this particular budget.

Mr. Speaker, it's important that Nova Scotians understand this, that they continue to reflect on the fact that wage earners in a tax bracket with a very strong income, who are able

[Page 1564]

to afford many more amenities than the middle class, the primary working class of this province - they have been given a tax break. Furthermore, those who are in that majority group who are taking a look at this and know that starting on July 1st, with every additional purchase, they will be paying more. There will be more coming from their pockets. It is pocketbook issues that I have certainly found, since entering public life, that do impact very strongly on how people view government.

I know that as this goes forward over the next number of years, we will continue to hear from Nova Scotia that, in fact, there was another course of action that government could engage in. I think the idea of a comprehensive tax review to find the best areas where Nova Scotians perhaps could have a little bit more of a tax burden justified and certainly not an area where high-income earners would actually receive a tax break. I think it's very much contrary to what we heard from the NDP in Opposition and I think it goes against basic NDP philosophy of protecting families and the working class of Nova Scotia So that's why we brought this resolution forward. Again, it was based on what we had heard from Nova Scotians in the first couple of weeks following the introduction of the budget.

Today I feel very strongly that I'm presenting a voice for many, many Nova Scotians. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honorable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to thank the member for his intervention on this point. It seems to me after listening to the honourable member that he may have missed, really, the context of the budget. So, I would just like to go over that for his benefit and for the benefit of other members one more time.

[5:30 p.m.]

When this government came into office, we inherited a substantial financial mess. The previous government had tabled a budget on May 4th, the same day that an election was triggered, that they claimed was balanced but was not. As I have recounted for the member for Inverness both in Question Period and during estimates, there were a number of things that ought to have been included in that budget and were not. If the amount had been accurately tallied in that May 4th budget, it very clearly would have been out of balance.

But, Mr. Speaker, when we came into office, the problem turned out to be more difficult even than that. We commissioned two reports: one from the group Deloitte and another one from an expert advisory panel. I heard a member of the Opposition - I can't remember which member - attempting the other day to dismiss the expert advisory panel because it doesn't fit in with their political message track so they were trying to dismiss it.

[Page 1565]

I just want to review with people who was on that panel. These are four of the best, most respected, economic and economic development minds in the region.

It included Elizabeth Beale, the President of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, a widely respected and very experienced economist. It included Tim O'Neill, a Nova Scotia native who went on to a distinguished career, laterally working as a chief economist for the Bank of Montreal, now retired from that position and we're very pleased that someone of his calibre was able to work for us on that expert advisory panel.

Lars Osberg, long time and again very well-respected member of the Department of Economics at Dalhousie University, one of our many superior universities in this province; and chaired by Mr. Donald Savoie, who is a professor at the Université de Moncton and is probably the most respected economic development expert not only in Canada but in the entire British Commonwealth. He has that high a reputation. He chaired this Economic Advisory Panel.

So it is a little difficult, I think, Mr. Speaker, for members of the Opposition to stand up and airily dismiss the findings of this panel. These were four very eminent, very well-respected people.

Among the many things that they helped us to understand, Mr. Speaker, was that the province was facing what they call a structural deficit, so that goes beyond a one-year snapshot in time of a particular budget. Their point was that this was the kind of a deficit where there was a fundamental mismatch between revenue and expenditure so that even when the recession was over, the budget would not get back to balance. What they said was we have to tackle that structural deficit. There has to be a realignment of expenditure and revenue. They went on to make some suggestions about that and how that might happen. So we took that analysis as a launching pad for our own analysis of what we needed to do and where we needed to go.

In the budget presented - it seems like a long time ago, Mr. Speaker, but really, it is only a few weeks - we laid out our plan for the Province of Nova Scotia. We laid out our plan about how we're going to get back to balance, what we need to do to get there because we believe, fundamentally, that it is critical that we deal with that structural deficit, we bring the books of the province back to balance and at the same time relieve the pressure that causes expenditure and revenue to get out of alignment, as they had done so badly under the previous government.

So as part of our plan, Mr. Speaker, we said that of the $1.4 billion gap identified by our expert advisory panel, that's what they said the deficit would be if we did nothing within three years, it would be $1.4 billion. We have said that we will find savings and efficiencies amounting to $1.1 billion. Now that is an enormous undertaking but we're ready for the challenge. We have shown in stepwise fashion how much we're going to find each year and

[Page 1566]

as a part of the budget documents we have sketched out where that money will be found. Now, it's not the sort of thing where you can just snap your fingers and take $1.1 billion out of the budget.

Now, as the member for Inverness likes to say, we should have balanced the budget with no revenue increases, and as I like to say back to him, that means he needs to find $437 million in immediate cuts to expenditures - immediate, right now, today. As I said to that honourable member in estimates, if he thinks that we can take $437 million out of a budget without anybody noticing and without anybody getting hurt, I think he's missing something, because we know that that's not possible.

We have chosen a path that will get us back to balance in four years, because during the Back to Balance consultation process - the most extensive financial consultations in the province's history - the people of the province told us they want to get back to balance, but they did not want their government to go too far too fast. No matter what room I was in across the province - 19 public meetings, at least 12 other meetings, almost 1,000 written submissions - it was clear that the broad consensus was to get back to balance in three to five years, so that's what we're going to do. We're going to find that $1.1 billion on the expenditure side, leaving $300 million to be gained on the revenue side.

When you consider what it is that our provincial government does, or any provincial government does in Canada, you have to realize that really what we spend the money on is health, $4 billion per year; education, $2 billion per year; community services, $1 billion per year; interest on the debt, which was run up not by myself and my colleagues but was run up by the other guys before we ever set foot in a ministerial office, $1 billion. That's $8 billion out of the $9 billion already. That's what the provincial government does.

There is a limit as to how deeply, reasonably, responsibly, and with compassion you can cut expenditures and at what pace you can do it. That's why we also accepted the recommendation of our eminent expert advisory panel that we needed to do some work on the revenue side. What the panel also pointed out to us was that really there are two own-source items that are within our control, and because the structural deficit left to us by the previous government was so large, we had to deal with those issues.

To cut a long story short, we found during the Back to Balance consultations that when people had the facts laid out for them and had the options to consider, they felt that the best and most responsible ways to raise revenue was through the HST and higher income tax, by adding a fifth tax bracket. They understand that the purpose of the exercise, the reason for the government to do this, is in order to be able to continue to deliver high quality health care, high quality education, to continue to support those among us who are least able, to continue to have excellent transportation. That's what people expect from their government, and that is exactly what, with this budget, this government is going to deliver.

[Page 1567]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm continually amazed at the description, the slagging this government does to the previous Progressive Conservative Government. You know, eight balanced budgets - those are actions, and Dr. John Hamm gave Nova Scotians their first balanced budget in 40 years in 2002-03. The people know that, and actions speak louder than words.

I will agree with the minister that it was time to address the expenditure side of the budget, but this budget did not address the expenditure side. Now, on the minister's panel, Tim O'Neill - a gentleman he had mentioned, he's a fellow St. F.X. grad - indicated the budget could be balanced in two years with measures targeted towards expenditure. So even on the minister's own panel there was indication that this budget was closer to balance than he would like Nova Scotians to believe.

I'm pleased to rise to speak on Resolution No. 481. Yesterday I got on the elevator and I had to laugh - there was a gentleman standing there and he must have recognized me from my time in the Legislature here and he said to me: "We voted for the NDP and now we're wondering what we stepped in." It struck me funny - and I don't see too many people laughing on the other side, but it did strike me funny. He was upset about the tax increases imposed on Nova Scotians by the government, and that is essentially what this resolution is all about.

Now, while the NDP did eliminate a surtax for those earning $83,000, they did create a new top marginal tax rate in excess of 50 per cent, and that means when people who are earning that kind of money go to work, the harder the work the more they are taxed. When they reach a threshold of income of $150,000, more than half of every dollar they earn that day will be taken by the NDP.

Now why would I be so concerned about people who are earning $150,000 a year, Mr. Speaker? Some would say they are rich, some would say let's put the wood to them because they make enough money - tax them and don't tax me. I tell you, I am concerned about top income earners because there are many people in our province who are very important to our economy, not just to our economy but also for our physical well-being.

I think of physicians and surgeons - I've mentioned the example in this House before - these people give up a tremendous amount of their life to become educated for their fields, then they give up a lot of their life, time away from family, to work at the hospital and they work very long hours. I wonder how they're going to feel when they know that for every dollar they earn when they're working those long days they're giving away over half of it to the government anyway. It destroys incentive.

[Page 1568]

I think of entrepreneurs, and ultimately we should be trying to reward entrepreneurs, not penalize them by increasing taxes, not penalize their efforts, not penalize their creativity and their innovation because these are the people who take risks to start business, Mr. Speaker. They may begin to ask, why take the risk?

So what if we lose these people? Well, chances are we're probably not going to lose them because they love Nova Scotia ,like we all do, and they're probably not going to move away from here. What happens when we get the reputation of the province that taxes you more than any other? Could we use that as a tourism slogan, Mr. Speaker? I don't think we can - high taxes discourage people from locating to Nova Scotia. They discourage the very people who we need to come here.

When business leaders see a province ranked number one for having the highest taxes in the country, in the case (Interruption) Well, in some cases we do rank first in some categories. And in the case of the HST, I've heard that we actually rank first in North America with having the highest consumption tax. (Interruption) Well, we have it right now with this 15 per cent - we have the highest consumption tax in North America. When business leaders see a province with a reputation for high taxes, they may choose not to locate their business here.

I think the members on this side of the House would find that very unfortunate because those are the businesses that we depend on - they employ the very people who vote for us. They are the people we represent here in this Legislature. When those people lose, we all lose because we're losing employment opportunities, we're losing employment, jobs - and jobs are exactly what we need in Nova Scotia. When people have the dignity of work, when they have the income to provide for their basic needs and the needs of their families, many of life's challenges start to fade away. People are happier, and if you ask someone serving on any of our police forces I'm sure they will tell you that when people are gainfully employed, and they have money to look after their essentials, the rate of domestic crime decreases.

Higher taxes do not help people at any socio-economic level in our society. The government sees the harm in higher taxes, their actions have admitted that. They tried to shield people earning less than $30,000 a year from the HST by providing them with a rebate. But while they will protect these people from the immediate pain of high taxes, they cannot protect them from the effect higher taxes will have on our economy. Higher taxes will ultimately mean fewer jobs. Fewer employment opportunities for these people to enjoy.

[5:45 p.m.]

There is another group of Nova Scotians that I want to tell you about, the working class, the middle class, teachers, nurses, entrepreneurs, farmers, fishermen, tradespeople. All of these people are trying to pull the cart, the economy of Nova Scotia. How are higher taxes

[Page 1569]

going to affect them? I think the best way to visualize this is something that's called tax freedom day. For Nova Scotians who don't like numbers, it may be easier for them to visualize that they work each year from January into the month of June and all of that money goes entirely to the government in the form of taxes. The rest of the year, they can work for themselves.

Although we need a system of taxes to pay for the services that we receive from government - we need that, people who are sick need help. We need money to be expended on our roads so we can get to work and to our places of play. We need to pay for things like national defense, the federal government pays for it. We need taxes, but let's not get carried away. Let's not get greedy and just assume, as this government has and some of its supporters have, that it's okay just to tax people. Tax them a little bit more because it doesn't really make a difference. It's just another 2 per cent.

But people know the difference. We pay excise taxes on fuel, tobacco, alcohol, we pay income taxes on our earnings, we pay customs duties on products that come into our country. We pay sales tax, 15 per cent now, the increase in the HST. The Progressive Conservatives have voted against these tax increases on behalf of the people, because we believe the people pay enough.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure and displeasure I get up and speak today on this Resolution No. 481, the resolution I put forward indicating the NDP Government did put a tax break in place for the Finance Minister, for the Premier and all the Cabinet Ministers - a substantial one; at the same time, adding taxes to the people in the province who can least afford to pay.

I was recently in New Brunswick and at that time the difference in the price of gas was seven cents a litre. This HST will drive it up another two cents and that would make it nine cents a litre. That's going to make businesses uncompetitive in Nova Scotia. Uncompetitive. Think about that.

The government continually appoints union representatives to boards and more and more payoffs to the unions for the donations they've made to the NDP over a number of years. I don't know what the trade off is here, but I can tell you, this 2 per cent is going to hurt Nova Scotia badly.

The question that you want to ask people and I've been asking people, they don't realize 2 per cent doesn't sound like very much but it's a tax after tax. As the Finance Minister pointed out, it's a bit lower than Prince Edward Island is, but what's the good of being No. 2 in North America with the second highest consumption tax in North America. If they go to a harmonized tax, their tax will probably be lower than ours.

[Page 1570]

We have an expert panel saying it's a great idea to do this and I wonder if that expert panel could talk to a family who has just come back from the grocery store and they don't have the extra $200 that they need - because they cleared $10,000 that year - to buy the groceries that month. I wonder if that expert panel could do that. I would imagine the members on the expert panel won't be in that situation with the incomes typically they would have.

What about being able to buy fuel? Fuel for your home, think about that. For every $10,000 you clear, you're going to lose $200. A working family, husband and wife working, and say they clear $40,000 between them, $800 a year they do not have to spend on essentials. Now, $800 could make one monthly mortgage payment and buy a tank of oil. It can buy a lot of things. Guess what? You're not going to be able to buy those things anymore, and that means it's going to put a stress on the system. In the meantime, the Finance Minister, the Premier, and all the Cabinet Ministers give themselves a tax break. So it won't really have an effect on them because they're going to have less income tax to pay, and therefore it's going to pretty well nullify the 2 per cent GST increase.

So when you look at that and you see the impact it's going to have over time, it's going to take quite a while for people to realize. When July comes, it won't be too bad; the Fall comes, it won't be too bad; but probably in a year's time they're going to realize, I can't buy this now that I need for my family. The NDP kept on saying "a better deal for today's families." Well, the better deal is being seen - the deal that charges people more for everything they buy.

Prince Edward Island - the minister talked about Prince Edward Island, where all clothing and footwear is tax exempt. Gasoline is cheaper in Prince Edward Island. I guess it just depends on how you look at the tax regime and what's going on. I ran a business for a long time, and there are probably not a lot of members on that side of the House who have run a business. I can tell you it's tough running a business. If you add 2 per cent and you try to sell your product outside the province, you'll just see how competitive you are - you're not. If you add all the other costs and all the other things that this government has added to this, you'll soon see that, indeed, Nova Scotia is not going to be competitive, and if you're not competitive, that means you don't employ people.

So you'll have more people on welfare, more people leaving the province to get jobs in other areas, and that kills our economy. We can't afford to lose that expertise, the expertise that we've worked so hard to get in our schools and our universities, and you wouldn't think it would have that kind of effect, but I believe over time it will. So if you have a price difference of gas in New Brunswick between 5 cents and 9 cents, come July 1st, that's serious. That is serious. That means that every tank of fuel that a business buys or a commuter buys to drive back and forth to work costs them more money - more money - and it actually adds to our inflation. Our inflation is going to go up.

[Page 1571]

There's talk now about interest rates going up. So as interest rates go up, it's going to be more and more difficult on families. If you take $300, $400, $800, or even $1,000 which this tax will do, out of a total family's cleared income - that's income after you pay all the taxes, all the income taxes and everything else, it's after-tax money - you're going to take the buying power away from people who are going to have to decide what they're going to buy. They're going to have to decide what they're going to buy.

As they make those decisions, things are going to be serious for some families, because most families today, by the time they pay for the programs that they have their children in, pay for the vehicle they have to travel back and forth to work in, and pay the mortgage on their home, have no money left over. So you take a sum of $200 to $800, depending on your income, out of your system, that you don't have to spend, it's going to make it more and more difficult for people to pay their bills. We'll probably see more bankruptcies down the road from this, and it won't be immediate. It will not be immediate, but it will come.

Every time you put a tax on it's regressive. So if it means that people don't have that kind of income to spend, they're going to spend less money buying services. Maybe they're going to have to put off doing the renovations on their homes, as we've seen with the recession that we've been going through. I don't believe that recession is totally over yet. The stock markets again are in a downward trend, and they're talking about raising interest rates in the province and in the country.

As those things happen, it's going to be more and more detrimental to the people, and as it gets more and more detrimental, it means they can't do their renovations on their homes. That means they don't employ that carpenter. He doesn't have the income to pay his staff who work for him. It means they can't get the repairs done on their vehicles that they need to do. It means they can't go buy a new vehicle, and a lot of these issues are coming. They will come. So if you take that kind of income out of a family of two, with children, all of a sudden you will see this negative impact on the economy.

There have been studies done years ago on negative taxing. Once you get to a certain point with taxing, what will happen is it will have a negative impact on the economy. So what is this going to be? Well, did we hit that point yet? I certainly hope not, but if we did, the economy will slow because of the tax. We'll have to wait and see if that really does happen. I sincerely hope it doesn't because if it does, that means we'll be creating a recession in our province. To get a business to come here now, it is pretty difficult anyway because by the time you pay the property taxes, particularly in HRM, for a business and you pay all the other fees and all the other things you have to do in this province, it's not very attractive to set up a business here. It is more attractive to go to New Brunswick now, quite frankly, and with a better tax regime and a more co-operative organization there that wants to see businesses grow in their province and, as a result of that, their economy grows.

[Page 1572]

It's so important that we realize how much of an impact this is going to be. Again, I stress that for every $10,000 a family clears, it is going to cost you $200. So a family of four with two wage earners that clears $40,000, that's $800 you will not have to spend on the necessary items you will need for your family to ensure that your family gets a proper education and is healthy and can have the food that they need to buy.

You see these advertisements on television, a person turns the lights on and the roof goes off, so it is either shelter or electricity. I think we're going to be faced more and more with that type of a problem in the province. I think that this is the real crux of what is going to happen and, at the same time, we've seen the Premier and the Finance Minister and every minister who made the decision on this on the other side here get a serious income tax break on their incomes. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to retract a comment that I made during my earlier remarks. Upon further thought I think it was a rude comment and it has bothered my conscience. It was one that shouldn't have been brought to the floor of this House. I would like to retract it and I would like to apologize to the members opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the honourable member. (Applause)

The honourable House Leader for the Official Opposition.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that completes the Official Opposition's business for today. I will now turn it back to the Government House Leader for tomorrow's business.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the House Leader for the Official Opposition for that scintillating debate.

Mr. Speaker, bills for tomorrow will be Private and Local Bills for Second Reading. We will be calling Bill No. 43 and Bill No. 49, the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club Act, also Public Bills for Second Reading, Bill Nos. 22, 35, 38, 47, 51 and 52.

That concludes our business for today, Mr. Speaker. I move that we do now rise to meet tomorrow from the hours of 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon.

[Page 1573]

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 from 12:00 noon tomorrow until 8:00 p.m. Thank you very much.

[The House rose at 5:59 p.m.]

[Page 1574]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 824

By: Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

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

Whereas on Sunday, May 2, 2010, family, friends, and the community will gather at Acadia Hall in Lower Sackville to celebrate the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Lloyd and Ida Maxwell; and

Whereas they were married on May 2, 1960, at the Sackville United Baptist Church on the Old Sackville Road in Lower Sackville; and

Whereas Lloyd and Ida's family and friends want to congratulate them on reaching this milestone;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Lloyd and Ida Maxwell on celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary on May 2, 2010, in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 825

By: Hon. Ross Landry (Justice)

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

Whereas after nearly three decades of service, Town of New Glasgow engineer, Bob Funke has retired; and

Whereas Mr. Funke has played a key role in the development of the community's long-term sustainability plan and has played a leading role on many of New Glasgow's environmental projects; and

Whereas Mr. Funke has not only helped improve the Town of New Glasgow, when changes were taking place in Westville, Mr. Funke took on the role and shared his experience with the Town of Westville as well;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognize the important contributions of Mr. Bob Funke to the revitalization of the

[Page 1575]

downtown, and his help with the redevelopment of the New Glasgow waterfront. Mr. Bob Funke has worked tirelessly for the residents of New Glasgow and his experience and expertise will be missed.

RESOLUTION NO. 826

By: Ms. Pam Birdsall (Lunenburg)

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

Whereas April 28th has been recognized by the federal government since 1991 as a Day of Mourning, commemorating workers whose lives have been lost or injured on the job site; and

Whereas the annual observance of this Day of Mourning aims to strengthen the resolve to establish safe conditions in the workplace for all; and

Whereas the South Shore Labour Council is holding their Day of Mourning Ceremony on April 28th at 7:00 p.m. in Bridgewater, with all welcome to attend;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the importance of workplace safety for all Nova Scotians, Canadians, and workers around the world.

RESOLUTION NO. 827

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas a beautiful mural was completed by well-known artist Deborah Taylor of Liverpool, Queens County, for the new addition at the Mariner's King Inn in Lunenburg taking viewers through the depths of the ocean; and

Whereas the mural painted on 10 panels, has been delivered and will be installed later this Spring; and

Whereas the thirty-seven feet by six feet mural will be visible when riding the glass elevator in the new addition called the Cranberry Annex;

[Page 1576]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Deborah Taylor of Liverpool on completion of her mural to be installed in the Cranberry Annex of the King Inn in Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 828

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the Lunenburg Queens Volunteer Partnership has recognized the many hours of volunteer service a member of Greenfield, Queens County has given back to his community; and

Whereas Harry Nelson joined the Greenfield and District Fire Department over 34 years ago and has been the Fire Chief since 1985; and

Whereas Harry Nelson continues as a member of the Maritime Fire Chiefs Association and is the EMO Coordinator for Queens;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the many hours of volunteer service Harry Nelson has given back to his community through the fire department and as EMO Coordinator in Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 829

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas Rotarians in Western Nova Scotia reacted quickly after the earthquake in Haiti; and

Whereas clubs in Yarmouth, Middleton, Kentville, New Minas, Wolfville and Windsor have put their efforts toward "shelter boxes"; and

Whereas the objective was to raise enough funds so every Rotarian could say they provided shelter to at least one Haitian and with 200 members in the clubs, this meant raising $20,000;

[Page 1577]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate these Rotary Clubs in Western Nova Scotia for their relief efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 830

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas hundreds of concerned business owners, residents and community leaders travelled to Halifax to demonstrate their support for a ferry service in Yarmouth; and

Whereas this government sat behind closed doors, ignoring the passionate remarks by community leaders, labour leaders and tourism leaders; and

Whereas the minister himself refused to entertain this group in public and chose to meet with a small delegation only to comment that they were not interested in revisiting the subject;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly agree this government and this Premier should stop talking out of both sides of their mouths and tell the people of Nova Scotia what their real plans are for rural Nova Scotia.