The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 10-30

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

FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TIR: New Hbr. Lundy Rd. - Resurface,
Mr. J. Boudreau 2133
Environ.: Sewage Sludge (Biosolids): Usage
- Moratorium Declare, Mr. G. Burrill 2134
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1157, Norton-Brunelle, Sherry: Rd. Safety - Contribution,
Hon. W. Estabrooks 2135
Vote - Affirmative 2136
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1158, Lucentis: NDP Gov't. - Fund.
Hon. S. McNeil 2136
Res. 1159, Red Cross Day (05/08/10): Contributions
- Recognize, Hon. K. Casey 2136
Vote - Affirmative 2137
Res. 1160, Walter Duggan Elem. Sch.: WOW Reading Challenge
- Congrats., Mr. C. MacKinnon 2138
Vote - Affirmative 2138
Res. 1161, Inspiring Lives Awards: Nominees - Congrats,
Hon. S. McNeil 2139
Vote - Affirmative 2139
Res. 1162, Kirkpatrick, Michael: Hockey Achievements
- Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 2139
Vote - Affirmative 2140
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 1163, Yakimchuk, Clotilda: CBU - Honorary Degree,
Mr. G. Gosse 2140
Vote - Affirmative 2141
Res. 1164, Gulf of Mexico - Oil Spill: BIO Assistance
- Commend, Mr. A. Younger 2141
Vote - Affirmative 2142
Res. 1165, Bourque, Adelbert and Jacqueline - Anniv. (65th),
Hon. C. d'Entremont 2142
Vote - Affirmative 2142
Res. 1166, Margaree Vol. FD - Vol. Tribute: Recipients
- Acknowledge, Mr. A. MacMaster 2142
Vote - Affirmative 2143
Res. 1167, Holland Liberation Celebration: Windsor Contingent
- Applaud, Mr. C. Porter 2143
Vote - Affirmative 2144
Res. 1168, Paul, Chief Terry/Christmas, Dan/Membertou Band Coun.:
Commun. - Econ. Success, Mr. A. MacLeod 2144
Vote - Affirmative 2145
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 7, Pharmacy Act,
Hon. G. Steele 2145
Mr. L. Glavine 2147
Hon. C. d'Entremont 2150
Hon. M. Samson 2152
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 2155
Vote - Affirmative 2155
No. 68, Public Utilities Act,
Hon. R. Jennex 2156
Hon. M. Samson 2156
Hon. R. Jennex 2157
Vote - Affirmative 2157
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Nat. Res. - "A Natural Balance: Working Toward Nova Scotia's
Natural Resource Strategy", Hon. J. MacDonell 2157
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO A CWH ON BILLS AT 10:14 A.M. 2158
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 10:20 A.M. 2158
CWH REPORTS 2158
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 52, Insurance Act,
Hon. G. Steele 2158
Mr. L. Glavine 2159
Mr. C. Porter 2160
Mr. A. MacMaster 2163
Ms. K. Regan 2166
Vote - Affirmative 2168
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Private and Local Bills Committee, Ms. M. Raymond 2169
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 43, Congregation of the First Baptist Church of Canard
Vote - Affirmative 2170
No. 49, Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club
Vote - Affirmative 2170
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Hon. F. Corbett 2170
Adjourned debate 2173
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 1, House of Assembly Management Commission Act
Hon. F. Corbett 2173
Vote - Affirmative 2174
HOUSE RECESSED AT 11:17 A.M. 2174
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 11:27 A.M. 2174
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Landry 2174
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Landry 2175
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon. May 10th at 4 p.m. 2176

[Page 2133]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I call today's session to order.

We'll begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

MR. JIM BOUDREAU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I beg leave to table a petition from the Guysborough-Sheet Harbour constituency. The operative clause is:

"We the undersigned, petition the Government of NS to recognize the years of neglect to 'The New Harbour Lundy Road' and respectfully request this road to be resurfaced."

I have affixed my name to this petition, as well, and there are 291 names besides my own.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 2134]

2133

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. GARY BURRILL: Mr. Speaker, may I make an introduction before presenting this petition?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. BURRILL: Thank you. We are joined in the House today by Fred Blois. Fred has been a leader for a number of years in developing and encouraging citizen engagement around the question of the agricultural use of biosolids. Fred is a resident of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and an important part of the NDP constituency there. I would ask Fred to please stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

MR. GARY BURRILL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on the subject of biosolids, signed by 277 residents of the province. Its operative clause is as follows:

"We the undersigned, residents of Nova Scotia, respectfully petition the Government of Nova Scotia to declare an immediate moratorium on the use of sewage sludge (biosolids) on Nova Scotia lands and to adopt with minimum delay safe options for sewage sludge disposal or destruction."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature to this petition as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, before I begin my resolution, is it possible for me to introduce some guests in the gallery?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

[Page 2135]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery there are two noted guests and an Oldtimers' teammate of mine, all constituents of Timberlea-Prospect. I would ask them to stand as I introduce them - and I'll be reading a resolution about one of them in particular.

Sherry Norton-Brunelle is in the gallery, along with her daughter, Erin, and her husband, the noted, ill-reputed Oldtimers' hockey player, Clark Brunelle. I welcome you to the Legislature today and I wonder if the members could give them a warm welcome - and he's not a Bruins fan. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1157

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

Whereas Sherry Norton-Brunelle has been a valued member of the Road Safety Advisory Committee since 1997, sitting initially as the chairman of the Child Safety Committee and then moving to the role of liaison to Transport Canada; and

Whereas the RSAC provides leadership and advice to government on current and emerging road safety issues; and

Whereas as a former researcher with Dalhousie University's Vehicle Research Safety Team, Ms. Norton-Brunelle retired in February after more than 21 great years in the road safety field;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly recognize Ms. Sherry Norton-Brunelle for her dedication and contribution to road safety, and wish her all the best in her well-earned retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2136]

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1158

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

Whereas Lucentis is a groundbreaking treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration, an eye condition that is the leading cause of blindness in Canada; and

Whereas this treatment not only stops the progression of vision loss of AMD, it improves the vision of those affected; and

Whereas the NDP Government of Nova Scotia is the only provincial government in Canada that has failed to invest in the importance of eyesight and the quality of life for hundreds of its citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP Government fund Lucentis, and in doing so acknowledge that this investment will not only control spiralling health care costs in the future but will improve the quality of life for those who, without coverage, will face a lifetime of blindness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

[Page 2137]

RESOLUTION NO. 1159

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

Whereas May 8th is Red Cross Day, celebrated annually on the anniversary of the birth of Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross; and

Whereas the Red Cross, a humanitarian aid organization with over 97 million volunteers, operates all over the world, playing a critical role during times of crisis; and

Whereas this occasion gives us the opportunity to reflect on the incredible contributions the Red Cross has made to the international community since its founding in 1863;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly take the opportunity to recognize the Red Cross for its many contributions in Canada and abroad, and thank its many volunteers for selfless dedication to helping others during times of need.

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 Pictou East.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, before doing my resolution, may I make an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

[9:15 a.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: We're very pleased today to have in the east gallery my constituency assistant, Pat Ryan, but we have an extra special guest with Pat today. His name is David Cameron, a name that is certainly being heard throughout Britain today as well.

[Page 2138]

David Cameron is a resident of Westville, he is a member of the class in the skills development program at Summer Street Industries. As an aside, David, in the last election campaign racked up many, many, many miles for me distributing literature on his bicycle and everywhere I went, I found my literature in doors. Even in my own house, I found literature that David had distributed. (Laughter)

I'm not making a speech here but I have to say (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I have to say that David's class, today, is watching Legislative TV because they know that David is here today. So I want to beg leave to say hello to Summer Street Industries in Pictou County and I want to hear applause that can be heard throughout Pictou County today, so a very warm applause. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome all of our visitors here today and hope they enjoy the proceedings of the House, even those who are listening at home.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1160

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

Whereas the WOW! Reading Challenge is open to all schools for students between Primary and Grade 6; and

Whereas the reading challenge is international and supported through the library system and policing agencies and has proven to be a primary tool in reducing the number of youths who end up in the court system; and

Whereas Lieutenant Governor Mayann Francis will present the top award in this year's challenge on May 14, 2010, to the Walter Duggan Elementary School in Westville, Pictou County, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate the principal, staff and especially the students of Walter Duggan Elementary School for this worldwide achievement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2139]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1161

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

Whereas each year the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Mental Health Association, Nova Scotia Division, join forces to host the Inspiring Lives Awards; and

Whereas the 6th Annual Inspiring Lives Awards held on Thursday, May 6, 2010, honoured 12 outstanding individuals from across Nova Scotia who were recognized for their achievements while living with a mental illness or addiction; and

Whereas each nominee has shown great perseverance in overcoming obstacles while at the same time inspiring others in their own respective communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly extend their congratulations and appreciation to the 2010 Inspiring Lives nominees, and congratulate the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Mental Health Association, Nova Scotia Division, for their support in reducing the stigma associated with mental illness across 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.

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

[Page 2140]

RESOLUTION NO. 1162

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

Whereas the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is a training ground for many of the National Hockey League's up-and-coming stars; and

Whereas Michael Kirkpatrick of North Sydney, who plays centre for the Saint John Sea Dogs, currently leads the Q-League in playoff scoring with 27 points; and

Whereas 19-year-old Michael was in the top 10 of all Q-League scorers during the regular season;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Michael Kirkpatrick for his scoring achievements, and wish him and the Saint John Sea Dogs the best of luck in their battle against the Moncton Wildcats in the 2010 President's Cup Finals and continued success with his hockey 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.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1163

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

Whereas on Saturday, May 8, 2010, Cape Breton University will confer an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Clotilda Yakimchuk ; and

[Page 2141]

Whereas Clotilda's distinguished career and exemplary record of community service spanning that of nursing professional, mentor, activist, and role model have left a legacy in our community; and

Whereas Cotilda received the Order of Canada in 2003, served as the only Black president of the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia, and played an instrumental role in the university campaign to offer its own nursing degree;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Clotilda Yakimchuk on her honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Cape Breton University, and for her dedication and commitment to her community and her nursing profession.

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1164

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

Whereas the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank in the Gulf of Mexico in late April, causing a continuing oil leak; and

Whereas the Deepwater Horizon well is leaking 5,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico, increasing concern for wildlife and the many people who rely on the Gulf for their livelihoods; and

Whereas Ken Lee, Paul Kepkay and Zhen Gkai Li of the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography are heading a Canadian effort to assist with the cleanup efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly commend the efforts of Ken Lee, Paul Kepkay and Zhen Gkai Li for helping with the oil spill

[Page 2142]

cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico, and recognize these individuals as excellent ambassadors for Canada and 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 Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 1165

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

Whereas anniversaries are an occasion for family and friends to gather together to celebrate the life of two individuals united as one; and

Whereas an anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday and the hopes of tomorrow; and

Whereas on April 12, 2010, a very special occasion took place when Adelbert and Jacqueline Bourque celebrated their 65th Wedding Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Adelbert and Jacqueline on this remarkable milestone in their life together and in wishing them many more happy years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2143]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1166

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

Whereas the Margaree Volunteer Fire Department recently paid tribute to its volunteers for their dedication to their community; and

Whereas the fire department especially recognized Greg Gillis, John Gillis, Cyril MacDonald and Gordon Phillips who are retiring after many years of outstanding service; and

Whereas these gentlemen, along with all of the volunteers of the Margaree Volunteer Fire Department, have generously given their time to help those most in need;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly acknowledge these volunteers for the valuable service they provide to their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1167

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

[Page 2144]

Whereas members and veterans of the Windsor Royal Canadian Legion Branch 9, Myron and Frances Phillips, Gordon and Dorothy Martin, and George and Ruth Muise are in Holland with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Chief of Defence Staff General Walt Natynczyk, and the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands celebrating the 65th Anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands; and

Whereas the warm relationship which exists between Canada and the Netherlands can be traced back to difficult days at the end of the Second World War; and

Whereas 6,000 Canadian soldiers either perished, were wounded, or were captured in this gruelling but successful campaign that became a critical step in the liberation of Northwest Europe and the end of World War II, and the First Canadian Army joined the Allies in a fierce push through mud and flooded ground to drive the Germans eastward out of the Netherlands and back across the Rhine;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of the Windsor and area contingent of veterans who made this trip to Holland to recognize the important role Canada played in the liberation of the Netherlands while also remembering those who have served and continue to serve this great country of ours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1168

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

[Page 2145]

Whereas just 15 years ago the Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton was on the brink of bankruptcy, with a $1 million deficit and an unemployment rate of more than 90 per cent; and

Whereas thanks to hard-working and innovative thinkers such as Chief Terry Paul and Dan Christmas, the Membertou Band Council's senior adviser, this community of 1,200 people now has an employment rate of 73 per cent and a $65 million operating budget; and

Whereas thanks to Paul and Christmas' long-term strategy for Membertou, with developments such as the Membertou Business Park and the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre, the future of this community will only continue to grow and improve;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly acknowledge the excellent work of Chief Terry Paul and Dan Christmas and the entire Membertou Band Council for their strategic thinking in order to turn their community into an economic success story.

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.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 7.

Bill No. 7 - Pharmacy Act.

[Page 2146]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Health, I'm very pleased to stand today to talk on second reading of Bill No. 7, amendments to the Pharmacy Act.

The amendments to this legislation are the result of the collaborative effort and work of the Department of Health and the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists. These amendments will lead to the expansion of the role of pharmacists in the delivery of health care in this province. The proposed amendments will provide legislative authority for pharmacists to administer drugs, including vaccines, and order and interpret certain diagnostic tests to monitor drug therapy.

As a government we are committed to ensuring Nova Scotians have timely access to quality health care for themselves and their families. By expanding pharmacists' scope of practice to include giving vaccines and ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, pharmacists will be able to more completely use their training and skills to better meet the health care needs of Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians will be able to get the care they need faster and with added convenience.

As experts in drug therapy, pharmacists are highly qualified and trained to deliver these services. Pharmacists are the most readily accessible health care professionals for Nova Scotians. They are conveniently located in pharmacies in communities and neighbourhoods throughout the province and are trusted by the people they serve.

Once legislative authority is granted, regulations and standards of practice will be developed to define and oversee the delivery of these services by pharmacists. They will be developed by the College of Pharmacists in consultation with government and other health care professionals, including doctors, nurses, and dentists. The college has been very supportive of the expanded role of pharmacists in these areas. On behalf of the government and on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Health, I would like to thank the college for its leadership.

[9:30 a.m.]

We recognize and appreciate the commitment of pharmacists to play an expanded role in the delivery of health care. These changes will play an important role in alleviating some of the demands on the health care system, in helping to fill some of the gaps in the delivery of care. Allowing pharmacists to administer drugs will provide another group of health care professionals who are able to give vaccines. It will also provide new potential locations for vaccine clinics, conveniently located in communities throughout the province, often with extended hours, if the need for a large-scale vaccination program arises in the future.

[Page 2147]

Pharmacists have the expertise and knowledge to help identify patients who require vaccinations based on their medication or disease risk factors. By allowing pharmacists to order and interpret certain diagnostic tests to monitor drug therapy, they will be able to adjust a patient's medication without requiring that patient to return to their doctor. This collaborative approach to care will create efficiencies in the health system and enable pharmacists to do what they have been trained to do.

These proposed amendments are the first step in enabling pharmacists to carry out practices that are in line with their competencies in drug therapy management. The amendments also update the registration and licensing provisions of the current legislation to satisfy the requirements of Nova Scotia's Fair Registration Practices Act. The registration amendments will allow anyone who has been refused registration or licensing or had conditions placed on their licence by the registrar to appeal to the Registration Appeals Committee.

This government is committed to making the right decisions in difficult times. Our goal with these amendments is to allow pharmacists to provide better care for families. If I may add a personal note, as the son of a professor of pharmacy who, through his 40 years of a professional career, trained two generations of pharmacists in Manitoba, it gives me great pleasure to move second reading of these amendments to the Pharmacy Act. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable minister.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise today on Bill No. 7, the Pharmacy Act. I was hoping to hear from the Minister of Health, but we're satisfied with the replacement, at least for this morning.

We in the Liberal caucus support this bill, or at least the intent of this bill. It is important to say the intent of the bill because, quite simply, we were presented with minimal details around where the Act will actually go. While we have been informed that the bill will establish a regulatory process which will enable pharmacists to administer vaccinations and prescribe certain medications, the whats and hows of this bill have yet to be determined.

There are 1,100 pharmacists in Nova Scotia, all of whom are highly respected members of the health care team. They are knowledgeable and - it goes without saying - our most accessible health care professional. This is the area which all of us in this House and all Nova Scotians are very familiar with, and that is the pharmacists as frontline deliverers of health care, health information, and knowledge backgrounds which every Nova Scotian

[Page 2148]

has the opportunity on a daily basis to go and be the recipient of years of training and years of continuing to learn from their experience.

All of us, I know in our communities, have had the good fortune of having a pharmacist who we can visit and have those kinds of discussions. In some ways this is also really at the heart of the dilemma now around the price of generic drugs, which have enabled the pharmacists and the pharmacies of Nova Scotia and other provinces to actually have a lower dispensing fee because some of the margins that are in the dispensing of generic drugs are actually able to be held at the pharmacy level. There is a great concern now that perhaps there will be some new arrangement - Ontario seems to be a leader in this area. I know at the current time the pharmacists of Nova Scotia are in discussions, deliberations around what will be a new dispensing fee. The one thing that pharmacists will tell you, whether it is in a large chain like Shoppers, or even now we have . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I find there's just a bit too much chatter in the Chamber. It is hard to hear the member who is speaking, so I would ask if you have conversations, perhaps you could take them outside the Chamber.

The honourable member for Kings West has the floor.

MR. GLAVINE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to resume on that theme of the discussions that are currently going on between the Department of Health and pharmacists across Nova Scotia and what a new agreement will be. One thing is very clear, whether it is Shoppers or the Sobeys chain of pharmacies or the independent pharmacist, we know that the current dispensing fee does not match the kind of time, the knowledge, and the actual cost that pharmacists and technicians in our pharmacies across Nova Scotia - what the real cost is to dispense the medications that are required as a result of visit to a doctor, whether it's a recovery period after surgery, after time in our hospitals, whether it is lifelong medications that some people will have due to an illness, due to a genetic disorder, or whatever it may be. The real cost is not necessarily there within the specific medication that it cost the pharmacist for a dispensing fee.

This is going to be an interesting discussion, in fact a potentially contentious issue, that we're now seeing worked out in Ontario. I have read some of the correspondence that has come to our caucus office from pharmacists across Nova Scotia. I've actually had a meeting with several so that I could be backgrounded, our caucus could be backgrounded, on what will be a very significant issue coming forward in the next couple of months here in Nova Scotia.

It is going to be interesting to see whether or not a lower cost of generic drugs will actually result in a higher dispensing fee. Right now the two are balancing out fairly well, but there will be no doubt that if there isn't some compensation that may be lost - to the benefit of consumers across Nova Scotia, no question - on lower costs of generic drugs, but it could

[Page 2149]

come down to a case as to whether or not all of our small, independent pharmacies that exist in small town and rural Nova Scotia would survive. So it is very much an issue of high interest, not just to us here in the House, but to all Nova Scotians.

The big thing, as we all know, in terms of pharmacists and their delivery of solid information on a wide range of medical conditions that people have, is that you don't need an appointment.

In fact, very often, while a pharmacist is not in the business of diagnosing, they are able to provide absolutely first-class science-based, medicine-based information that people in communities all across Nova Scotia can, in fact, find comfort and also find very reliable information for them to make decisions on. They're on the ground, they're working in our communities, and also, again, unlike our medical clinics, pharmacists are there seven days a week. So in most of our communities on a Sunday or a holiday we can go and meet our pharmacist and discuss a medical issue or the possible side effects of a medication that may have been given as a prescription at outpatients, or when they went to visit a clinic, and so this is available again seven days a week. In fact, long after doctor offices have closed, the pharmacy is open into the evening and pretty well 365 days a year.

Pharmacists are medication experts and the most accessible health care professionals and are uniquely positioned to optimize drug therapy and potentially prevent medication-related illness. I know in the community where I live, it's a pharmacist who's actually on the front line of delivery of methadone. We know there are clinics, there are specialists across our province, doctors who will be working with those with a drug dependency through the methadone program, but I know in my community it is the pharmacist who, on a daily, or so many times a week, is actually delivering methadone. So, whether it's a cough syrup with possible side effects, or something more complex, like methadone treatment, our pharmacists are there to be able to assist. They have worked hard to earn this piece of legislation and that is why we are supportive of their efforts today. There is no question we need to use all of our health care professionals, including pharmacists, to their full potential.

Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, is behind the times when it comes to legislating an expanded scope of practice for pharmacists. This year MLAs were the recipients of a first- annual MLA pharmacist evening where we could meet pharmacists from across Nova Scotia. We could meet the leaders in their organization and we could get first-hand information on some of their growing concerns. To hear from the profession was a real evening of enlightenment for all of us and it gives us, I think, a greater understanding of why this bill is important because provinces like Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, B.C., and Ontario have or are working through changes. We have also seen regulations making their way through the process in both Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island. All of these provinces have seen the importance of ensuring patient accessibility. They have seen the importance of a fiscally sustainable health care system as well as the provision of high-quality patient care.

[Page 2150]

I've heard since the current minister has taken office that she believes in a full scope of practice for many of our health professionals who are on the front lines and who can actually expand what they are currently doing because their backgrounds, their training, will allow them to do this safely for the patient and adequately according to the standards of the profession.

[9:45 a.m.]

There is no question we need to adopt new, effective strategies that improve health care delivery and protect our public health care system for the long term. It is time for Nova Scotia to join the rest of the country. However, with an expanding scope of practice comes the need to modernize the compensation framework for pharmacists. This is an area that I had spoken to a little earlier, and do realize that the coming weeks will bring this issue to the forefront in our province. It is one that is critically important to pharmacists as they go about their work, as they try to maintain their presence, even in our smallest communities.

It is my understanding that a new agreement is scheduled to be negotiated between the province and the community pharmacists this year. Regulations and the compensation framework are directly linked - one cannot be considered in isolation of the other. Our wish is that the regulations, which will follow, will occur in a timely fashion. We know in New Brunswick that regulations were in place five months after the tabling of the bill.

We wish the government success in producing these regulations, and ask that the compensation framework take into consideration this expanded scope of practice. We support and look forward to this bill moving along into the Law Amendment Committee process and with these words, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place. (Applause)

MR. CHAIRMAN: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to stand and speak just a few moments on the Pharmacy Act, Bill No. 7. This is a bill that we support. One that we know has been some time coming. One that has been done in full co-operation with the College of Pharmacists.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to health care professionals, there are probably very few professionals that see patients and individuals, that have a better connection to their communities than pharmacists have. You just have to look at the pharmacists that you know in your communities; the Jim MacLeod's of the Pharmasave in Yarmouth; the Genny Prouty's of the Pharmasave in Pubnico, these people that work hundreds of hours taking care of their patients - because they are their patients and especially in rural areas you find, I guess, you would call it, brand loyalty but really it is pharmacist loyalty. Now, that's the pharmacist that I am going to talk to about whether I have a cold, whether I have something

[Page 2151]

wrong with my foot, or whether I have a question about this new drug that the doctor has prescribed to me, and what exactly is that interaction going to be with the other drugs that I'm taking for other ailments that I might have.

Being able to administer drugs and vaccines is one that is a natural progression for this profession. I've always found it kind of ironic, in a way, that you have these individuals who are the best when it comes to the knowledge of drugs in our country. They are the ones who went to school, they're the ones who know the information for all these drugs, and yet when you went into a pharmacy and you said you have a cold - even though they have all of this knowledge and all of this training, they basically have to show you the Tylenol Cold, or the over-the-counter stuff that you're able to take, even though, like I said, they're the ones who probably know more about some of these drugs than even the doctors do.

Mr. Speaker, they are going to be able to order tests now, they are going to be able to extend - a little further - extend prescriptions than they have been in the past, which will take, I think, an enormous load off the health care system, off our emergency rooms, off some of the doctor's office clinics in his province. How many times have we heard, as MLAs, people saying well listen, I had to go down to the emergency room because my prescription for my blood pressure drug ran out and I needed to get another prescription so I could have my drug, and I sat in the emergency room for eight hours waiting to see a doctor? That's ludicrous because you have a pharmacist that has all that knowledge anyway. They are clinicians. They are a health care professional. Why couldn't they do that prior to now? They were very happy to see that happen today.

It does ask a few questions; I know the member for Kings West mentioned them. It is really who is going to be paying for this extra scope of practice? How are they going to be able to pay because of the other responsibilities that they have within their pharmacies as well. You know in some cases if I look at the Pubnico Pharmasave, there is Genny and one other pharmacist really who have to share all the hours that the pharmacy is open, seven days a week. Now what is going to happen really is that in some cases you'll see the pharmacists on the floor more than they are on the floor today. They are going to be talking to the patients more than they talk to those patients today, which means they are going to try to have to backfill pharmacy technicians to do the pill counting. There was always a joke that pharmacists just count pills but they don't, they actually hire people to do that for them. In this case they might have to hire more people to do that for them, in order to cover the time that they're going to be taking care of the patients on the floor.

Mr. Speaker, I question a little bit of what the consultation has been with the DHAs when it comes to ordering certain prescriptions. The diagnostics, the blood tests and those kinds of things need to be done by the district health authorities and, of course, there's an added cost I'm sure that maybe there will be an extra cost of these diagnostics. So where is the money going to come from for that ?

[Page 2152]

What has been the consultation with the other professions? Even though we as MLAs know the stories of people going to the ERs and all this stuff, this is a bit of a revenue stream for our physicians. If you are seeing a number of patients throughout the day, of course you have your patients with very difficult diagnoses, with multiple morbidities, so it takes some time to be with them. You have the quick and easy visits as well, extending a prescription or providing some kind of help. These are the quick things that if you are a physician, you need to have a mix of some quick things you're going to do and maybe some difficult things you're going to do, in order to make sure that you have the right kind of remuneration at the end of the day.

I am just wondering what kind of consultation has really happened with the other professions as well. I am sure as we pass this bill through the House of Assembly, as we hear from these other professions, as the regulations are developed, I know there will be more clarity on Bill No. 7.

Mr. Speaker, I will be a full supporter of any expanded scope of practice for medical practitioners in this province, as we've done with nurses, as we've done with dental hygienists, as we've done with other professions throughout the years. Again, I think this is a natural progression for pharmacists and I look forward to the discussion on Bill No. 7. I thank you very much for having the opportunity to speak to this today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. I'll now recognize the honourable member for Richmond.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is a pleasure to be able to rise and say a few words on Bill No. 7 which is the changes to the Pharmacy Act. I know that my good friend and colleague here from Kings West has spoken at length as to what the bill will do. I just wanted to take the opportunity, as the member for Richmond, to recognize the pharmacists we have in Richmond County and that we're blessed to have these types of professionals working on behalf of the residents of Richmond County.

Mr. Speaker, there are three pharmacies in Richmond County. In the community of Isle Madame we have Dooley's Pharmacy. Dooley's Pharmacy has been around since I was a young boy and it was opened by pharmacist George Dooley, who has been operating it ever since. George has certainly been a great supporter of health care in our community and working to try to make sure that people are able to get their prescriptions in a timely fashion and providing them with much-needed help and guidance regarding the medications that they are using. George has recently hired a native of Isle Madame, Tracy Landry, a recent graduate of the Dalhousie Pharmacy Program, and Tracy is now practising with George at Dooley's Pharmacy.

[Page 2153]

It's always great to see young people who are coming back to our community and plan on staying and making their home in our community. I know that Tracy will be marrying her fiancé, Jason Martell, later this summer and certainly we're extremely pleased to have this young couple back home where they plan on staying and making their future.

In the community of St. Peter's we have two pharmacies, the Lawton's pharmacy is now being run by Lorne Buchanan. Lorne and his wife, Mary Beth, live in the community of St. Peter's with their sons and, again, a young family that we're extremely pleased to have in our community and very excited to have Lorne now working full time at the Lawton's pharmacy and look forward to them being there for a very long time into the future.

As well, we also have the MacDonnell Pharmacy in St. Peter's. MacDonnell Pharmacy was operated by Gerry and Susan MacDonnell. Susan is the pharmacist who has been providing service to the residents of Richmond County for many years and continues to work, more on a part-time basis now. Gerry and Susan did sell their business and they did sell it to two pharmacists, Jill MacLean and Paul Zinck, again, two young pharmacists who live in Richmond County and have their families in Richmond County. I can't tell you how proud the MLA for Richmond is to be able to see, again, young professionals that have chosen to return to Richmond County and make their home there for the future.

These are the types of professionals who are going to help us in building our community, helping to attract more professionals to our area and going to assist us in making Richmond County a better place to live for all of our current residents and future residents. Certainly, I want to publicly commend Jill and Paul for the investment that they have made in purchasing MacDonnell's Pharmacy. It's obviously a signal of their commitment of being in our community for many years and continuing to offer excellent quality service to the people who use their business to access prescription drugs.

This bill talks about the ability to have pharmacists offer vaccinations for such cases as what we just went through with the H1N1 virus. I have to tell you, having had the opportunity to speak to some of these pharmacists, we recently had a reception here in Halifax for members of the Legislature with the Pharmacy Association and I had the opportunity, Paul Zinck, who I mentioned, the pharmacist from MacDonnell's Pharmacy in St. Peter's was there representing the Strait area region. When you talk to these pharmacists, it's no longer just someone who is behind a counter that gives out drugs and gives you some instructions on those drugs. These are very young professionals, for the most part in our case, and they bring so much more. I think the Minister of Health is probably aware of that and hopefully the government is going to take advantage of that fact.

From what I've heard from these pharmacists, they would be a tremendous resource to use for education purposes, for example, on issues of health and on issues of health prevention, on issues of medication and what medications are necessary. I know it has been suggested, for example, that pharmacists could be used in our communities to work with staff

[Page 2154]

in nursing homes on the proper administration of drugs, on the necessity of certain drugs and, again, new technologies that are available out there. The pharmacists, I think, should be used for seniors' organizations, even in our school system, trying to educate people as to how we can maybe reduce our reliance on prescription drugs.

[10:00 a.m.]

I do believe my generation, which is the under-40 generation, is not interested in taking pills every day. We really aren't; in fact, I know many new doctors out there today are very reluctant to even prescribe medications if they're not absolutely necessary. I can tell you I find it myself, as someone under 40, extremely troubling when you go visit someone at a nursing home or when you visit with a senior, or even some of our own families, and when it comes time to eat they pull out the pill box and then you watch the amount of pills that they are taking on a daily basis.

Many of them have this box that has the days of the week set out, and when they open the certain day, it's alarming to see the amount of pills that come out. I can tell you that my generation does not want to take pills like that on a daily basis - I don't want to take them now and I don't want to take them in the future.

The question is, is it time for us to use our pharmacists to make sure my generation and the following generations are going to do their very best to not have to have such a dependence on these prescription drugs? Hopefully that is going to change because I'm sure the Minister of Health will recognize that drug costs are one of the biggest factors to our health care system.

My grandmother, prior to her passing, had been taking blood pressure pills for almost 20 years, until at one point a doctor checked her blood pressure and said you don't have high blood pressure, why are you taking these pills? Because I was told to take these pills. Twenty-plus years of taking blood pressure pills and she didn't have high blood pressure. She stopped taking them and her vision, all of a sudden, started getting better. Unfortunately, for many of our seniors, there has been that dependence now on taking so many drugs and it would be extremely difficult to stop that dependence at this point.

But what can we do to prevent that from continually happening? That is the question I think we all need to ask ourselves as legislators and I think there's a role there for pharmacists to be able to play - not just in the dispensing of medication but also in the education that comes around medication and health prevention, and I think it's important the minister be prepared to work with the Pharmacy Association.

One of the issues we've heard the minister talk about is drug costs. Well, who better to appreciate drug costs than pharmacists who work with it every day? What is it we can do as a province? Oftentimes the response comes, well, it takes a national approach. Really? Is there nothing that we can do in Nova Scotia in working with our pharmacists to try to

[Page 2155]

identify generic drug use or some other means of trying to cut down the costs of the drugs that Nova Scotians are taking?

We're blessed that we do have the Pharmacare Program. That program was brought in by the Liberal Government of the 1990s - and I remember at the time the Progressive Conservative Party was shocked that there would be a premium and a copay attached to that. They indicated that a Progressive Conservative Government would remove that. How ironic, the minute the Progressive Conservative Government got in there, not only did they not remove it, they increased it. History seems to be repeating itself when we look at the current government and some of the commitments they made and what they have done in government as well.

But we do have the Seniors' Pharmacare Program which is helping so many families, because I would dread the day if we did not have that program what would happen to seniors, not only in my riding but in Nova Scotia, because so many are dependent on a daily basis on medications that they clearly would not be able to financially afford on their own. As the minister has pointed out, those costs continue to increase every year. More Nova Scotians are falling into the category of seniors while fewer Nova Scotians are under the category of the working class.

This is an issue which unfortunately is going to get worse before it gets better. So I think it's time for us to start talking about what can we do to address these issues, what can we do to try to reduce Nova Scotians' reliance on prescription medications, and what can we do to continue to encourage healthy lifestyles, healthy living which will benefit our entire health care system as a whole?

With those comments, I again wanted the opportunity to recognize the pharmacists in my riding, to indicate how proud I am to have them as constituents, to have them as professionals working in Richmond County. I know on behalf of the people that they serve, they are extremely grateful for the time that they give, for their professionalism, for the commitment that they have made to remain in our community, and for all of the involvement that they do have outside of their work, in being members of our community in Richmond. On behalf of all of our residents in our county, I do want to recognize them and commend them for what they do and for the important role that they play in our health care system and the important role they play in our community.

Bill No. 7 and the amendments to the Pharmacy Act, I believe, are a step in the right direction, but again, I would certainly encourage the Minister of Health and her government to work very closely with our pharmacists, because I think they have much more to give to our health system other than simply prescribing medications and giving instructions when people are picking up their medications. So with that, Mr. Speaker, again, thank you for the opportunity to make those remarks, and I certainly look forward to this bill moving on from second reading to the Law Amendments Committee. Merci.

[Page 2156]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank all of the members for their thoughtful remarks with respect to Bill No. 7. That concludes my remarks, and I move the closing of second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading on Bill No. 7. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As a former health care worker, this is a hard bill to call, but I will now call Bill No. 68.

Bill No. 68 - Public Utilities Act.

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

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am happy to rise in my place to discuss Bill No. 68, amendments to the Public Utilities Act. The proposed changes will make it easier for public utilities in Nova Scotia to move forward with capital projects. These amendments will apply to all public utilities in Nova Scotia, including municipal water and electrical utilities. Currently the maximum amount a public utility may spend before having to apply to the Utility and Review Board for approval is $25,000.

When we're looking at costs of capital projects for water or electrical utilities, $25,000 is no longer a realistic amount. That is why the proposed amendments will allow utilities to spend up to $250,000 before they require approval from the Utility and Review Board. This will reduce the administrative burden for public utilities and the Utility and Review Board, while maintaining checks and balances to ensure that utilities are accountable for their spending.

Currently, Nova Scotia Power has the ability to submit annual capital expenditure plans for prior approval by the board. We believe that this is a good process and we'd like

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to encourage such planning among all public utilities. That is why these proposed amendments will extend the ability to submit annual capital expense plans to all public utilities in Nova Scotia. The ability to get approval for several capital projects in one document will help streamline the investment process in communities throughout the province. Anything we can do to support public utilities in the upgrading and expanding of their services will benefit communities, while creating good jobs and growing our economy.

I would like to point out that the Utility and Review Board and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities were consulted and they supported these amendments. With these few comments, I would move second reading of Bill No. 68, amendments to the Public Utilities Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to make a few remarks on behalf of the Official Opposition on Bill No. 68. I certainly want to commend the minister for bringing this forward. Clearly, public utilities, and certainly municipalities as a whole, as the resulting tax base has increased, are playing a larger role in the administration of public funds here in our province and the utilities play an important role in doing so.

When one looks at the federal regulations that have been brought in and the changes that are being required of public utilities, are as well having to make significant investments and having to make significant changes in the technology that's being used to meet some of those guidelines, this is clearly meant to reduce the red tape, let's say, involved with public utilities, and certainly the issue of red tape is one that we all work hard to try to reduce as much as possible. By moving the amount here, I think it does give utilities a bit of an easier time to make changes to the technology that they're using and make investments without necessarily having to go to the Utility and Review Board all the time.

Clearly in 2010, $25,000 is not a significant amount of money when it comes to a public utility that's required to make technological advances. The figure of $250,000, while to some it may sound significant - at the end of the day, public utilities are still governed by the URB, and at the same time they still need to respond to the people who are paying into the public utility, who are the ratepayers. There are checks and balances there to make sure that these are still responsible investments being made, but if it removes some of the burden that is on the Utility and Review Board and allows public utilities a bit more flexibility to be able to make investments in a timely fashion, clearly that is something that we see as a worthwhile decision on behalf of the government.

With that, I do again thank the minister for bringing these changes forward, and we look forward to the Law Amendments Committee should there be any presentations there and any suggested changes. With that, we'll certainly be supporting Bill No. 68 to move on to second reading. Merci.

[Page 2158]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Thank you for the comments on this bill. With that, I move second reading of Bill No. 68.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 68. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER: We've had a request to revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for their indulgence. I beg leave to table a report of the Steering Panel, Phase 2, Natural Resources Strategy, entitled A Natural Balance: Working Toward Nova Scotia's Natural Resources Strategy.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

[10:14 a.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Mr. David Wilson in the Chair.]

[10:20 a.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Charlie Parker, resumed the Chair.]

[Page 2159]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 52 - Insurance Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 52.

Bill No. 52 - Insurance Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, on Bill No. 52, of course, I rise in my place as the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act. I gave fairly extensive remarks on second reading of the bill. It is my pleasure, therefore, to move third reading of Bill No. 52.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise today to say a few words on the Insurance Act. We know that this bill could have very considerable implications for auto insurance as we move forward. I know that it was government's intent to take a look at the cap when they came into government. That has been done. They did have consultation with the insurance industry prior to bringing forth Bill No. 52 and they have engaged in the process.

However, we have seen the bill. We know the four or five major areas that have been impacted by the development of the bill. We've also seen a draft copy of the regulations, I think the final regulations, that will include the definitions of whiplash associated disorder,

[Page 2160]

you know, the one, two and three that have come from the Alberta legislation, which was probably first put in place actually in Quebec. So we'll see where those definitions actually line up in the regulations.

I think the concern that has been expressed in my direction is around the $7,500 cap. We knew the cap had to move upward some because when it was put in place seven years ago, with not even any adjustment for inflationary factors let alone as to whether the $2,500 was suitable, but the tripling of the amount is of concern to some brokers. I'm not sure if IBANS had consulted with every local broker during consultation but I've heard from some brokers in small communities of Nova Scotia who are realizing more and more that the insurance industry is really a global industry. It is no longer just a provincial or a national industry and they are losing 1 per cent or 2 per cent business a year to banks, to insurance writers. This is a trend that is growing in the province. So we'll now see a development of paying out the $7,500, more litigation, because we will narrow the definition of the whiplash associated disorder. Also, we're going to see some sprains and strains and that, again, will now lead to the larger one-time payout.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. There is a bit too much chatter in the Chamber, I would ask members if they have a conversation to carry on to take it outside, please.

MR. GLAVINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To continue here, we could very well see those higher payouts. While the insurance industry has had a very stabilizing period since 2003 and if we look at the last five years at the individual bills that came into our homes, we can see that there was very little change during a five-year period.

So now the question is whether or not there will be changes coming forth, whether this will mean the start of $20 or $25 additional costs on our policies. Well, you know, only time will tell once this goes into effect on July 1st.

There was no question that we've also heard from a number of Nova Scotians, a couple of my constituents that had been hoping for retroactivity. We know that retroactivity has a cost to it. We recognize that, but this was an area which the NDP, the current government, had put a stake in the ground. They had, on many occasions, said that we wanted to right this wrong. We wanted to go back and take a look at those who have been impacted by the $2,500 cap, those who were impacted by a very wide definition of minor injuries, soft-tissue injury and that they would, in time, if given the opportunity, correct this wrong.

Well, we now know, Mr. Speaker, that will not take place, that will not take place in the context of Bill No. 52. There are a number of Nova Scotians who have expressed major discontent about where the bill has lined up in terms of any retroactivity.

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So, Mr. Speaker, I think those are major points around the Insurance Act. One that does need to be raised, I think Nova Scotians want an additional one, one that Nova Scotians will watch with great interest and great intent. That would be whether or not this leads to a discussion toward public auto insurance, because if we see a rise in rates, we know that this will be on the agenda of government. This was their position in 2003 and one that they gave a treatise on based on what had taken place in other provinces - Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C. - and how they saw the benefits of public auto insurance.

[10:30 a.m.]

So over the next number of months, and it may extend into a couple of years, it will be analyzed by the insurance industry and I'm sure we will have, as well, meetings with the Superintendent of Insurance to see what kind of trending and what kind of developments are taking place in the industry in Nova Scotia. Most of us in this House have perhaps had a long-time association with an individual broker and we know their value. So protection of the industry is very much on our minds and having brokers and the business of insurance remain as it is, with some tweaking, in the province.

The minister has opened the door in his second- and third-day remarks after introducing Bill No. 52, that public auto insurance was not off of his mind and perhaps his plan. This could be a tipping point towards public auto insurance with Bill No. 52. With those remarks, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's a pleasure to have a few minutes this morning to rise and speak to third reading of Bill No. 52, the Insurance Act. As you know, and as others in this House are aware, I've spoken to this pretty much through the debate and the different stages and felt I should probably make a few further comments today. I have had time in previous debate to express some concerns around the definitions of injuries, which I did do and I did do in writing to the minister, and I appreciate the time that he gave me to do that and the time he and his staff have given to respond to that, although I guess not a formal amendment but we did have the opportunity to make that exchange and I appreciate having that opportunity, and I guess we've had further discussion to that, as well, to express some concerns.

One of the main things that I had expressed was the definitions and he has responded back with the different types of whiplash associated disorders on the now four levels that plan to be introduced in this regulation. Again, I guess I want to express the concern about the significance of such an injury of whiplash and what that can mean in the long term and I really want to express that. I hope people will take the time, before they jump on now what appears to be from $2,500 to $7,500 - $7,500 will be given less thought, I think, than the $2,500. I'd like to think that maybe I'm wrong but people will see the opportunity to have

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what they may deem as a minor motor vehicle collision, see $7,500 there and be a detriment to them in the long run because if they decide they're going to take that and then have longer-term injuries, the opportunity won't be there to go back. I just want to stress that to those who are paying attention, and I think there are quite a few who are paying attention to this.

As I said before, unfortunately we have collisions every day in this province, not all serious but they do affect people. They affect the long-term lives of people and can have quite a detrimental effect on them. So increasing it to $7,500 to me doesn't help the situation a great deal but it helps those who have the right cases, there's no question about that, and legitimate injuries and go through the process and go through that process of four or five or six weeks or a couple of months, whatever it might be, their injuries are cleared up and they are deserving of that, I think that's just fine. It certainly helps them in their compensation that way.

All the way along for me it has been about the public and the public safety aspect of this and making sure that they get the fair treatment, because this whole bill is supposed to be about fairness to people in this province and fairness to the drivers, fairness to those injured and fairness to us, as consumers, who need to purchase said insurance to be kept at rates that are reasonable and, as the previous speaker, the member for Kings West just mentioned, the consultation that will take place now, I think, amongst at least Opposition members and probably from the minister, at least I hope, and through his department, to measure and to monitor this situation to see if there are increases or potential increases, to see if the numbers go up in claims. There are a whole lot of measurement outcomes that need to be looked at here.

It is not going to take very long, I doubt that it will take a couple of years, as has been mentioned earlier. I think we'll see this within a number of months, there will be people jumping on this and, of course, my ultimate hope would be that the number of collisions go down and the number of injuries go down and the number of cases go down. I don't know if that's real because data - statistical, historical data - will show you that these events do happen.

The insurance costs are certainly going to be the number one issue for consumers. There's no question about that. I hope we're able to maintain rates that are fair to the majority of people in this province who don't have incidents happen, who have never made a claim. Unfortunately, we will be the ones that pay for those that do unless there's some other piece of legislation - regulation, et cetera, what have you - that will also be implemented along this bill that we're not seeing yet.

I did mention to the minister in conversation with him one other concern, and I will raise it for the record so people are giving this the extra thought - although he's a lawyer, he has a department full of lawyers who will tell you, no, that's not likely to be the case.

[Page 2163]

Something that came to mind the other day on this issue was the further issue of compensation after a claim has been made and paid out.

For example, what may be deemed to be a minor injury in this case, and even though it's one of the WAD type injuries of a whiplash associated disorder - the right terminology - and is claimed, the $7,500 is paid out - but a little while down the road you start having problems. When you have a whiplash injury, this can go on for a long time. I know the bill says and the minister says if it's that severe it won't fit into this category and it will be moved on, but I think that the $7,500 now becomes a little more appealing for some that want to grab that and say, I'll probably be all right because the doctor has done this, he's sent me to this guy and he sent me to the specialist, and lo and behold it looks like I'll be all right.

But things do happen. Other related injuries or problems exist down the road. What happens now that I can't work anymore and I'm having long-term absences and so on? Now my family physician has recommended perhaps we should file for CPP, Canada Pension Disability benefits. My question to the minister was, there's been a compensation, a settlement; I can't imagine that CPP would ever look at that on that board without denying it.

He and I agree on one thing: it takes a lot of work and many appeals in some cases to even get Canada Pension Disability benefits to begin with, but I see this as being not only a further hindrance but it would almost be automatic. They would look at this and say, no, you had an injury, you were involved in an accident, you took financial compensation, I don't think so. You would never have any hope. So if that does actually leave somebody legitimately injured, there's a potential detriment there.

I know the minister with his legal background and his department has lots of expertise, and I don't take any of that away. I'm just raising the issue for people to be paying attention to this and to be thinking about it before they react too quickly and they go through the court process and somebody deems you'll probably be all right, shouldn't have any further - it's a serious injury and it's a serious issue for me. I'd like to hope it's serious for anyone who is involved and has this type of injury. Again, it's the concern for those drivers or those injured drivers and passengers that could potentially have this issue.

I don't want to take a lot of time. I've spent a fair bit of time on this debate in the past, but I did want to have the opportunity to make those few comments. I want to thank the minister for the documentation that's been provided to me and the information and the time his department spent on that, and for allowing me to have some comments and some written comments put forward. There's not too much more I can say, other than I hope the numbers of collisions go down and I hope our rates remain fair.

[Page 2164]

Again, this was raised as a fairness issue in this House by the minister and by the government for opening this up and going back to revisit it. I hope the fairness pertains to all, not to a certain few. With that, I'll thank you and take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to deliver some remarks in third reading of this bill. One of the things that has been raised in the past by this government when they were in Opposition was the possibility of moving toward public auto insurance.

There is nothing in this bill that will move us toward that and I want to recognize that. I also want to mention that when I asked a question in this Legislature to the minister, whether this government would look at public auto insurance, a clear "no" answer was not given. There's nothing in the Act right now and I'm hoping that we don't move in this direction because I don't think it would be the right direction to move for Nova Scotians for a number of reasons. Now, what we see in this bill, we don't see any move towards that. So I'm going to leave the discussion on that there, but I do want to put that on the record as a concern for the future.

Some of the things we're seeing with the changes here, for instance the cap moving from $2,500 to $7,500, I don't think it's a large issue, not in the sense that we haven't seen a lot of protest from the insurance industry over that amount and if you look at $2,500 and if you indexed it for inflation from 2003, it certainly would rise. I should have taken the time to do the calculation but I think you would be looking at somewhere in the order of perhaps $3,000 to $4,000 anyway. So the increase in the cap, I don't think it's a huge issue, and seeing that it's indexed for inflation going forward, that makes sense because it will increase with the cost of living. I can see the logic behind that.

Another point in this bill is placing the onus on insurance companies and this is probably going to lead to more litigation. The increase in the cap will have an effect - an extra $5,000 potential costs to the insurance industry. It's not just a cost to the industry (Interruption) Per case, that's right. It's not just a cost to the industry, it's ultimately a cost to Nova Scotians who are buying auto insurance because that cost is recovered and it's recovered back to the consumer. So the cap and the onus are likely going to cause rates to increase and we've seen in some evidence from an actuarial report that show that the rate of that increase is not a lot, but we'll be watching that, Mr. Speaker.

I will say this, the insurance industry has to predict its costs going into the future and they don't know yet, as they've said publicly themselves, they don't know yet what these changes will mean for them, but if they are predicting higher costs, rates are likely going to rise in advance of that because they're going to want to make sure that they're able to pay those costs should they arise. So I think we are going to see an increase in rates and I had tabled a document in this House earlier at this sitting that showed, it was a quote from an

[Page 2165]

industry representative that as much as indicated that rates would be rising, it would be just to what degree.

One of the things that I think is important, and I looked at introducing an amendment to this bill, and I'll explain later why I did not, but one of the things that's very important is the definition of the minor injury. I know from the briefing that the minister was kind enough to provide, that the definition is drawing on some of the experience from Alberta and some of the work that they've done on this, and there were a couple of items that may become part of the way auto insurance is delivered in Nova Scotia in the future, but it's all dependent on regulations and those regulations will be made outside of this House of Assembly, but one of the things they did in Alberta was they tried to provide physicians with a clear objective way to assess injuries.

It involved two components - diagnostic protocols and treatment protocols. Both of these are important because what they did in Alberta is, they struck a medical panel and they used best evidence to support physicians who are making diagnosis of an injury and also to help physicians ensure they're giving the appropriate treatment protocols. Now, this wasn't happening in all cases but there were some clients who were refusing treatment with the hope of getting a higher claim. One thing that we need to protect against is abuse so that insurance is sustainable for those who need it and that it's affordable for all of us who are paying for the coverage. I'm sure everybody in this province would agree that we don't want to see abuse of that system. So these definitions can be better defined in regulations, not in the bill that we'll be voting on here, that's very important and I want to put that on the record.

[10:45 a.m.]

The other thing that I want to mention that I've learned through some of my research is the government mentions offering an uncapped version of insurance. There has been research done on that and most people will not want to pay the higher amount that they would have to pay to have the luxury of having the ability to make a claim without any cap on it for a minor injury. So, I can't see how that is going to work and perhaps it won't. We'll see what happens with that.

The next thing I would like to talk about is, will these changes really help people who are injured and specifically people who have been deemed to have sustained a minor injury? Well, I guess the first thing we could see is that they would likely get $7,500 - up to $7,500 versus $2,500 under the previous rules - but I'm wondering, and this is something I have done some thinking about, when people come to me and tell me that they have been injured, it bothers me that people have sustained injuries and they are likely still suffering from them, but I'm wondering how can we help those people, how can we protect them?

I know, under the rules, if a person's income is not affected, if their ability to get education to is not affected, if they can carry on their work, if their lifestyle has not been

[Page 2166]

affected - and that is an area that becomes a bit gray for me - but people can have injuries that cause them pain over the course of their life, it doesn't necessarily affect those things, but it does causes them discomfort in life. What comes to bear on my conscience is, what can we do for those people? Because if they're suffering, human nature and compassion would dictate that we should be trying to do something for those people.

I tried to put myself in those shoes or the shoes of a person like that. If I had some kind of an injury that prevented me from playing sports - which is something very important to me - that would affect my lifestyle. But if it didn't affect my ability to earn an income, I probably wouldn't be entitled to any kind of compensation if I was injured in a car accident, and that's something that would bother me. No amount of money could ever replace the satisfaction I get from the enjoyment of sports.

But I guess the other side of the coin is, what can we give those people? I mean, let's say for ease of math, we gave a payout of $1 million and they were able to generate income each year of $50,000 or $60,000. Well, it would make life easier for them, they probably wouldn't have to worry about working, but it still wouldn't change the fact that they're suffering from pain. It could creep up and it could go away for a couple of years, it might reappear because of something that is going to go on in their life, maybe they have another accident, maybe they have an accident on a bicycle. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that while I think it is important to be compassionate, how far do we go? It becomes a subjective area.

We can talk about wanting to give people some kind of monetary compensation, and some other people have said to me, well, you know what, we take risks in life. You can get injured riding a bicycle and you could hurt yourself, you could fall out of - you could be a young person climbing a tree when you're 10 years old, you fall out of the tree, you hurt your back and you might discover that you have problems later in life because of that. I suppose, that is life. There are risks in life. So, there are two sides to that equation. It is not one that we have a clear-cut answer on. It is really up to people's opinions.

I think what this comes down to for us in this House when we're setting the ground rules is, we have have to try to balance for Nova Scotians and try to ascertain what is in their best interests, because the more we decide to pay people for pain and suffering, the more it is going to cost Nova Scotians to purchase insurance.

There has to be a limit somewhere, and that is why there was a cap instituted in 2003 and it did work, it did reduce auto insurance premiums. Was it 100 per cent responsible? Probably not. We've talked before in this House - another major component in the cost of auto insurance is the ability for the insurers, the insurance companies, to generate returns on those premiums to be able to pay claims. The markets improved tremendously. The investment climate improved tremendously from, say, 2002 into, well, until the crash in

[Page 2167]

2008. So that would have helped, as well, to drive premiums down. But there is no question that a cap did help.

I think that this government has agreed with that because they decided to keep a cap in place. So I think that gives some confirmation to the decision that was made in 2003, that there was at last some wisdom in it and that it did make a difference and it made insurance cheaper for Nova Scotians. It was a good decision made by the Progressive Conservative Government at the time.

I want to backtrack to the idea of proposing an amendment and why I chose not to propose an amendment. That is because I've taken the word of the minister that he has confirmed an amendment would not be necessary because within this bill there is an ability to define regulations that would define a minor injury. I will take him for his word and that is why I will not propose any amendments to the bill as it is presented.

I want to mention a point about insurance and that is that we do need insurance companies. We see them in a bad light sometimes. I referenced something in previous remarks about insurance companies going after the City of Halifax for a fire that took place that destroyed some homes in the city but I also want to say that we do need insurance companies. I tell you why we need them, consumers need them. Consumers need somebody to take a chance, as the insurance companies do, on the probability of whether or not people will have an accident.

I spoke to a consumer advocate who told me that what he heard from Nova Scotians over a four-year period, that on the issue of insurance they wanted three things: they wanted accessibility, they wanted to be able to access insurance; they wanted affordability, they want to be able to pay for auto insurance so that it wasn't becoming a major component of their monthly expenditure, of their household; and thirdly, they wanted transparency, fairness.

I think those things are important and I think that we have to recognize that some of the insurance companies that provide services for Nova Scotians are very large companies and their centres are located far away from Nova Scotia. We have to make sure that the rules that we set for them are rules that make sense for the consumer and for them, to make sure they are here to provide the service for Nova Scotians. I just want to put that on the record and with that, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks.

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

MS. KELLY REGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I won't speak for long but I do have some concerns that have been expressed to me by some insurance brokers in my riding. They are particularly concerned about the tripling of the soft tissue cap and the narrowing of the definition and the placing of the onus on insurance companies. In fact, they believe that this will lead to insurance companies just simply settling with claimants without going through

[Page 2168]

the rigorous testing, et cetera, that would result in a lawsuit. They feel that this tripling and narrowing of the definition and the placing of the onus on the insurance companies to get proof means that, in fact, there will be an increase in the cost of insurance and that increase will be passed along to consumers.

Mr. Speaker, these people are small business people and they are placed throughout our ridings throughout this province and it will have an effect on them, so they will end up passing it along to us. Then we have a threat hanging over our heads that if the cost of insurance goes up too much, well, we could look at public auto insurance. So they are very concerned about that, they are very concerned that they are going to see a major change come in because of regulations foisted on them by the government. They just feel that they are being set up for an eventual introduction of public auto insurance.

I also have a letter here from a woman who is deeply concerned about the lack of retroactivity in this bill. Mr. Speaker, the NDP championed the cause of those injured under the old version of the bill when they were running for office. They promised during the election that they would address retroactivity but they have not. This is another broken promise and it's the issue - (Interruptions) They have not and this is another broken promise. I have a letter here from Jeanette Woodman. She sent it to NDP caucus members and she sent it on to us, and we have been asked to read it into the record for her. She says:

I am writing this document, on behalf of my daughter, Morgan Woodman, who is currently out of the country. Morgan would be pleased to speak to you directly, regarding the unjust, impact that proposed amendments to the Insurance Act, BILL 52, will have on her well being, her current and future life, ambitions and dreams.

In February, 2006 Morgan was rear-ended by a Pete's Frootique, 3-Ton Hyno Truck and the impact on her life has been debilitating. She continues to put her best foot forward, but behind her poised, cheerful, disposition she has been to, and continues to attend, hundreds of psychology (PTSD), physiotherapy, massage therapy, pain management and medical appointments to deal with the constant pain she endures.

She did not buy or carry books at Acadia University because of constant muscular pains from the weight. She is currently employed, part-time, while attending Acadia University, because of her interest in pursuing a career in law. Yet, she has to attend, myofascial release appointments, weekly, to manage the pain at work. She did write her LSAT, but did not achieve, high enough marks, because she could not endure the sitting time requirements of each LSAT Section without leaving the LSAT Test Centre, to stretch. She has now completed her B.B.A., Acadia, without the ability to study or read vigorously, because of constant headaches. She, fortunately, is a high

[Page 2169]

achiever, and has somehow made it through the Business Program without having to study, achieving an admirable average but not adequate enough for acceptance at Dalhousie Law School.

Bill No. 52, as proposed, is not retroactive. Simply, put, because of bad luck and timing, Morgan's car crash, which occurred on February 26, 2006, neither fit, under the original Insurance Act, and as, currently proposed, does not fit under the more current changes to, the Insurance Act, as proposed by Bill No. 52.

In fact, the only CRITERIA which separates Morgan as a 2006 INNOCENT CRASH VICTIM is an arbitrary time-frame that must be approved by Members of the Legislative Assembly. Those, victims who will now be included, on a "GO-FORWARD", basis pending the approval of BILL 52, are simply in the, "Right Place, at the, Right Time". Morgan was simply in the "Wrong Place, at the, Wrong Time".

How can the Member of the Legislature, move forward BILL 52, without a further amendment, to include those victims who simply, through ill-fate, and bad luck, fall outside the scope of this arbitrary time frame? We request that amendments to Bill 52, be driven not by the power or perhaps, threat of the insurance companies, but, by what is right for the constituents of Nova Scotia. What if Morgan was your daughter? How would you feel? To what decision would your conscience guide you?

She signs it, "Jeanette M. Woodman ON BEHALF OF Morgan E. Woodman." I will file that. With that I would like to conclude my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: You're tabling the letter?

MS. REGAN: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 52. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2170]

HON. FRANK CORBETT: With the unanimous consent of the House could we please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

[11:00 a.m.]

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 43, Congregation of the First Cornwallis Baptist Church at Canard.

Bill No. 49, Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of the House, I wonder if we could move these bills directly on to third reading?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

[Page 2171]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 43.

Bill No. 43 - Congregation of the First Baptist Church of Canard.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 43. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 49.

Bill No. 49 - Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 49. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, while there are some other committees still meeting, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech From the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honorable Deputy Premier.

[Page 2172]

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it has been some time since I had a Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I know when I made my last one it wasn't that far from the Montreal Canadiens winning the Stanley Cup, but it was still quite a distance since the Boston Bruins had won one, and even further for the Leafs fans. I say that by reflecting that many things change and many things stay the same.

I'm going to use my time in the House today not to be overtly political or partisan. I really want to take the time, because it has been roughly four elections since I had a chance to stand in this House and talk about the people who you meet and work with, and campaign against in this democracy that we participate in. It's interesting because, to quite honestly say that over-used saying, there's an elephant in the room and that elephant happened to be about the expenses of members.

I'm not going to spend much time on that, what I want to talk about relative to that is there are very many good women and men who have sat in this House and who have run and offered from one end of this province to the other for public office. Behind all those women and men were literally hundreds and thousands of people who supported them and saw them as good people, who they wanted to serve. At the end of this speech, if somebody out there anywhere happens to see this and says, "this is just another self-serving politician" that's their right. I agree with them to be wrong.

Because, what it's about, elections are a celebration of democracy, a celebration of going out and reaching out to the people and engaging them - one could say every four years. In my 12-plus years - I think this has been my fifth or sixth election - I have to say there's not a day that I don't stand in this marvelous Chamber and be in awe of the people who have gone before us in here. The ones that sit here now - I'm quite sure I can speak for them - understand the special place that they're allowed to stand and speak in. They do not take that lightly.

There are days of very heated debate, there are days of great arguments, there are days of frivolity, days of calling people brilliant, days of throwing kisses. But (Interruptions) a moment on your lips, a lifetime in Hansard.

I want to spend my time today talking about the many friends I have met on the way - from all political stripes. I remember running in 1998 and I think this goes for a lot of first-timers in this milieu and you think, I can't wait to get to Halifax because that's where the work is done. BZZT! The reality is, we know when you're here for awhile where the work is done, it's back home, it's the hand-to-hand combat, so to speak, of back home and helping your constituents.

Indeed, the importance of legislation helps us to do that. But it's those folks that I would look around, I know I'm not mentioning that there are any empty seats, but if every

[Page 2173]

one of those seats were full, I could look each and every member in the eye and say, yeah, we differ on things, but we agree on a basic thing about support for our people back home.

I have to say on the record today Mr. Speaker, when people say this phrase, "you're all the same", and I look at all my contemporaries in this building, if that means I'm like each and every one of you, then I'm glad to be all the same. (Applause) If that means we're all the same and that means I'm like the late Michael Baker, that's a compliment, Mr. Speaker.

There are many people who have come and gone in this House, both electorally and gone to their reward, there are many I could talk about today, but I'm proud. Like any group, we're reflective of society, things happen. Yet, people want to - and it's such a silly word to say "people" like that, because there is a group that, no matter how partisan or non-partisan we will attempt to be, will never, ever really see or try to understand what we do. I look over at members and around me at members and I know how hard they work. I know they put in long, hard hours.

When constituents come to them and tell them about a constituency kind of a non-brainer problem, like okay, you guys just fix that. The fact is that being in a legislative way is that we live in a kind of a domino world sometimes and if you move and push one domino, it has a reaction. So, Mr. Speaker, this is what we have, too - what we see sometimes is a very simple thing of, say a land issue, well, jumpins', they've been using that land for this many years, why can't you just change it? But as we find with many laws, people realize that the simplicity of just changing, just move over there and admit while it may have a very reasonable look at it, then we find out no, well jumpins', if we move that, if we kind of move that pebble out of there, then the whole system will fall down.

Mr. Speaker, these are issues that we have to contend with. Many of us are not lawyers or practising lawyers and so many of us have to use what I think got us here - our common sense and our street sense. That is why I think, as you look in this House, why many of us have gotten here - it's our respect for our community and I think a lot of people within our community, if I may be so bold, respect us.

Mr. Speaker, those are issues that I want to say in this House are important. I think it is important to say on the record that it is not a love-in here, and it is a tough go. (Interruptions) Well, you know, if you consider getting a kiss from Bill Estabrooks as a love-in, member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, then as my children would say when they were younger, you've got issues.

What I want to say is look, folks, this is a very difficult job and a job that everybody wants to do their best in, as in any work life. We have a unique set of circumstances here because we're entrusted, we're empowered by the people of Nova Scotia to do a job and we're to do the best job for them and, my friends, as long as we can keep who put us here and who can take us out as our prime motivation for being here, doing the right things for Nova Scotians, then we're on the right track.

[Page 2174]

Mr. Speaker, whatever we do, always remember - and I know members in this House, to a vast majority, agree that they do the best they can for the people, whether it is Hants West, whether it is Cape Breton North, whether it's Cape Breton Centre, whether it is Timberlea-Prospect, whether it's Queens, or whether it's Dartmouth North, we all face a challenge. And with that said, never, ever, underestimate the challenge our constituents have to live with every day - and that is what we have to temper what we do with.

With those few words and the kind indulgence of the members across the way, I want to thank members for indulging me in these few moments. Whatever the future brings for any of us, my time with everybody in this House and, indeed, the time to be able to say, whenever God calls me or whenever, Mr. Speaker, I will look and say I've worked for and I've worked with the greatest people in the world.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

[11:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of the House, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader. (Interruptions)

HON. FRANK CORBETT: I take it all back. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

Bill No. 1 - House of Assembly Management Commission Act.

[Page 2175]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it's my understanding that this bill was adjourned by the member for Cumberland South. We advised members that we would not proceed past second reading on that bill until the regulations with that bill were tabled. I now have, on behalf of the Premier - he's not available, but I will be tabling the regulations as they relate to Bill No. 1.

MR. SPEAKER: The regulations are tabled.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 1.

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

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, if we could take a five-minute recess and then we'll have the report back from the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We'll have a short recess.

[11:17 a.m. The House recessed.]

[11:27 a.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will now call the House back to order.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, with the approval of the House, could you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

[Page 2176]

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 62 - Nova Scotia Hospital Foundation Act.

Bill No. 67 - Halifax Regional Municipality Charter.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 50 - Correctional Services Act

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, again with the assistance of members from all sides of the House, that concludes the government's business for today. On Monday we will be doing Committee of the Whole House on Bills, hopefully third reading of bills, and if time permits, Address in Reply to the Speech From the Throne.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on Monday from the hours of 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

[Page 2177]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We are adjourned.

[The House rose at 11:29 a.m.]