The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 09-16

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/

First Session

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2009

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 455, LGBTI Network: Publ Serv. - Contribution,
Hon. F. Corbett 860
Vote - Affirmative 860
Res. 456, Northern Lights Lantern Fest.: Appreciation - Express,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 860
Vote - Affirmative 861
Res. 457, Order of Nova Scotia (2009): Recipients - Congrats.,
The Premier (by Hon. F. Corbett) 861
Vote - Affirmative 862
Res. 458, Cretes, Anna: N.S. Summer Games - Silver Medal,
Hon. S. Belliveau 862
Vote - Affirmative 863
Res. 459, Fire Serv. Recognition Day (10/10/09) - Efforts Recognize,
Hon. M. More (by Hon. W. Estabrooks) 863
Vote - Affirmative 863
Res. 460, Atwood, Del: American Bar Fdn. Fellow - Selection,
Hon. R. Landry 864
Vote - Affirmative 864
Res. 461, Middleton: Centennial Year - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Jennex 865
Vote - Affirmative 865
Res. 462, Hicks, Andrew: N.S. Summer Games - Silver Medal,
Hon. S. Belliveau 865
Vote - Affirmative 866
Vote - Affirmative
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 31, Uranium Mining Prohibition Act, Mr. C. Porter 866
No. 32, Education Act, Ms. K. Regan 866
No. 33, Public Service Act, Mr. A. MacLeod 866
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 463, Baker, Michael Gilbert - Order of Nova Scotia,
Hon. M. Scott 867
Vote - Affirmative 867
Res. 464, Beacon House: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Morton 867
Vote - Affirmative 868
Res. 465, Prem./Educ. Min./LWD Min.: Commun. College - Talks Resume,
Hon. K. Casey (by Hon. R. Hurlburt) 868
Res. 466, Frontier College - Anniv. (110th),
Mr. C. MacKinnon 869
Vote - Affirmative 870
Res. 467, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Lun. Campus): Class Interruption - Avoid,
Hon. C. Clarke 870
Res. 468, Boyle, Lucas/McConnell, Mandy - Energy Scholarships,
Ms. V. Conrad 871
Vote - Affirmative 871
Res. 469, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Strait Area Campus): Class Interruption -
Avoid, Mr. K. Bain 871
Res. 470, Taylor, Heather Bishop & Darryl: Mar. Marionettes - Successes,
Ms. L. Zann 872
Vote - Affirmative 873
Res. 471, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Cumb. Co.): Class Interruption - Avoid,
Hon. M. Scott 873
Res. 472, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Kingstec Campus): Class Interruption -
Avoid, Mr. C. Porter 874
Res. 473, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Truro Campus): Class Interruption -
Avoid, Hon. C. d'Entremont 875
Res. 474, Lake Charlotte Heritage Soc.: Memory Lane Heritage Village -
Acknowledge, Mr. S. Prest 875
Vote - Affirmative 876
Res. 475, Prem./Educ. Min./LWD Min.: Commun. College - Talks Resume,
Mr. A. MacLeod 876
Res. 476, Park View Panthers Basketball Team: European Tour - Godspeed,
Mr. G. Ramey 877
Vote - Affirmative 878
Res. 477, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Pictou Campus): Class Interruption -
Avoid, Hon. K. Casey (by Hon. M. Scott) 878
Res. 478, Amherst: Can. World Youth Prog. - Host Community,
Mr. B. Skabar 879
Vote - Affirmative 879
Res. 479, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Anna. Valley Campus): Class Interruption -
Avoid, Mr. C. Porter 880
Res. 480, Miller, Heidi: Can. Games (2009) - Participation,
Mr. M. Whynott 881
Vote - Affirmative 881
Res. 481, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Instit. Of Technology Campus):
Class Interruptions - Avoid, Mr. A. MacLeod 881
Res. 482, Halls Hbr. Commun. Club: Fundy View Commun. Ctr. -
Commitment, Mr. J. Morton 882
Vote - Affirmative 883
Res. 483, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Burridge Campus): Class Interruption -
Avoid, Hon. R. Hurlburt 883
Res. 484, East. Communities Youth Assoc. - Anniv. (10th),
Mr. J. Boudreau 884
Vote - Affirmative 884
Res. 485, Educ. - NSCC Strike: Studies - Continuation Ensure,
Hon. C. Clarke 884
Res. 486, Sarty, Adam - Discovery Ctr. Award,
Mr. L. Preyra 885
Vote - Affirmative 886
Res. 487, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Waterfront Campus): Class Interruption -
Avoid, Mr. K. Bain 886
Res. 488, Christie, Bob: Environmental Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 887
Vote - Affirmative 887
Res. 489, Educ. - NSCC Strike (Shelburne Campus): Class Interruption -
Avoid, Hon. C. d'Entremont 888
Res. 490, Guides Assoc. (N.S.) - Anniv. (100th),
Ms. V. Conrad 888
Vote - Affirmative 889
Res. 491, Winners Walk of Hope (Elmsdale/Enfield):
Ovarian Cancer Canada - Fundraising, Hon. J. MacDonell 889
Vote - Affirmative 890
Res. 492, Piers, Romaine & Jack - Truro Tennis Club Award,
Ms. L. Zann 890
Vote - Affirmative 890
Res. 493, Bridgewater United Church - Anniv. (161st),
Mr. G. Ramey 891
Vote - Affirmative 891
Res. 494, PolyCello: Environmental Sustainability - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Skabar 891
Vote - Affirmative 892
Res. 495, Rose, Cyril & Lillian: Commun. Serv. - Thank,
Mr. J. Boudreau 892
Vote - Affirmative 893
Res. 496, Skerry, Leah - Students in Business Prog.,
Mr. L. Preyra 893
Vote - Affirmative 893
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 108, Prem. - Fish. Min.: Fishing Gear/Lobster Licence Sale,
Hon. S. McNeil 894
No. 109, Fish. & Aquaculture: Owner/Operator Policy [Gov't. (Can.)] -
Position, Hon. C. d'Entremont 895
No. 110, Fish. & Aquaculture: Min./Fishing Gear/Licence Sale -
Dept. Instructions, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 896
No. 111, Fish. & Aquaculture: Min./Fishing Gear/Licence Sale -
Purchase Price, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 897
No. 112, Fish. & Aquaculture - Fishing Licence Loan Program:
Min. Beneficiary - Confirm, Hon. C. d'Entremont 899
No. 113, Fish. & Aquaculture: Min. Lobster Licence -
Trust Agreement/Illness Policy, Hon. M. Samson 901
No. 114, ERD - Min.: RDAs - Responsibility, Hon. R. Hurlburt 902
No. 115, Fish. & Aquaculture - Min.: Company Directorship - Details,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 903
No. 116, ERD - Literacy/Commun. Infrastructure: Effects - Value,
Mr. K. Bain 904
No. 117, Fish. & Aquaculture - DFO Regs.: Sick Time - Definition,
Hon. M. Samson 905
No. 118, Prem.: NSCC Dispute - Resolve, Hon. M. Scott 907
No. 119, SNSMR: Heating Assistance Rebate - Changes,
Hon. S. McNeil 908
No. 120, Nat. Res. - Spruce Bark Beetle: Min. - Concern,
Mr. A. MacLeod 910
No. 121, Prem.: NSCC Strike - Avert, Ms. K. Regan 911
No. 122, Health: Caregiver Allowance Prog. - Eligibility,
Hon. M. Scott 913
No. 123, Health: Stroke Units - Locations,
Ms. D. Whalen 915
No. 124, SNSMR: Heat Smart Prog. - Funding,
Mr. C. Porter 916
No. 125, EMO: Pandemic Plans AG's Rept. - Recommendations,
Ms. D. Whalen 917
No. 126, Atty. Gen.: New Glasgow Police Serv. - Funding,
Hon. C. Clarke 919
No. 127, Nat. Res.: Silviculture Investment - Funding Details,
Mr. L. Glavine 920
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 308, Acrobat Research Closure: Cheticamp/Chebucto
- Assistance, Hon. K. Colwell 921
Hon. Manning MacDonald 921
Hon. P. Paris 924
Mr. C. Porter 926
Mr. L. Glavine 929
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
Bill No. 26 - Advisory Council on Mental Health Act, Ms. D. Whalen 932
Ms. D. Whalen 932
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 935
Hon. C. d'Entremont 937
Mr. A. Younger 939
ADJOURNMENT, The House rose to sit again on Thur., Oct. 8th at 2:00 p.m. 943
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 497, Owens, Caitlin - Pengrowth/N.S. Energy Scholarship,
Mr. C. Porter 944
Res. 498, Fox Hole Farm: Triplet Calves - Applaud,
Mr. C. Porter 944
Res. 499, W. Hants Ormon U-14 Girls Soccer Team: Coaches - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 945

[Page 859]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2009

Sixty-first General Assembly

First Session

1:30 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will start today's proceedings and as usual we will start with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

[Page 860]

859

RESOLUTION NO. 455

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

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia is responsible to provide employees with a safe, respectful workplace; and

Whereas employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transcended or intersex may confront significant challenges in their daily lives, including their work lives; and

Whereas several public servants have established an LGBTI Network for public servants to provide support to each other, share their experiences, and raise awareness of the LGBTI issues in the workplace;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the members of the LGBTI Network and the network's contribution to a creative, rewarding and productive Public Service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 456

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

Whereas the Northern Lights Lantern Festival is a celebration of the vibrancy and diversity of Halifax's North End which takes place each summer in Merv Sullivan Park, often referred to as "The Pit"; and

[Page 861]

Whereas many local individuals and organizations work together each year to make the festival a reality; and

Whereas the sixth annual Northern Lights Lantern Festival was held on Saturday, August 6, 2009, with a record turnout of happy neighbours and visitors;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature express their appreciation for the ongoing efforts of the organizers of the Northern Lights Lantern Festival and congratulate the North End community on a happy and successful sixth annual festival.

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 Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 457

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

Whereas the Order of Nova Scotia is the highest honour the province can bestow on its citizens; and

Whereas Michael Gilbert Baker of Lunenburg, Melvin James Boutilier of Halifax, the late Muriel Helena Duckworth of Bedford, Philip Riteman of Bedford and Viola Marie Robinson of Truro, were invested into the Order of Nova Scotia today for significant contributions to their communities and the province; and

Whereas a former member of this House, Michael Baker, was among those recognized with this honour for his unwavering commitment and dedication to the Province of Nova Scotia;

[Page 862]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the recipients of the 2009 Order of Nova Scotia and thank them and their families for the positive work they have done for our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of all the members to a young lady who has joined us today in the east gallery, coming here from North End Halifax to observe the proceedings of the Legislature. She's here with her dad, Matt Hebb. So I would ask Madeline and Matt to rise and receive the warm welcome of the Legislature. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 458

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

Whereas Shelburne County Special Olympian Anna Cretes was a silver medalist at the Nova Scotia Summer Games in Halifax on July 17-19, 2009; and

Whereas Anna Cretes excelled in the sport of bowling to win the silver medal; and

Whereas Anna Cretes consistently showed great sportsmanship, dedication and effort as a Special Olympian;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Special Olympian Anna Cretes for bringing home a silver medal from the Nova Scotia Summer Games in Halifax on July 17-19, 2009.

[Page 863]

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.

[1:45 p.m.]

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

RESOLUTION NO. 459

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

Whereas fire services are an essential part of the safety of any community; and

Whereas the brave men and women in our fire services protect families and property across our province; and

Whereas these individuals often do so at great personal risk, often on a volunteer basis;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize the efforts and dedication of these individuals by celebrating Saturday, October 10th as Fire Service Recognition Day in 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.

[Page 864]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, may I do an introduction before this resolution?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. LANDRY: We have in here this afternoon Mr. Del Atwood and his family up in the east gallery, if I could get them to stand. Mr. Atwood is a Senior Crown Attorney with the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service and, as a member, will hear my resolution. I would like to congratulate Mr. Atwood on being selected as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 460

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

Whereas Del Atwood, Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service's Senior Crown Attorney, has been selected as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation; and

Whereas being a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation is recognition of a lawyer whose professional, public, and private career has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the welfare of the community, the traditions of the profession, and the maintenance and advancement of the objectives of the American Bar Association; and

Whereas Mr. Atwood was selected by his peers to be one of only four other Fellows in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Del Atwood on his well-deserved honour and demonstrate the great pride this recognition as Fellow of the American Bar Foundation brings to our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 865]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 461

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

Whereas the Town of Middleton, the Heart of the Valley, is celebrating its centennial in 2009; and

Whereas town council, staff, and volunteers have worked hard all year to offer fun and inexpensive activities for citizens of all ages; and

Whereas these activities included the official opening of Centennial Park, which houses the town's new pergola, a concert and activity space that will be enjoyed for generations to come;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the mayor, council, staff, and volunteers and the Town of Middleton for making its centennial year one to remember.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 462

[Page 866]

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

Whereas Shelburne County Special Olympian Andrew Hicks was a silver medalist at the Nova Scotia Summer Games in Halifax on July 17-19, 2009; and

Whereas Andrew Hicks won the silver medal for his performance in shot-put competition; and

Whereas Andrew Hicks consistently shows great sportsmanship, dedication, and effort as a Special Olympian;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Shelburne County Special Olympian Andrew Hicks for being a silver medalist at the Nova Scotia Summer Games in Halifax on July 17-19, 2009.

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.

I might ask, ministers, I guess, when they have a resolution, that if it is a ministerial notice of motion, there is a difference between that and the regular notice of motion, so I would just ask that you please consider that if it is a ministerial notice of motion or otherwise. Really, a motion like the last one should be done under a regular notice of motion. Thank you.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 31 - Entitled an Act to Ban Uranium Mining in West Hants. (Mr. Chuck Porter)

Bill No. 32 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Education Act. (Ms. Kelly Regan)

[Page 867]

Bill No. 33 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 376 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Service Act. (Mr. Alfie MacLeod)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 463

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

Whereas the Honourable Michael G. Baker, Q.C., ECNS, former MLA for Lunenburg and Cabinet Minister, served the Province of Nova Scotia with dignity and distinction, devoting much of his life to his constituents with the love and support of his family; and

Whereas our former friend, colleague, and legislator was honoured posthumously with the Order of Nova Scotia, received by his dedicated and devoted wife, Cindy Baker; and

Whereas the Order of Nova Scotia is the highest honour that the Province of Nova Scotia can bestow on its citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contribution of the Honourable Michael Gilbert Baker, Q.C., ECNS, and convey our warmest and best wishes to his wife, Cindy, his sons, Matthew and Daniel, his family, the community of Lunenburg, and all those who supported him greatly.

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. (Standing Ovation)

[Page 868]

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 464

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

Whereas the newly opened Beacon House is located on the grounds of the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville and operated by Mental Health and Addiction Services of Annapolis Valley Health; and

Whereas Beacon House provides psychosocial rehabilitation services to individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 who live in communities throughout Nova Scotia who have been diagnosed with a mental illness; and

Whereas the vision of Beacon House is to help its clients become full citizens by identifying personal goals, by rebuilding connections with home communities and through the delivery of a comprehensive range of professional services during an intensive six-month residential skill development program;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the staff and management of Beacon House on the opening of its new facility in Kentville and commend them for continuing their important work of serving those Nova Scotians and their families who live with mental illness.

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 465

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 869]

Whereas Nova Scotia's economy and industries based in this province are depending on a resourceful trades program; and

Whereas the Premier and his Minister of Education are seemingly oblivious to fairness in the collective bargaining process, as they are refusing to provide the same wage level to more than 900 community college instructors as they have already given to Nova Scotia's public school teachers; and

Whereas the community college teachers are able to walk off the job at any time which in turn could lead to possible delays in the opening of nursing home beds while leaving parents scrambling for child care due to a delay in child care workers obtaining their necessary course certification;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and his Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty across Nova Scotia to avoid labour shortages in places such as nursing homes and daycares across Nova Scotia in the coming months.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 466

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

Whereas Alfred Fitzpatrick was born in Pictou County, attended Pictou Academy and founded Frontier College in 1899 to combat illiteracy in Canada; and

Whereas Alfred Fitzpatrick, a Presbyterian minister, saw the need to help immigrant workers in the Canadian Shield, not with charity but with social justice through education and enlightenment; and

[Page 870]

Whereas Frontier College supports literacy programs in lumber camps, Aboriginal communities, prisons and downtown streets across much of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly recognize the 110th Anniversary of the founding of Frontier College and the contribution made to literacy and education by Alfred Fitzpatrick, a great Pictonian and a great Nova Scotian.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 467

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 Lunenburg Campus of the NSCC in Bridgewater is home to 450 full-time and 400 part-time students which has a focus on student involvement and learning through community contributions; and

Whereas these nearly 1,000 students in Bridgewater will see their class time suspended on an indefinite basis if the community college teachers are forced to walk off the job due to the NDP Government's failure to address fairness in their contract negotiations; and

Whereas the member for Lunenburg West is a former faculty member at the Bridgewater campus and knows a large contingent of the present faculty and should be encouraging the Premier and the Ministers of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to make a fair and reasonable offer to teachers to avoid a province-wide shutdown;

[Page 871]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and his Minister of Education to immediately seek a resumption in talks with the community college faculty across Nova Scotia so nearly 1,000 students attending Lunenburg Campus of the NSCC will see no interruption in their classes as they pursue a working career.

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.

[2:00 p.m.]

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 468

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

Whereas 18 young Nova Scotians pursuing energy related studies at a university or a Nova Scotia community college have received scholarships; and

Whereas the scholarship supports ongoing technical research related to petroleum projects from an economic and financial perspective; and

Whereas the criteria for recipients are academic achievement, involvement in extra-curricular activities, show potential and have demonstrated a clear interest in the Nova Scotia energy sector;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize and congratulate Lucas Boyle of Caledonia, Queens County and Mandy McConnell of Liverpool, Queens County for having each earned one of these scholarships and wish them well in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 872]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 469

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

Whereas the Strait NSCC Campus is home to extensive trades and technology, which are much needed in today's economy; and

Whereas the 700 full-time and 300 part-time students of the Strait Area Campus have sacrificed greatly in order to improve their education, often financially as well as personally; and

Whereas a strike at the Strait Area Campus would have major negative implications for the staff, students at school, as well as the NDP candidate for Inverness;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and his minister to seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty across Nova Scotia, so the 1,000 students at the Strait Area Campus will not have their studies disrupted.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 470

[Page 873]

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

Whereas Heather Bishop Taylor and Darryll Taylor of Truro are the company of puppeteers producing the Maritime Marionettes shows that have delighted audiences across Canada and internationally; and

Whereas the Taylors many skills see traditional and original stories brought to life with exquisite, handmade, skilfully manipulated marionettes; and

Whereas the Maritime Marionettes are enjoying their 23rd season since their founding in 1986 and have recently returned from a successful series of shows in Dubai, United Arab Emirates;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulates Heather Bishop Taylor and Darryll Taylor on their national and their international successes with their company, the Maritime Marionettes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 471

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

Whereas the Cumberland Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College in Springhill and Amherst provides opportunities for many in Cumberland County to further their education and fill positions vital to our economy; and

[Page 874]

Whereas presently there are 350 full-time students and 150 part-time students attending the Cumberland Campus who will be severely impacted if a contract agreement is not worked out between the province and faculty; and

Whereas the effects of a strike would not only be disastrous to the students, but as well to those sectors of the economy who depend on the services their students will provide;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House immediately call upon the Premier and his Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty across Nova Scotia so the 500 NSCC students in Cumberland County will not see an interruption in their studies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 472

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

Whereas the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College system in Kentville is home to 1,000 full-time and 850 part-time students who enjoy a bright, modern learning environment; and

Whereas these nearly 2,000 students will be left on their own in their pursuit of a career if community college teachers are forced to walk off the job, due to the NDP Government's abysmal failure to address fairness in the contract negotiations; and

Whereas the NDP Government is singling out teachers at Kingstec in Kentville by refusing to provide them with the same wage settlement already given to the Nova Scotia public school teachers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and his Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty across Nova Scotia,

[Page 875]

so nearly 2,000 students attending the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College system in Kentville will see no interruption in their educational classes as they pursue a working career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 473

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

Whereas the NSCC Truro Campus is a true success story as its continued growth, as well as the education and opportunity it provides so many immeasurable benefits to the community; and

Whereas the 800 full-time and 550 part-time students are actively trying to better educate and prepare themselves to enter vital sectors of our economy; and

Whereas a work stoppage would provide untold hardship to the students who sacrifice so much in order to pursue their goals;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and his Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty across Nova Scotia, so that the over-1,300 students at the NSCC Truro Campus will not see an interruption in their studies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 876]

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled. There seems to be a theme to our resolutions here today.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 474

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

Whereas the Lake Charlotte Area Heritage Society was founded in 1995 by the community members from the communities within the loop: Lake Charlotte, Ship Harbour, DeBaies Cove, Owls Head, Little Harbour, Clam Harbour, Clam Bay, as well as Upper Lakeville and Oyster Pond/ Jeddore; and

Whereas the society recognized the need for preserving the heritage of these communities and its creation was spurred on by the imminent loss of significant heritage buildings in the area such as Hosking General Store; and

Whereas the society owns and operates Memory Lane Heritage Village, a living history museum displaying rural Nova Scotia life in the 1940's;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly acknowledge the community and the volunteers of Lake Charlotte Area Heritage Society on their dedication and hard work in maintaining the Memory Lane Heritage Village.

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.

[Page 877]

RESOLUTION NO. 475

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

Whereas the Akerley Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College system in Dartmouth is home to 3,500 students, 1,000 of them full-time and is well known for its state-of-the-art Transportation Centre and its broadcasting and television curriculum programs; and

Whereas the Premier and his Minister of Education are seemingly oblivious to fairness in the collective bargaining process as they are refusing to provide the same level of wages to more than 900 community college instructors as they have already given to Nova Scotia's public school teachers; and

Whereas the community college teachers at the Akerley Campus are able to walk off the job at any time which, in turn, could lead to a potential labour shortage with so many students being impacted by a labour dispute simply because the NDP Government fails to recognize something called wage fairness in collective bargaining negotiations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and his Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty across Nova Scotia to avoid a crippling strike while placing community college students in a state of limbo for an indefinite period of time.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 476

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

[Page 878]

Whereas the Park View Panthers basketball team has a proud athletic record in high school sport; and

Whereas the 14-member Park View Panthers team, their three coaches, and parental guides will be touring Europe November 6-21, 2009; and

Whereas this athletic and educational tour will take them to Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Slovenia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House wishes the Park View Panthers basketball team good luck and Godspeed on this very exciting athletic and educational excursion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 477

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College Pictou Campus in Stellarton is a vital part of the town as well as Pictou County because of learning and economic spinoffs it provides; and

Whereas the 825 full-time and 1,000 part-time students are learning skills which will serve them well in an economy that increasingly relies on skilled workers; and

Whereas a strike at the Nova Scotia Community College Pictou Campus would not only hurt the students but the broader community which depends on all the spinoffs the institution provides;

[Page 879]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and his Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty across Nova Scotia, so that the roughly 1,800 students at the Nova Scotia Community College Pictou Campus can continue their studies.

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 Minister of Community Services on an introduction.

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to everyone in our gallery a very dear friend of mine, a special individual, Mr. Rudy Haase, who most of you will know as a wonderful gentleman who has been a mentor to many in the environmental movement and who has supported the environmental movement and heritage trust. I would also like to mention that many, many years ago I actually went to a little school that Mr. Haase and his wife had, it was called the Country Day School. So I would like to introduce Mr. Rudy Haase. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome him and all our guests here with us today.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 478

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

Whereas the Town of Amherst has recently become a host community for the Canada World Youth Program, welcoming nine Canadians and nine Indonesians to the area at a ceremony held October 1st; and

Whereas these 18 young adults, aged 17 to 21, will be exposed to Cumberland County and the rest of the province during their two-month stay, partaking in unique learning experiences that will benefit both themselves and the people of Amherst; and

[Page 880]

Whereas the participants will receive education and training in an intellectual context which will promote equality and prepare them to work effectively in an ever-growing international marketplace;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend our warmest wishes to these 18 visitors to Amherst and wish them good luck in their time spent in our province and their travels abroad.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:15 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 479

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

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College system operates from two main sites, one in Middleton along with the Centre of Geographic Sciences in Lawrencetown, Annapolis County, as well as a Community Learning Centre in Digby; and

Whereas presently there are 400 full-time and 400 part-time students attending the Annapolis Valley Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College in Annapolis and Digby Counties, who will see their course instruction and ability to attend classes rudely interrupted in the event of a walkout by community college faculty; and

Whereas the NDP Government is singling out Nova Scotia Community College teachers at the Annapolis Valley Campus by refusing to provide them with the same wage settlement already given to Nova Scotia's public school teachers;

[Page 881]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and his Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty across Nova Scotia, so 800 students attending the Annapolis Valley Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College system in Middleton, Lawrencetown, and Digby will see no interruption in their educational pursuits.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East on an introduction.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction. In the east gallery, we have Frazer Hunter, who is a former President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. His farm straddles Antigonish and Pictou Counties. He is involved with many enterprises including Tony's Meats in Antigonish. I would like the House to extend a very warm welcome to him. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 480

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

Whereas from August 15 to 29, 2009, Heidi Miller participated in the 2009 Canada Games on Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas Heidi Miller participated as an important member for the Nova Scotia Canada Games team as a swimming coach; and

Whereas Heidi Miller participated in this once-in-a-lifetime sports and culture event, which was attended by more than 20,000 people;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Heidi Miller on her participation at the Canada Games 2009 and wish her well in her future endeavours.

[Page 882]

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. 481

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

Whereas the Institute of Technology Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College

system situated in the Halifax north end is home to 1,000 full-time and 4,300 part-time students, who enjoy a bright, modern learning environment; and

Whereas these nearly 5,500 students will be left on their own in the pursuit of a career if community college teachers are forced to walk off the job due to the NDP Government's abysmal failure to address fairness in their contract negotiations; and

Whereas the NDP Government is singling out teachers in the Institute of Technology Campus in the Halifax north end by refusing to provide them with the same wage settlement already given to Nova Scotia's public school teachers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and the Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty across Nova Scotia, so that nearly 5,500 students attending the Institute of Technology Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College system in Halifax will see no interruption in their educational classes as they pursue a working career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 883]

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 482

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

Whereas the Fundy View Community Centre provides a focal point for social life in Halls Harbour; and

Whereas the community centre is a welcoming venue for concerts and public meetings; and

Whereas the survival of the community centre depends upon the investment of countless volunteer hours;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the Halls Harbour community club for its untiring commitment to making the Fundy View Community Centre a gathering place for the citizens of Hall's Harbour.

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 483

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

[Page 884]

Whereas the Burridge Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College in Yarmouth is widely recognized for its customized training programs and for their outstanding work within the local business community; and

Whereas presently there are 500 full-time and 450 part-time students attending the Burridge Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College in Yarmouth who will be severely impacted in the event of a walkout by the community college faculty; and

Whereas the NDP Government is singling out the Nova Scotia Community College teachers by refusing to provide them with the same wage settlement already given to Nova Scotia's public school teachers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly immediately - immediately - call upon the Premier and the Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek resumption in the talks of the community college faculty across Nova Scotia so 950 students attending the Burridge Campus of the community college system in Yarmouth will see no interruption of their educational pursuits.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 484

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

Whereas 2009 is the 10th Anniversary of the incorporation of the Eastern Communities Youth Association, a group that serves the youth of eastern Guysborough County; and

Whereas on September 22nd, the Eastern Communities Youth Association Youth Council received an award at the Celebrating Communities Conference, for Excellence in Youth Leadership; and

[Page 885]

Whereas the Eastern Communities Youth Association is dedicated to providing positive alternatives for the youth of eastern Guysborough County through the operation of a drop-in youth centre and through providing educational and recreational programming;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the board, staff, youth and volunteers of the Eastern Communities Youth Association on their 10th Anniversary and also congratulate the Youth Council on their recent award with best wishes for future successes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 485

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 Marconi Campus of the NSCC in Sydney is a true centre in the community where vital learning takes place and where the community leaders of tomorrow carefully hone and develop their skills; and

Whereas the 1,100 full-time students and 1,300 part-time students represent an important portion of the future skilled workforce needed to continue to build and strengthen our economy; and

Whereas a strike would seriously jeopardize this much needed training and development and as well would cause serious personal and financial hardship for those affected by it;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and the Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty

[Page 886]

across Nova Scotia so that the 2,400 students at the Marconi Campus can continue their studies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

RESOLUTION NO. 486

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

Whereas Adam Sarty recently received the Science Champion Award from the Discovery Centre; and

Whereas Mr. Sarty, astronomy and physics professor at Saint Mary's University, was awarded the prize for the second year in a row; and

Whereas Mr. Sarty continues to make the sciences more accessible to children by hosting captivating in-class presentations that teach the wonder of electromagnetism and nuclear physics;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer our sincere congratulations to Adam Sarty for putting the sciences of the stars within arm's reach of the province's youngest learners.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 887]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 487

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

Whereas the NSCC Waterfront Campus is a leader in environmentally friendly practices as it uses 50 per cent less energy than comparable buildings; and

Whereas the 1,800 full-time and 2,500 part-time students learn first-hand the skills of tomorrow and their knowledge and innovative spirit will serve the people as well as the economy of Nova Scotia well along into the future; and

Whereas a strike at the Waterfront Campus would put on hold the studies and skill development of so many who our province will one day have to depend on for its future success;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and his Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to seek a resumption in talks with the community college faculty across Nova Scotia so the 4,300 students at the NSCC Waterfront Campus will not see a disruption in their studies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 488

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

[Page 888]

Whereas Bob Christie, a former chemical plant operator in Pictou County, observed developments in the early 1970s, which gave him great concern in relation to the environmental protection of Pictou Harbour and surrounding areas; and

Whereas Mr. Christie became a grassroots environmentalist who has consistently challenged business, industry and government through the gathering of concrete data related to Pictou Harbour, its rivers and estuaries; and

Whereas Bob Christie helped form the Pictou Harbour Environmental Action Plan and Protection Project in 1992, under the Atlantic Coastal Action Program, to monitor the health of Pictou Harbour and surrounding areas with strong support from municipal leaders;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Bob Christie, a life-long resident of Pictou County, for 35 years of work toward a cleaner and healthier environment in Pictou County.

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. 489

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

Whereas the Shelburne Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College is home to 100 full-time and 250 part-time students where everyone knows each other's name; and

[Page 889]

Whereas these 350 students in Shelburne will see their class time suspended on an indefinite basis if the community college teachers are forced to walk off the job due to the NDP government's established failure to address fairness in their contract negotiations; and

Whereas the NDP government is singling out teachers at the Shelburne Campus by refusing to provide them with the same wage settlement already given to the Nova Scotia's public school teachers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Assembly immediately call upon the Premier and his Minister of Education and Labour and Workforce Development to immediately seek a resumption in talks with community college faculty so that nearly 350 students attending the Shelburne Campus will see no interruption in their educational classes as they pursue a working career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 490

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

Whereas 100 years ago the first Nova Scotia Guides Association sports meet was held; and

Whereas the milestone was celebrated recently at the association's headquarters in the community of Hibernia in Queens; and

Whereas the celebrations showcased the skills of guiders, which included chainsaw carving, swede saw and crosscut saw competition, canoe rescue, double canoe competition, the standing chop competition, to name just a few;

[Page 890]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the Nova Scotia Guides Association and congratulate them on their celebration of 100 years of guiding in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 491

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

Whereas cancer is a scourge that takes young and old alike without pity; and

Whereas the Winners Walk of Hope has raised over $4.5 million for Ovarian Cancer Canada; and

Whereas on September 12, 2009, the Walk of Hope was held in Enfield, continuing the fight against cancer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the organizers and volunteers of the Winners Walk of Hope in Enfield, and wish them well in their fight against ovarian cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 891]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 492

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

Whereas the Truro Tennis Club is a community organization open to anyone who wants to play tennis and is presently coming to the end of another very successful season; and

Whereas the club held its annual awards picnic day on September 20, 2009; and

Whereas the Truro Tennis Club presented a special Appreciation Award to long-time members Romaine Piers and Jack Piers, in recognition of their many years of service as tournament coordinators;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Romaine Piers and Jack Piers for the Appreciation Award that they justifiably received from the Truro Tennis Club on September 20, 2009.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 493

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

[Page 892]

Whereas Bridgewater United Church has been serving the spiritual and community needs of residents of Bridgewater and the surrounding area for over 100 years; and

Whereas Bridgewater United Church has been actively involved in making Bridgewater and the surrounding area a stronger community by hosting daycare, Scouting and other important programs, as well as being a major contributor to the local food bank; and

Whereas Bridgewater United Church celebrated its 161st Anniversary on Sunday, September 27, 2009;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Reverend Ivan Norton, Ms. Judy Norton, and the congregation of Bridgewater United Church, for 161 years of dedicated service to the community of Bridgewater and the surrounding area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 494

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

Whereas PolyCello has succeeded in researching, developing and producing the latest in environmentally-friendly packaging, called SmartPack, all from its head office and plant based in Amherst, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this family-owned company was one of the first North American plastic or flexible packaging businesses to earn the ISO 14001 designation for high environment- management standards; and

[Page 893]

Whereas PolyCello is one of North America's leading innovators in producing sustainable products that are both cost-effective and better for the environment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend its congratulations to PolyCello of Amherst, and thank this company and its employees for the contributions to environmental sustainability.

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 Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 495

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

Whereas Cyril and Lillian Rose have been active and respected residents of the Town of Mulgrave since 1962; and

Whereas Captain Cyril Rose has been a dedicated member of Temple Lodge No. 57 for 46 years; and

Whereas Lillian Rose has been a faithful member of St. Andrews Anglican Church Women's Group since 1962;

Therefore be it resolved that the Legislature of Nova Scotia recognize and thank Cyril and Lillian Rose for their many years of volunteer service in their community and its organizations and wish them much health and happiness upon their relocation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 894]

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 Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

RESOLUTION NO. 496

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

Whereas Saint Mary's University student, Leah Skerry, is a leader and entrepreneur; and

Whereas Ms. Skerry benefited from the Students in Business start-up loan program to develop, market and run EQ Media; and

Whereas through the support and mentorship of the Students in Business Program, she now runs a successful enterprise;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Leah Skerry for being a successful and forward thinking entrepreneur whose leadership sets a shining example for all Nova Scotia university students.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

[Page 895]

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time now is 2:38 p.m. We'll go until 4:08 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

PREM. - FISH. MIN.: FISHING GEAR/LOBSTER LICENCE SALE

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday the Premier told reporters that he knew the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture was selling his fishing gear and lobster licence. He also said he knew the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture approached the Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner for advice. So my question for the Premier is, when did you know the potential buyer of your minister's gear and licence was getting money from the Fisheries Loan Board?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't think I would ever know whether or not the buyer was going to get money from the loan board. Of course, the buyer is an independent person. They make an application to the board. If they meet the appropriate criteria, if they make the application and they meet the criteria, they get a loan.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, there is a code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers and the Office of Conflict of Interest Commissioner for a reason. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture knew when he wrote the Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner on June 22nd that the potential buyer of his gear and licence had made an application for a loan through the Fisheries Loan Board. So my question to the Premier is, when did he tell you - before or after you made him Minister of Fisheries?

THE PREMIER: The minister disclosed it to me, I believe, in one of the earliest conversations I had with him about his potential appointment to Cabinet, and he did exactly the right thing. He did exactly what the code of conflict is there for. He did exactly what the commissioner is there for. He inquired as to the appropriateness of what he should do. He got advice. He followed it.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, earlier this summer the Minister of Justice found himself in a difficult spot. In that case the Premier removed the responsibilities for the Police Review Board from the minister and gave it to the Minister of Finance until this matter was resolved. My question for the Premier, why didn't you remove the responsibilities for the Fisheries Loan Board from your Fisheries Minister when you knew there was a potential conflict of interest?

THE PREMIER: As I pointed out in the answer to the last question, the minister wrote to the Commissioner of Conflict of Interest, he asked for advice with respect to the

[Page 896]

matter. He received advice, he had followed the procedure and that's what the Commissioner is there for - to give advice and direction.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Argyle.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE: OWNER/OPERATOR POLICY

[GOV'T. (CAN.)] - POSITION

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the minister responsible for lobstergate. As you're probably aware, there are many discussions in our area in regard to independent fishermen and the issue of trust agreements used to help operators get into the industry. There are too many trust agreements out there, where boats and licences are run by the fishermen on behalf of other individuals or companies. My question to the current Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is, what is your position on the current federal owner-operator policy?

MR. SPEAKER: I'd remind members to address their questions to the proper minister with the proper name of the department.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. (Interruptions)

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, this has been very important to all members of this particular House and the owner-operator policy has been supported by this particular Party and I think all Parties across Nova Scotia. It's an ongoing process and the federal government is dealing with that and I, as an individual and as the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, support the owner-operator policy.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for lobstergate - sorry, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture should understand the importance of trust agreements. Especially before our government brought in the new loan for licence program that he is now responsible for, the many entrants who could not get bank backing to get into the industry, since licences were very high - record-high prices well over $500,000 - they needed this backing in order to have it happen. There are still many trust agreements out there today and there are fishermen asking when they should get rid of them. The owner-operator policy is very explicit that within seven-year process that they are to get rid of the trust agreements.

Do you have, or have you ever had, a trust agreement and designated another fisherman to run your fishing enterprise?

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

[Page 897]

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member opposite I've never had a trust agreement. I have followed DFO policies to the letter. I understand by the federal policy regarding trust agreements there is a seven-year window that the industry must dispose or must take corrective measures to deal with this. This is a federal policy and I can assure the member opposite that I have been 38 years fishing and I understand the policies very well and I respect them, thank you very much.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Very interesting and I'll table a copy of a Fisheries and Oceans document that designates another fisherman to run your boat, the Disconnection. So I'm guessing that since your election to this House in 2006, you had a trust agreement with this fisherman. You had to have something with him. What is more interesting is the reason for the substitute operator is for "sick time". My question to the minister is, why did you mislead DFO on the reason for designating another fisherman to run your boat, the Disconnection, for being sick? You were elected to this House at that same time. Were you sick or were you sick because you're an NDP?

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite - I don't choose the words that the honourable member has chosen. I understand the DFO policy, I have followed DFO policy to the letter, and I am respectfully here representing the fishermen and my industry. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE: MIN./FISHING GEAR/LICENCE SALE

- DEPT. INSTRUCTIONS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, thank you. My question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Yesterday the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture said he sought advice from the Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner because he was selling his fishing gear and licence. Mr. Speaker, he was advised to assign all decision making in the matter to someone in his department, so my question for the Minister of Fisheries is, who in your department was assigned that job?

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for bringing that question forward. I encourage him to bring a lot more questions forward regarding the fisheries.

[Page 898]

I want to table a letter from the Commissioner of Conflict of Interest. I took on this office on June 19th, and on the very first working day following that appointment I contacted the Commissioner of Conflict of Interest and asked for advice how to follow the process.

I have been in business for 38 years as a fisherman, I have followed due process and I'd like to table this, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to the remaining questions. (Applause)

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, let me try again because I understand this must have been a very delicate matter for the department and the minister. Someone had to handle the matter with great care - there were hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars at stake and, to boot, the owner of the boat and the licence would be your boss. So my question to the minister is, how did the minister instruct his department to handle this file and who handled the file?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is well aware, there is a branch within the provincial fisheries called the Provincial Loan Board. I followed instructions by Mr. Nunn - and that particular loan board acts independently. There are six members and they do their work thoroughly. Thank you very much.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Justice Nunn, told the minister to appoint someone in his department to handle this whole matter - I'm just looking to see who it was.

Let me review - the Minister of Fisheries sells his licence and gear, he is responsible for the Fisheries Loan Board, the person buying the gear and the licence is getting the money from the loan board and the whole file is being monitored by a staff member at the minister's office. Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister, how can you expect any reasonable person in this province to believe that in your position, directly or indirectly, that you had no bearing on the outcome of this matter?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to give the member opposite a brief history of what I did. In 2008, a year before the June 9th election, I entered an agreement with a marine brokerage firm. I put my enterprise up for sale with certain conditions on that. I was very successful and I want to just repeat - our Party was very successful on June 9, 2009.

I have followed due process, Mr. Speaker. I have contacted the Commissioner of Conflict of Interest and I plan to do the appropriate things, and here we are. So I've answered all the questions and I'm here to do the right thing on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay on a new question.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE: MIN./FISHING GEAR/LICENCE SALE

[Page 899]

- PURCHASE PRICE

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is, again, for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Yesterday the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture refused to tell Nova Scotians how much the minister pocketed for his licence and gear, calling that figure private - his own private business. In fact, the money that he received is not private, it's public money, it's taxpayers' dollars. My question for the minister is, will the minister tell the House today how much taxpayers have forked out to buy his lobster licence and boat?

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I think the question needs to be, who is purchasing this particular enterprise? The application was in that individual's name, not in the minister's name. I'd like to be very clear, I worked all my life, 38 years, in the fishing industry. I paid every bill and there's nothing outstanding on that. I followed due process, I've contacted the Conflict of Interest Commissioner and I intend to do the appropriate things. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, tell the minister he's not the only hard working fisherperson in this province, let me tell you. (Applause) The minister had a choice. If he wanted to keep the sale of his boat and licence private, he should have told the purchaser to go to a bank. When you accept money from the Nova Scotia Fisheries Loan Board, your right to privacy no longer exists. Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is being spent. My question for the minister is, will the minister immediately table the minutes from the September 4th meeting of the loan board when the money to purchase his licence and boat was approved?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I'll advise my staff if we can get a copy of those particular minutes and I would have no trouble tabling them. I also want to point out that we have followed due process. Also, the letter from the Conflict of Interest Commissioner stated that once you become a Minister of the Crown, you must distance yourself from that particular business. That's exactly what I did. Thank you.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister said he was refusing to the media, refused to release the purchase price of the boat. Now he's saying he will table the minutes of that meeting. The price of the fishing licence and boat in District 34 ranges from $500,000 to $1 million.

My next question is for the Premier. This Premier campaigned, this Premier sat on the Opposition side for 10 years and said, you had to be open, you had to be transparent in this House. Well, the Official Opposition will do it for you, Mr. Premier. We'll table the minutes of that meeting; we'll table them right now. The minutes will show that the Minister of Fisheries has been paid $567,000 - $567,000 taxpayers' dollars for his fishing boat and

[Page 900]

fishing licence. Let me ask the Premier - Mr. Premier, Mr. Openness, Mr. Transparency - how do you feel about that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I feel somebody got a good deal. (Interruptions) Whoever purchased that boat for $500,000 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: The presumption that the member makes is wrong. He doesn't know what he would have got for the boat because, of course, the guy who made the application was seeking financing. The purchase and sale agreement could have been for some number completely different. (Interruptions) No, you're talking about the private file of an individual in this province that is protected by the application that is made by a private citizen to the government department, is private information, protected by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. That's the first thing.

The second thing is what the Minister of Fisheries did is, he applied to the commissioner for advice, he wrote him, laid out the situation, received advice, and he followed it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE: FISHING LICENCE LOAN PROG.:

MIN. BENEFICIARY - CONFIRM

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My question today through you is to the minister responsible for the loan board. The veil of secrecy is now turning into an iron curtain. During the election, the candidate who is now Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, in his propaganda - and I have it here today, "One of Sterling's top priorities when he was first elected was to fight for a program that would allow Nova Scotia fishermen the opportunity to apply for loans to help secure commercial fishing licences. His long-fought struggle finally ended when the loan board was implemented April 1, 2009." I'll table that.

A program that was presented by the PCs and, of course, voted against by that member and the NDP. Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister, when you spoke to the residents of Shelburne County, did you inform them that you would be a beneficiary of this program, or did it just happen to slip your mind?

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The member opposite suggested that I voted against the budget. I didn't vote against the budget, I voted against an incompetent Party. Thank you very much.

[Page 901]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, of course, through all this we heard there was actually an outstanding balance on that boat, of approximately $300,000, but of course that's a different story altogether.

The Ministerial Code of Conduct states in Section 3(e), and it goes like this: "In any decision making process where the minister knows or ought reasonably to know, that there is an opportunity to further the minister's private interest or to improperly seek to further another person's private interest, the minister shall . . . (ii) withdraw from the decision making process."

Mr. Speaker, can you provide me with documents immediately, to prove that you withdrew from this decision-making process?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much. Again, Mr. Speaker, I tabled the letter earlier and I took advice from the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. I followed that advice; I did not get involved with the decision. I put the sale of that particular boat in the hands of a brokerage firm and I can go into great lengths about the loan board.

The loan board was established in 1938, through an Act through Parliament. I can show documents back in the mid-1980s where young fishermen wanted to have access to capital. That has been a long while getting forward, and I hope that I played some part in that. I can tell the members opposite - all Parties, all people here - it is crucial, if we want to maintain independent fishermen in our coastal communities, that they need to have access to capital. It is a good story. (Applause)

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, what we're trying to get at - in 1980, the then-Minister of Fisheries, the Honourable Donald Cameron, resigned from his position as Minister of Fisheries because of his selling his family farm and because of the implications, or what he felt might be perceived as a conflict, he resigned his position because the monies would be flowed through the Farm Loan Board at the time.

I'll table a number of documents and press releases of that time. So, minister, he took himself out of that process so there would be no perceived conflict.

Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary to the Premier, when you decided on your Cabinet did you take into consideration that the member for Shelburne had a trust agreement, outstanding balance on the Loan Board, numerous licences in his name - like a lobster licence, like a mussel lease - which he still holds - the marine plant licence, and I could go on. My question, did the member disclose to you the intricate fishing enterprise that he continues to manage, that he continues to manage while he is still Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture?

[3:00 p.m.]

[Page 902]

THE PREMIER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Fisheries acted entirely appropriately. He outlined the position for the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. He received advice, he followed it, and that's exactly what he should do. I think he should be congratulated for his service and for the work that he is doing.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE: MIN. LOBSTER LICENCE

- TRUST AGREEMENT/ILLNESS POLICY

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia fishermen are trying to figure out how it is that the current Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has been able to hold onto his lobster licence after his election in 2006 up to the present. The document tabled by the member for Argyle makes it clear that under DFO rules, you have two options: you can have a trust agreement, where you put your licence in someone else's name with a legal agreement to go with it; or you could apply to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for a medical certificate stating that you're too sick to fish your licence and therefore asking the department to designate an operator to fish your licence, because you're too ill to do so yourself.

The document tabled by the member for Argyle makes it clear that in this case the current Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, in 2006, said he was too sick to fish his own licence, and therefore designated another operator. So my question to the Minister of Fisheries is, is it your statement today to Nova Scotians that you have been too sick, since 2006, to fish your own lobster licence?

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, again, I think I understand the policy is left to some interpretation by the opposite side. I understand the DFO policies very well. (Interruptions) I have followed DFO's policies in the past and I have great respect for them. I appreciate them and I followed due process. Thank you.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it comes down again to transparency, integrity, accountability, all of the above, for this government and for these ministers. The minister has clearly stated that he didn't have a trust agreement, so we can accept that there is no trust agreement. That leaves it to the document provided by the member for Argyle which says that he went to DFO, said he was too sick to be able to operate his boat and someone else was designated as the operator. So I ask the minister again, is it your statement to Nova Scotians and to this House that you were too sick, since 2006, to fish your own lobster licence?

MR. BELLIVEAU: My statement to the residents of Nova Scotia is that I followed DFO policies.

[Page 903]

MR. SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, I guess there is no doubt to Nova Scotians what kind of a new government that they have today and how different this government has been from previous governments in Nova Scotia about openness, transparency and accountability. The question has been very simple to this Minister of Fisheries yet he continues to avoid it and instead says that he has followed DFO regulations. DFO regulations allow a fisherman who is ill to have another operator operate their vessel for them, it has been done before, it is a legitimate rule. The question is very simple, did the Minister of Fisheries - is it his statement that he was too ill, since 2006, to operate his own lobster licence, yes or no?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I want to repeat, I can go into great lengths that I have followed due process since I've been here. I understand the policies that reflect DFO regarding the fishing operations and I have followed them. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

ERD - MIN.: RDAs - RESPONSIBLITY

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. We are wondering if the minister has read the Ministerial Code of Conduct and do you know exactly the ministerial responsibilities that you have toward the regional development authorities across Nova Scotia?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I want all members of the House to know that I take the ministerial code very seriously. I took the oath under the guidance of God and I respect that.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you again to the minister, and in case the minister hasn't read the Regional Community Development Act, I will table that, and I have highlighted the areas maybe he should brush up on. Whereas the minister has met with a private citizen at his private residence at a secret meeting that has a pending lawsuit against the regional development authority of southwestern Nova Scotia, and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture accompanied him to this meeting and they got caught at the meeting, but the minister as yet failed to meet with the RDAs of this province or the association of RDAs. My question to the minister today is, if the board of the South West Shore Development Authority drives to Halifax, will he meet them here in this House of Assembly, because he will not drive to southwestern Nova Scotia?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, first, I think for clarification, I have never attended a secret meeting in my life. (Interruptions) I was in Shelburne for a couple of days, and when I was in Shelburne, I met with a number of people. (Interruptions) If you will indulge me, I will tell you who I met with. I met with the union of the laid-off employees of the Shelburne Shipyards; I met with the employees who were laid off; I met with some members of their families; and I met with residents of the community of Shelburne. (Interruptions)

[Page 904]

MR. SPEAKER: Allow the minister to answer the question, please.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I also know for a fact that there is indeed a meeting planned for me with members of the Regional Development Authorities Association.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, it's so nice to know we have an open and transparent government.

My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is through you to the Premier. I am tabling the letter that you would not do, Mr. Premier - it is the letter to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner outlining the concerns of the people of southwestern Nova Scotia, that you would not do. This Premier has turned his back on the people of southwestern Nova Scotia and his minister is in blatant conflict. I also will table for the Premier the Ministerial Code of Conduct and ask him maybe if he would read Section 2 and Section 3(f) and report back to this House if his ministers are in breach of that code of conduct?

THE PREMIER: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I have read the code of conduct closely and they are not in a conflict. Secondly, I should let the member for Yarmouth know that the head of the regional development agency was in my office not a week ago, talking to me about important issues in Yarmouth.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE - MIN.: COMPANY DIRECTORSHIP

- DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture knew that he couldn't keep his licence and boat and carry on that business while he was a Minister of the Crown - he did make that clear in a letter to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, a June 22nd letter - so my question to the minister is, was he aware he could not remain a director of a company while a Minister of the Crown?

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I was aware of the rule that, once you become a Minister of the Crown, you have to distance yourself from whatever business and I did that. I went through that process, I followed due process. Thank you.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the Code of Conduct is clear. A minister cannot hold a directorship of a company while a Minister of the Crown. Section 6(a) of the Ministerial Code of Conduct. My question to the minister is, why is the minister listed as a director of Mr. Mussel's Seafarms Ltd.?

[Page 905]

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member opposite, the company you're talking about, I was the president of it. I'm going through that due process. I have (Interruptions) a number of assets (Interruptions)

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

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a number of assets in that company, we are going through a process, I contacted a brokerage firm to deal with the enterprise. I've done that. I had a half-ton truck, that truck has been traded, I have a new vehicle, it's in a different name. We are in the process of disposing of the assets of that company. I am following due process. Thank you very much.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the minister might want to talk to the Premier, he can get you a great deal for that truck too, while he's at it.

Mr. Speaker, if you look at the ship's registry for the minister's boat, Disconnection, at 11:58 a.m. yesterday, just before Question Period, you would have seen Mr. Mussel's Seafarms Ltd., listed as the owner of that vessel. If you look at the registry at the end of Question Period, magically, Mr. Mussel's Seafarms had been replaced with another owner. All of this between the beginning and the end of Question Period after we asked the minister about the sale of his boat.

Is anybody really buying this? The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture makes Ernie Fage look like an amateur. Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is, what exactly do you have to hide?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I have all the intentions to make everybody in Nova Scotia very aware of the opportunities that we are facing in our fishing industry. I expect to bring that message very forcefully to Ottawa. I would like to take the opportunity here, I've followed process here. I've talked about it, I have addressed the members opposite and I intend to... (Interruptions) I look forward to having some other questions regarding the fishing industry and I look forward to having some other questions regarding that. Thank you very much.

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

ERD - LITERACY/COMMUN. INFRASTRUCTURE:

EFFECTS - VALUE

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. My question, Mr. Minister is, does your department value the positive effects that the development of literacy and community infrastructure has in rural Nova Scotia?

[Page 906]

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, the short answer to the question is yes, we do.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I'm certainly glad to hear that because the Antigonish Library is currently having a difficult time securing the provincial portion of funding they need from this NDP Government to move forward on an important initiative for the region - The People's Place Project. The People's Place Project has secured $3.45 million in funding, including $250,000 that was raised by the community.

My question Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister is, will the minister commit the People's Place Project for the remaining $1.8 million that is required?

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, first I want to say that I personally and certainly my department, think that the People's Place Project in Antigonish is a fantastic initiative.

Further, I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from Antigonish about a month ago, in my office, along with another minister of government. (Interruptions) At that time - Mr. Speaker, it's quite difficult for me to talk when so many other people are talking around the House. One of the things is that the People's Place did apply for funding through ERA. In a letter to the requesters, I said, well maybe it just doesn't fit under the criteria of the ERD, Economic and Rural Development, but I will personally, with the assistance of other people within my government, see what we can do with respect to People's Place. So we are working on it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes on your final supplementary.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I'll table a letter that the minister sent to Mr. Eric Stackhouse, chief librarian for the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library dated August 24th. In the letter the minister refuses to fund the project that has received funding from the federal and municipal levels of government. This government states that it's living within its means, yet it seems to be ignoring key investments in the future of Nova Scotia communities. My question for the minister, why have a division of community and rural development if worthwhile projects like the one in Antigonish are dismissed when they're asking for one-third investment in the project, when the other levels of government are onboard?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how much clearer I can make this. (Interruptions) They applied for funding under Economic and Rural Development. I admitted, and I said and I will reiterate, I sent them a letter saying that under the ERD

[Page 907]

guidelines, it does not fit our criteria, however, I have taken on the personal responsibility, within government, to find if there is any other way that we can assist People's Place Project.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

FISH & AQUACULTURE - DFO REGS.: SICK TIME

- DEFINITION

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the document tabled by the member from Argyle is a standard renewal, which is issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans when it comes to fishing licenses. The renewal here refers to licenses which are held and, I know I can't say his name but it is the name of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and it goes on to list what those licenses are, but at the very end of this renewal it talks about substitute operators and with that it refers to the fishery identification number of the license. It talks about the operator name, who is the substitute, it has a start date of September 8, 2008 and an end date of September 8, 2009, and the reason it says is sick time. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has made it clear he's very familiar with DFO regulations and he understands them very clearly so I'm wondering if he would be so kind to explain to the members of this House, under DFO regulations, what does sick time mean?

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

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I understand the policy very well and I have met the policy regarding the substitute operator for a fishing vessel. I have done that and I respect DFO's policies and I have done that, I agreed to it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond on your first supplementary.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, fishermen throughout Nova Scotia are finding this quite amusing, that while some have been refused loans through the Fisheries Loan Board, the individual buying the license from the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture somehow had his loan approved. Now we know that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has managed to hold onto his lobster license for over three years without actually operating it himself. All the while standing in this House and waxing eloquently about the owner-operator principle and how the NDP supported it. Now he keeps telling us that he has followed the DFO regulations.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, we've just lowly provincial officials here. We're not up in Ottawa, we apparently don't know what the DFO regulations are. Since the minister is so familiar with them, I ask him again - on this piece of paper with your licence renewal - what, Minister, do DFO regulations mean when they refer to sick time as the reason why you did not operate your own licence?

[Page 908]

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, but the members opposite seem to have more information on me than I had myself. There is a very complex web of policies that DFO requests regarding owner-operator. I have met those policies. The DFO is very familiar with my position over the last three years and I can assure the members that I have met those particular requirements. Thank you.

MR. SAMSON: You know, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries said he has 38 years experience. If I'm not mistaken, yesterday in the press I believe, he even went so far as to say that he was the best individual in Nova Scotia to hold the post of Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I'm sure it will be cold comfort for the fishermen throughout Nova Scotia who are scratching their heads right now, trying to figure out exactly how the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture could accept a $0.5 million loan for his licence and gear, from his own department, yet somehow tell Nova Scotians there is no conflict of interest or any appearance of a conflict of interest.

Now we're simply asking him to explain how he held onto a licence which other fishermen cannot do unless they are legitimately sick and they produce the necessary doctor's papers to show they are too ill to operate their vessel. Being the minister won't explain what sick time means. Now that he is Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, will he be open and transparent and table in this House the documents you provided to Fisheries and Oceans for them to justify you having a substitute operator, because of sick time?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I just want to clarify one of the statements of the member opposite. I did not request the loan. That was from another individual. I put the boat up for sale through a marine brokerage system. I have followed due process, I have contacted the Commissioner of Conflict of Interest, I have followed DFO policy. thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

PREM.: NSCC DISPUTE - RESOLVE

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Teachers at Nova Scotia Community College graduate hundreds of students each year. The work these individuals do is vital to the economy of Nova Scotia, whether it be in the trades, service sector, health, child care or business, et cetera.

My question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Premier. Will he step in today, at the 11th hour, and treat these Nova Scotia Community College teachers as equals in the education system by resolving that dispute today?

THE PREMIER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can advise the member opposite that I have no intention of stepping into the middle of what is a collective bargaining situation. I

[Page 909]

think it should be resolved at the table. I would hope that the representatives of the community college staff would go back to the table and negotiate with the community college, as is appropriate in the circumstances.

MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again to the Premier, certainly a different song than the honourable Premier sang when he was on this side of the House in different disputes in the past. The Nova Scotia Community College regularly turns out qualified individuals to fill much-needed vacancies, as the Premier knows, across this province. By not settling this dispute now, the Premier and his minister are delaying the opening, for example, of long-term care beds and placement of individuals in those. It will also fail to fill trades where positions are much-needed right across this province.

Mr. Speaker, will the Premier do the right thing and act now to end this dispute so that the availability of trained professionals in Nova Scotia is not jeopardized?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will not do what the member opposite is asking. I will not impose a contract, I will not set aside agreements. I will not entertain the idea of back-to-work legislation. I am not going to do that because that's the way they operated. We respect collective bargaining.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, the messages we're getting and the calls we're getting is that the former government treated these people with respect, like all teachers across this province deserve whether they work in the public system or whether they work for Nova Scotia Community College, and these teachers are not receiving that respect.

Mr. Speaker, many of these students who are attending have put their lives on hold. Their families have their lives on hold. They've taken a financial risk here. I'm asking the Premier today on behalf of these teachers and the students to show true leadership and will he involve himself in the process and end this today so that the students and the teachers can get on with their lives?

THE PREMIER: Again, Mr. Speaker, I will not interfere in the collective bargaining process. I will respect it.

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

SNSMR: HEATING ASSISTANCE REBATE - CHANGES

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Almost one year ago today the government of the day announced that Nova Scotians heating their homes with oil, natural gas or propane would receive up to a $450 rebate under the Heating Assistance Rebate Program formerly known as Keep the Heat. However, my office has recently heard that the government is making

[Page 910]

changes to this program. So my question for the minister is, what changes is your government making to the HARP program and when can we expect a notification of these changes?

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I can't speak on that because this is a budget item.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, it's a Keep the Heat Program that was already in place and she can't speak on it but her department can. I received correspondence from a concerned Nova Scotia who contacted Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations by e-mail and this was the response they received: Thank you for your e-mail inquiry on October 6, 2009 regarding the Heating Assistance Rebate Program. The Heating Assistance Rebate Program will be going ahead this year. However, the amount has changed to a maximum of $200. There has been no start date announced and the applications will be available once the program starts. So my question to the minister is, why is your government reducing the maximum amount related to this rebate from $450 to $200 for Nova Scotians who require it to heat their homes this winter?

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, it was my understanding that I had to wait until I did my estimates to explain that program but I'm willing to do that now if that's appropriate. Yes, the program is in place but there have been changes. There have been some changes because the economy has changed. The cost of fuel has gone down from the time period that it was brought in. We've also initiated, as of October 1st the provincial portion of HST has gone off the electricity. What is being done with this program, although the member opposite might have a perception that we are lowering the amount going out, what we have done is broadened it so more people in Nova Scotia will be able to get the rebate.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I don't have any perception that they're lowering the amount, her own staff is telling Nova Scotians they are lowering the amount. The minister speaks of the 8 per cent reduction on electricity bills. That has nothing to do with this program. So let me guess, for your 8 per cent, so that the 52 members in this House get 8 per cent, does that mean the lowest Nova Scotians are making money to pay for that? Those making $15,000 are going to pay so that every member in this House gets an 8 per cent reduction on their electricity bill? Is that fair? Is that open and accountable?

MR. SPEAKER: Question, member.

MR. MCNEIL: Is that made available to every Nova Scotian?

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, reducing the rebate for HARP for low- and middle-income families and individuals does not sound like the NDP Government is on the side of

[Page 911]

all Nova Scotians. There are thousands who really need this rebate and are going to suffer this winter when they are only receiving a maximum of $200. In fact, on September 4, 2008, just over a year ago, the now Premier told The ChronicleHerald that the HARP rebate should be doubled from $200 to $400, calling $200 too timid to actually help those in need.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Your question please.

MR. MCNEIL: This is another case of the NDP Premier saying one thing for his government and one thing for another. My question to the minister is this, why is your government abandoning low- and middle-income Nova Scotians by reducing the maximum amount of the HARP from $450 to $200?

MS. JENNEX: The amount of rebate has gone down in one area but has gone up in another. We've also changed the threshold (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister has the floor.

MS. JENNEX: The thresholds have changed, so therefore more people in Nova Scotia will be able to apply for the rebate. The rebate for electricity was $150, has gone up to $200, and so more people in Nova Scotia will be able to apply. It has actually broadened. More people will be able to apply for a rebate. Thank you.

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

NAT. RES. - SPRUCE BARK BEETLE: MIN - CONCERN

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Natural Resources. During estimates last week dealing with DNR, you stated that you didn't know that the spruce bark beetle was much of an issue and you didn't know about it. I will table a copy of the remarks that the minister made. This week's edition of the Inverness Oran quotes a Department of Natural Resources worker in Baddeck as saying that the spruce bark beetle infestation will likely continue to create problems in the forests for the next several years. Another local contractor describes the woods as a mess. I will table that as well. My question today for the minister is, does the minister view this as a problem?

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, the department does view it as a problem. The spruce beetle is indigenous to the province, it does seem to be having significant impact in Cape Breton more so than other parts of the province. On a recent tour I made of the highlands, actually I have to say I was more preoccupied with the damage to pine, which I saw as more extensive. But we are concerned about the spruce beetle.

[Page 912]

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, thank you, Mr. Minister for that answer. The Crown lands forester working for DNR says that most of the foresters expect the pest will destroy most of the mature white spruce population throughout Cape Breton in the next few years. My first supplementary to you is this, can the minister table in this House his department's action plan on how they are planning to combat the spruce bark beetle?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I have had some discussion with my staff on this issue. I don't think I can table a plan for the member today, as I'm not sure if there is a plan in writing, but there has been some discussion on that and as soon as I have something that I can give to the member, or give to the House, I would be glad to do that.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, during estimates, again, when I questioned the minister about this he replied that the department obviously indicates the outbreak of spruce beetle and it says in particular between Inverness and Victoria Counties, but they don't have, and they haven't indicated that there is a plan of action in place for that.

My final supplementary to the Minister of Natural Resources is, people in your own department working in Baddeck have identified this as a major problem, they spoke to the media and said this is going to have a devastating effect on the forests of Cape Breton for years to come, why isn't there a plan in place and how soon can that plan be put in place?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I just want to be aware that the member can hear me with my mike on because I can hear him with his microphone off. I want to say that . . . (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources has the floor.

MR. MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do talk to my staff, and this is one of the issues . . . (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Try again, Mr. Minister.

MR. MACDONELL: I haven't been talking to the people in Baddeck, but my staff who work below me have been talking to people in Baddeck, and when we come up with a plan that my staff is working on, I'd be glad to share that with the member, with the House, with the people of Cape Breton.

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

PREM.: NSCC STRIKE - AVERT

[Page 913]

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday, the Nova Scotia Community College President sent a letter to our colleagues, which I tabled last night. It read: We are now planning for the strong possibility of a strike. As you know, the union will be meeting on Thursday to set a strike date.

The Minister of Education and the Premier have said many times they respect the collective bargaining process, but time is running out. My question to the Premier, will the government step in and avert a strike, yes or no?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I've said, I'm not going to interfere in the collective bargaining process. I sincerely hope that the members of the staff of the community college will find their way back to the collective bargaining process, to the bargaining table, and will seek to reach a resolution of this dispute.

I do not doubt at all the sincerity of the union on matters with respect to their membership, and that's not what this is about. It is about having a process that works for both the union and for the management at Nova Scotia Community College, and the place for that to be resolved is at the bargaining table.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, the Deputy Premier already did interfere when he made his ministerial statement in this House this week. The NSCC President's letter also said: We have already experienced a cut in our 2009-10 operating budget. Further, the province will not be providing us with additional monies to resolve our collective bargaining beyond the current options.

NSCC needs the Premier to provide additional money for the collective bargaining to work, and he won't do it. My question to the Premier, do you agree that the only way for the collective bargaining process to work is for the NSCC faculty to accept less?

THE PREMIER: The issues associated with the collective bargaining process for the community college staff are complex. It involves wage questions, it involves pensions, it involves benefits - all of which would have to be balanced at the bargaining table. My hope is that they will decide that what is in the best interests of the staff at the community college is to try to seek a resolution in the appropriate form, which is, of course, the bargaining table.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, this Premier has basically told NSCC faculty to take it or leave it, and it's this stance that's going to cause a strike. This is going to cause a major disruption to the school year for students, and anxiety about graduation, but this Premier by his very actions is suggesting he doesn't care. My final question to the Premier, can you at least tell us what you recommend students do with their time off?

[Page 914]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to be very clear that I care very much about what happens at the community college, and I want to see a resolution take shape at the bargaining table. These are very difficult times - they're difficult times for the students, they're difficult times for the management at Nova Scotia Community College, it's difficult for the staff. We understand that. We also understand that collective bargaining is often very difficult on everyone and we appreciate it.

What we are not going to do is make an arbitrary decision. We're not going to do what the former Liberal Government did, which was impose and roll back contracts, and we're not going to do what the former Progressive Conservative Government did - we are going to respect the process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HEALTH: CAREGIVER ALLOWANCE PROG. - ELIGIBILITY

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

Could the minister explain to the House who the Caregiver Allowance Program, the in- home support program, is intended to help, and why this government is doing everything it possibly can to deny as many Nova Scotians as possible access to such an important service?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. This government values caregivers and we think it's very important to do whatever we can to keep seniors in their own homes and in their communities as long as possible. The Caregiver Allowance Program that was introduced in August - as the honourable member well knows - is a program that was developed by his government, the former government. The people it was designed, by that government, to assist were people with very low incomes and very high needs, following an assessment with some other criteria such as an income test and an age test and a certain amount of hours of care per week.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I'd just like to remind the honourable minister that she's the government today; she's the Minister of Health. We have a new Premier, a new government, so now they can make any changes they want to make this program better if they so believe.

I'd like to table a letter today that I sent to the honourable minister on behalf of Harold and Yvonne Adams of Westchester. Mr. Adams suffered a stroke eight years ago which left him paralyzed and basically unable to speak. He requires assistance each and every day for daily living activities such as help in and out of bed and for any movement - also for food preparation which must be prepared for his consumption. His wife, Yvonne, needs to

[Page 915]

assist him 24 hours a day each and every day of his and her life. And guess what, Mr. Speaker? They were denied. Why won't the minister help Harold and Yvonne Adams?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated previously, this is a program designed by the former government. It was designed (Interruptions) It was . . .

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this program - designed by the former government - was intended to be a targeted program, not a universal program. Not all caregivers in the province are eligible for this program. This program was designed by the previous government to assist about 750 people in the province, those with very high care needs and very low incomes. And, as of today, we're on target in terms of the numbers of people we see being found eligible to be in this program.

This Party and this government are planning our own in-home support program in the first full year of our mandate - that will give us an opportunity to address some of the deficiencies in the former government's program. Thank you.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister. I think what I heard there was an apology, and I also want to say that it'll only carry so long with Nova Scotians for this government to try to continue to blame somebody behind them. You, Madam Minister, are in the driver's seat today. You're the Minister of Health. You and the Premier can make any changes that you wish to make. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I gave the honourable member the respect to listen to her and I'd ask . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Order. The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, Madam Minister and the Premier are in charge of this government today. They are in charge of the finances and the programming. Nova Scotians aren't buying that, no more than the teachers are buying that you're using them fairly across this province. They know better.

Mr. Speaker, too many Nova Scotians have been denied access as a result of barriers put up by this government. Will the minister agree at least, on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Adams who only receive, by the way, Old Age Security and his Canada Pension, will she at least

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intervene and attempt to help them review this case so that Mr. Adams can continue to live at home? I plead with the minister to please do that today.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker. We'd be happy to review any of the assessments if members feel that the assessment was improperly handled. But I remind the members on that side of the House, particularly former government members, that they allocated a certain amount of money in the budget that is currently going through this House, for this program. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hear the member for Cape Breton West say we should borrow additional money, in order to fund the program. This is precisely why they are on that side of the House and we are on this side of the House. (Applause)

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

HEALTH: STROKE UNITS - LOCATIONS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. It's our understanding that there are decisions being made around the placement of acute stroke units in regional hospitals throughout Nova Scotia. While it is our understanding that Truro and Sydney have already been selected as sites for these units, there are still decisions to be made around whether or not an acute stroke unit will be located at the Aberdeen Hospital or at St. Martha's in Antigonish.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is, will the minister please confirm whether there has been a decision made on the location of the third stroke unit?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you, I thank the honourable member for that question. The Department of Health has a provincial health stroke strategy and, in fact, we are looking to enhance the programs that we're offering patients, who are survivors of strokes, and their families.

We have asked the Aberdeen Hospital and St. Martha's, those two DHAs, those two regional centres, if they will collaborate in terms of the preparation of a plan for the stroke strategy in their region. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it was my understanding that this is a program that can't be split between two different locations, that there had been some discussion about splitting the program and services between those two hospitals. So if it can only go in one hospital, my concern is that if we choose St. Martha's, we have the opportunity to serve a

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wider area - it would also serve Inverness and Richmond Counties at the same time. Whereas if we choose the Aberdeen Hospital, we're moving closer to Truro where there are already services and it's too far away to serve the people in Inverness and Richmond Counties.

My question to the minister is, if we can only place this in one hospital, would she personally feel that St. Martha's will be a better location than the Aberdeen, when it comes to creating the third acute-care stroke unit?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have first-hand knowledge of the phenomenal services that are offered in both of those regional hospitals, St. Martha's and the Aberdeen Hospital. I have great faith that the collaborative effort of the health care providers in both of those regional settings will develop and propose to the department the best possible plan for stroke survivors in their area. It's very premature to have a discussion about where this is going to be located because those regional hospitals are in the process of doing the work of collaborating on the plan right now, as we speak. Nothing has been submitted to the department and I'm not going to prejudge what will be coming in from that region.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, this is an issue about providing the best service to the greatest number of Nova Scotians and we feel that St. Martha's would be a better place to do that than the Aberdeen for this very reason. So I would like to ask the minister, will the minister assure Nova Scotians today that the decision to locate the stroke unit at either the Aberdeen or St. Martha's hospitals will be based on facts and not on politics?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the honourable member that a new era in health care planning is occurring in the Province of Nova Scotia. One where decisions will be made on the best medical evidence - unlike the past 15 to 20 years under previous Liberal and Tory Governments.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

SNSMR: HEAT SMART PROG. - FUNDING

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder. People are now filling their oil tanks for winter. In spite of this, people in constituencies across this province were wondering about the status of the Heat Smart program. Well, today we had a little bit of information. It appears there has been a change in how this is going (Interruption) More than a change. Can the minister please explain to the Province of Nova Scotia and the members of this House what the current investment - how many dollars are being invested in this new changed program?

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, that is the budget question that I will be answering in estimates.

[Page 918]

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, openness and transparency continues. We keep hearing a lot about the previous government and I can tell you this, it was good on this program - a $92 million investment in the Heat Smart program. It yielded positive results for every Nova Scotian. Rebates were given to low-income families and an 8 per cent point-of-sale reduction was placed on all heating sources regardless of financial status. This was a well-thought-out, balanced plan. Why is this minister and this new government holding back the relief so many Nova Scotians require?

MS. JENNEX: I think that the honourable member might have two programs confused. The Your Energy Rebate is carrying forward as it always has. The only change to that is, of course, that all electricity consumption after October 1st has the provincial portion of the HST removed from that.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the people of Nova Scotia will be warm thinking about those comments this coming winter. The NDP proudly rolled out the HST relief policy on electricity yet there has been silence that has persisted from this government on the Heat Smart program. We're just finally hearing a little about it today but ultimately things have been changed, discontinued. Those HST savings will soon be washed away. Will this minister and her government explain to Nova Scotians how this can possibly be a better deal when they will be cold this winter and no funding will be provided in the rebate?

MS. JENNEX: I am going to try to clarify this. There are two programs. There is no Heat Smart program. We have the Your Energy Rebate program which is at point of sale and that has not changed. The only change that we have brought in, of course, is the electricity. As of October 1st the HST will be taken off. (Interruptions) The other program that I think the honourable member is speaking about is the HARP Program. There are some changes around that, but it has been designed around the fact that petroleum costs have decreased since that program first came out, and we also have changed the thresholds, so even though the oil part has gone down, the electricity part has gone up.

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

EMO: PANDEMIC PLANS AG's REPT.

- RECOMMENDATIONS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office. In July, the Auditor General submitted a report on pandemic preparedness, and it had three specific recommendations for the Emergency Management Office. One of the recommendations stated that the office for which the minister is responsible should review non-government entity emergency plans to ensure that they adequately deal with a pandemic crisis. Today we learned that the Emergency Management Office is not doing this and doesn't intend to do it. My question to the minister

[Page 919]

is, why is the EMO not complying with the Auditor General's recommendation to review these non-government pandemic plans?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Emergency Management.

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the chance to clarify some miscommunication that might have gone forward today. Tomorrow we will be introducing a bill that is responding to the Auditor General's recommendations that came out, so tomorrow we'll be able to clarify that with the bill briefing.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, there has been confusion and miscommunication, I guess, because we clearly heard the CEO of the Emergency Management Office say that he doesn't have the expertise, doesn't have the people in his office to be able to look at those plans. We, on the other hand, said that we simply wanted the plans to be submitted so that Nova Scotians know that emergency plans are in place for all of the essential services that Nova Scotians require. So the confusion just gets perpetuated. He was very clear that he would not be asking for that.

In light of the fact that the minister tells us that legislation is coming, my question to the minister would be, are you going to direct the Emergency Management Office through this legislation to comply with the Auditor General's recommendation, yes or no?

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I'm hopeful that I can answer with more than just a yes or a no. We have followed the Auditor General's Report and recommendation, and we are putting in legislation which will allow the government to be able to ask non-government entities and agencies to submit plans. At this time, non-government agencies here in Nova Scotia do have plans. We have been in consultation and discussions with businesses across Nova Scotia - utilities across Nova Scotia - that they have clear and concise plans for if anything happens in a crisis in Nova Scotia. At this time, the legislation is moving forward on what the Auditor General recommended.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I think it's pretty clear that this information was not something the government wanted to share in a timely fashion with Nova Scotians. I don't even think the CEO of the Emergency Management Office knew about it, or he wouldn't have sat there today and denied that he had the capacity to receive those plans and review them. So I think there's more than miscommunication - there's a little bit of ineptitude going on.

My question at this point would be that, in light of the mixed messages, and also the message coming from the Halifax Citadel-Sable Island member today saying that legislation was forthcoming - which I think did pre-empt an announcement of that sort - I'd like to know why the legislation is even required if the EMO agreed and, in fact, the government agreed with the Auditor General's recommendations in July. It was said that government agreed

[Page 920]

with all of the recommendations. Why were companies and private entities simply not asked for those reports? I'm sure they will provide them. My question really is, why do we need legislation in order to see those reports?

[4:00 p.m.]

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, the legislation is moving forward, and it is on a recommendation from the Auditor General, the legislation will be giving government the ability to ask non-government agencies for plans. That is going to be legislated. At this time, there is no need for the Nova Scotian Government to see these plans. We know they have them, we have been in consultation with the utilities, they sit at the table at EMO.

Nova Scotians' safety and security is utmost on the minds of this government and we are making sure we follow through with the recommendations. Thank you very much.

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

ATTY. GEN.: NEW GLASGOW POLICE SERV. - FUNDING

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Attorney General. The Attorney General has yet to clarify a commitment made to the people of New Glasgow. As he is well aware an announcement was made in New Glasgow to build on their phenomenal municipal police services and I'll table correspondence over the communications around that. My question to the Attorney General is, when will he live up to his obligations in New Glasgow and fund the positions so well deserved by the New Glasgow Police Service?

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the honourable gentleman for his question. My position hasn't changed from day one on this issue. The program is being reviewed and once we have reviewed the program, funding has been set aside, as he's aware, and a decision will be made and action will be taken. Thank you.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to the minister's own words, obviously, the Attorney General is fixated on other priorities beyond those in his own constituency. The Attorney General knows that the commitment to provide one officer for Aboriginal community police liaison and one officer for a youth court and school resource support member are more than worthy of funding. These positions are community based, community supported and the officers should be on the job. The person not on the job is the Attorney General. Again, will the minister step away from the NDP's veil of secrecy, as I said earlier, now becoming that of an iron curtain, and state that he'll support the Town of New Glasgow, its police service and enhance community policing for the citizens of his own constituency?

[Page 921]

MR. LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, thank you for that question. I want to let the gentleman across the way know and understand that I fully support the Town of New Glasgow, I fully support the police. In fact, up to this time last year, I was a police officer in that community providing service. I am dedicated and committed to the service and good quality service in the Town of New Glasgow as I am in all areas of Nova Scotia. As the Attorney General, let me assure you that I will look at the security of Nova Scotia as a whole, not just a singular part, but I do share your concerns.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, if he shared those concerns, he'd act on the direction for his own constituency - the New Glasgow Police Service - for Aboriginal and youth police officers who should be on the job today. It's very obvious that the minister, the Attorney General, has a disturbing pattern of working against municipal police services and municipalities in this province. The good people of New Glasgow and across Nova Scotia expected more from the Attorney General and his Premier who said they would honour previous government commitments and what was tabled was clearly a previous government commitment.

Since the Attorney General won't speak to the matter and can't seem to speak to the matter, I'd like to turn for my final supplementary to the Premier who said he would honour commitments. Can the Premier inform this House if his NDP Government will honour the $200,000, two officer commitment to the New Glasgow Police Service or is it just another raw deal for Nova Scotia municipalities in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the question. I want to assure him that I have complete confidence in the work that's being done by the Attorney General. He is in the process of reviewing these allocations. He said it's under review; he's going to make the best decision for the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

NAT. RES.: SILVICULTURE INVESTMENT

- FUNDING DETAILS

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. In August of this year the provincial and federal governments announced $14 million for silviculture funding in our province. Government says that this injection will create more than 400 jobs, help the ailing forestry industry. My question to the minister, where is government investing this funding and when will the jobs be created?

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The funding is over two years, so we would certainly be expecting that silviculture treatments would occur out of

[Page 922]

seven categories that the province funds. I think we are going to re-evaluate those categories to see whether or not we should re-invest or invest more in some than in others.

Those treatments should be ongoing as you can do them. Obviously there would be some that would be weather-related, like you wouldn't do tree planting in January. It would be an ongoing spending of money that has been allocated from both the federal government and us as well.

MR. GLAVINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My office's repeated attempts to contact the Department of Natural Resources for information on this funding, as well as other issues of financial support, went unanswered. The Strathlorne Forest Nursery has been a major employer in Inverness County for more than 20 years. There is worry amongst employees at the nursery that they could be laid off in the future. My question to the minister is, why did officials at your department ignore my office's request and will Strathlorne receive a portion of the announced funding to stop any perceived layoffs?

MR. MACDONELL: I'm not sure that officials in my office ignored your request, they just may not have given you an answer yet. If the member wants to talk to me after Question Period, I'd be glad to deal with it.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the previous government announced in April 2009 that more than $1.1 million would be committed to Strathlorne. However, when this funding was announced the province said this project would include a Ministerial Community Advisory Committee. The purpose of the committee is to work with the department to identify and evaluate options and implement necessary changes. My question to the minister, has the committee been struck . . .

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Would you please call Resolution No. 308.

Res. No. 308, re Acrobat Research Closure: Cheticamp/Chebucto - Assistance - notice given Sept. 30/09, Hon. K. Colwell.

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

[Page 923]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to stand in my place today and speak on Resolution No. 308. Just in case there are some people here or in the province who don't realize what this resolution is, or had forgotten what it is, particularly the members in the House, I'm going to read the resolution again:

Whereas Acrobat Research Ltd. has received over $1.7 million from the province and Nova Scotia Business Inc. in start-up loans and payroll rebates since 2003; and

Whereas Canso and Cheticamp are about to lose the cornerstone of their economies when Acrobat shuts down the doors of the call centres on October 29th of this year and lays off 48 workers in Canso and 38 workers in Cheticamp; and

Whereas the Premier has promised to extend assistance to the people of Canso and Cheticamp;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier inform the people of Cheticamp and the people of Canso specifically how we will assist them and when they can expect this assistance.

Mr. Speaker, Acrobat Research Limited is going to close, on October 29th, call centres in Cheticamp and Canso. Layoffs will affect 38 workers, as I said before, in Cheticamp and 48 workers in Canso.

Now Nova Scotia Business Inc. their raison d'être was, over the past number of years, to bring business into the province. But, it seems to me, they have been doing a lot of work on call centre placements throughout this province, in various parts of the province, and for various lengths of time. The difficulty of putting all their eggs in one basket is that call centres come and go. This is a situation where this investment has been placed there, and now it's about to be lost. I might add, Mr. Speaker, that NSBI and the current government take great pains to talk about the fact that they have instituted this payroll rebate system, and the previous government was doing the same thing, when in fact the payroll rebate system came into place under the Liberal Government of John Savage and Russell MacLellan, at the time that those two Premiers were in office, and it was passed on to the Progressive Conservative Government when we left office and now to the NDP opposite.

Mr. Speaker, what was different is that the payroll rebate system that we had in place - we didn't need a bureaucracy like NSBI to put in place, we did it through Economic Development. It worked, and today NSBI with its top-heavy cast of characters over there are trying to convince Nova Scotians that they're doing well for this province, when in fact they've just piggybacked on the payroll rebate system that is now in place in this province for over 10 years.

[Page 924]

I think that this government has to take a serious look at the future mandate of NSBI, and I'll be speaking to that in more detail when the estimates of Economic and Rural Development/NSBI, who don't seem to be responsible to any taxpayers in this province. If you look at the budget presented this year, you'll see very little or no reference to NSBI, its personnel, its budget, or the kinds of salaries that are being paid or, in fact, the kinds of initiatives that they're putting forward for the future, because none of that you'll find there, none of it.

It is for that reason that I believe that the kind of economic generator that NSBI has put into this province over the past few years is very tenuous. I believe, and I think that Dr. Hamm, when he was Premier, was sincere when he decided that he was going to separate the NSBI from Economic Development, one being an agency to develop policies for the future - that being Economic Development - and the other one to look at loans in this province that could meet the tests, meet the required tests. As a result, investments would be placed in the various sections of this province to spur economic growth in areas that needed it, namely areas of rural Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.

Well, what's happened is that both of these agencies, Mr. Speaker, are now giving out money when the test is not met by NSBI - the business test. Then, of course, Economic and Rural Development gets involved and finds a political reason to give some money to a particular business concern throughout the province. Acrobat Research, for example, is based in Toronto, and it talks about slowdowns in the economy as a reasons for closure. Now, Canso was started in 2003 with $100,000 from the province for startup, recruitment, and training costs, and NSBI agreed to give $420,000 in payroll rebates over five years. Cheticamp was opened in 2006, with $350,000 from the province for startup infrastructure costs, and NSBI agreed to give $850,000 in payroll rebates over six years. The Premier has said, "What we will extend, of course, is all of the assistance we can for those workers, and Labour and Workforce Development will be there to provide transition services." That quote, Mr. Speaker, was in the September 4th ChronicleHerald this year.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, these areas are suffering from a government who has not kept their promises in various other ways. Not the least of which is the fact that the government is virtually silent on how they're going to assist these communities in light of the fact that they're going to lose these call centre operations, which are, I will admit, tenuous to begin with. None of these call centres ever own anything in a community - they come in, they set up and they do a book of business, and when that book of business is gone, they're gone. That's unfortunate for some communities. I would think that NSBI /Economic and Rural Development - who are responsible, by the way, to the taxpayer directly - would try to come up with some better ways to provide employment opportunities for areas in rural Nova Scotia that desperately need it.

[4:15 p.m.]

[Page 925]

Now, Mr. Speaker, let's talk about rink cuts for a moment, and the promises of this government in those same areas - those same areas that need an injection into their local economies, not only to provide jobs but to bring some source of pride back to the communities because of the fact that they need particular infrastructure funding to support, in this case, rinks. Inverness has six rinks affected right now: the Al MacInnis Sports Centre, Port Hood District Recreation Commission; the Dr. Bernie MacLean Recreation Centre, Inverness Area Commission; the Mabou Athletic Centre, Mabou Athletic Centre Society; North Inverness Recreation Centre, Cheticamp; the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, which of course is in the Town of Port Hawkesbury; and the Whycocomagh Arena in Whycocomagh, and that consolidated recreation association.

Antigonish, Mr. Speaker, has two rinks affected. The Antigonish area - St. Francis Xavier University, the town and the university. Cutting the rink revitalization program has a larger impact on rural communities than simply upgrading facilities, and the government should know that. If the government was serious about doing something in these areas, they could send a message by providing the funding for those rinks, desperately needed, to give the assurance to those people that they haven't forgotten about them entirely, even though two of the communities I mentioned are going to lose their call centres.

Mr. Speaker, the situation here is one of - and as I said, I'm going to talk at length when estimates come up for Economic and Rural Development and I'm going to tip the minister off that I'm going to be asking for a lot of information on just how much authority this government has over Nova Scotia Business Inc., and are we ever going to get to a stage where Nova Scotia Business Inc. starts being responsible to the taxpayers of this province who pay their funds, pay their monies, pay their salaries, and give them the mandate to go out and try to revitalize the economy of this province.

So I'm going to give the minister a heads-up on that, that I'm going to be asking him questions during those estimates, but in the meantime I would hope that this government would give some thought to seeing a revitalization of the communities I've mentioned today because they desperately need it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development.

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I guess I'm going to start off by thanking the honourable member who just spoke before me for providing me with the heads-up. I'll certainly make note of that and I look forward to the questions during estimates.

I guess I want to say - and maybe I misread, what was it? It was Resolution No. 308, was it? And I mean this with all due respect to the honourable member who just spoke, but I thought we were going to speak more about contact centres than with particular reference to Cheticamp. I've heard NSBI get a lot of attention and I've heard rinks being talked about,

[Page 926]

and I also heard some other things, but I'm going to try to concentrate my efforts with respect to contact centres.

Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to say that these are tough times in Nova Scotia. The last year, the last two years have been very, very, very hard on Nova Scotians. I would be the last one to stand up here and preach and say how good we have it here in Nova Scotia - although we do have it good in some ways, but I don't want us to lose sight of the fact that good Nova Scotians have lost jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia. Now, having said that, contact centres have been around for awhile. A few things that I want to say about contact centres is that, first of all, in the Province of Nova Scotia alone contact centres provide somewhere close to 19,000 jobs, and those jobs for the most part are in rural Nova Scotia, where we need the jobs the most.

I know that contact centres have been in the Province of Nova Scotia since their origin. It's like most things - it has been a bit of an evolution for contact centres in Nova Scotia. The contact centres we've got - I hope it's fair for me to mention Convergys, that has been around for a long time. It employs well over 1,000 people in the Province of Nova Scotia, good-paying jobs. I say paying jobs because on the average - and many people may not know this and I talk about evolution, contact centres have evolved to be well-paying jobs. They have an average payroll, for individual payroll, in the vicinity of $40,000 a year. In rural Nova Scotia that's not too shabby an income and if you have two incomes coming into the same household, that's $80,000 per family and for something that we want to criticize, they perform a very vital service in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Not only to mention the job opportunities, but let's talk about the spinoffs that are created as a result of those job opportunities. Let's talk about those 19,000 jobs that produce - let's consider the direct and indirect benefits to the entire province. Let's think of the direct benefits when it comes to the taxes as a result of that, the impact it has on grocery stores, on department stores, on eat out, on taxis, on all those things that impact on our economy. I wouldn't be too eager or too quick to throw condemnation at contact centres. I think they serve a vital service.

I heard the honourable member speak about NSBI and, you know, NSBI performs a valuable service and I promised myself I wouldn't get up here and try to defend or try to take up my time and talk about NSBI because we will do that during estimates. I know NSBI will be here and I certainly welcome the opportunity for the member opposite to ask appropriate questions during estimates.

One of the things that I heard the honourable member talk about - he asked a question, the question was related to Acrobat and about the closing down of that facility - and he wanted to know what the Province of Nova Scotia, what this government, was doing for the laid-off workers in Acrobat and around Cheticamp. This has been a partnership within government. There have been a lot of departments involved and a lot of consultation: the

[Page 927]

Department of Labour and Workforce Development being one of them; certainly the Department of Economic and Rural Development being another one; and certainly NSBI has been there as well. What we will do, and what we will continue to do, is talk to those communities and those individuals who are affected by any type of layoff that goes on in Nova Scotia.

We want to talk about - and I'm trying to be so restricted here and I'm trying to show some restraint, but it's so tempting for me to talk about NSBI and government pay rebates. I'm kind of hedging around it because I know it's going to come up during estimates, but they serve a vital service in the Province of Nova Scotia. One of the things that I often boast about to all Canadians, and certainly Nova Scotians, and to all those people who I meet internationally, is that the greatest resource we have in the Province of Nova Scotia is people. We've got the best human resource in the world and I've had people say that to me from abroad, people who come here internationally.

One of the things - and I think I might have mentioned it in the House - there was a trade mission here from India a couple weeks ago and as we were sitting down to dinner they leaned over to me and they said, minister, do you know what the best thing is that attracts us to Nova Scotia? I said, well no - I think I know but I'd like to hear it from you. He went like that, beat on his heart, he said, because you've got heart. He says, the people in the Province of Nova Scotia have got heart and that's why we can attract call centres. That's why we can attract people from those foreign markets to come here, set up and do business and employ good Nova Scotians, have Nova Scotians working, have Nova Scotians employed.

That's one of the goals of Economic and Rural Development and I want to stress the word "rural" because those contact centres that we want to talk about here this evening are located, for the most part, in rural Nova Scotia. When we talk about out-migration, we don't talk about out-migration as much here in Halifax, we're talking about out-migration in the Annapolis Valley, we're talking about out-migration in Cape Breton, we're talking about out-migration in Shelburne because some of those individuals who are leaving those rural communities are coming to the bigger centres and that includes Halifax.

Unfortunately there are a good number of them that are going to larger communities, which include centres outside of Halifax. So call centres have served a very useful purpose in the Province of Nova Scotia and they continue to do that.

I mentioned Convergys earlier and I don't know the date off the top of my head, Mr. Speaker, but they've certainly been around for a long time. They are certainly not what I would consider a fly-by-night company, I would think. I personally take exception to that sleight of hand comment when you refer to a company that's fly-by-night when they've been around for so many years providing such a valuable service to the Province of Nova Scotia and to the citizens of this province. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat.

[Page 928]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to stand this afternoon and have a few minutes to speak to what is a very important issue. I want to start talking about this call centre closing by saying I'm pleased that they had some notice. I come from the Windsor area and represent that area, as most of you know. We've had a call centre closing in recent months and it is not a pleasant thing to go through for any community. I'm sure Cheticamp, and I know Canso, having struggled along for some years, is probably feeling pain from this and quite a pinch to their economy. It will only make things a little more drastic for them in small villages like Canso and in Cheticamp as well.

It is quite surprising the numbers of people actually in those communities who work in these call centres and the kinds of people who work in these call centres come from all backgrounds, Mr. Speaker. We see kids going to university and high school even, in some cases. We see seniors who are looking for a little something extra to do. We see full time and part time and a variety of things.

These are all good people who enjoy that kind of work, for the most part. You have to be a certain kind of person to work in one of those call centre type places. Because from my experience, it's not always the most pleasant thing to have to put up with, either incoming or the outgoing, trying to meet quotas and things like that. It is actually quite a tough challenge to meet - the outgoing, where you have to make so many outgoing calls and contacts. It can be quite a stressful job, although I worked in a call-type centre in the EMS world, as one of my colleagues across the way would know, and I don't know that he ever experienced that piece but maybe he should. It is challenging, regardless of what that call centre represents. It is a challenge and it's not for everybody. I think he is saying no and that is why he may not have taken on that challenge. (Interruption) Not here, I see what you're saying. Well I'm sure they all appreciate that.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, certainly the call centre business has provided a number of jobs to Nova Scotians in various places. The honourable minister is calling this a contact centre. We often have referenced it as a call centre, perhaps there is a correct - I've never heard it called a contact centre before this afternoon so, minister, I'll investigate further and see which is correct, maybe both are.

Again, the important thing is the jobs here. We need to see what we're going to do for these folks in Canso and in Cheticamp. In the resolution it states, "Whereas the Premier has promised to extend assistance to the people of Canso. . ." It will be interesting to see what that means. What is the Premier going to do to extend assistance to the good people of Canso and Cheticamp?

We've heard a variety of different things with regard to NSBI and rural economic development. We have a huge investment in call centres in this province and these two are

[Page 929]

no exception; millions of dollars being invested through a variety of programs. We need to find a way to put these people back to work.

I started by saying I was glad to see that some notice was given. The centre in Windsor that closed was given no notice. There was a sign on the door the day they went to work - no notice whatsoever. These people have struggled and are still struggling today to try and get what was owed. They worked the hours, they were not paid. They are fighting some third party company trying to look after the funding, the assets. Everybody has their hand in, looking for their piece.

I can understand that. When businesses fold up that happens, but the people have to be looked after first, Mr. Speaker. That is what is most important in our communities in this province, especially right now - Cheticamp, Canso and other places that are struggling along when it comes to job loss. We have a bit of positive - albeit a small bit - light, I think, in the economy, turning hopefully on the upside. It's going to take some time - a number of months, maybe another year or a year and a half, two years before we may see what we saw prior to this economic downturn in this province.

[4:30 p.m.]

So, again, what are we going to do for these people, these jobs? Are we going out, are we looking for more call centres? What kind of business are we looking to bring it in? Are we going to extend the EI benefits, is that the plan - are we going to financially assist these people? It's a struggle, there is no question and these families are going to be faced with challenges as we go through the winter months and they have no jobs.

There are a lot of people in the call centre industry, as I've said, and the spinoffs that come from that - people think they are dead-end jobs. I've heard that comment on this type of business in Nova Scotia. I don't think it's a dead-end job. I think it is, as I've said, a challenging job for people and a lot of people enjoy it. This is hardly a dead-end job. This is a career for some people and, in my case, in Windsor - not in my case but with the centre that I represented - people have been there since it opened and enjoyed it very much and were long-term employees there and would still be there today had that facility been open.

Again, we need to figure what we're going to do in these small communities right now that are losing jobs and don't have a lot of offers. We see other industries, not only the call centre industries. Again, in my area we see Fundy Gypsum, a large employer in its heyday of 150 people; $50,000 annual salary. That equates to about $8 million into the local economy. So you can do the math, you might look at 38 or whatever the number is - 38 workers in Cheticamp, 48 in Canso. That's a third of that $8 million if you did the math and the spin-offs. The jobs aren't $50,000 a year, I'm certain, but there's still a huge spinoff to those businesses in towns like Canso that have struggled for many years and they're now

[Page 930]

trying to figure what are we going to do with except struggle along again; another hit. We need to figure what we're going to do for the good people of Canso and Cheticamp.

On job replacement, I'm hopeful that the government will see fit to seek out - maybe there are other centres that are interested in coming to these areas. We have trained people who are more than able to work in these centres and it would be nice to be able to offer something to these fine folks.

Back on Fundy Gypsum for just a second - as I said, there are a large number of people working, things are turning around. We expect to see things turn around, albeit slow, but people are committed - like the call centres, people are committed. It doesn't matter where they are working, if they get laid off, they want to come back. I talk to people every day, both in the call centre industry who have been laid off in my area, who were let go unfortunately because of no notice kind of closing.

But these people want to come back and work in these good locations because they're solid and the jobs are solid and they've been there for a long time. These are good paying jobs, the call centre jobs. I know, as I've said they're not paying $50,000 a year but people lived on that, believe it or not. it was a lower income, but people did manage, because it was good work and the people running it were thought to be reputable until the day they closed. I know there were challenges within the corporation, the call centre itself, and the management team had great challenges as well, but those people need to be looked after.

October 29th is going to be a hard day for all the people working in these centres, Mr. Speaker. I'm certain that the government will do everything they can in the weeks and months ahead. The Premier has said he intends and has promised to assist the people of Canso and Cheticamp and we'll certainly hold him to that.

More importantly, I hope the people of Cheticamp and Canso continue to hold the Premier responsible in some way to help assist them as they move forward to seek out new employment, as well as the Minister of Economic and Rural Development; he touched on that role. He certainly spoke about people moving out of rural Nova Scotia and migrating to other places. I would be interested in knowing, at some point, and maybe that minister can bring that information forward - what are the numbers on out-migration actually?

We've seen in the past, people have left Nova Scotia. I know in the early 1980s, people were leaving Nova Scotia, but those people have come back and I know there was a big cry a year or two ago - out-migration, out-migration. How much has the census changed? It would be interesting to know how many people are actually leaving and how many are not. I know that a lot of people are moving to this more urban centre here in HRM; we see it grow. A very transient population here in the daytime, people coming in from as much as a couple hours away - the Valley and different areas of the province - to work here in urban Nova Scotia, in Halifax, the HRM and then returning home in the evenings.

[Page 931]

Mr. Speaker, with those few words on this, again, we want to wish the people of Canso and Cheticamp well as they move forward with this unfortunate lay-off and hope that the province will do everything they can to help support the good people of Canso and Cheticamp. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to be able to speak to this resolution this evening. It's primarily directed towards Acrobat Research Ltd. and the loss of jobs in the Canso and Cheticamp area.

But I believe it also speaks to the heart of what's going on in rural Nova Scotia and one of the prescriptions that has been given over the past decade to deal with the problems that have already been mentioned like a reduced economy, out-migration and the fact that we do have 13 counties in Nova Scotia that continue to lose population.

This is an unfortunate development for these two communities, that these jobs, while not big numbers - 38 and 48 - in those communities do have a very, very big effect. In fact, I would say that losing those jobs in those two communities has a considerably bigger impact than if those number of jobs were lost here in HRM,without that money moving through the community and being at least a multiplier effect, perhaps a couple of times.

What it really does then is increase the problems of out-migration as people, especially young people, look elsewhere for work. This is a real phenomenon as to how deeply it has impacted rural Nova Scotia. I've been a big proponent of this concept of having a Department of Economic and Rural Development. Rural Development was not attached to Economic Development when I arrived here at Province House in 2003. We do at least have that kind of thinking and emphasis that is in the department. I think now over the coming months, it will be interesting to see if in fact, we see from the NDP Government, a strategy around rural economic development.

I'm just going to offer one suggestion for this area. One of the areas that has helped some of our mid-sized communities and I see Cheticamp as one of those, is having an Access Nova Scotia. Currently there are 10 Access Nova Scotia locations in the province - Yarmouth, Bridgewater, Kentville, Halifax/ Dartmouth, Lower Sackville, Truro, Amherst, Antigonish, Port Hawkesbury and Sydney.

I think Cheticamp would be a prime area for the location of an Access Nova Scotia and to have a bilingual service offered to the citizens of that community and all the surrounding communities. I think it does provide a great service, it provides a number of jobs to those areas. I think of when a building, or buildings or parts of buildings are emptied by the loss of 38 and 48 jobs. I know government, through the Department of Labour and

[Page 932]

Workforce Development, is assisting those workers when they get through, to transition to EI, to move to possible other training, but not directly and specifically toward another job.

I think one of the major roles and responsibilities of government and the Department of Economic and Rural Development is to say, what else can we place? What can we go out and look for to help rural communities and in this case, of course, Cheticamp and Canso? So I offer that to the minister as one of the possibilities but, you know, I also want to relate my experience so far with the minister and with the new government around rural and economic development, because I believe there are projects, there are ways of being able to incent communities to work to provide jobs and, in fact, improve their futures.

One of the projects that had been on the go for quite a number of years, that I was pleased the minister quickly seized on and supported, was the community of Harbourville. It was the final phase. It was not a big ask of government, but the minister was receptive to helping the community finish a wharf. I'll just explain how significant that is, because I know the areas around Canso and Inverness are coastal communities. They have fishing as one of their possibilities. In the community of Harbourville they have a limit on the number of boats that they can tie up. With this development they're going to be able to increase the number of boats that come from Yarmouth and Wedgeport during the dogfish season. This was one of the major reasons for getting this wharf finished, and so while it was, you know, creating the wharf and tie-up possibility, of course, it was also stabilizing a road, an access to cottages that had not been able to be used for some time.

I look up there where now, all of a sudden, we have a multiplier effect. The wharf is constructed. Dogfish boats come down from western Nova Scotia. They're going to stay, the boats tie up, the fishermen stay in some of the local bed and breakfast and boarding facilities that they have there. They're going to be buying meals, they're going to be buying gas, and all of a sudden this investment by the province takes on a significant multiplier effect. I really am looking forward to maybe seeing what happened in Harbourville transplanted in a number of other communities, because there is no question that the NDP Government, over a number of years now - as long as I've been here - have talked about coastal communities and the vital and vibrant place that they play in the very fabric of what Nova Scotia is all about.

I believe Economic and Rural Development can map out some very small projects, some very small initiatives that will create employment and perhaps hold onto a few more of our youth in those communities, because it is our youth who really help to revitalize a community.

I'll just give you the example of the community that I live in, and that is in the Greenwood-Kingston area, with an Air Force base of 2,000 employees, you know, with a vast majority between 20 and 40 years of age, and the vibrancy that they create in our community is seen in so many different ways. There's no question that in our rural

[Page 933]

communities, holding onto some of our youth with jobs - you have to have a job to stay, and this is the piece that I think we need to look at now and we need to map out, whether it's fishing, forestry, agriculture, tourism. What are the sustainable industries that we can attract? Small, perhaps value-added pieces to these basic primary industries, I think, are where jobs can be created.

[4:45 p.m.]

So while it's a dark moment for Cheticamp and Canso, I think we have to say, optimistically and hopefully, again, government can play a role. I've always been a believer that when there are difficult times, that's the time that government should step in, come forward and say, we want to be part of solving the problem. It's a role that I think needs presence of government, whether it's ministers who go down and have those kinds of meetings to initiate and to help spur to bring something into the community.

During the course of time my colleague alluded to NSBI, and I think NSBI and Economic and Rural Development, there need to be some new directions as to the roles that they're going to play and the Department of Economic and Rural Development does need a real series of programs to assist our rural communities, because I personally haven't seen, I guess, actualized and lived out, the concept that we often hear - and I hear it - and that is as Halifax and as HRM goes, so goes the rest of the province. Well, why do we have 13 counties out of 18 that continue to lose their population? I don't think it's a realism. I don't think that's the way it's happening. I think we have to give some attention to what is going on in our small rural communities and help them to thrive once again and not to see loss of jobs as we have.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired for debate on Resolution No. 308.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 26.

Bill No. 26 - Advisory Council on Mental Health Act.

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

[Page 934]

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise tonight and speak about a bill that I introduced last week here in the Legislature. It is Bill No. 26 and the title of the bill is Advisory Council on Mental Health Act. As I say, this bill would be intended to see the Province of Nova Scotia create an advisory council that could help to create a strategy for mental health in this province and really map out a blueprint, or a path to go forward, and help the many Nova Scotians who are dealing with mental illness in our province.

There are an estimated 118,000 people in Nova Scotia who are suffering from mental illness. It is very pervasive, it is affecting virtually every family, certainly every community, and it is a real tragedy because even today in this year of 2009, there is still a huge stigma around mental illness. Since introducing this bill last week, I've been receiving a number of e-mails from people who live in my area and others who were encouraged that the bill is now on the order paper and something that can be debated and deliberated and just happy that somebody is talking about this issue.

During the estimates I had the opportunity to ask the Minister of Health some questions about our financial commitment to mental health. I don't want to minimize the many diseases and physical ailments that Nova Scotians suffer, but we're spending the lion's share of our health budget on disease and on acute care and we are spending less than 4 per cent on the needs of addictions and mental health. I think it's worthwhile noting that many of the people who suffer addictions are, in fact, suffering mental health as well. They have mental health issues and they're seeking some kind of help and often end up being addicted, either becoming alcoholics or addicted to drugs. There is definitely a connection between the two.

Mr. Speaker, what we need to do in this province is be progressive, move forward, start to speak about the needs of people suffering with mental illness, and put in place the kind of foundations that will allow people to get help in a speedy fashion. It's absolutely tragic to read some of the stories that I've been seeing on a new Web site called oneinfive.ca. It was just launched last week as well. It's sponsored by psychiatrists from Dalhousie University but there is a coalition of mental health care groups involved, certainly the Schizophrenia Society, the Canadian Mental Health Association and others.

That Web site is a portal to let people tell their stories. It's going to have more and more people speaking on little video clips that you can see on YouTube. Also stories, where they can write their story about what they are going through. The point that comes up time and again is the fact that once people recognize that this problem is not just something small or not going away, once they realize that this is really mental illness and they have to grapple with it, it is difficult for them when they go to their family doctor to get a referral to any of the psychiatry services in the province. People are saying that they've waited months while their children, particularly their children, or other family members, are literally falling apart.

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I think while we're having a discussion about mental health too, it's very important that we remember that so many of the mental illnesses that have been identified and that we know of, exhibit themselves during adolescence and very early in our adulthood. Sort of from the years of 12 to 22 or 23, that's when we find the majority of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and, you know, just so many other mental health issues. Anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, they begin to exhibit themselves generally in that age group. These are our youngest and really our hope for the future. To see your children suffer with any of those very difficult challenges and not to have the opportunity to access expert advice or help in a timely fashion - Mr. Speaker, that's the key here, it's setting up the mechanisms and the programs that will help people quickly.

So even if you didn't see the psychiatrist right away, you know, I'm sure there are programs that could let you see others who would be a support group for you or to see other counsellors, that perhaps are not at the same level as a psychiatrist where psychiatrists can actually prescribe medication. But often, just to have somebody to talk to and have some help and guidance as you work your way through this very difficult area of mental illness. Because, frankly, it's very perplexing to family members when they see somebody they know well, and love, changing. They see their behaviour changing. They see them withdrawing from friends and family and they don't know what to do. We definitely need to have a strategy and a game plan in place to help those many people in Nova Scotia.

So, Mr. Speaker, the idea of this bill, because I do want to speak to it directly in the few minutes I have, is intended to set up a council that would be not unlike our Advisory Council on the Status of Women, something that has been in place for a long time in this province that researches and advocates on behalf of women. This council would be on top of the best practices and the best ways to treat mental illness in our society. My intention in presenting the bill, I've actually laid out what the makeup of the council could be, it would include two professional educators with specialization in mental health issues, two psychiatrists, two mental health consumers because we need the voice of those who know what it's about and know how hard it is to work within our current system, and two family members who can represent the difficulties that families have in trying to help and support their loved ones.

So that would be the makeup of the council, as I envisage it, in the bill. The council would be there to advise the Minister of Health and the government on policies, programs and priorities that are aimed at addressing the mental health needs of Nova Scotians. As I said, Mr. Speaker, right now out of a Health budget of over, it's almost $3.5 billion, we are spending $119 million on addictions and mental health services. I know that the minister agrees with me that that is not enough. I am confident that she, over her years as a social worker and a community worker, does understand how widespread and how really painful it is for families, community, and for our society to realize that we have so many Nova Scotians afflicted with mental illness of one degree or another.

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As I say, what makes it so sad is to see how many young people are struck with this illness and again, it is not recognized, not well understood, and there is a huge stigma associated with it so that families - in fact, one of the stories that I had looked at just recently on the Web site, "oneinfive.ca", one of the stories actually said that they have their son living with them and nobody knows of his mental illness and the anxiety disorders he has except the family members. That just shows you that people are ashamed and unable to vocalize what is going on. They certainly are not finding the help they need from their family physicians or in the community. We need more and better services out there.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to mention that here in Halifax we have a group called Laing House and they were at the press conference to launch the "oneinfive.ca" Web site which again, is a way to break down those barriers. I would ask that all members of the House look at that Web site, "oneinfive.ca", and, of course, it refers to the fact that one in five Nova Scotians, one in five people, suffer from mental illness and depression and other forms of mental illness. That is so pervasive, we don't realize it. I would ask that we all go there and have a read and listen to what Nova Scotians are saying about the problems they are facing in accessing services.

Mr. Speaker, the bill that we are here to discuss today is one step toward a solution. That is why I wanted to raise it and have it on the floor today and allow the minister what I think she would welcome as an opportunity to just address it for a few minutes, so that we can also see that she does understand the need.

I know that this is something we can't fix overnight but we could certainly start by putting in place a council of advisers that represents the experts in the industry and the people who know first-hand what it is like to live with mental illness, and allow them to help guide us in creating a mental health strategy for Nova Scotia. That is where we need to be.

In the press conference last week, Mr. Speaker, one of the members who spoke, one of the representatives on the panel who represented the Schizophrenia Society, was asked if there was one thing we could do right away, what is it? His answer was very quick, he said we need a mental health strategy in Nova Scotia, that would start to lay out the blueprint for us to go forward.

Mr. Speaker, I know my time is now passed so I welcome hearing the comments from the other members of the Legislature on this very important bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member.

The honourable Minister of Health.

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HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to say that I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to speak about a topic that I consider of the utmost importance in terms of my responsibilities as Minister of Health.

The Department of Health is committed to improving mental health services in Nova Scotia. We want to make services more accessible, more available, more community-based as well and ensure they are designed in a way that meets people's needs and offer appropriate care.

We work through the district health authorities, primarily, as they find ways to deliver both in-patient care and community-based services. The honourable member is quite correct in saying that it's a very small portion of the overall provincial budget that is dedicated, in the Department of Health, to the provision of health care services for people with mental health disorders. It is under 4 per cent of our budget.

Before I was on this side of the House in government, I remember sitting on the Public Accounts Committee when the former Deputy Minister of Health was in front of us and she talked about her concern and the concern of the department and regrets, really, that the field of mental health services continues to be an area that is under-developed, in terms of the real needs. We see this particularly around children and youth. We see the very, very long time to get seen for assessments and for treatment, although additional resources have been provided to the IWK, and I think six new beds were given to them for in-house services.

[5:00 p.m.]

It continues to be an area where there is a struggle. I know myself, as someone who's worked in the mental health field and who has worked with children and youth, one of the things that's very difficult on families is the wait. When you need services with children who are experiencing difficulty - either because they have developed a psychosis or an eating disorder, or their behaviour has gone beyond the point of the normal behavioural problems you might see with most children as they test the boundaries and they deal with the kinds of things they encounter as they grow, both physically and mentally.

These kids, when they encounter these difficulties, they can't wait for treatment and assessment. They need it right at the time and families need it right at the time. School systems where these children are engaged, they need these services right at that moment. So we need to be very cognizant of this, and we need to look at what it is that could provide a better response.

I was really pleased that earlier this week my colleague, the Minister of Education, and Dr. Stan Kutcher, a psychiatrist who's relatively well known not only in the province, but outside of the province for his expertise in the area of child and youth mental health, launched a curriculum program in our school system to really heighten the awareness of

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young people about the whole issue of mental wellness - and not just mental wellness, but to start the conversation in our schools with young people about the need to be able to express how you're feeling.

This is a part of maintaining good mental health and being able to identify, when you have feelings that may be troubling to you, that you need to find someone you trust to express this to and not be fearful that you can't express yourself and reach out and ask for the kind of support. There is research that does indicate that the earlier the intervention, the more likely that there is a positive prognosis in terms of treating people who have mental health disorders.

Certainly, this is an area that I've been interested in for much of my adult life, and I continue to bring that interest into the work that I'm doing now. During the provincial election, the coalition that the honourable member spoke of had a press conference at the Bloomfield Centre in my constituency association to talk about the need for a provincial mental health strategy, and I attended that press conference. It was very moving to hear the spectrum of perspectives that were presented - the psychiatrists who are working in the field, as well as psychologists and social workers, other health care providers, and family members who have struggled for years coping with having a member of the family with a mental health disorder, and the lack of services and the lack of support sometimes for family members who really need good information, need to be brought into the treatment process, and need to have more opportunity to understand what it is that they can do to be supportive to a member of their family who has a mental health disorder.

Additionally, there were people at this press conference who had suffered through the process of having a mental illness and, of course, their experience recounted, often very passionately, is very moving to hear.

The idea that the honourable member has brought forward in this bill, of having a mental health council, is something that we would certainly look at. In the process that we're going through right now in the department, there is a review of mental health services being conducted as part of the health transformation process. We know that there are areas of our province that are extremely under-serviced and there are areas of the province where services are more robust. There are no areas of the province where we are over-serviced in this area.

We have some wonderful innovative programs here that are really worth acknowledging. The mobile crisis program, the mobile crisis unit which started out of the North End Clinic, actually in the north end of Halifax, in my constituency, is a fantastic service and is something that I'm sure other DHAs, particularly Cape Breton for example, might find very useful for their population.

I will have an opportunity to meet with Michael Kirby who is the federal commissioner for mental health services recently appointed by the federal government. I

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believe I will be meeting him within the next week or so. I look forward to that meeting. He has done a lot of work across the country and has, I think, information on best practices elsewhere that will be very useful as we reassess where we are, where it is we want to go. But I want to assure the honourable member who brought forward this bill, and all members, that mental health services are a priority for this government. We look forward to developing and strengthening and building on what's there. We are very open to having conversations with other members in other Parties on their ideas that could improve services. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand today and speak for a brief time on Bill No. 26, brought forward by the member for Halifax Clayton Park. I thank the member for Halifax Clayton Park for bringing this interesting idea and this bill forward for our discussion here in the Legislature and maybe, hopefully at some point, to bring it forward to enact a true advisory council when it comes to mental health issues in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I speak quite often of my time as Minister of Health and I can speak very fondly of the time that I spent talking about mental health issues. This is one that I wish I could have spent more time on but, of course, there are competing priorities when it comes to the day-to-day operations of the Department of Health. But I can tell you, some of the best conversations and best work was working with people like Michael Kirby, who was a senator and now is the chairman of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and was so happy to discuss the document that was brought out by the Mental Health Commission of Canada which is the Out of the Shadows document, and in it outlining more of a plan for Canada as it addresses the issue of mental health in Canada.

Now, what is mental health and what are the things that we would see or not see? Very aptly, the document that Michael Kirby brings to us, Out of the Shadows simply means that mental illness, for generations, has been ignored or has been hidden in the shadows. It was not until the last number of years - I don't know whether it was 20 or 10 or what have you - that people are now talking about mental illness, are talking about themselves, are talking about their loved ones or their neighbours. The "one in five" program that's being brought forward, I think, really - I don't know if it surprises people to know that even within our House of Assembly that we're a pretty diverse group of people, chances are one in five of us has suffered or do suffer, from some kind of mental illness; whether that be depression, whether that be bipolar, whether that be schizophrenia, it can go on and on, the types of maladies that can afflict the common citizen, the common person.

When I was minister, we brought forward the program, and I don't recall the program name but our poster boy was an ex-police officer who suffered from depression and I forget his name. I should have done a little more research here and I wish I would have had the

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presentation that he did. It was available online, I think. I don't know if it's still there and I'm hoping that it is. Basically it explained his struggle with depression. Now we wouldn't think that a tough, burly police officer would suffer from some type of mental illness and he very well explained the symptoms that he did not understand or the feelings that he had. He was very convincing, very forthright in his explanation of his malady and how it affected not only himself, his feelings, but the feelings and what happened with his family and the effect that this had on his family. It's a very powerful conversation that he's having with you. I suggest to anyone who has the opportunity to go on the Department of Health website, I believe it's still there, have a look. I believe that every year the idea was to have another poster person to really underline mental illness in our province.

I can say that adding programming in mental health is a slow task and I know that the minister is aware of this. Because it's not only dollars, it's actually having the professionals in order to provide the service, whether it's a psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellors or what have you and to try and flow it. The challenge that the department, I think, always has, is who do you target, because this is such a broad population. Do you spend some money on children, which I think is a very important thing, that's where we should be spending as well, but should we be spending on housing issues? Should we be spending on other programming, addictions? So there's always a challenge of having the dollars available and focusing them in one or two different places.

I think that bringing forward an advisory council would help the minister, the department and not only the Minister of Health but the Minister of Community Services. There are some major connections when it comes to supporting the mental health community, that they would be able to provide an oversight. You know, here's where we feel those priorities are and therefore, here is where government should focus, not unlike what the Disabled Persons Commission brings forward. The Disabled Persons Commission has been around for many years, has gone through a number of different iterations of structure. I think today the way it exists within the Department of Community Services is one that truly serves the people with disabilities in this province. I can say that over the last number of years there have been tremendous moves forward in supports for people with disabilities and also for them to go on their journey of understanding with - I guess we could call it the common community.

I think today, also, with the way that disabilities are treated in our school system, is one that will change Nova Scotians' and children's view of disabilities. I talk to my wife quite often about her experiences in school, who is now a school teacher and her connection with a number of difficult children who are in the school and how they're accepted today by the classmates. You know, in my day these people were separated from the school system and, therefore, we never had an understanding of what their disability might be, whether it was psychological, physiological, or what have you. We never really understood it, but I think the generation that we're bringing up will truly have a better understanding of mental health and disability in our community.

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[5:15 p.m.]

So I really have a lot of hope for these communities because, Mr. Speaker, they are our community, and one that we will have to and shall continue to support. I don't envy the ministers, I don't envy the government, because in your heart you do want to do more, but - there's always that "but" - to be able to mobilize those services is always a challenge, difficult, and sometimes very frustrating. I know that, as everyone in this House, when it comes to supporting those who are less fortunate than us, we'll always do the right thing.

I can say that we - I - the Progressive Conservative caucus - support the moving forward of Bill No. 26, which is the Act to create a Nova Scotia Advisory Council on Mental Health. I very much support the idea of the two professional educators with a specialization in mental health issues, two psychiatrists, other members pursuant to the Medical Act, two mental health consumers and, of course, the very important two family member representatives, because many of these people cannot speak for themselves. Their family members speak for them, and all of us need to speak to these individuals who are so important to our society and the society of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, again, thank you for the opportunity to speak to this bill tonight and I look forward to this proceeding through the House of Assembly for further discussion.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to speak on this bill, and first I would like to start by addressing something that the honourable member for Argyle brought up, which was, of course, costs. There are so many things that cost money, and a lot of the solutions that this committee might recommend may indeed cost money, but if government doesn't know what those solutions are and isn't able to adequately hear from the stakeholders, then it can't consider those options and it can't consider those costs. In this case we're talking about a stakeholder committee, an advisory committee, and the committee in and of itself would have very little cost to the department. In fact I wouldn't even want to guess what it would be, but a bit of clerk support and that's probably about it, in terms of what it would cost to operate it on an annual basis. I think that that would be the kind of group that could bring forward some creative solutions.

Mr. Speaker, over the past number of years I've been involved with a group called the Affirmative Industries Foundation of Nova Scotia. I'm not a member of their board or anything like that, but I was involved in helping them build a building for people who are recovering from mental illnesses, and that is the first of its kind in Nova Scotia. It's on Lakecrest Drive, just off Main Street in Dartmouth, and it's a place where people and their families who are looking to re-enter the workforce can go. They can live, they can build up an equity, much like owning a condominium. They have a safe place to live. They have an encouraging environment and they can come forward and get into the workforce, develop

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work skills to allow them to reintegrate, and then leave after a couple of years with equity built up and purchase a home, and that's sometimes a major challenge for mental health consumers.

Those are the kind of creative ideas that - and I believe at the time it was supported by all three Parties in this House when it came forward for a provincial grant, and it got a federal grant. That's really important. You know I meet with the folks over there on a fairly regular basis - my constituency office is just around the corner - and those are the kind of creative solutions that can really help mental health consumers reintegrate into the community. When I say reintegrate, one of the things that some of the residents of that particular building have told me is, that is the challenge. They go for a job and somebody will say, well, where have you been working the past few years? They say, well, I've been on sick leave. Oh, was it your back? Was it this? And they struggle with the idea of telling them that it was a mental illness because as much as the member for Argyle said that it is much more recognized and accepted, and I agree with that, it is still not as recognized and accepted as it is.

There is another issue I'd like to touch on and that's suicide, Mr. Speaker. I've had the unfortunate situation of having a number of my friends commit suicide over the past few years and in particular, one story I'd like to share with the House to illustrate the exact need for this House. A number of years ago, just before getting into the journalism business, I had a friend who was - she was actually the athletic therapist for the Canadian Olympic Ski Team. She was one of the top employees in the athletic department at Saint Mary's University, a leading person and she found herself in a number of situations where she, over a period of time, found herself struggling with mental illness.

That progressed and I dealt with her through this and so did her family and there were many people to support her. Much of what the health care system was there to provide to her was drugs, drugs and then admit her to Abbie Lane for a couple of weeks. Maybe that's the only option they felt they had at the time but I can tell you that every time they put her in Abbie Lane Hospital, she got worse every single time and it's not about the care she received there or the treatment she received there. It's about the fact that for some people, institutionalization may be the correct course of treatment. For her it was not and for so many mental health consumers, it is not.

The long and short of that is that she went down a path where she was immediately pushed from being in an institution to being pushed back into the workplace where she wanted to be, she wanted to be in the workplace, but without the appropriate supports, without the things that could make her succeed and, in that case, without a particularly understanding and knowledgeable employer.

I don't blame the employer in this either. It was a situation where the employer simply didn't have the tools and the resources to reintegrate somebody who - if we want to

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think dollars and cents - was going to go back and start paying tax dollars and income tax instead of costing us by having her locked up in an institution and there's something fundamentally wrong with that, where we ended up having a system where it cost more money and it was less effective to have that happen.

I've since talked to a lot of people who are certainly experts in suicide prevention, much more so than I would ever pretend to be, and they pointed out very clearly to me that happens over and over again.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park pointed out to me that there was a study last year, or earlier this year, that said that there is on average 80 suicides a year in Nova Scotia. But the thing is, those are the ones that say, on the death certificate, suicide is the cause of death. Well, guess what? My friend's death certificate did not say suicide and I'd be happy to go and get it for you because there was an autopsy and the whole bit. It did not say that because it wasn't the thing to put on the death certificate and so many of them don't say that and there are a lot of reasons why that isn't.

There's a stigma to it so why would you put suicide on there? In fairness, if somebody dies in a car crash and the car crash was the result of a cardiac arrest, do they put cardiac arrest or do they put a car crash as the cause of death? Well, it's the same sort of situation where sometimes - I would argue that in many cases - the suicide is precipitated by other issues and it's not something that just affects adults.

In fact, when we look at young people between the ages of 15 and 24, it's estimated that 18 per cent of people in that age group - 15 to 24, Mr. Speaker, that's from the start of high school to the end of university, or at least the end of the first degree or the end of a community college degree for most people - in that age group, 18 per cent of those people have a mental illness or a substance abuse problem. That is a staggering number. That is enormous and what's worse is of those only 20 per cent are actually able to get treatment because of funding restrictions.

Now, I am not going to stand here - this is not an issue that I can stand here and say that the Minister of Health can solve this problem tomorrow. She can't, and I would never ask her to stand and do that because it is not possible - but it can be solved, I think, over time.

One of the first steps, a cost-effective step and a step that will make a real difference in Nova Scotia and make Nova Scotia a leader in this field, is to establish a mental health advisory council that will be able to advise the government, people who are in the field and will be able to devote all their time because, as the member for Argyle said, the Minister of Health is not the minister for mental illness. She cannot spend 100 per cent of her time on this file, nor would we expect her to do so because there are many pressing issues. But to have valuable advice that can make recommendations and very often creative solutions that don't come from the bureaucracy of government can make a lot of sense.

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That gets back to the example I gave early on, with the affirmative industries building where that is creating change for people. It is creating real change for people who now have jobs, people who are building equity, people who have their families with them, and are making sure that they don't lose their families.

If you look, there are so many people who suffer from mental illnesses and struggle with that and they end up losing their families as well, so they lose everything. They lose their health, they feel they are not supported, they lose their families, they often lose their job, and many of them end up on community services because they don't know where to turn.

On so many levels this is a win-win solution, Mr. Speaker. I really would encourage the government to very seriously consider this bill. The government has previously said that as we get towards the end of the session, they would look at calling some bills from the Opposition for a vote - this is one that I think makes a lot of sense. It is certainly one that falls in line with the principles that the government has espoused, as well as something that I know the member for Halifax Clayton Park has lobbied for for a long time, and something that I personally believe will make a difference and will help us challenge and make a real difference in the lives of people in Nova Scotia. When we look around and understand that one in five Nova Scotians suffer from mental illness, that is 181,000 people that we can begin to do better for.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the time here this evening, and I encourage the government to call this for a vote at some point in the near future.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The time for debate on Bill No. 26 has expired.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That completes the Opposition's business for today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to report business for tomorrow. After the daily routine and Question Period we will do Supply debate. Then, if time permits, we will do Bill Nos. 1 and 2.

I move that the House do now rise, to meet tomorrow between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do rise and meet again tomorrow between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

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Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The House stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

[The House rose at 5:29 p.m.]

[Page 946]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 497

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas Caitlin Owens of Windsor is one of six Nova Scotia Community College students announced this week as recipients of a $2,500 Pengrowth-Nova Scotia Energy Scholarship; and

Whereas the Pengrowth-Nova Scotia Energy Scholarship is awarded to Nova Scotia high school graduates pursuing energy-related studies at a university or Nova Scotia Community College; and

Whereas the Pengrowth-Nova Scotia Energy Scholarship was designed to encourage students graduating from Nova Scotia high schools to consider a career in the energy sector, where there is presently and will continue to be a rich source of career opportunities;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly recognize Caitlin Owens of Windsor for her interest in Nova Scotia's energy sector and congratulate her on being one of six $2,500 Pengrowth-Nova Scotia Energy Scholarship winners attending Nova Scotia Community College in 2009-10.

RESOLUTION NO. 498

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the odds of a heifer bearing triplets are believed to be approximately 105,000 to 1; and

Whereas such a rarity happened in the local agricultural community of Inverness County, it is believed for the first time, on September 20th at Foxhole Farm (formerly known as the Etheride Farm in Margaree Forks), owned by Joe Schwerin and Anita Coady, as Lucy gave birth to triplets, two boys and a girl; and

[Page 947]

Whereas the triplets came about after Angus the Bull, owned by Bobby and Ann Peters, was dropped off at the Foxhole Farm last December, which resulted in Angus and Lucy becoming quite the social item at the farm;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud this agricultural novelty in Inverness County while wishing Bobby and Ann Peters, farm owners Joe and Anita, and mother Lucy and her family of triplets the very best.

RESOLUTION NO. 499

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the West Hants Ormon Under 14 Girls' Soccer Team advanced to the provincial championships in Lunenburg in early September after a superb regular season and success in the Valley District League Playoffs in Somerset, Kings County; and

Whereas the West Hants Ormon Under 14 Girls' Soccer Team advanced to the provincials with three wins in the Valley District League Playoffs, a 6-4 win over Somerset in Windsor, followed by a stunning 5-0 win over previously undefeated Hantsport and a 5-1 win over West Hants Fraser in torrential rain in Somerset, Kings County; and

Whereas at the provincials in Lunenburg, West Hants Ormon finished with a record of 1-2 as they nipped Highland Region out of Amherst 2-1 in their opener before losing 2-1 to Port Hawkesbury and 2-0 to host Lunenburg;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate Head Coach Katie Ormon and her assistant, Courtney Smith, on taking the time to provide a tremendous season of coaching and fun for an enthusiastic and eager Under 14 Girls' Soccer Team from Hants West.