The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 09-20

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 14, 2009

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Affairs acadienne - Rapport d'etape 2009,
Progrès réalisés pour les services en français offerts
par le gouvernement de la Novelle-Écosse, L'hon. G. Steele 1142
Acadian Affairs - Progress Report 2009, French-language Services
provided by the Government of Nova Scotia, Hon. G. Steele 1142
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Affairs acadienne - Dépôt du Rapport d'étape 2009:
Progrès réalisés pour les services en français offerts par le
gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Écosse, L'hon. G. Steele 1143
Acadian Affairs - Tabling Progress Report 2009, French-language Services
provided by the Government of Nova Scotia, Hon. G. Steele 1143
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 575, N.S. Rainbow Action Proj.: Laramie Proj. - Congrats.,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1146
Vote - Affirmative 1146
Res. 576, Brown, Jensen/Murphy, Amber/Holmes, Piper:
Prov. Wildlife Park - Donation, Hon. J. MacDonell 1146
Vote - Affirmative 1147
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 36, Public Service Act, Hon. S. McNeil 1147
No. 37, Maintenance and Custody Act, Hon. K. Casey 1147
No. 38, Condominium Act, Hon. R. Jennex 1148
No. 39, Uranium Exploration and Mining Prohibition Act,
Hon. J. MacDonell 1148
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 577, RIM - Canada's Top 100 Employers,
Ms. K. Regan 1148
Vote - Affirmative 1149
Res. 578, Semple, Dwayne - Emergency Medical Services
Exemplary Services Medal, Hon. K. Casey 1149
Vote - Affirmative 1150
Res. 579, Cdn. Francophonie Day (02/13/10): Cdn. Olympic Comm. -
Congrats., Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1150
Vote - Affirmative 1151
Res. 580, Evans Fam.: Pumpkin Hollow - Congrats.,
Hon. S. McNeil 1151
Vote - Affirmative 1152
Res. 581, Celtic Colours: Success - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Bain 1152
Vote - Affirmative 1153
Res. 582, Klefenz, Catherine: Elderobics - Congrats.,
Hon. W. Estabrooks 1153
Vote - Affirmative 1154
Res. 583, NSCC Strike: Prem./Educ. Min. - Arbitration Process,
Ms. K. Regan 1154
Res. 584, Sullivan, Blaise - Council of Federation Literacy Award,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1154
Vote - Affirmative 1155
Res. 585, N. Queens FD - Anniv. (70th), Ms. V. Conrad 1155
Vote - Affirmative 1156
Res. 586, Caregiver allowance Prog. - Re-evaluate,
Mr. A. Younger 1156
Res. 587, TIR: Southwestern N.S. - Transport./Infrastructure Needs,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 1157
Vote - Affirmative 1157
Res. 588, Keep the Heat Prog.: Cuts - Prem. Apologize,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1158
Res. 589, ERD: Conseil Économique de Chéticamp - Funding,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1158
Res. 590, Litke, Susanne - Frances Fish Award,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1159
Vote - Affirmative 1160
Res. 591, NDP Gov't.: Legislature - Behaviour,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1160
Res. 592, Agric.: Turkey Producers - Assist,
Mr. C. Porter 1161
Res. 593, MacKay, Tammy: Harness Racing/Fundraising - Congrats.,
Ms. L. Zann 1162
Vote - Affirmative 1162
Res. 594, Waycobah/Eskasoni/Inverness Co. - Parents Against Drugs March,
Hon. S. McNeil 1162
Vote - Affirmative 1163
Res. 595, Vickery, Gary: "The" Joggins: Its History and Its People -
Congrats., The Speaker 1163
Vote - Affirmative 1164
Res. 596, Taylor, Susan: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. B. Skabar 1164
Vote - Affirmative 1165
Res. 597, Prem.: Cabinet Assessment - Criteria,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1165
Res. 598, Bridgewater FD - Anniv. (133rd), Mr. G. Ramey 1166
Vote - Affirmative 1166
Res. 599, NSCC: Teachers - Equality, Mr. L. Glavine 1166
Res. 600, Kings Co. SPCA Care Ctr. - Opening: Kings Br. - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Morton 1167
Vote - Affirmative 1168
Res. 601, Justice: Court System - Resources,
Mr. A. Younger 1168
Res. 602, Hennenfent, Anneka: People to People Intl. - Leadership Prog.,
Ms. P. Birdsall 1169
Vote - Affirmative 1169
Res. 603, Pearl, Lindsay LXXVII - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 1169
Vote - Affirmative 1170
Res. 604, Truro Tennis Club Players: Can. Summer Games (2009) -
Congrats., Ms. L. Zann 1170
Vote - Affirmative 1171
Res. 605, Newfie Days Fest. (Lun.): Organizers/Vols. - Congrats.,
Ms. P. Birdsall 1171
Vote - Affirmative 1171
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 160, Educ.: NSCC Strike - Collective Bargaining Process,
Hon. S. McNeil 1172
No. 161, Educ.: NSCC Strike - Min. Role,
Hon. K. Casey 1173
No. 162, Educ. - Students' Anxieties: Min. - Address,
Ms. K. Regan 1174
No. 163, Educ. - NSCC Marconi Campus Students: Strike - Explain,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1175
No. 164, Educ.: NSCC Bd. Of Governors/Min. - Discussions,
Hon. K. Casey 1176
No. 165, Com. Serv.: Heating Assistance - Contingency Plan,
Hon. S. McNeil 1178
No. 166, Educ. - NSCC Strike: Health Care Training - Effects,
Mr. C. Porter 1179
No. 167, Health - Nurse Practitioner: Digby Neck Islands -
Termination Details, Mr. H. Theriault 1180
No. 168, Health - Dart. Gen. Hosp.: Overcrowding - Status,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1182
No. 169, Health - Dart. Gen. Hosp.: Challenges - Min. Address,
Mr. A. Younger 1183
No. 170, Health: ER Wait Times - Reduction,
Mr. C. Porter 1185
No. 171, Educ.: NSCC Strike - Class Cancellations,
Ms. K. Regan 1186
No. 172, Health: Long-Term Care Beds - Projects,
Hon. M. Scott 1188
No. 173, TIR - CBRM (East Div.): Fed. Funding - Equity,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1189
No. 174, HPP - Rink Revitalization Prog.: Cuts - Terminology,
Mr. K. Bain 1191
No. 175, ERD: WTCC Const. - Proj. Criteria,
Mr. A. Younger 1193
No. 176, HPP: Queens Place - Funding, Hon. C. d'Entremont 1195
No. 177, Health: Inverary Manor - Const. Delays,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1196
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 33, Public Service Act, Mr. A. MacLeod 1199
Mr. A. MacLeod 1199
Hon. F. Corbett 1202
Mr. A. Younger 1205
Mr. C. Porter 1208
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 168, ER Closures - End, Hon. C. d'Entremont 1214
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1214
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1216
Mr. L. Glavine 1218
Mr. C. Porter 1220
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Sheet Hbr. Aquaculture Harvest Fest.: Organizers - Congrats.:
Mr. J. Boudreau 1222
Mr. A. MacLeod 1225
Mr. H. Theriault 1227
ADJOURNMENT, The House rose to meet again on Thur., Oct. 15th at 2:00 p.m. 1230
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 606, Perham, Cain/Forest Ridge Acad. Team - Science Olympics,
Hon. S. Belliveau 1231
Res. 607, Leopold, Sarah/Lake-Crossley, Jessica: Skating Abilities -
Congrats., Mr. C. Porter 1231
Res. 608, Scott, Ron & Marietta - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1232
Res. 609, Muise, Bradford & Lorraine - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1232
Res. 610, Frotten, Gilbert & Loretta - Anniv. (40th),
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1233
Res. 611, LeBlanc, Paul & Edna - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1233
Res. 612, Churchill, Ralph & Mabel - Anniv. (65th),
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1234
Res. 613, Pothier, Barbara & Louis - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1234
Res. 614, Doucette, Bernie & Linda - Anniv. (40th),
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1235
Res. 615, Raynard, Lillian & Vernon - Anniv. (70th),
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1235
Res. 616, Halbersma, Justin/Central Kings Gators HS Hockey Team:
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 1236

[Page 1141]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2009

Sixty-first General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.

I was just welcoming back the member for Digby-Annapolis. We're certainly very pleased to have him back here again. (Standing Ovation)

Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour:

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the organizers of the 12th Annual Aquaculture Harvest Festival recently held in Sheet Harbour and recognize the value of the aquaculture industry to some coastal communities in Nova Scotia.

This will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

1141

[Page 1142]

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Merçi, M. le Président. Je demande si je peux commencé avec un introduction. I wonder if I could begin with an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. STEELE: I would like to draw the attention of the members of the House to a number of visitors in east gallery today. Je voudrais souligner la présence de quelques individus et organismes partenaires qui sont içi avec nous aujourd'hui. Entre autres Diane Haché de Patrimoine canadien, partenaire important pour la prestation des service en français, Jean Léger de la Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse, organisme porte-parole pour la communauté acadienne et francophone, plusieurs coordonnateurs de services en français de divers ministères, le personnel de l'Office des affaires acadiennes dont je suis très fièr d'être ministre, et d'autres amis et partenaires pour la prestation des services en français.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to introduce in the east gallery a number of individuals and representatives of organizations that are partners with us in the delivery of French-language services. There is, for example, Diane Haché of Canadian Heritage, a very important partner in the delivery of French-language services; Jean Léger, the executive director of the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse, the umbrella organization for Acadians and Francophones in Nova Scotia; many coordinators of French-language services from various ministries; the staff of the Office of Acadian Affairs; and a number of other friends and colleagues. I'd like to ask them all to please rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

M. le Président j'aimerais déposer le Rapport d'étape 2009, Progrès réalisés pour les services en français offerts par le gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to table the Progress Report 2009 on French-language Services provided by the Government of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

[Page 1143]

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Merçi, M. le Président, je me lève comme ministre des Affaires acadiennes. M. le Président, collègues, invités spéciaux, cher amis et familles acadiens. Au nom de l'Office des affaires acadiennes, des institutions publiques désignées et du Comité de coordination des services en français, c'est avec grand plaisir que je viens de déposér le Rapport d'etape 2009, Progrès réalisés pour les services en français offerts part le gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Office of Acadian Affairs, the designated public institutions, and the French-language Services Coordinating Committee, it is with great pleasure that I table the Progress Report 2009 on French-language Services provided by the Government of Nova Scotia.

J'aimerais féliciter sincèrement les sous-ministres, les institutions publiques désignées, les coordonnateurs des services en français et les fonctionnaires qui appuient les services en français ou qui travaillent dans ce domaine pour leurs efforts remarquables en 2008 et 2009. J'aimerais aussi souligner tout le travail effectué en vue d'améliorer la prestation de services en français au sein du gouvernement provincial.

I would like to acknowledge all of the work that is done throughout government, all the work performed to improve French-language services delivery throughout the Civil Service.

Grâce à la collaboration avec les organismes communautaires et gouvernementaux, et grâce au gouvernement fédéral et à l'Entente Canada-Nouvelle-Écosse relative aux services en français, le gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Écosse continue d'appuyer le développement, la prestation et le progrès des services en français. Offrir des services en français nous aide à atteindre notre objectif d'améliorer la vie des familles néo-écossaises. Les progrès réalisés dans le Rapport d'étape 2009 se traduisent par un plus grand nombre de services et marquent l'adaptation des politiques et des programmes. Je peux vous donner quelques exemples mais ils sont contenus dans le Rapport d'étape 2009.

M. le Président, je peux vous dire que globalement, il existe dans la fonction publique une volonté et un réel engagement à développer et à offrir des services en français. Le progrès est considerable mais il y a encore beaucoup de travail à faire pour augmenter notre capacité de répondre aux besoins de la communauté acadienne et francophone. Nous pouvons, par exemple, considérer les prochaines étapes pour l'amélioration des activités effectuées régulièrement par les institutions publiques désignées.

Nous pouvons, par exemple, nous assurer que les consultations avec la communauté acadiennes et francophone permetttent d'obtenir les résultats les plus pertinents et les plus utiles pour les deux parties. Nous pouvons nous assurer d'être ouverts à la réévaluation de notre programme à mesure que les besoins de la communauté changeront. Nous pouvons

[Page 1144]

nous assurer que la communauté acadienne et francophone est au courant de nos services et qu'elle continue à demander pour des services en français.

Le gouvernement, notre gouvernement, s'engage à continuer de favoriser la préservation et l'essor de la communauté acadienne et francophone. Je crois que le cadre de travail interne ainsi que l'expertise et le dévouement des fonctionnaires et de leurs institutions publiques désignées aideront le gouvernement à augmenter sa capacité de développer et d'offrir des services en français en 2009, 2010 et dans le futur. Les copies des du Rapport d'étape 2009 en français et en anglais sont présentement affichées sur le site Web des Affaires acadiennes. Des exemplaires seront distribués aux ministères sous peu.

Mr. Speaker, copies of the Progress Report 2009 in English and French are now posted on the Acadian Affairs Web site, and copies will be sent to departments shortly. Merci, thank you. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

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

MS. KELLY REGAN: M. le Président, aujourd'hui je suis très heureuse de me lever pour parler de ce rapport. Aussi je suis très heureuse que le gouvernement ait fait le progrès dans ses objectifs mais il y a maintenant quelques problèmes qui existent. Par example, c'est vraiment difficile de trouver les garderies françaises dans ma circonscription.

I'm glad to see the progress the government has made in reaching its goals and objectives for 2008-09, but there are some concern areas. For example, it is very difficult to find French-language child care prior to enrolling a child in a Primary school - in fact, I have heard of this particular problem. The goal to double the number of French-speaking students in our province by 2013, we're simply not going to make it. There are not enough government services provided in French.

We can still improve, for example, there are still signs in hospitals which are not in French. More must be done to protect and promote Acadian culture in Nova Scotia. The Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage has been translating documents and news releases and adding French pages on its Web site, but this just keeps up with what other departments are doing. It does little to address the concerns about maintaining Acadian heritage.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for allowing me this opportunity today to speak to this ministerial statement. Again, nous pouvons voir de mes efforts pauvres de parler le français que nous avons beaucoup à faire. Merçi.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

[Page 1145]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Merçi beaucoup, M. le Président. Il fait grand plaisir de me mettre debout aujourd'hui pour parler pour un petit peu sur le projet qu'on voit devant nous, le Rapport d'étape 2009. Vraiment ceci est quelque chose que j'ai travaillé avec depuis quelques années. J'ai déposé dans cette assemblée, je pense quatre fois maintenant, le rapport de chaque année, qui nous fait vraiment voir ce qu'on a fait au sein du gouvernement en prestation des services en français.

Quand on a commencé en 2004 et 2005, on n'avait pas de lois, de pratiques, rien. On avait un petit bureau des Affaires acadiennes. Maintenant je vois le ministre qui parle des personnages qui sont dans l'assemblée qui inclut les travailleurs, les personnes et non pas le ministère, le département, l'Office des affaires acadiennes, mais aussi tous les comités et les personnes de chaque ministère qui font partie des décisions des projets qu'on voit maintenant dans ce document.

Je veux dire simplement merçi pour déposer, merçi pour tout le travail qu'on fait à la prestation des services, tout le travail qu'on fait pour l'amélioration de la langue française en Nouvelle-Écosse et aussi tout le travail qu'on fait pour maintenir et célébrer la culture acadienne dans la Nouvelle-Écosse. Avec ça, je vous remercie.

Mr. Speaker, quickly, not to translate the whole thing but I want to thank the Coordinating Committee for the work that they've done in each of the ministries that have provided projects. When we started in 2004-05, we started with nothing; we had no bill, we had no regulations, and today we can see from that genesis that each department is playing a part, each area is playing a part. We look forward to seeing additions, whether it be translation, whether it be services in the Bonjour! program, or what it has to celebrate to continue to bring the francophones that one step further, to make sure that we're celebrating Acadian culture in Nova Scotia.

With that, I thank the minister for bringing this report to us today, and thank you very much for the opportunity to speak. Merci beaucoup.

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

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize, in the west gallery, Mount Saint Vincent University professor of advanced social studies methods Carmen Stone. I'm told that he is here with 18 students and they're all scholars of the highest calibre. I would ask our guests to please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome all our guests here today and it's good to have a number of people in our gallery this afternoon.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 1146]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 575

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

Whereas Matthew Shepard, a young gay man living in Laramie, Wyoming, died on October 12, 1998 of injuries he suffered in a brutal attack motivated by homophobia; and

Whereas one of the responses to this horrific event was The Laramie Project, a play based on interviews conducted with residents of Laramie in the months after Matthew's death, which has been performed around the world to deeply moved and appreciative audiences; and

Whereas the creators of the original play returned to Laramie on the 10th Anniversary of Matthew's death, to explore the long-term effects of the murder on Laramie and its residents and the new play, The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, was simultaneously premiered on October 12, 2009, by over 150 theatre companies and community organizations around the world, including the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project here in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, and everyone who contributed to this project, on their participation in this global event and wish them continued success in their work as an important voice of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community 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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 576

[Page 1147]

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

Whereas Jensen Brown, Amber Murphy and Piper Holmes of Elmsdale recently all celebrated their 9th birthday within a one-week span of each other; and

Whereas the three friends collectively asked for money in lieu of birthday gifts and raised $375; and

Whereas they donated all of the money to the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park to adopt four animals of their choice: the bald eagle, the moose, the red-tailed hawk and the Arctic wolf;

Therefore be it resolved that his House recognize these three generous children - Jensen Brown, Amber Murphy and Piper Holmes - for their respect and care for animals and for their donation to the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park for money they received as birthday gifts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, do you mind if I do an introduction? I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the west gallery where we have District Chief David Burnet from Halifax Regional Fire Service, Fire Chief Dave Sponagle of Thorburn Fire Department, Fire Chief Jim Roper from Pictou Landing Fire Department, Deputy Chief Terry Canning from Brookfield Fire Department, and Bill Falkenham of Chester Basin Fire Department. I'd ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 36 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 376 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Service Act, to Establish the Office of Fire and Emergency Services. (Hon. Stephen McNeil)

[Page 1148]

Bill No. 37 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 160 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Maintenance and Custody Act. (Hon. Karen Casey)

Bill No. 38 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 85 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Condominium Act. (Hon. Ramona Jennex)

Bill No. 39 - Entitled an Act to Prohibit Uranium Exploration and Uranium Mining in Nova Scotia. (Hon. John MacDonell)

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

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, with your permission I would like to do an introduction. I would like to introduce, in your gallery, Mr. and Mrs. Andersen from Leamington, Ontario. They are here visiting Halifax during their 34th Wedding Anniversary. Mr. Andersen emigrated through Pier 21, to Halifax, 58 years ago from Denmark and went on to Montreal to raise his family. His wife, Dorothy, has worked for many years for MNA Harry Blank, a member of the Quebec National Assembly and a former Deputy Speaker, so she is particularly interested in the proceedings in the House today. I would like all members to welcome Mr. and Mrs. Andersen, wish them a happy 34th Wedding Anniversary, and welcome them to our House. (Applause)

[2:30 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 577

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

Whereas The Globe and Mail has chosen a list of Canada's top 100 employers for the past 10 years, and this year 26,000 of Canada's employers were invited to apply, a process which included a detailed review of their operations and human resources practices; and

Whereas here in Nova Scotia, Research In Motion maintains a support services centre in Bedford; and

Whereas RIM was cited for a number of innovative practices including, but not limited to, giving new employees a free BlackBerry on their first day and covering usage and

[Page 1149]

service fees, offering tuition subsidies to employees, helping employees plan for retirement with matching RSP contributions, and letting all employees share in the company's success through a profit-sharing plan and year-end bonuses;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate RIM for being named one of Canada's top 100 employers and for being an incredible Canadian success story that continues to expand and develop new markets worldwide, creating thousands of new jobs in Canada and around the world.

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 Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 578

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

Whereas the Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Medal was created in 1944 to recognize professionals in the provision of pre-hospital emergency services who have performed their duties in an exemplary manner, characterized by good conduct, industry and efficiency, rather than only the number of years of service; and

Whereas to be considered for this award, a paramedic must have been employed with an emergency medical service, completing 20 years of exemplary service, including at least 10 years in the performance of duties involving potential risk; and

Whereas Dwayne Semple, a Colchester North resident, has recently been acknowledged by Lieutenant Governor Mayann Francis for his dedication to preserving public safety through long and outstanding service;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to Dwayne Semple for receiving this very prestigious national medal.

[Page 1150]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 579

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Monsieur le Présidente, à une date ultérieure, je demanderai l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que notre magnifique pays accueillera le monde entier en février 2010 pour les 21e Jeux Olympiques d'hiver; et

Attendu que les athlètes, les entraîneurs, et les spectateurs de partout au monde se rendront dans l'une des plus belles provinces de notre pays, la Colombie-Britannique; et

Attendu que le Canada, un pays bilingue, présentera la riche histoire de sa francophonie lors des Jeux en déclarant le 13 février 2010 la Journée nationale de la francophonie.

Par conséquent il est résolu que tous les membres de cette assemblée félicitent le Comité olympique canadien pour la proclamation du 13 février 2010 comme Journée nationale de la francophonie et la présentation de notre culture francophone au monde entier, remercient la province de la Colombie-Britannique pour l'organisation des Jeux Olympiques d'hiver de 2010 et lui souhaitent des Jeux couronnés de succès.

Monsieur le Président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débat.

Mr. Speaker, a little quicker now. (Applause)

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

[Page 1151]

Whereas our great country will play host to the world in February 2010 for the 21st Winter Olympic Games; and

Whereas athletes, coaches, and spectators from around the world will come to one of our country's most beautiful provinces, British Columbia; and

Whereas Canada, a bilingual country, will showcase our rich Francophonie history at the Winter Games by declaring February 13, 2010, Canadian Francophonie Day;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Canadian Olympic Committee for declaring February 13, 2010 as Canadian Francophonie Day and for showcasing our Francophonie culture to the world, and thank the Province of British Columbia for hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics and wish them much success during the Games.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on showing more courage than most of us in the House. Congratulations. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 580

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

Whereas in spite of the challenges facing the agricultural industry, Amy and Terry Evans with their children, Colton, Colby, and Allyson, and parents Lloyd and Shirley of Wilmot, Annapolis County, used innovative diversified methods to help their business survive after a fallen hog market; and

[Page 1152]

Whereas the Evans family developed the ultimate family experience known as Pumpkin Hollow which includes a giant 10-foot high corn maze, hay maze, wagon rides, pumpkin u-pick, corn box filled with sand toys, and souvenir t-shirts; and

Whereas in excess of 800 people visited this Pumpkin Hollow during the Labour Day weekend and others continue to visit for great food and family fun;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating the Evans family for reaching far beyond the traditional farming practices and developing a sustainable, successful niche market to carry on the family business.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 581

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 13th Annual Celtic Colours International Festival is a nine-day event which attracts visitors and performers worldwide; and

Whereas Celtic Colours is the largest celebration of Celtic culture in North America and features Cape Breton's finest singers, players, and dancers; and

Whereas the major theme at this year's Celtic Colours Festival was "The Irish Are Coming", which had 425 artists performing, including 24 artists from Ireland;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate performers, volunteers, spectators, and organizers for another successful festival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1153]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if I could do an introduction before I read my resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. ESTABROOKS: In the gallery opposite is a Mount Allison graduate, a close friend of mine, and his travelling partner Barb. They're on their way back from Newfoundland and Labrador. I would ask Barb and Andy Smith to stand and be recognized in our Legislature today. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 582

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

Whereas Catherine Klefenz is a 75 year-young constituent of Timberlea who neither looks nor acts her age; and

Whereas this amazing lady instructs elderobics each week for the YMCA and the Lakeside Recreation Centre; and

Whereas Catherine loves the interaction with the people and seeing her students benefit from the exercise;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank Catherine Klefenz for all her hard work with elderobics.

[Page 1154]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 583

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

Whereas the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union has said that she's learned more about the province's position from the media than from government ministers; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Teachers Union president has asked the government to engage in binding arbitration to avoid a strike; and

Whereas the Premier has tried to control that process by putting parameters around it, and the Minister of Education has stated in this House that "a strike is part of the bargaining process";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Education acknowledge that their lack of understanding of the arbitration process and their inability to act fairly and quickly has left the NSCC teachers with no choice but to proceed with the strike on October 20th .

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 1155]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 584

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

Whereas 30 years after leaving school, Blaise Sullivan of Antigonish went back to study; and

Whereas Blaise is working towards his GED and is the proud owner of his own business in Antigonish; and

Whereas Blaise returned to school and after three years of exceptionally hard work and support from the Antigonish County Adult Learning Association, Blaise is now an advocate for literacy;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House of Assembly congratulate Blaise Sullivan on winning the Council of the Federation Literacy Award, which annually recognizes a Nova Scotian adult learner who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in literacy, while also contributing in a significant way to school, workplace, and community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[2:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 585

[Page 1156]

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

Whereas the community of North Queens has been served for 70 years by volunteer firefighters; and

Whereas men and women give back to their communities by training to fight fires in their communities, and by fundraising to continue to keep their community volunteer fire departments operational; and

Whereas during the month of October our province promotes awareness of fire safety;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize all members of the North Queens Fire Department and congratulate them on their 70th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 586

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

Whereas the Caregiver Allowance Program established to acknowledge the important role of caregivers in their efforts to assist loved ones and friends with a high level of disability or impairment was announced with great fanfare by this NDP Government; and

Whereas Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other have been denied the caregiver allowance, despite the fact that they are doing yeoman service keeping serious ill individuals out of hospitals and nursing homes; and

[Page 1157]

Whereas yesterday Jean paid a visit to the House of Assembly to see whether the minister would reassess her application, as promised by that minister on September 29th, an offer which was later retracted by the minister when Jean and her advocate showed their courage on this issue;

Therefore be it resolved that the government show leadership and responsibility by re-evaluating and changing the Caregiver Allowance Program now, instead of blaming others for a program which they introduced and know is their responsibility.

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 587

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

Whereas southwestern Nova Scotia is a financial, business, education and lifestyle centre and home to 70,000 people living in the Tri-County area; and

Whereas the Yarmouth and Area Transportation Study was completed in April 2008, identifying $23 million-plus worth of critical transportation and infrastructure work; and

Whereas without proper transportation links such as airports, ferry terminals, trucking depots and suitable roads for emergency vehicles such as fire apparatus, police and ambulance, as well as for the tourists to travel on;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly immediately recognize the importance transportation links to southwestern Nova Scotia and understand the critical need for 70,000 people relying on such links on a daily basis.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1158]

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 588

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the NDP Government has been in power for 117 days and recognizes the financial strain (Interruption) - However long, it's been too long - and recognizes the financial strain that thousands of Nova Scotians are facing this year, and in particular this winter, to heat their homes; and

Whereas the NDP were advocates of the Keep The Heat Program and even took credit for the rebate increase to $450 when the Tories made the boost in September of 2008; and

Whereas the NDP Government has not protected the thousands of vulnerable families trying to heat their homes this winter, by cutting the home assistance rebate program by $250, back to its original maximum of $200;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier apologize to the thousands of families in Nova Scotia who will have to struggle further to pay their oil and heating bills this winter, because of this cut to the rebate program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 1159]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 589

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 Le Conseil Économique de Chéticamp is a local organization looking to improve the economic situation in the Chéticamp area; and

Whereas Le Conseil Économique de Chéticamp wrote a letter on October 5, 2009, to the Premier and Minister of Acadian Affairs, alerting them that Le Conseil is awaiting financial support from the Economic and Rural Development Department; and

Whereas the support will fund their Façade Project that will improve the streetscape of Cheticamp along the Cabot Trail;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and Ministers commit to funding the request for $100,000 over two years to match up with the ECBC contribution of $745,000.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 590

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

Whereas Susanne Litke has been a staff lawyer at Dalhousie Legal Aid Service for the past decade and has both contributed to the education of law and social work students and has supported and advocated for many individuals and social justice organizations; and

[Page 1160]

Whereas Susanne Litke has also been a dedicated activist in her personal life, including singing with the gay singers and helping to organize numerous events; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Association of Women and the Law has announced that Susanne Litke will be one of the recipients of the 2009 Frances Fish Women Lawyers Achievement Award to be presented at the association's awards dinner on October 20, 2009;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature thank Susanne Litke for her untiring service to women, men and children in Nova Scotia and congratulate her upon the occasion of receiving the 2009 Frances Fish Women Lawyers Achievement Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 591

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

Whereas the NDP Government has been in power for 117 days to review the state of the province and make decisions on pressing issues facing Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the government has hired numerous consultants to study the many issues facing our province and our communities which demand and require action; and

Whereas the Cabinet Ministers of this House have been sitting both day and night at length in the Legislature reading novels, chatting to other members of government, and seemingly listening to topics of discussion and debate;

[Page 1161]

Therefore be it resolved that this government identify the hours they have spent working on solutions to the many challenges of this province and when they are doing so, or if the consultants they have hired are doing all the work as it is not apparent with the amount of time government has been sitting in this House that they have been doing what they were elected to do.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: May I do an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome this afternoon to the west gallery my constituency assistant, Bonnie Smith is with us this afternoon. My wife, Leslie, is here and I see two of my girls there, Emily and Jayma, there must be a day off in the Windsor schools I guess today. So we welcome them to the House this afternoon and I would ask all members to give them a hand. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 592

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

Whereas dinner plates with Nova Scotia grown turkeys perched on them were dramatically reduced this past weekend with an even larger shortage forecast for the upcoming Christmas season; and

Whereas turkey production in Nova Scotia, with a farm gate value of $4.1 million to Nova Scotia's economy last year, has declined by more than 50 per cent since Nova Scotia's Turkey Marketing Board was turned down for funding following a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture on July 16th; and

Whereas in 2007, nearly 66,000 turkeys were produced here in Nova Scotia for Thanksgiving, with that figure climbing to 68,247 in 2008 before falling dramatically back to slightly more than 28,000 birds this Thanksgiving;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly immediately request the Minister of Agriculture to stop dithering around and begin working with the Nova Scotia Turkey Marketing Board and all producers, along with ACA Co-operative in New Minas,

[Page 1162]

enabling Nova Scotia turkey producers to have freezer space so they will not be forced to ship their birds for processing to Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, I won't even ask for a waiver.

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. 593

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 annual Mildred Williams International Women's Harness Drivers Series is named after Mildred Williams who was born in Ontario in 1916; and

Whereas Mildred Williams, eventually known as the first lady of harness racing, with over 400 wins to her name, was a pioneer in the fight for the rights of women to compete in this sport after having been refused a driver's licence by the United States Trotting Association because she was a woman; and

Whereas Tammy MacKay of Truro has earned a place in the final field of eight women drivers from an original entrance of 60 and raced in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware on October 3 and 4, 2009 and is donating her winnings to breast cancer research;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Tammy MacKay on her young and successful career as a harness racing driver and for donating her winnings to breast cancer research.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1163]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 594

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

Whereas the Waycobah First Nation, alongside residents of Inverness County communities, came out in impressive numbers to show their support on September 11th for the Parents Against Drugs march; and

Whereas programs like the Parents Against Drugs march offer positive and healthy solutions for youth in our communities and rely on the hard work of individuals to uplift our youth and promote a healthy and drug-free lifestyle; and

Whereas the Waycobah First Nation and the Eskasoni First Nation communities have taken an important role in this nationwide initiative to unite people and bring awareness to the issues of drug and alcohol use;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize the proactive and positive actions taken by the Waycobah First Nation, the Eskasoni First Nation and the Inverness County communities in their local support of positive lifestyle choices for Nova Scotia youth.

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.

[Page 1164]

RESOLUTION NO. 595

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

Whereas Gary Vickery, who grew up in the village of Joggins on the Fundy coast, recently completed a book on the subject called, The Joggins: Its History and Its People; and

Whereas the book, more than 400 pages in length, features chapters on the village's beginning as a coal mining and shipping community, some of the families that have lived in Joggins for generations, the writings of Harry L. Burke, Vickery's own family and childhood memories as well as chapters focusing on music and sports in the community; and

Whereas the book was a huge undertaking for the first-time author, but one that meant a lot to Mr. Vickery as he retired and wrote the story of the place he calls home;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Gary Vickery on writing his book about the Joggins and wish him all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 596

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

Whereas Amherst Regional High School, and indeed the entire community of Amherst, suffered a profound loss on September 2nd when Miss Susan Taylor, popular

[Page 1165]

teacher and talented band director, passed away due to complications related to a boating accident; and

Whereas Ms. Taylor, in developing one of the most successful band programs in the country, impacted the lives of many, especially the lives of her students who grew to love music with a deep passion that Susan embodied; and

Whereas the Brick Theatre in Amherst Regional High School will be renamed the Susan Taylor Theatre in tribute to a dedicated teacher, band and choir enthusiast, volunteer and community member who was taken from us much too soon;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the late Susan Taylor for her contributions to the Amherst community as well as extend deepest sympathies to the Taylor family and friends.

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 597

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Premier yesterday acknowledged that a backbench member of his Party, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage is vying for a Cabinet position and expressed so in a newsletter; and

Whereas the Premier indicated that he would be reviewing his Party's Cabinet and its size on an ongoing basis - could be one of you guys; and

Whereas the criteria for this review and a possible expansion of the NDP Cabinet is unknown at this time;

[Page 1166]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier indicate what criteria he'll use to assess his Cabinet, what numbers he'll cap his Cabinet at and where he plans to find the money to pay for extra positions in his Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[3:00 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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 598

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

Whereas the Bridgewater Fire Department has been providing quality fire services to the residents of Bridgewater and the surrounding area for the past 133 years; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Fire Department is a brigade of over 50 volunteers who consistently display their professionalism in keeping our community safe; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Fire Department held its annual banquet on Saturday, October 10th at the Bridgewater Fire Hall and honoured members both past and present, as well as welcoming new junior members;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Bridgewater Fire Department on 133 years of superlative service to Bridgewater and the surrounding area and thank Chief Wayne Thorburne, Deputy Chief Michael Nauss and all members of the department, both past and present, for their dedicated service to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1167]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 599

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus in Kentville provides first-class, hands-on education to 1,000 full-time and 850 part-time students in this province; and

Whereas the hard-working and devoted teachers at the Kingstec Campus pass on skills and training to their students, especially in support of addictions counselling in this province; and

Whereas the pending the strike of these valued teachers is looming today because the Minister of Education has failed to continue negotiations that broke down last Friday, there are no talks and, "without the participation of the Minister of Education there will be no agreement";

Therefore be it resolved that this government treat the some 900 teachers of the Nova Scotia Community College in this province fairly and in the same manner as the some 10,000 public school teachers in this province and that the Minister of Education become engaged in negotiations with these teachers so that the worthy and eager students of Nova Scotia can acquire the necessary skills they need to support our industry and our economy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 1168]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 600

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 Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Kings Branch, is dedicated to the prevention of cruelty and to the promotion of respect for and the humane care of animals; and

Whereas the SPCA Kings Branch provides many services to Kings County such as an emergency food bank for animals, financial assistance to spay or neuter pets, medical assistance to pay for emergency assessment of ill pets, obedience classes and public outreach programs; and

Whereas on October 4, 2009, after almost two decades of volunteer hard work and fundraising, the SPCA Kings Branch celebrated the official opening of a new and much needed facility, the Kings County SPCA Care Centre located at 1285 County Home Road, Waterville, N.S.;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Kings Branch, on the official opening of the new Kings County SPCA Care Centre and wish the SPCA every success in its continuing objective of ensuring that domestic animals are respected and receive humane care.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 601

[Page 1169]

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

Whereas provincial courts are an important part of our legal system; and

Whereas access to timely justice is protected by the charter; and

Whereas victims of violence are often forced to suffer again when trials are stayed due to lack of resources in Nova Scotia's court system to deliver timely trials;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice immediately resolve resourcing challenges in the court system so that justice can be properly served in Nova Scotia

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 602

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

Whereas the People-to-People International is an educational group founded by the former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 to foster world citizenship, bridge culture and political borders though education and exchange and make the world a better place for future generations; and

Whereas 11-year-old Lunenburg Academy student Anneka Hennenfent was one of only two Canadians to be chosen as the select group of North American youth to be invited to Washington, D.C., based on her outstanding scholastic merits, civic involvement and leadership potential; and

Whereas Anneka spent five days in the American capital this September, learning historical and cultural information, visiting American monuments and representing Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Anneka Hennenfent on her achievement and the recognition she has received by being chosen to be part of this international leadership event, through People-to-People International.

[Page 1170]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 603

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

Whereas Lindsay Pearl, the 19-year-old daughter of Mark and Mona Pearl of Kentville, became Apple Blossom Queen 77, May 29, 2009; and

Whereas Lindsay is a third-year student at St. Francis Xavier University who has a strong record of volunteerism and participation in many university and community organizations; and

Whereas Lindsay is dedicated in her role as Queen Annapolisa and is maintaining a presence in Valley communities in this leadership role;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House congratulate Lindsay Pearl and her child attendant, Kailey Bennett, and wish them an outstanding year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1171]

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 604

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

Whereas four young tennis players from the Truro Tennis Club participated in this year's Canada Summer Games in Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas these young and talented athletes were enthusiastically supported by their justifiably proud families and the Truro Tennis Club; and

Whereas Stephanie Bagnell, age 17, competed in the girls singles; Dennis Keaveney, age 15, competed in the boys doubles; Farina Rafiq, age 16, competed in the girls doubles; and Rumana Rafiq was an alternate;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Stephanie Bagnell, Dennis Keaveney, Farina and Rumana Rafiq on their selection and participation in the Canada Summer Games of 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.

RESOLUTION NO. 605

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

Whereas the Newfie Days Festival in Lunenburg has been running since 1996 and is taking place in Lunenburg on October 16 to 18, 2009; and

[Page 1172]

Whereas this event was created the Terre Neuve Newfoundlanders and Friends Association as a way to celebrate Newfoundland culture and heritage; and

Whereas this year's Newfie Days Festival will feature talented entertainers, such as musical comedian Paul Soucy; Wicked Altogether, featuring Jim Payne and Fergus O'Byrne; a tribute to Walter Pierce and the ever-popular No Talent Show;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate this year's organizers, Mickie Jensen and Mona Snook, and all volunteers who put together Newfie Days Festival in Lunenburg and wish them success.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Just before we go to Question Period, just a couple of reminders: no electronic devices are to be used here in the Chamber during Question Period; I would ask again that you direct all your questions and answers to the Chair; and finally, supplementary questions are to be on the same topic as the main question (Interruption) So just a reminder of that.

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time now is 3:10 p.m. and we will go to 4:40 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

EDUC.: NSCC STRIKE - COLLECTIVE BARGAINING PROCESS

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Currently we have 25,000 students waiting and worrying that their education at the Nova Scotia Community Colleges will be over on the 20th of this month. We are days

[Page 1173]

away from a strike, most people would be very concerned about a work stoppage, but the Minister of Education has called a strike just another piece of the collective bargaining process. So my question to the minister is, do you stand by your comment that the strike is just another part of the collective bargaining process?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, the context of those remarks was suggesting that there is a usual process involved in collective bargaining and that the parties are going through that process. The fundamental premise of collective bargaining is that the parties determine their own settlement. I have to just repeat myself that the government is determined that they will recognize the right of the employer and the employee to reach a compromise, to reach a settlement at the negotiation table. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, there is a way for the minister to distance herself from these careless remarks: she can take steps to avert this strike, it is within her power and the power of this Cabinet, she can pressure her Cabinet colleagues to accept the offer by the union for binding arbitration. So my question to the minister is, will she do what her Party had called for, again and again in Opposition, and use binding arbitration to settle this strike?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, there is no authority as Minister of Education nor Minister of Labour and Workforce Development to order binding arbitration. That is a decision of the two parties, the employer and the employee. They can decide on an arbitrator and take that step but that is outside the Trade Union Act. Thank you.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, it seems that this government is more concerned about making a point to other unions than averting a strike. This government insists that it doesn't have the money to settle this dispute without a strike, but this government had more than $300 million to spend to universities ahead of schedule. So my question to the minister is, why are you forcing the faculty of the community colleges to go on strike while at the same time you're choosing to pay a bill to the universities not due until next year?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I just repeat that the right of the parties to go back to the negotiating table and settle their disagreement is fundamental to the collective bargaining Act. The Opposition can criticize, they can ask questions, they can harangue, they can point, but this settlement will happen at the negotiating table, it will not happen in this Chamber. (Applause)

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

EDUC.: NSCC STRIKE - MIN. ROLE

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. We know that the Premier, after constant prompting by the PC caucus, finally met with the

[Page 1174]

president of the NSGEU. My question for the minister today is, what role is she now playing to ensure that there will be no province-wide walkout by Nova Scotia Community College teachers on Tuesday?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I was not a witness but I understand that it was a matter of courtesy, when the president of the NSGEU was present yesterday, that the Premier did engage her in a conversation, I believe, outside the Chamber. But our government is committed to staying out of the collective bargaining process. We have confidence that reasonable people on both sides of that disagreement can meet their obligations to themselves, to their members, and to the students and their families, by going back and having reasonable discussions at the negotiating table. That is where it will be settled, that is where the compromise will be reached. Thank you.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, for the last 10 days I've been asking the minister for a plan that would avoid an interruption to students' studies. In the emergency debate on Thursday night, the member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island said, "In the event of a work stoppage, our government has been assured by the college that they have a contingency plan." Will the minister share with this House today the details of that contingency plan of which the member has spoken?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, as I've explained in the Chamber before, I have not seen the contingency plan. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education has the floor.

MS. MORE: But my senior officials have assured me that it does protect students' interests. I understand that aspects of it that would be relevant to students and their families have been posted on the community college Web sites and I have confidence that, as the employers in this situation, the community college senior management and board of governors have made the best arrangements they can to protect students' interests and the students' future. Those are operational details that it's not necessary nor appropriate for me to be involved with. Thank you.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, this minister is the leader of the Department of Education. She has no contingency plan, she knows nothing of the plan that the community college is supposed to have. My question is, what message is she sending the students of Nova Scotia about her role to help them stay in class?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, my only role as Minister of Education is to protect the collective bargaining process and to encourage (Interruptions)

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

[Page 1175]

MS. MORE: . . . and to encourage both sides to get back to the negotiating table and reach a compromise and a settlement. Thank you.

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

EDUC. - STUDENTS' ANXIETIES: MIN. - ADDRESS

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. After speaking with student representatives from NSCC over the past few days, it's clear there's great anxiety over the possibility of a strike. One student said you can't walk around the building without hearing people talk about it. Students have the most to lose from a strike and this government is refusing to step in. My question to the minister is, why haven't you addressed students' anxieties about a strike?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I recognize, as does my government, the level of apprehension and anxiety that the current negotiating process has engendered. We've all, as members of the Legislature, received e-mails and phone calls and had conversations with people directly impacted by this potential strike vote. But we have to protect the right to collective bargaining. It was a hard-fought-for right by unions and the labour movement in this province and the government would be irresponsible not to protect their right to get to the table and discuss their options, to reconsider any options possible, and to reach a negotiated settlement.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, we also spoke to a college representative from the NSCC Strait Area Campus. He said that over 75 per cent of the programs at the campus require a certain number of hours before apprenticeship programs can begin. Now, completing program hours will be impossible in the case of a strike and students in the Strait area are counting on finishing their hours and getting on with their apprenticeships. My question to the minister is, what are you doing to assure students in the Strait area that they will complete their program requirements?

MS. MORE: It's for that very reason, and many other potential impacts, that the government is encouraging and hoping that the two sides will go back to the negotiating table and work out their differences.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, this minister has done nothing for the 1,000 students at the Strait Area Campus. In fact, the two sides agree the teachers should get the 2.9 per cent; the problem is the government won't step in and give them the funding. There is an agreement.

[Page 1176]

My final question is to the minister. Madam Minister, your candidate in Inverness is the former principal of the Strait Area Campus. What does he think about your lack of leadership and the possibility of a strike?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, my leadership and my role as Minister of Education is not in question. What I am trying to protect is the right of the employer and the union to reach a negotiated settlement at the table.

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

EDUC.: NSCC MARCONI CAMPUS STUDENTS - STRIKE EXPLAIN

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Minister of Education. Just a few months ago, Marconi Campus was being praised for the great work it has done for students in the local community. The campus serves 2,400 students and is offering 28 programs this year. It has a business centre which serves as an incubator for small businesses and provides a great opportunity for students to work part-time in their fields of study and build their portfolios. Now a potential strike threatens the college's success. My question to the minister is, will you tell the students of Marconi Campus why you are causing their year to be interrupted by a strike?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question because it gives me an opportunity to remind everyone that the collective bargaining process is not about whether or not the government appreciates and values the work of the community college system and the faculty and professional staff. The results are excellent from those facilities. We have the utmost regard, and this has nothing to do with how we value both the students, the facility and the staff.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's obvious to me that this minister is not concerned about the future of the students, nor does it appear she is accepting any responsibility for anything in this House today, or in previous Question Periods, regarding this issue.

One year after graduation, 92 per cent of NSCC graduates are employed and 88 per cent of these are working in their fields of study. The average annual salary of NSCC graduates is also on the rise. Results show that the class of 2007 is earning 10 per cent more than 2006 graduates. Students need to get into the workforce as soon as possible so they can achieve the success they have worked so hard for. Again, Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, can you promise that a strike will not cause students to graduate later than scheduled?

[Page 1177]

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I don't dispute any of the statistical information provided about the community college as being a centre of educational excellence in this province and that's all the more reason to motivate both sides to get back to the table.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this is all about the minister accepting her own responsibility in this matter and not shoving it off to somebody else.

My final supplementary - Marconi Campus serves students across Cape Breton and we haven't heard anyone in the government caucus advocating for them. My final question to the minister, the Marconi Campus is located in the riding of Cape Breton Nova, has the member from Cape Breton Nova used his considerable influence in your caucus to avoid a strike by asking you to take action in this matter?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to visit the Marconi Campus as one of the first community colleges to visit as Minister of Education early in the summer. I was extremely impressed, had a tour of the building and met several of the staff. Unfortunately the students weren't in session but I was very impressed with the quality of programming of that facility and I just want to say that I'm sure that all members of this Legislative Assembly are concerned about the situation and would join me in urging both sides to get back to the table.

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

EDUC.: NSCC BD. OF GOVERNORS/MIN. - DISCUSSIONS

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Nova Scotia has a proud gem in their education system, that being the Nova Scotia Community College system of 13 campuses, something of which this minister should be very proud, something where this minister should be showing leadership. My question to the minister is this, can you tell the House of any discussions that she may have had with the Board of Governors on their contingency plan to prevent this work stoppage?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I have not spoken directly since (Interruptions) If I may be permitted to finish my answer.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

MS. MORE: I have the utmost respect and confidence in the senior management and the Board of Governors of the Nova Scotia Community College and my senior officials have assured me that they have worked on their contingency plan, that it is underway, that relevant parts of it are posted on the internet and that students will have access in a timely fashion to the information they need.

[Page 1178]

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has consistently said in this House, the Minister of Education has consistently said in this House that they will not get involved in the collective bargaining process. However, it turns out that this government has already provided financial guidelines by which the community college must negotiate, so will the minister outline if that is intervention or not and what those guidelines might be?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, no I'm not prepared to release that information. As the member well knows, any discussions that are held at the Executive Council table are confidential. We are not the employer in this situation and I know that the members in the two Opposition Parties are very familiar with the role of government in these public sector negotiations and fully understand why I cannot release that information.

[3:30 p.m.]

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, we know this government allocated an additional $54 million into the restructuring fund. That fund is used partially to negotiate contracts and to settle disputes and we also know that less than 2 per cent of that money would bring this resolution to a close, and bring this dispute to a close and keep students in their classroom. Will the minister advise the board of governors that they do have enough money to resolve the dispute and they can avoid the strike?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, that is not my role as Minister of Education (Interruptions) and, if you would like, I can certainly pass this over to the Deputy Premier to speak on behalf of the government. Thank you.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, to that point. It is a third party set of negotiations and, as the minister has said, certainly all avenues are open to those parties to get back together and settle any disagreements they may have and do it at the table. Thank you.

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

COM. SERV.: HEATING ASSISTANCE - CONTINGENCY PLAN

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Last week it was revealed this government has cut the assistance to people looking for help under the Heating Assistance Rebate Program. A family which would have been eligible for $450 last year will only be eligible for $200 this winter. Many of those needing that rebate are low-income Nova Scotians, some of whom rely on Community Services. My question to the minister is, what contingency plan have you put in place in your department to handle the extra people who will be knocking on your door for assistance to help pay their heating bill?

[Page 1179]

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for his question, and I would like to inform the honourable member that what we do is, we look at each case individually and the people who are in need can contact and are usually in contact with their caseworkers. We analyze it on an individual basis, with respect to their income threshold and we'll go forth from there, to help out the person or the family because that is most important to us. Thank you.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the minister is refusing to acknowledge that this decision to cut the amount eligible for each family has consequences throughout our communities. In Halifax, for example, the Parker Street Food Bank is the spot of last resort, when all other sources for help have run out. Mel Boutilier, who operates the Parker Street Food Bank, is quite up front about the consequences of this government's decision. More people will be coming to him. He says: To cut anything is just harmful. My question to the minister is, why is your government off-loading the responsibility to help people with heating to the volunteer agencies in our communities?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, in fact that is not true. There are other programs that we have available, through the heating and the reduction of the HST on heating and electricity. Therefore we are available for each and every family and we are not in the position of passing that along. We take it very seriously and that's why we're involved in looking at plans with poverty reduction and going forward with that to address issues. Thank you.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the minister continues to deliberately miss the point. Here's what cutting the rebate from $450 to $200 means - instead of a month in a warm house, it means less than two weeks; it means instead of buying food to eat, families must choose between being hungry or being warm; and it means every volunteer agency, from food banks to churches, in every community across Nova Scotia will be flooded with requests. My final question to the minister is, will you go back to the Cabinet Room and fight for your constituents and put a heart back in your government?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: I can tell the honourable member that each and every one of us here have a heart and we are very seriously involved in any individual or family life and the situation that they are in. There are other programs that are available. We work very closely with each and every one of those agencies and organizations that he speaks of and I have made it very public that I'm available to them, to talk to me, and we want to go forth and work together to make life better for each and every Nova Scotian and that's our commitment. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

EDUC. - NSCC STRIKE: HEALTH CARE TRAINING - EFFECTS

[Page 1180]

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Labour Workforce Development, whichever one would like to answer is fine with me. (Laughter) Continuing care systems do vital support work so that the elderly and the disabled can continue to live an acceptable standard of life. New CCA students at the Nova Scotia Community College must complete internships at long-term care facilities in order to fulfil their graduation requirements. Not only does the program benefit the students but these facilities depend on them as well. Can the minister commit today that an disruption in the studies would not affect the training of these vital individuals to our health care system?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased that the honourable member has mentioned another one of the excellent programs available through the Nova Scotia Community College system and gives another reason why both sides needs to get back to the negotiating table. Thank you.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, the ongoing contract dispute has negative effects which run far beyond the classroom. Given the extraordinarily high stakes, what has this minister personally done to ensure that a strike at the NSCC would not put the health and the well-being of those in long-term care facilities in jeopardy?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I can only repeat that in my role as Minister of Education, I am hoping and encouraging both sides to get back to the negotiating table, that is where a settlement will be reached. Thank you.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, events as serious as this require far more than the hands-off approach this government is taking. What is this minister's plan to assist those in long-term facilities, in the event that a faculty strike holds much-needed new CCA students from doing their work placements and ultimately graduating on time?

MS. MORE: It might be more appropriate for the Minister of Health to add something but I just want that's is all the more reason that the responsible employees and employers get back to the table in discussion. That is the only place where they're going to reach a settlement. So I will pass it over to the Minister of Health for additional information. Thank you.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure that member and all members in the House that long-term facilities are well staffed and any labour disruption at the Nova Scotia Community College will have absolutely no impact on the long-term care sector.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis. (Applause)

HEALTH - NURSE PRACTITIONER: DIGBY NECK ISLANDS -

TERMINATION DETAILS

[Page 1181]

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: I want to thank the members for the warm welcome back and I also want to say that I'm a lot healthier and that's going to prompt me to ask my question to the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter)

Last Friday afternoon, the South West Nova District Health Authority sent out a press release indicating a reduction in hours at the Islands Health Clinic. The reason provided was that the nurse practitioner who is providing care to the residents of Digby Neck and Islands was no longer employed by the South West Nova District Health Authority. Mr. Speaker, as you can appreciate, this has caused a great deal of concern in the community, as 1,500 individuals relied on this Island Health Clinic. The care provided by this nurse practitioner was one of their only sources of primary health care in the community, and now that care has been abruptly changed due to reduction in service. My question is to the minister, given that the minister has no doubt been briefed on this crisis in Digby. Could the minister please confirm whether the nurse practitioner left her position voluntarily or whether she was let go by the district health authority?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my office was advised by the employer, the district health authority, that the probationary period for the nurse practitioner was coming to an end and her position would be terminated. Our department is in the process of supporting the district health authority in recruiting a nurse practitioner to the area, and in the meantime the paramedics who work there 24/7 will remain in place to offer services to the community, but we hear the concerns of the community and we will do our best to get that service back up to full staff.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, this small, tightknit community is very concerned, and stories are spreading quickly. When community members contact the health clinic out of concern, they are being told that no one is allowed to speak on this issue. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but this sounds suspiciously close to a gag order - something the NDP detested when in Opposition but now appear willing to allow to happen with this government.

When the district notified the community late Friday afternoon of the decision of the reduction in the service of the Islands Health Clinic, the press release indicated they are actively recruiting a new nurse practitioner for the community. This, on top of trying to recruit a new physician after a physician left in September before even opening a practice, leaving 500 patients waiting again; this, on top of a site administrator for the Digby hospital, who is leaving. One has to stop and ask, what is going on in Digby? It takes me a while to ask this, because the story has got to get told. We've got problems in Digby. We've got problems every day with our health care in Digby. Thank God I had to come to Halifax to get my heart fixed - never get it done in Digby.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, member?

[Page 1182]

MR. THERIAULT: Could the minister please indicate what immediate support her department has provided to ensure the residents of Digby Neck and Islands that they will be able to access health care in a timely manner?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we're very aware in the department that the Digby area has been a challenging area to retain and recruit health care providers to for many years, but our department is working very closely with the DHA to ensure that a new nurse practitioner will be recruited into that area at the earliest convenience. In the meantime, people have access in that area to excellent services provided by the paramedics 24/7. Additionally, there is the HealthLink 811 and, of course, emergency health services if required to go to the nearest health centre.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, that's another problem, the local Annapolis clinic is being closed down. The hospital in Digby is going to be closed 120-some hours this month coming. The doctor there now, who supplies the service to the ER, is talking of leaving the area because he can't handle the pressure anymore. The people are asking me - I was sick home trying to rest, and the people are calling me at home, asking me - what the problem with the health care is. I had to come up here to get a rest. My question is, what is going on with the health care in Digby County, please?

[3:45 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't know that this is going to be much of a rest for the honourable member, but Dr. Ross has been retained by our government as our emergency health care advisor. He's working out a schedule right now to become more familiar with the problems around the province and the various DHAs. He will be doing locums in some areas of the province. There's no doubt in my mind that the Digby area will be an area that will receive some priority attention because of the difficult circumstances that residents in that area have experienced over too long a time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH - DART. GEN. HOSP.: OVERCROWDING - STATUS

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, we once again saw the call of a Code Orange at one of Nova Scotia's largest emergency rooms. This time patients were waiting in the hallways for beds at the Dartmouth General Hospital, while others were being diverted to Cobequid ER because apparently the QE II ER was experiencing high volumes as well.

[Page 1183]

We now know that this ER - the QE II - as of about noon, was in Code Orange, or Code Census, once again. According to today's ChronicleHerald, as of 6:00 p.m. last night the Code Census was still on in Dartmouth and the overnight shift was going into a full house. Mr. Speaker, can the minister bring us up to date on the situation at the Dartmouth General?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I notice that the honourable member did correct his terminology. It isn't a Code Orange anymore, it's a Code Census. This does occur when there are more patients in the emergency room than the emergency department is able to handle.

But here in the Capital District Health Authority, we have a system so patients are able to be diverted to areas in the system where there is capacity. In fact, patients were diverted to the Cobequid Health Centre. This is an area that Dr. John Ross, our emergency care advisor, will be looking at very closely. He will not only be looking at emergency room closures but also the pressures that are on emergency departments.

I also learned today that we have a new emergency physician leader who is an expert in the field of emergency room overcrowding, who has just come to the Capital District Health Authority to take over the lead position there. So we are making some progress in terms of getting some expertise to solve this problem. Thank you.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, what is a resident to do? You're going to have Dartmouth in a Code Orange - sorry, Code Census - well, I'm going to call it Code Orange, because it's exactly what it is - you're going to have QE II, that's going to be in a Code Orange, and you're going to have Cobequid, that closes at, what? At 10:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m.? Where are people going to go? Maybe they're going to go to Windsor, maybe they're going to go to Kentville - who knows?

My first supplementary to the Minster of Health - Dr. Todd Howlett, Dartmouth General's Chief of Emergency Medicine, said that for a variety of reasons a large influx of patients through the emergency department is not uncommon for a long weekend. My question is, knowing the challenges of a long weekend, why wasn't the department ready to respond in a more efficient manner?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I understand one of the issues at the Capital District has been the availability of beds above the emergency department. You know, you have to be able to create that flow from the emergency room into the floors internally and that organization. I understand that beds are being freed up there today and more availability will become apparent to people, and it means that the Code Census is less likely to have to continue, at least for the time being.

[Page 1184]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the Premier and the minister have touted the hiring of the emergency room advisor, Dr. John Ross. I've got to admit that this is a good step in the right direction but it does nothing to help the patients who are stuck in that emergency room today. During the election, the NDP misled Nova Scotians by saying they would fix the problem by opening hospital beds to ease overcrowding, just like the minister said, but what they're doing today is kicking people out of the hospital so they can free it up for the emergency room. Where are they going today?

My second supplementary to the minister is, when will you come clean with Nova Scotia and admit that you knew nothing about the issue prior to the election and know even less today?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm tempted to say that I've forgotten more than that honourable member ever knew about health. (Applause)

Let's be clear, no one is being kicked out of a medical facility in this province when they need medical attention and no one is being turned away from emergency facilities when they need attention. They are being sent to facilities where there are very trained professionals, very capable of taking care of them, and let's not fear-monger so that people won't show up. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - DART. GEN. HOSP.: CHALLENGES - MIN. ADDRESS

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and I hope she hasn't forgotten so much that she won't be able to answer my question now. (Laughter) Code Census - and I preferred Code Orange because it's code NDP at the moment - as of noon today both the QEII and the Dartmouth General were still in a Code Census. All we've heard in response to the member for Argyle's questions are the same pre-taped answers we've heard all along about ER closures but that's cold comfort to the staff and patients at the Dartmouth General who are being sent to places like Cobequid which incidentally closes at 10:00 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, could the minister please indicate what she is going to do today to address the challenges at the Dartmouth General Hospital, not what she's going to do a year from now?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, we have already taken steps to bring in one of the most well-respected emergency room physicians in the province - Dr. John Ross - to be the emergency room adviser. (Interruptions) This happened awhile ago and

[Page 1185]

while some members think that emergency room physicians shouldn't be paid an adequate wage in order to recruit them and retain them in our province, let me tell you, if we're not prepared to pay people a competitive wage, the situation will (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Everybody will have their chance to ask their questions. The Minister of Health has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if we're not prepared to pay a competitive wage to our emergency room doctors, the situation will be worse than it is right now.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I guess the Minister of Health preferred to answer the questions from the heckling of the Third Party than answer the question that I asked and helping the residents of Dartmouth. Maybe I should provide the minister with some information. A total of 25 patients were admitted to the ER and waiting for a hospital bed, 11 at the Dartmouth General and 14 at the QEII today. In the last 24 hours, 299 patients arrived at these ERs - 28 of these patients require admission and three of them required admission to the ICU Unit. Both of these hospitals are facing tremendous pressure and if H1N1 strikes, it's going to get even worse.

Mr. Speaker, as much as the minister wants to talk about how expensive it is to pay an ER consultant - and that's fine - we're asking about what are the answers today and what is the minister going to do to help with the challenges experienced at the hospital today?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I already indicated that at the QE II the system there has started to do the process of discharging people who are ready to be home. This means that the flow from the emergency department will be able to occur, having people move to floors above the emergency room, freeing up units in the emergency department - and that process is occurring as we speak.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, twice I have asked what the minister is doing at the Dartmouth General Hospital to solve the problem and twice she has told me what they are doing at the QE II in Halifax. If the minister needs me to take her for a drive to show her where the Dartmouth General Hospital is, I'd be pleased to do that.

The fact of the matter is that the QE II and the Dartmouth General have had a number of these "code NDPs" over the past month and the fact is we have yet to even experience peak flu season. So in a month where we had no ice and no slips and falls - and we haven't had the H1N1 peak yet - and a month when ERs are traditionally quiet but suddenly busy, my question to the minister is, will she now admit that, as valuable as Dr. Ross' report might be a year from now, by the time we get it it will be too late?

[Page 1186]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, emergency rooms right across this country are facing these kinds of challenges. Here in the Capital District Health Authority what the honourable member needs to understand is you don't deal with a hospital in a standalone way, they are a system and, if one unit has an overcapacity, then the other hospitals are impacted.

In fact, by freeing up beds in the QE II, this will have a positive impact in other areas including Cobequid and including Dartmouth, and vice versa, Mr. Speaker, so it is very relevant. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HEALTH: ER WAIT TIMES - REDUCTION

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday patients at the Dartmouth General Hospital waited for lengthy periods to be assessed by an emergency room physician. Finally, after realizing yet another Code Census, patients had to be diverted to the Cobequid Health Centre in Sackville to be cared for. Mr. Speaker, the NDP promised Nova Scotians during a recent election that they had all the answers for emergency rooms. I ask, through you to the Minister of Health, when can Nova Scotians expect to see so-called wait times in emergency rooms reduced?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. Actually one of the commitments this government made in terms of reducing wait times in emergency departments was to keep Cobequid open 24/7. We're looking at doing that in the next fiscal year, after this fiscal year, and we have a number of other measures that you will see brought forward in the next fiscal year.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister. I can't wait for the day Cobequid is open 24 hours, having spent a considerable amount of time out there in my years in health care, and I'm sure others anxiously await as well.

The minister should just admit to Nova Scotians that neither she nor her government has any answers for backups in emergency departments. Instead they have hired yet another consultant, Dr. John Ross, whom I will admit is a very qualified emergency room physician, and I believe he starts work today - probably a good thing, given the current situation at Dartmouth General and many other emergency departments around the province.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Health is, how long before Nova Scotians see a return on their investment of this $100,000 consultant?

[4:00 p.m.]

[Page 1187]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, every member in this Chamber knows that the problem in emergency departments is a problem that has built over at least a 10-year period. It is not a problem that is going to be solved in a matter of days, in a matter of weeks, or even in a matter of months. While the members here may pursue their questions, which is an important thing to do, they have expectations that far outstrip what the expectations in the public are.

Mr. Speaker, people I talk to every day understand that this problem is not going to be solved overnight, that it requires a longer-term view and it requires an acceptable period of time to get the pieces in place to address this problem.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, the ChronicleHerald reported today - and I'll table that - that EHS and paramedics have been advised of certain workload issues as a result of extended wait times and emergency room closures in certain areas of the province.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health, has she increased the budget to reflect the extra costs associated with the need for more ambulances and more paramedics, due to this government's inability to solve the problem of ER closures and, if so, how much is that cost going to be on the taxpayer?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member could have asked this question during estimates but I'm not sure why that didn't occur.

The problems with our emergency departments need to be solved over a longer period of time because it is a system approach. Part of the system is, in fact, Emergency Health Services. I have to say we are really privileged to have such an excellent service in this province and this government will do everything in its power to enhance those services, to fully utilize the scope of practice of the paramedics in our system. They could be doing so much more than even the excellent service that they give us right now.

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

EDUC.: NSCC STRIKE - CLASS CANCELLATIONS

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I took the Minister of Education's suggestion and I checked on the NSCC Web site. What I found there sort of raised more questions for me than answers. Question No. 5 on Questions and Answers said, "Would classes be cancelled if there were a strike? All classes, including full-time, part-time and continuing education, will be suspended from the first day of a strike. Students are encouraged, wherever possible, to work independently on course material and assignments." My question for the minister is, does the minister think students should teach themselves?

[Page 1188]

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious issue and a very serious question. I wonder if I might be permitted a brief personal aside. Today is the first day that my mother has had full cable access to Legislative Television. I've been telling her she hasn't missed much, that I don't often get questions and being a proud mother, she is determined that I am the most critical minister in the whole Cabinet. So I just want to thank the Opposition Parties for making my mother very happy. (Applause)

Again, I am not avoiding the answer but the contingency plan and the strategies developed by senior management and the board of governors are their best efforts to provide some options for students if there is a strike. I know they are working as hard as possible and everyone joins me in trying to encourage the employers and the employees to go back to the negotiating table.

A strike is not inevitable. This settlement will only be reached at the negotiating table and that's why we all need to be encouraging both sides to get back and talk this through.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I'm very happy to provide the minister's mother with a chance to see her daughter on television yet again. When I looked on that Web site, one of the things it notes is that the NSTU may or may not decide that strike action is appropriate - apparently it's a little out-of-date. It also says, ". . . the timelines for potential strike action in our case extend until early February 2010." So I'm taking from that that students will have this veritable Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads until next year.

My question for the minister is, when it says, "What impact could a strike have on programs including full-time, part-time, online, apprenticeship and continuing education courses?", the answer is, "Every one of NSCC's programs is unique, so the timing and length of a disruption would have different impacts. We are preparing those details now." So, in fact, the minister's assertion that this info is online now is not quite right. What there is there is inadequate.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, member.

MS. REGAN: This will not alleviate the anxiety of students. I'm asking what is the minister doing to alleviate the anxiety of students?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I believe I said earlier, and I will repeat again, that I've been assured by my senior officials that in discussions with senior management of the community college that the contingency plan will be posted as needed, when needed, and when the details are necessary. Obviously, they're not going to put all of them up at the beginning. You know, as this process develops and if there is a need for additional information, I have full confidence that the community college will be providing those details and certainly if the honourable member wishes to have more details, I would encourage her to meet with senior management and get that information directly.

[Page 1189]

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I might point out that the minister is, in fact, as senior as they come. So if she doesn't have the answers, I'm not quite sure who does. There are two more points on the Web site that give me pause. Question No. 7 says, "Could a strike keep me from completing my program?" The answer is, "The exact impact of a strike would depend on what program you're taking, the timing of the strike and how long it lasted." That must provide a lot of comfort to students.

Question No. 11 says, "Would tuition fees be reimbursed?" The answer: "Our priority is to minimize the impact that this strike has on student learning and to do everything we can to enable the completion of the semester."

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, member.

MS. REGAN: There is no answer here. My question to the minister is, if they lose their terms, will tuition fees be reimbursed?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I cannot and I will not get into that level of discussion. Those are details; it's a hypothetical situation. The community college, as I said earlier, is posting information as it is needed. I have full confidence that they will provide whatever is necessary to the students but I urge - no one in this Chamber wants a disruption of teaching. So we're trying to urge both sides to get back to the table. The whole underlying premise of the collective bargaining process is that a solution will be reached at the bargaining table and we need to respect that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HEALTH: LONG-TERM CARE BEDS - PROJECTS

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, our population is aging and accordingly our need for long-term care facilities is growing by the day. This is a need that facilities will continue to grow long into the future. The previous government made a commitment to address this very serious issue and I would ask the Minister of Health today, would she agree that these projects that have been announced need to be up and running as soon as possible so we can keep up with this rapidly increasing demand for long-term care beds?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the various long-term bed projects underway are very important projects and it is indeed important that they be brought in on time and on budget and for the most part, I would have to say that we're doing pretty fine in that regard.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, there are several important projects that have been announced in their various stages of development, projects like the one in Nakile, Argyle,

[Page 1190]

one in my very own riding, the western part of Cumberland South, they've been discussed at great length with the departments. Will the minister please advise and update the House today on the status of these long-term care facilities and when we can expect progress?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, during estimates, I had an opportunity to table a fair amount of information on the beds that have been awarded, where they've been awarded, the time frame for the various long-term care projects and I would be more than happy to search that out of Hansard and provide that to the honourable member.

I've had lengthy discussions with the honourable member from Argyle regarding the Nakile project and that is a project that we're very supportive of and we're very interested in seeing it go forward. With respect to the project that the honourable member mentions from his constituency, although I'm not familiar with it on an individual case basis, I will familiarize myself with it and I'd be happy to discuss it with him if he so wishes.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, we heard earlier today about people taking up beds in acute care facilities unnecessarily, the need to ensure that these long-term care beds are put in place, for the minister to say that she is prepared to update the House in regards to answers she gave previously in regards to these issues. The one in my own area, there is a request for proposals, it was put out, I think it closed at the end of September. I would ask the minister if she'll commit today to ensuring that she will commit the necessary resources so that these projects I mentioned today can move forward as soon as possible.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said, the additional long-term care beds and replacement beds, by and large around the province of the projects announced to date, are coming in on time and on budget. This is very important and I look forward to the project in the member's riding also coming in on time and on budget when we get to that stage.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

TIR - CBRM (EAST DIV.): FED. FUNDING - EQUITY

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. It has come to my attention that the east division of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has received very little stimulus funding from the federal government, even though some areas such as Central Nova have received almost $88 million of federal stimulus money. I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal why, to his knowledge, has this division of Cape Breton Regional Municipality not been treated fairly by the federal government?

[4:15 p.m.]

[Page 1191]

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, stimulus funding continues to be a challenging issue for this government and I think it remains a constant issue for the CBRM in particular. I brought it to the members opposite and at this time I know I've been asked a number of times for the projects that have been approved that we have been successful in negotiating with the federal government. I'd like to table this list for the member opposite if he is so interested. It's important that when it comes to the give and take and the negotiations when it comes to getting appropriate dollars from the federal government, you have to be persistent, you have to be thorough. You have to make sure you're in constant contact, you have to be flexible and that ongoing work is going to continue. I look forward to working with the member for Glace Bay and the mayor of the CBRM to make sure that we get as much federal dollars, federal stimulus dollars available as possible.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal would agree with me when I say that the federal government has been doling this money out in the way that it is nothing short of shameful. I wonder if the minister would like to ask the member on his side of the House for Cape Breton Centre and other members in this Legislature, for instance from Cape Breton West, if they think they're being treated fairly with stimulus money?

My other question for the minister is, Mr. Speaker, since the federal government isn't doing anything to aid the economic development of the east division of the CBRM, what is his government doing?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. During the recent number of months I have had one occasion to meet and speak with Mr. MacKay on this particular topic. The negotiations that I'm involved with as Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in this province goes to the office of the Honourable John Baird. I want you to know that I - as I've said before in this House - consider that Mr. Baird has been open, he has been responsive to our requests from time to time. It does take some negotiations, there is no doubt.

I encourage the members of the CBRM and I encourage the member opposite if he would like to work with me more closely making sure that we can consider some of the priorities that he sees that are necessary in his particular part of the province. But you know, I read The Chronicle Herald too and I know the member opposite is probably concerned about the fact that there is politics being played when it comes to dollars being available from the federal government. The response that I've had so far, especially from Mr. Baird, is he has been open, he has been considerate and he has been extremely compromising in a number of occasions.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, you know the stimulus money and the application by the CBRM was designed by staff to help all areas of that municipality with failing infrastructure. The east division, in that report, was recognized by staff as having the

[Page 1192]

most problems. Well, if you look at the numbers that are there, you will find out, that indeed, that of the $9.9 million in projects that were submitted just over $800,000 has been approved. North division got 100 per cent of the projects, 66.7 per cent of the projects went to central and only 8 per cent, two streets in New Waterford were approved for funding.

So my question, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that for the most part, the east division has been left out in the cold and they really need these projects. So my question to the minister is, what projects from the federal stimulus funding is he selecting and approving for Glace Bay and the east division of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for those questions. I am fully appreciative of the fact that there are certain projects within his jurisdiction and certain projects on his famous island, within the CBRM that are of great priority. I want the member opposite that I've heard from my good friend from New Waterford about some of these issues. But the key thing is the challenges that we're facing as we continue to work with the federal government, the given and take and the negotiations, the back and forth, one has to be persistent if you're going to negotiate on behalf of your constituency, your province or in this case, the region of your municipality.

I look forward to working with the member opposite. I look forward to working with the mayor of the CBRM to make sure that that particular of Nova Scotia receives the priority that they should. But let's be clear on this, there is no point in yelling and making a point that politics are being played here. There are stimulus dollars involved, and in Nova Scotia, we want our share of those dollars. Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that we're going to continue to work with the federal government, we're going to make sure that the federal government listens to our priorities. Priorities that were brought forward by members of this side of the House and on some occasions, that side of the House. I thank you for your time. (Applause)

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

HPP - RINK REVITALIZATION PROG.: CUTS

- TERMINOLOGY

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. Madam Minister, your recent op-ed, courtesy of Communications Nova Scotia, talked about how the $2 million Rink Revitalization Program was not really a cut. My question is, when you eliminate a $2 million program as part of the new fiscal budget, what would you call it?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to answer the member's question. The former government had a one-time program for rinks around the province; they took $2 million, they divided it into 76, everybody got $27,000 regardless of what their need was.

[Page 1193]

Mr. Speaker, our government decided that this was probably not the best way to allocate provincial taxpayers' dollars. We have three programs in the Department of Health Promotion and Protection for rinks. Rinks across this province continue to get money that they need for capital, for maintenance, and for other operational grants. We fully support rinks around the province and understand what an important role they play in communities. Thank you.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, the $2 million was part of the PC budget that was presented in May, so I guess the minister has told us whose budget this one really is.

The Rink Revitalization Program assisted community rinks that needed that money, and had the minister taken the time to talk to rink managers and understand the level of fundraising that is done for minor hockey, she would have grasped the importance of the program. The former PC Government realized the importance of supporting community infrastructure and supporting active lifestyles - that was why it was in our May budget.

The other programs referenced by the minister in her article, the Community Recreation Capital Grants, a maximum of $20,000; Recreation Facility Development, a maximum of $150,000; and the B-FIT Program, a minimum of $450,000. My question for the minister, how many of the 76 community arenas that we funded under the Rink Revitalization Program have qualified for funding under one of the three programs you boasted about in your op-ed piece?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for promoting our excellent programs in the Department of Health Promotion and Protection. Indeed, as the honourable member pointed out, there are three programs and they are available to recreational facilities and rinks across the province.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister is a bright person and she is using a smokescreen to fool Nova Scotians and upset people in places like Inverness and Antigonish. The people of Antigonish can see through the political Hail Marys and the crass, hastily made election announcements. The minister must recognize that arena managers are faced with financial burdens that will ultimately be downloaded upon the people who use the ice time, mostly minor hockey children - a better deal for today's families, indeed.

Minor hockey is a very popular sport in Nova Scotia. It is also expensive and many more children will be unable to access this activity if the NDP cannot recognize their error.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, will you re-implement the Rink Revitalization Program this fiscal year to assist, in the transition, the rinks for the next fiscal year?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: This Minister of Health Promotion and Protection doesn't smoke and so I don't think - but with respect to the Rink Revitalization Program,

[Page 1194]

we have three programs - they're based on need, there's an application program, people have to establish what their need is, they have to demonstrate what their plan is, they have to be accountable for the money they receive and, Mr. Speaker, any program that we have in the Department of Health Promotion and Protection will, in fact, be administered in that manner. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ERD: WTCC - CONST. PROJ. CRITERIA

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. Previously in this House we were advised that the World Trade Centre project is under his department. Yet, of course, on October 1st of this year, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal put out a press release calling on the Rank Group to submit a proposal for the development of the new World Trade and Convention Centre. My first question to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development is, on what criteria will you be basing the decision on whether the project should proceed?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite true. The management, the administration, of the World Trade and Convention Centre comes under my portfolio. The actual construction of the centre does not.

MR. YOUNGER: All right. Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal will wax on for half an hour or so and tell us how that criteria is selected. Before he gets there, let me remind him that on November 15th of last year, the now Premier, then Leader of the Opposition, spoke out against the province meddling in areas of municipal responsibility. Yet, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in a press release said, we're going to look at view planes. But the Premier was quoted in The ChronicleHerald as saying, "What message does it send to all those people out there, all those developers who have projects, is Premier MacDonald saying, look, don't bother coming to council, come to me?"

Well, we now know he meant wait, come to me, Premier Dexter.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question please?

MR. YOUNGER: Okay, well, Mr. Speaker, the self-appointed minister for upstaging the government, the member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island said yesterday, he tabled a petition from the Heritage Trust group and then stepped outside to hold a press conference with them.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question please?

[Page 1195]

MR. YOUNGER: My question to the minister is, what criteria will be used to select the Trade Centre project and does the member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island speak for government policy on this issue?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Dartmouth East for the question. This is an important issue, it's an important issue that I know that when you were in a previous life, if that's what's it's called across the street here at City Hall, a previous career, it's an important issue (Interruption) Excuse me, I'm being heckled by the member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, if you noticed.

I want the member opposite to know - I know we've had these discussions before - if you are in a position in Cabinet and you're taking on the responsibility of collecting the good information, the correct information because inevitably, it will be my task to go to my Cabinet colleagues and say I would recommend this particular decision. That's what we are currently in the middle of, that's why this process is proceeding the way it is and it's an important discussion to have. It's an open discussion. There were people in our gallery and I'm waxing on for my 30 minutes now, if you notice, we had people in our gallery the other day, some of them are close friends of mine and associates and I want you to know we're listening to all sides as we make this decision and when the time comes, the right decision will be made.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to make this fairly simple for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. In his press release he suggested they were going to look at two issues - the financial sustainability of the project, which I believe members of my caucus agree that the government should look at. But, he also mentioned view planes. Well the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has actually ruled on that issue and in appeals by the Heritage Trust in 2007 regarding the twisted sister project up the street, they said very clearly that under the Municipal Government Act, the MPS and land use by-law are developed and adopted entirely by the municipal council, in this case, HRM.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is, will the government abide by the existing decisions the Utility and Review Board and the courts and by the forceful comments of the Premier while in Opposition, and allow HRM to make its own planning decisions?

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. ESTABROOKS: I thank the member opposite for this question. Let's be clear on the fact, of course there are some tough decisions to be made. Financial sustainability remains a priority for this government. I will tell you and I will assure you that on many occasions as the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal - whether it's an issue of such importance as the crosswalks, whether it's an issue when it comes to view planes, those issues are issues that should be taken care of by the municipal government.

[Page 1196]

HRMbyDesign has gone through this House. We have had our strong opinions expressed on it before this member was a member of this House. We've had our exchanges and we've had our decisions, but the important issue here is that as we measure the pros and cons of this important project, we have to listen to all concerned. That is my responsibility as the minister responsible. I take that responsibility seriously and when the time comes to bring the information forward, it will be the correct decision because we'll have the correct information.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HPP: QUEENS PLACE - FUNDING

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. The future of the Queens Place is now in question. The project has escalated in cost and is now a projected cost of $21 million. This project was supported by all three levels of government previously but the NDP, including the member for Queens, has been silent on whether we'll step up to provide matching dollars to the federal government's commitment. My question to the minister is, will she provide matching dollars to the federal commitment?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if the future of Queens Place is in question, that's news to me. This government has committed $5 million to that project. We were the first ones into committing $5 million to that project, far before the federal government decided to put any money into that project, and let me tell you, the honourable member for Queens has been a very strong advocate for this project and continues to be.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the Queens Place project is an excellent example of investing in healthy lifestyles in our province. South Shore-St. Margaret's MP Gerald Keddy stated that this project is not just about health promotion, but also about the continuing growth in the region. MP Keddy said the federal government would commit to one-third of the total cost but they would only match the provincial amount as well. This is about this government's commitment to rural Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, are you serious about creating health promotion opportunities that provide equal access for Nova Scotians regardless of where they live in the province?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, as I said, we remain very committed to Queens Place. It's an excellent project. I had an opportunity to meet with the mayor of Liverpool and members of the planning group for this particular project. The people in my department are very enthusiastic about this project and I'm looking forward to the day when Queens Place is opened and we'll all be able to go there and view a world-class facility.

[Page 1197]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, Councillor Darlene Norman is stating that they need to see action from their local MLA for Queens as she is now a member of the NDP Government. Councillor Doug Adams was emphatic that the project will go ahead. The will is there in Queens County, but I'm sure that everyone will agree that they need more financial assistance from the province to see this project go ahead. For a Premier who has always boasted about his Queens County ties, now is the time to step up for the residents of Queens. My question for the Deputy Premier is, will you remember the people who elected you in government by committing to match the one-third of the total costs for the Queens Place project?

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, while I agree wholeheartedly about the Premier bragging about where he's from in Queens County, I'm going to put this back to the Minister for Health Promotion and Protection.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I remind all members of the House that the provincial share of the funding for Queens Place is coming out of a $68 million fund that is there to build new recreational facilities around the province over 10 years. More than $62 million from that fund has already been committed over the next 10 years, including $5 million for Queens, the first project to be approved out of this new fund. There are still a number of communities around the province that are in the queue, hoping that they will be able to have excellent facilities like Queens Place as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH: INVERARY MANOR - CONST. DELAYS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. On February 6, 2007, the government of the day announced that the Inverary Manor would be replaced, and this particular announcement was unique because the new manor would be linked to the Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital. When originally announced two and a half years ago, the completion date was set for March 2010. We've been informed by construction workers that the project is months behind schedule, and these workers fear they will soon be laid off. My question for the minister is, could the minister please indicate why there have been delays in construction of the new Inverary Manor?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying earlier in Question Period, the addition of new beds into the system, as well as replacement beds in the system, is pretty much on budget and on time in all of the projects around the province, with the exception of some of the smaller ones. Any number of issues can arise when you're doing a project like this. Some projects have run into oil contamination on sites, for example. I'm not sure if that is the case with the Inverary Manor, but I know that has occurred, and from time to time there have been questions around water and other issues that will result in the delaying of a project.

[Page 1198]

The thing that I think is most important for the members here to know is that this government is very committed to ensuring that the 800 beds that were announced will, in fact, be added into the system, because we need those beds. Keeping seniors in the communities where they come from and close to their families and their loved ones continues to be a really important issue for us, and one that we are committed to ensuring we see in our health care system.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the delays that are being experienced with the project are impacting the community, the seniors living there who took pride in the announcement of a new facility, and the workers who are proud to be part of such a unique project; they impact the hard-working community members who have been fundraising to meet the community's financial contribution. My question to the minister is, could the minister please advise us as to what she and her department have been doing to monitor the Inverary Manor project - a monitoring effort that, I may say, appears to have gone terribly wrong?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the projects by and large are on budget and on time around the province. In fact, we've seen the opening of some new long-term care facilities. For example, Bissett Court in Dartmouth, and Celtic Court is another facility where we've seen an opening. Some of the smaller projects have encountered certain difficulties, but our department continues to be in close contact with the various projects that are happening around the province.

We hold meetings with the administrators of these facilities and, frankly, we do everything we can to make it possible to find solutions to keep projects moving forward on time and on budget, to ensure that those 800 beds are added into the system and keep seniors in their home communities - close to their families, close to their friends, close to their networks. That's our objective, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, today before Question Period the instructions from yourself, and we'll certainly take directions from yourself, you reminded members asking questions to have supplementary questions put directly related to questions asked - and I think those are words similar to those you used.

I just want to point out, Mr. Speaker, that on Page 34 of the Rules and Forms of Procedure it says, ". . . any such questions shall be concisely put and shall relate only to matters for which a Minister is officially responsible." It doesn't talk about the issue of

[Page 1199]

supplementary questions related to the original question. Of course in our rules as well it says "Cases not provided for (2) In all cases not herein provided for, the question shall be decided by the Speaker . . .", you shall make the decision and we'll certainly abide by that, Mr. Speaker, but it says, "Firstly - the usages and precedents of this House . . ." should be considered first if it's not specifically written for in the rules.

Mr. Speaker, I think you'd find that on many, many occasions over the years that that has been allowed in this House repeatedly, over and over again. In fact, you'll find that many times questions were put by members, of ministers, on the original question and, in fact, the question was switched to a different minister on the supplementary.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you please do some research because this is a very important ruling that would determine the future of this House. So I would ask that you do some research, please, and report your ruling back to this House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I find myself in some agreement with parts of that member's argument, but the reality is that he and I have both been around this House for the same amount of time and my recall of events is much different than his, and I wish you to see that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, honourable members, I will take that under advisement. It is a good point. I know you are serious about your concern and I will do some research and get back to honourable members.

We're ready now for Opposition Members' Business, for the Progressive Conservative Party and Bill No. 33, I believe, is the first order of business.

The honourable House Leader for the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, that intervention obviously has caused us to lose a couple of minutes, so I would ask that we'll drop down one minute on each one, until we pick up the two minutes at the end.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Progressive Conservative Party.

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

[Page 1200]

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 33.

Bill No. 33 - Public Service Act.

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

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pride to be able to stand here today and talk about Bill No. 33. Bill No. 33 is a very simple bill and I'd like to read what it says so that everyone is aware. "Chapter 376 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Public Service Act, is amended by adding immediately after Section 17C the following Section:

17CA Notwithstanding any enactment, all persons employed by Her Majesty in right of the Province or otherwise employed in the public service of the Province, whether or not included in a bargaining unit under any enactment, must be treated equally with respect to increases in wages or salary."

Now, Mr. Speaker, there's a reason for this bill and that reason was brought about by an announcement by the honourable Deputy Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia. On October 10th he announced a new classification and pay plan for 1,800 provincial government managers and administrative support staff who are not represented through the collective agreements, that those employees will not receive an economic pay increase this fiscal year and also he went to say that everybody will have a part to play to help live within our means.

[4:45 p.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, those are the words that were spoken by him. Yesterday the member for Halifax Chebucto got up in this House and read a resolution talking about 47 years of the founding of the NDP - a Party, as I understand it, that was founded to help the working people of the Province of Nova Scotia. The member for Halifax Chebucto took great pride in talking about that yesterday and here we are, today, talking about a bill to make sure that people are created equal when it comes to the payment.

The NDP ran a campaign with a slogan that said "A better deal for today's families." When you read from parts of the platform, Mr. Speaker - and I'll be glad to table it - it says "Nova Scotia is a province with great people and a great future . . . to make our province an even better place to live, work . . . That's what our NDP campaign is all about . . . key commitments . . . make it easier for families to get ahead . . . a very different approach from . . ." the other government.

[Page 1201]

Mr. Speaker, it also says in this campaign literature, it talks about Nova Scotia workers and managers can compete with the best in the province and I don't think there's anybody in this House who would disagree with that. We have some of the finest people in our Public Service here in Nova Scotia and we're all very proud of the work that they do. However, the member for Halifax Chebucto must be ashamed that his Party - the Party that he was celebrating here yesterday for 47 years - is taking advantage of working people in this province. They're saying that we're not going to treat them all the same. They're saying we're going to give them a raw deal, not a better deal, as they said during their campaign strategy.

Mr. Speaker, I can't believe that we're in this House talking about treating people fairly. How would the members of this House like to look to their left or their right and say, oh, that fellow gets paid more than I do, or that person gets paid more than I do? The fact of the matter is the people in this province, the people who are doing the work for the public of this province need to be treated fairly, and this bill will allow that to take place. It's an opportunity to make sure that people who are doing good work for the Province of Nova Scotia get treated fairly. They are people who are there when we need them and we should be there when they need us as people who are in government. This is not a better deal, it's a raw deal.

Mr. Speaker, 1 per cent seems to be a theme with this government. We've been standing here and we've been hearing question after question about a deal with the community college instructors. They're saying, oh, all we can give them is 1 per cent. So 1 per cent seems to be the theme of the government. A bill such as this would allow equal payment for work for all the people who work for the Province of Nova Scotia and I think that's a fair thing to do. I'm sure that the people from the community college think that it's fair. I'm very sure that the 1,800 employees, who were told that they're not going to get anything but a change in the assessment rate of where they're at and how they stand in the payment scale, would say that they need to be treated as fair as anyone who happens to have the ability to be in a bargaining unit, or who works for the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, these people who we're dealing with, whether they're from the community colleges, whether they're people in our Public Service - they're Nova Scotians. They're the people who elected us to come here. They're the people who said we want to be treated fairly. That government said that we were going to do things different. Well, they're living up to that because they are doing things different. They're saying we're giving you 1 per cent, take it or leave it, we ain't going to talk you, and by the way, as a minister, I have no responsibility for nothing.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that's not the way it works in the Province of Nova Scotia. The people who work in the Province of Nova Scotia, the people who are members of the collective bargaining units, the people who are doing the jobs that need to be done to make this province operate in a proper fashion, need to be treated fairly. Nova Scotians are known

[Page 1202]

to be compassionate people. Yet we seem to be here in this House saying we're going to treat people different because of where they work or how they work, or what they do for a living. Our Public Service is a good and strong Public Service. It is a service that we as individuals need to be sure is looked after. The last thing we can afford is for people to leave here, to go away somewhere else because they're not getting treated fairly by the Province of Nova Scotia and by the people who form the government of the day.

A little while ago during Question Period, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health said that it was important that people get a competitive wage - her words. She said that it was important that people get a competitive wage. What we're saying with this bill is that indeed it is important that people get a competitive wage but also they get a fair wage. A wage that people are all treated equally because whatever service an employee serves Nova Scotia with, it is a service that's valuable. Their work is important to us and they should be treated fairly when they're doing that work.

We hear time after time about the potential strike that's going to take place at the community college and that strike will have a devastating effect on people from one end of this province to the other. It will mean that people will potentially lose some of the monies they put in for tuition. It means that their courses will not be finished on time. It means the contracts that are put in place will not be able to be fulfilled and it's about treating people fairly. It's about making sure that we do the right thing. It's about making sure that people get a competitive wage for what they're doing.

Our whole idea of presenting this bill was to make sure that the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, the public service - in whatever area that they serve us - were sure to be treated fairly. It's not a good deal for them, it's a raw deal.

We sit around here and we talk about wanting to do the right thing. This government of the day ran a campaign saying they wanted to do a better deal for the people of Nova Scotia. They wanted to be sure that the people in Nova Scotia were treated fairly. They wanted to be sure that the workers were treated fairly. Their whole party was built on a premise that the worker was a valuable and important person - and they are, there is no question about that - and the first opportunity that this government had to make a difference, they decided, what are they going to do? We're going to change it. We're not going to give them a fair deal, we're going to give them 1 per cent. We're not going to be treating everybody fairly.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I've seen you operate in that chair and it doesn't matter where we sit in this House, you treat people fairly because that's the right thing to do, that's the way we act in Nova Scotia. How is it that this government can sit there and say, we're not going to treat everybody that works for the Province of Nova Scotia equally? That is the question that I'd like somebody to answer, and I'm sure when the Deputy Premier gets up, I'll hear some of his beliefs and where they're going with that.

[Page 1203]

This bill is a very simple, straight-forward bill. It's a bill that addresses the question of fairness. It's a bill that will address the concerns of a lot of people who serve the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. It's not a complicated bill, it's not a bill that will take a long time to be put through this House, but it is a bill that will allow people to feel they are being treated fairly by government of the Province of Nova Scotia. It is an opportunity to say to the people who work in our province, who work for the continuation of the betterment for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, we value your work, we value what you're doing.

I know when the Deputy Premier gets up he's going to say, well those fellas over on the side spent like drunken sailors and they spent all the money and they got rid of all their (Interruption) But the fact of the matter is they tabled a budget, front-loaded it with all kinds of expenditures and never thought once about the people in the Province of Nova Scotia who work here. They had an opportunity - 1 per cent of one of their so-called trust funds would pay for this increase. It would look after the people of the Province of Nova Scotia and it would be the right thing to do.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak and I look forward to hearing from my colleague across the way.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to stand and speak in this august House and, in particular, to speak about the Nova Scotia Civil Service and the important contributions they make to our life in this province. As you may very well know, the Civil Service is made up of approximately 11,000 employees and this is a large group of diverse people with very diverse careers. Now, civil service includes groups that are represented by the NSGEU, there are the correctional staff, the highway workers and excluded management and administration employees.

As Minister of the Public Service Commission, I'm proud that we are committed to a workplace that is free of discrimination and values - diversity. The Public Service Commission has worked very hard to deliver and promote policies on fair hiring and creating respectful workplaces. Our government supports these policies because we believe in equality and fairness for all public servants.

I believe that the member who brought Bill No. 33 forward has very good intentions. However, no changes are needed nor are they necessary, Mr. Speaker. In fact, this suggestion could create inequity. As the learned member across the way knows, there are many members out there who are parts of bargaining units, and these units negotiate at different times, depending upon their agreements - when they begin and when they conclude. While one unit may be in the middle of a three-year agreement, another unit may be ready to negotiate a new

[Page 1204]

collective agreement. Wage rates are just one item that is being negotiated, and I know very well that that member understands that and would agree with me on it.

These varying times and circumstances influence negotiations. What is required from one group today may not be a priority for another group three years from now. As well, the process of negotiation must be done without forgone conclusion. We cannot dictate, nor would we want to dictate, the outcome of an open negotiation process.

As noted, wages are but one part of a collective agreement. There are many parts to a collective agreement, including benefits and even the language used. Agreements are influenced by a particular group's needs. Now, we can see that a group of employees that work in a clerical setting, for instance, would be much different than the members who work driving our snowplows, who work in forestry industries - these are competing needs. So the idea of having a one-size-fits-all bill could cause us a great deal of problems. It is such a peculiar thing. Outside of the federal civil servants, there is no applicable employer that has so many collective agreements with so many diverse employees. Again I would say, you would have people that would do highway maintenance and then you would have doctors. You would have very diverse communities of interest.

So, again, I honestly believe that Bill No. 33, as put forward - as I mentioned earlier - is well-meaning, but it is not founded in a route that we can really work. It is a very simplistic answer to a very, very difficult question. The question is, community of interest. That's often used in collective bargaining, around what do these diverse groups have in common. Now, there's a commonality of employer, but there's not a commonality of circumstance. We just can't go in and say in this day and age that, for instance, that if we're looking for a medical officer of health and what the diverging markets have put on that, compared to, maybe, another set of criteria for another job.

So these are issues where, if we were to lock ourselves in to say, okay, that's it, we're looking for a lawyer in the Department of Justice and we're looking for an engineer in Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, these are vastly different criteria. Nonetheless none less important than the other, but it is a whole different play in the job market. So these are some of the factors in recruitment challenges around these particular positions.

[5:00 p.m.]

We sometimes have to consider retention and attraction of certain jobs when negotiating these agreement packages. Again, I go back to what my friend for Cape Breton West mentioned earlier, and he talked about the questions put in Question Period, and rightfully so. The fact that some skill sets, from time to time, are more competitive in the job market, and by virtue of that your ability to demand a higher base salary because of the job market dictates the flexibility of the employer, in this case the Province of Nova Scotia, to react to that.

[Page 1205]

Those are some of the things. This bill today, the one thing I will disagree with the member who put it forward, my standing in my place today is not about beating up on any former government. This is about - and I agree with the member - treating workers fairly, and in a contextual perspective it's not as easy as it seems. I'm taking this bill as a bill that says we have to do something and I agree with him.

As you're aware, last week when I informed the House about the new classification and pay system for the 1,800 provincial government managers, administrators and support staff who are not represented by unions through a collective agreement, this system is more than 25 years old. We had to do something. The structure was old and out of date, wasn't reflective of some pay scales. We were moving people up the scales to meet, we were putting people in pay bands that were sometimes knee-jerk, sometimes a reaction to the real pressures of the job market.

Therefore, we had to do these things. As I just mentioned a minute or so ago, that's the reality of the job market. As I say, these are 25 years old. This is not talking about blaming anybody, it's the reality. Every once in a while, whether it's the public or the private sector, you step back and ask, do we have to rethink our human resource initiatives? I think this is what we did.

It's the structure of government, and nature of the work and classifications and practices have evolved significantly. I think that's important to look at over a 25- year period. I wish that it was as simple as Bill No. 33 purports it to be. It's just give everybody this utopian same amount. I don't know whether my friend from Cape Breton West has become such a socialist that he figures everybody should get the same pay band, but I don't think he does, I think he sees this in a wider context. (Interruption)

Well, the member for Cape Breton West said he thought the bill was simple and I agree with that, the bill is simple. It's too simple, because it doesn't reflect the realities of what government has to deal with. Take this in the context it's meant, if it were simple to do we would not have had this problem hanging around for 25 years, if it were that simple. These bands weren't changed to be injurious to any party, it was to bring some sanity to that.

The new classification system for MCP and AS employees provides a better framework to go into the future. Again, we have to live within our fiscal means, it's as simple as that. When that ship is righted, they will be duly acknowledged.

The result will be in these changes, the result will be more efficient classification positions and a decrease of the number of classifications and appeals. It will provide more flexibility in temporary assignments and transfers and improved succession management, which is very important. When we have the capable women and men who are leading our Civil Service, they need that straight path forward. They have to know how that operates and

[Page 1206]

that's what some of these bands do. There are recruitment and retention challenges. This will help us to attract and hang on to these excellent employees.

I also talked about the fiscal reality. No question it would be great to pay higher wages to all our employees, but the economic downturn has hit Nova Scotia hard, very hard, and provincial revenues are down tens of millions of dollars. The economic and financial projections for the year ahead aren't much brighter. We have to make tough choices or we'll have no choices at all.

As a result, the province's 1,800 excluded employees will not receive an economic adjustment this year; 1 per cent of payroll will be used to move these employees into this new system. Next year we will provide 1 per cent payroll increase to adjust salary bands, Mr. Speaker.

Nova Scotia has been on an unsustainable path and we have to play a part to help us live within our means, Mr. Speaker. While I understand the member's intention with this bill, there is no need to amend the Public Service Act at this time regarding wages. The government will continue to work very hard to ensure all public servants are treated with respect and fairness. I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm starting to believe that the end of every minister's statement ends with, we were on an unsustainable path. Frankly, with this government's budget, they've left it on an unsustainable path.

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Premier took the easy way out. What he did was he talked - instead of talking about what the bill was really trying to get at and the problem that his government has created, instead he talked about the fine details of a bill that, frankly, I don't suspect the Progressive Conservative Party thinks will be called for a final vote anyway. I believe that they were bringing this forward so that there would be what is a very important debate, a debate that the government seems not willing to listen to and I applaud them for bringing that forward because this is an important issue. The Deputy Premier has taken the easy way out because he knows he doesn't have to call the bill, so he talked about that instead of talking about the real issue that has been raised by the Progressive Conservatives through Bill No. 33.

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting because the Deputy Premier took the opportunity in an op-ed piece last week to say that his government hasn't done any rollbacks or wage freezes. Well, I think he may want to talk to some of those non-unionized employees, which I've done in the past couple of days, who are angry as hell and actually feel they've been rolled back. That's the campaign they're organizing, that they've been rolled back because they expected 2.9 per cent and now they're at 1 per cent. I'm pretty sure that's what they call a

[Page 1207]

rollback. Since the Premier works for the government and not Wal-Mart, rollbacks are really not where we should be going in this day and age.

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that it is threatening the retention of employees in the Province of Nova Scotia. I've talked to many who are openly looking for other options. I've talked to people who - interestingly, I was over at the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage yesterday and in that department the staff are openly talking in the halls about how angry they are, and it's not just the non-unionized staff. The unionized staff as well, who they listened and heard that the reclassification had happened for the non-union staff and a number of them piped in and said, well, actually there's a group of us who have been waiting now for a number of years for a reclassification, where's ours?

What has happened is the government has just perpetuated a system that was in trouble and made it even worse. The government has created the 1 per cent solution. Now when I was going to high school, the 1 per cent solution referred to something different than wages and it wasn't good then and it's not good now.

The fact of the matter is that this government, this Party, the NDP, when they were in Opposition and when you listen to their federal counterparts, it's all about collective bargaining, bargaining in good faith. I have never seen an example of a government claiming to be bargaining in good faith and, in fact, bargaining in such bad faith as the current Nova Scotia Community College situation. Because today in Question Period members of the Cabinet stood up and said well, we're not the employer. Well, no, but they are the ones that provide the money, according to the community college who sent out a letter, said we don't have any money from the government so they have effectively told the community college management what the limit of the offer can be. The community college management has put that on the table and we all know that is 1 per cent.

That, Mr. Speaker, is not in any way, shape or form bargaining in good faith in any definition of the phrase. In fact, that is bargaining by ultimatum. That is exactly the kind of tactic that the NDP criticized in Opposition, exactly the tactic that the Opposition criticized when they were in Opposition, yet over and over this government criticized them when they were in Opposition, yet over and over, this government says they're bargaining in good faith; they're not. They would have been better off coming in and proposing legislation since they have a majority in legislating 1 per cent because that's all they're willing to offer and they've said that's the cap. They've told the management at the community college, apparently, that's the cap. Management has put out a letter saying, listen, we agree, you deserve 2.9 per cent, we can't give it to you and the answer from the government is, we're not the employer. In fact, the government is effectively the employer and is the one that should be at the table in a situation like that.

When the Deputy Premier stood up, he said, there are no foregone conclusions. I don't know, that 1 per cent sounded pretty much like a foregone conclusion. In fact, the 1 per

[Page 1208]

cent for the non-union staff and the 1 per cent for the community college staff both sounded like a foregone conclusion. There didn't seem to be any negotiation there at all.

Every message from both sides of the bargaining table - Mr. Speaker, this is crazy. In the Nova Scotia Community College situation, you've got two sides at the bargaining table who both agree that the government is the one that's not giving anybody the money to move anywhere. In fact, you talk to the Teachers Union, they're not mad at the management of the community college because the management of the community college has put their cards on the table and said, this is what we have, this is the money we have, not there.

Of course, they didn't treat the non-union employees last week in good faith either. People who have been waiting for a number of years to see those job reclassifications and instead they said, we will give you those job classifications but we're not giving you the salary that goes with them. It's kind of meaningless, isn't it, because for how many years will these employees fight to get to the place that they should be? How many years will those non-union employees have to fight to bring the wages up to the classification level it should be? When they get there, how far away from that classification band will they end up being? They will be further away. Some of these people will be in another classification band, most likely.

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Premier - or I guess he was speaking as the Minister of the Public Service Commission - outlined the fact that he values diversity, the department values diversity and that they've done a lot in terms of race relations in the workplace and safety and all these sorts of things. I don't disagree with him on that and I'm happy and I applaud this government. I applaud all the governments and members of any Party that have done work on that but don't get up and tell me you're bargaining in good faith when, in fact, you are not bargaining in good faith. You're not bargaining at all.

The only thing that I can say that's consistent is that they're treating the non-union employees last week and the union ones at Nova Scotia Community College the same by giving them a 1 per cent ultimatum instead of providing them, in good faith, what they promised. I wonder, if we have a strike next week - and I'll tell you right now that I hope that we don't, but just down the street from my house is Akerley Community College and I know well the programs that go on there and not only the programs but the importance of those facilities to the community and that's something we haven't talked a lot about here. What happens when that facility becomes unavailable to the public? I'm not crossing the picket line. Is any member of the government bench going to cross the picket line to go use the facilities in the community college? Probably not.

What happens in the community when we really see the impact of that strike and how will the NDP government feel about being the first government in Nova Scotia history to end up with a province-wide teacher's walkout? It's an interesting question, isn't it? Boy, that's one way to start a new government.

[Page 1209]

The Deputy Premier said that varying times mean different solutions. There is no question about that but the fact of the matter is, it has always been a tradition in Nova Scotia and it has always been, in fact, de facto rules that the Nova Scotia Teachers College local and the public school teachers, those contract negotiations and the wage increases have always - for the 15 years since those contracts have been put together in two separate locals - been in lockstep in terms of the wage increase. I challenge any member of this government to explain to those teachers why all of a sudden they are less valuable than the other teachers when for 15 years, regardless of economic situation, those contracts have been in lockstep. I see some glum faces over there, but nobody willing to jump up and explain that one. (Interruption) Of course, maybe the member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, since he likes to speak so much for government policy - it sounds like he may have something to say, but that might get him in trouble again.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the fact is when we look at that and we look at these non-union employees, this group of 1,800 or so employees in Nova Scotia, many of whom are now angry as heck - and they are angry. I've had the calls. I've talked to some of them in the office, and they are angry because they were so happy that the government was looking at this and saying the reclassifications are going to happen and we're going to implement them. They did not expect that they would be locked down to 1 per cent.

In fact, when we heard it was going to happen, the member for Glace Bay said to me, there's a lady in my constituency who will be so happy. Then he read the ministerial statement. He said, she's not going to be so happy after all, because the fact is that those employees had been treated unfairly for years and now all that this government has done with that pool of employees is treated them even more unfairly - and I actually didn't think that was possible. I didn't think it was possible to treat those people, who had been waiting so long to get the proper classification, more unfairly than they had already been treated, and somehow this government managed to do it.

Mr. Speaker - all right, I have one more minute, do I? Well, I want to wrap up by going to where I was at the beginning of this. This bill - and the thing about this bill is that they ask for fairness, and the important thing is that must be treated equally. This government has already shown they have no intention of treating any employee group in this province equally. It's not going to happen. In fact, they're going to dictate to them what the rules are, and they're not going to allow good-faith bargaining to happen. It's a surprise. It's a surprise based on all the comments that I've heard over the years in Opposition. In fact, in many respects, it's the opposite of what I expected.

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the intent of this bill. I applaud the fact that this very important issue is being brought forward today, and being brought forward today on a day

[Page 1210]

when you have many angry non-unionized civil servants in this province - very angry and increasingly angry - as well as many increasingly angry Nova Scotia community college teachers who all feel that they are being treated unfairly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that it's an honour to stand in my place today to discuss this very important bill but, you know, it's discouraging that we even have a bill like this on the floor of this House to begin with. What are we doing? Here we are talking about treating employees in the Province of Nova Scotia unfairly. The minister responsible, the Deputy Premier, stood over there a short while ago and said a whole lot of nothing, but he did say a couple of things that I thought I had better write down, because I never thought in all my three years plus here that I would have heard that member speak like this.

He says we need to rethink the human resource issue. How many times did that member rethink those issues when he was on this side of the House? I can tell you, I don't think he stopped to breathe when he was on this side of the House and he had something to say, because I was over there and I was listening. He had all kinds to say about how we treated our employees - public employees, contracts, teachers, you name the contract that was coming up, it was an issue. It's not an issue anymore. They should be arm's length or whatever stance, we're not getting involved - can't get involved, Mr. Speaker.

Well, I wonder, we're going to tell these people 1 per cent across the board. I've had a lot of e-mails and phone calls from these folks and they're wondering, how could this possibly take place? They're even saying, do you know what, we had some hope, we wanted to see a change in Nova Scotia. We've seen that historical change and, by golly, we're seeing something even more historical today in this House by way of debating this bill. It's unbelievable that we would be debating this bill, the Public Service Act, and fairness about the people who work in this province.

I know the members over there, they can smile all they want about how they think this is okay. This isn't okay. This is a serious issue for all members of this House, and the people of Nova Scotia expect that we, as all 52 members in this House, will come to this House regardless of our partisan politics and put it aside, and that we will work together to make Nova Scotia a better place. Well, we heard about a better place during the last campaign. The NDP did a great job out there selling a better deal, a better deal, a better deal, a better deal, a better deal. I've had a lot of calls recently, they're saying, what happened to the better deal? Where did that go? They're seeing now that there is no better deal. They have no answers for a variety of things, Mr. Speaker, they have no answers.

But I can tell you that the 1 per cent, that's one, the 1 per cent that maybe that is being offered to the Nova Scotia Community College, well one and one don't make two, it makes

[Page 1211]

one. There's some interesting math by a new government, isn't it. Standard practice, dictating to the people in this province on how it's going to go. Valued employees, I think not, not by this government. How far was it from this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, to get across there? You would think it took three years to make that walk, with the incredible change that we've seen and the time to think but it was like that - a click of the thumb, like that, it was done, changes. Not good changes. Not the better deal that was promised in the campaign, nowhere near it. They're dictating now what the civil servants in this province will get, 1 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, well, I want to tell you that 1 per cent is not in line with what's there. These people know that and everybody in this House knows that but they're not willing to stand up and say it. They're not. For whatever reason, they're not willing to stand up and support these valued people in this province. Why, I don't know? But these people still have to put bread and butter on their table, they still have to buy gas to go to those jobs and work hard every day for Nova Scotians but that's set aside. We're not going to pay attention to that, we're going to offer you 1 per cent. Well 1 per cent won't buy the gas, 1 per cent certainly won't buy the loaf of bread and the quart of milk that they need to fill their families.

What about these students, now, for example, in a community college. Here we are and the minister says, we're not going to get involved, yet it's taxpayers' money that's paying the wages, but we're not going to get involved. It's broke down. Negotiations have broke down, they're asking for binding arbitration. You know, Mr. Speaker, I spent a lot of years in a union environment and in a non-union environment. I can tell you that both have their own pros and cons, there is no question about that and I know that other members in this House have been involved in that. In the early days when I was in the EMS system as a paramedic, I worked for a company that was one of 52 in this province, we were non-union. We had to negotiate for ourselves and it wasn't always a pleasant thing, because not much came by way of it. But as the years (Interruption)

I do remember the strike, I remember the strike well and I know what side I was on that time and, unfortunately, I know where I was working that evening. I do indeed know. Tough times and it's going to be a tough time when the members walk out - who are teachers in this province - next week and I hope that that doesn't happen. I hope there is a resolution before that. I think it is incumbent upon the members of this House to continue, especially on the Opposition side, if government doesn't want to listen, to keep instilling that message. The teachers are calling, they're calling me, they're calling you, they're calling everybody. I know they're calling over there too. You're getting the e-mails, because I see them. They're trying to make their point, the point is fairness. It is a point of fairness.

Getting back to the community colleges, here we have it - if they go out, what's going to happen to the students? Some of these have quit their jobs, have left employment to better themselves in this province so that they can stay around here with their families in the years ahead. Mr. Speaker, what's going to happen to those students out there who have taken

[Page 1212]

student loans? Is the Government of Nova Scotia going to pick up the tab, write them off, pay them during their course of their time out of school? What's going to happen with those? That's just one question.

What about - and I brought it up in Question Period today - the CCAs? We're about 400-plus short. At a previous meeting with regard to the Public Accounts, we asked the question about CCAs - 440 or so short in this province. They're being trained through the Nova Scotia Community College system. In my area, we have Dykeland Lodge which hosts that. It is an offshoot of NSCC, they train the people and they sponsor - as do all the other senior facilities in my area, the long-term care facilities like the Windsor Elms - students to go to that school. They pay money to support them, a bursary. What is going to happen to that? Where will they be, turned away? They won't graduate, what will happen then? No graduating or late graduating, again, Mr. Speaker, will put this huge delay on our seniors being looked after in long-term facilities.

It's not right. Mr. Speaker, it's cruel and unusual punishment by a government that bragged about their union support and the union is saying today - and this is interesting - we have somewhere around 350 contracts in the next year and one half or so that need to be negotiated in this province, some of them retro. What about the bus drivers who are out there now? I know in my area, and the member for Kings West knows all about it too, how long has that been going on - two years now or more? They're trying to get back to the table but what did the NDP promise during the campaign to those people, those bus drivers? They promised everything, that's correct. We'll get back to the table, we'll solve that issue for you.

Where did that go? Out the window, along with the other, a better deal for today's family. Yes, a better deal for today's family alright, they're looking and going. Do you know what's hurting these people? They supported the NDP in this province, they supported the NDP who have let them down in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Hants West has the floor. (Interruptions)

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, that's all right, we can take a little bit of that heckling, no problem there, no problem at all. We can take that and we can give it back, too, because we're talking about an important issue here today, that's the people.

AN HON. MEMBER: Striking a chord.

MR. PORTER: Striking a chord, that's right, with that guy over there we should be striking a chord. He knows, he's union brotherhood, he knows. That's okay, nothing wrong with supporting unions. We all work for everybody in this province, or so-called, that is the deal, it's supposed to be. That's what the people in this province expect. Fifty-two members

[Page 1213]

come to the Legislature in Nova Scotia to get the people's business done. Is the people's business getting done? I think not.

Those people in the gallery the other night, during the emergency debate - was the people's business getting done? No, they listened to the minister say what? What did the minister say? The minister said, I'm not getting involved in that. Why is that? They can't understand how the people who supported them can be left hanging, walking away, 1 per cent, there you go, take it or leave it. There's a deal for you now, isn't it? How do I go home and tell my kids, I can't afford to buy you a new pair of shoes or put food on the table or heat my house this year because you're offering me 1 per cent. How am I going to pay for the gas to get back and forth to work, to school?

AN HON. MEMBER: That's twice as much as you offered.

MR. PORTER: Twice as much? Aw, come on, honourable member, get in touch with reality. The NDP has to get in touch with reality in this province to support the people.

You can laugh and you can quote and you can heckle all you want, go right ahead, bring it on because the people are listening, the teachers are listening, the civil servants in this province who serve you, member, are listening. But guess what, you're not listening to them, not at all, not even close to listening to them. What are you doing? Well, we're not getting involved.

AN HON. MEMBER: Outrageous.

MR. PORTER: Outrageous is right, not getting involved. But that's all right, you keep barking, they're listening, they want to hear it all and they're going to hear it all and so are you when the strike line comes. Let's see what happens then. Are you going to take every contract, all 350 that are being negotiated in the next year and a half? Keep going, bring it on, keep going, member, bring it on. You'll have an opportunity to stand up. Come on, member for Pictou, bring it on. I have no problem listening to it, we'll take it all. Don't call order, Mr. Speaker, let it go. I enjoy it, bring it on, let it go, keep it coming because the people need to know. All you want to do it sit over there and heckle and keep laughing. I'm surprised the muzzle part hasn't been put on today but that's okay, bring it on, no problem. Let the people in Nova Scotia know, let them know.(Interruptions)

Maybe the Premier will want to stand up and have a few words at some point in this evening's debate, who knows. It's just hard to say here, isn't it. The people are anxiously awaiting his comments, as well as the minister's comments to the Public Service, the Minister of Education's promises and maybe the member back there who likes to often make - no, I can't say that - who wants to be out front all the time and speak for his Premier and speak for the deputy and speak for every member over there from Sable Island who he . . .

[Page 1214]

AN HON. MEMBER: Twice as much.

MR. PORTER: Twice as much, he says. Twice as much all right.

AN HON. MEMBER: Twice as much as you offered them.

MR. PORTER: We'll see, won't we, at the end of the day, when next week gets here, what was offered and what's going to be offered and what won't be offered because it appears, in the eyes of the people of Nova Scotia, the civil servants, the teachers, that the NDP Government in this province doesn't care at all about them, doesn't care about their families, doesn't care about what's down the road, doesn't care that there's a cold season coming and they're going to have to heat.

What are they going to do on the strike line, members? Tell us that. Go ahead and blurt out some more so they can hear you, maybe we'll get into Hansard and it can be recorded. I want the people in this province to know, what's the NDP going to do? They're not going to do anything, that's what they're going to do. They're going to drag everything out, 350 contracts, they're going to let them all go to the bitter end.

Binding arbitration, they've asked for it. I've been through binding arbitration. Sometimes it's the only thing left and right now it appears it is the only thing left. Why won't this government agree and let it go to binding arbitration? What have they got to lose? What they have to lose is a fair settlement, that's what they have to lose. The option is on the table, they don't want to pay the people of Nova Scotia fairly.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's despicable

MR.PORTER:That's the case, despicable, absolutely despicable.

Mr. Speaker, 1 per cent, is that fair? Not a chance. Tell that to the kids at home with these people who come to work every day and don't say, I'm not coming to work because I don't like this and I don't like - they come to work for Nova Scotians every day. They deserve to be at least paid equally, the 2.9 per cent across the board that has been offered. And what's going on? Nothing is going on, that's what is going on. Not a thing going on.

Don't forget who put you where you are, honourable members in the NDP, in the government Party. Stand up and listen. Let the people hear you heckling about not caring, not caring at all because that's what they see today, is nothing getting done, nothing getting done by this NDP Government and they should expect nothing less. We're seeing the real NDP as the months go by. It's coming out, they're going to see more and I can't wait for those other 350 or so contracts to come alive in this House and they'll be debated on the floor when needed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 1215]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

Order, please. The time allotted for Bill No. 33 has expired.

The honourable House Leader for the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Motions Other Than Government Motions.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 168.

Res. No. 168, ER Closures - End - notice given Sept. 23/09 - (Hon. C. d'Entremont)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

[5:30 p.m.]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I found it fun to see the member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island standing up to try to defend himself for all the heckling he was doing earlier on. I'm very pleased tonight to stand and speak to Resolution No. 168, which again brings forward the issue of ER closures in our province.

I can speak at length on ER closures in this province, an issue that's been going on for a long time. One that this NDP Government had said - time and time again when they were sitting in Opposition, when they were running the election, they said they had the answers. They ran on a premise: this is what we're going to have to do.

And what have we seen to date from the NDP on finding the solution to ER closures? Not only the ER closures, but the ER overcrowding. I have to add that little tidbit in as well, because I can speak a long time to that one as well. They've done nothing. They've hired a consultant, and why would you hire a consultant? Well, because you really don't have any ideas yourself, so you hire somebody else, so in case that person makes a bad suggestion or hard suggestions, you can blame the consultant. You don't have to blame yourself.

We're experiencing and continuing to experience in the last 100-some-odd days - I'm sure one of the members from the NDP knows how many days they've been sitting over there

[Page 1216]

in government. It's like 112 or whatever it is - it has been an awful long time. But they've done nothing, nothing to alleviate the issue of ER closures.

Today this will be a tad off topic, but it still has to do with ERs and southwestern Nova Scotia and what's happening in Digby County right now, which is the issue of the nurse practitioner. We do have a temporary schedule of nurse practitioner coverage at the Islands Health Centre. It's been developed, it's available this week on Thursday, October 15th and Friday, October 16th. Starting next week a nurse practitioner will be available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and every other week - you know, once in awhile.

So where are the residents of Long and Brier - where are they going to end up? They're going to end up at the ER in Digby. Well, let's talk about the Digby emergency department, which is closed Wednesday, October 14th until Thursday, October 15th. It's closed Monday, October 19th, Wednesday, October 21st, Thursday, October 22nd. I could go on and on of the real problem now.

Shelburne - Roseway Hospital is seeing the same pattern. I know the member for Shelburne - the Minister of Fisheries - has talked on a number of occasions, saying the NDP have the solutions to keep the ER open at Roseway. We are still seeing closures in hospitals right around Nova Scotia. We will continue to see closures in Nova Scotia unless this NDP Government wakes up a little bit.

We can hide behind Dr. John Ross, and like I said during questioning, Dr. John Ross is a very experienced emergency room doctor. I had the opportunity to meet with him on a couple of occasions. The guy has some bright ideas, he has some good ideas, but they are long-term ideas. They're ideas that are not only going to take the year that it's going to take to come up with the report, it's going to take years to implement.

Our document, the PHSOR - which I know the Minister of Health has committed to continuing the work on - does have some solutions as well. But I know the member for Colchester North has talked about a number of occasions when she was Minister of Health, that it took a meeting of the minds in Colchester and they've solved their ER closure problem in Tatamagouche - just like that.

Many of these ERs can be held open with some adjustments, with some solutions that are on the ground. Digby knows full well what it needs to do in order to solve the ER closure problem in Digby. Shelburne knows exactly what it needs to do in order to solve that ER closure, so I'm hoping that Dr. John Ross has gone down to those areas and got the information that they need so that they can make immediate changes so that those ERs can stay open. I can table these documents as well that talk about these closures that I watch so closely in southwestern Nova Scotia.

[Page 1217]

I want to maybe look a little bit at the Better Deal for Nova Scotia's families or today's families, the really blue-with-a-little-bit-of-orange document that was brought out during the election. "Keep emergency rooms open", you know, the number two commitment really and there were a number of issues that were immediate and of course in the first year; "open the hospital beds needed to. . ." admit patients stuck in overcrowded ERs; $4.85 million dollars was the estimated cost. We haven't seen any movement on that. "Emergency Department Protection Fund to hire needed doctors, keep ERs running", $3 million. "Open Cobequid Community Health Centre. . .", I know the member for Sackville-Cobequid will talk about this one, ". . . 24/7" They've got a paltry number of $2.25 million put in here. That won't even come close to getting that emergency room open on a 24-hour basis because you have to have a full hospital there in order to have a full-time ER and I know the member will probably speak to that when he gets the opportunity to comment on this resolution. "Provincial Advisor to lead Emergency Care improvement"

I can go on, of all the things that were in this document that got them elected and I've got to say, it got them elected; they got elected on this document. These are the promises that the member for Pictou East brought forward. I see him in here but what is he doing about it? He can stand over there and bark all he wants, but nothing in this document has this government done nor will they actually have the capability to do because the Minister of Finance is going to be all over it and not provide the Minister of Health with the funding required.

I want to see what the member for Sackville-Cobequid is going to say because he's going to blame us because he always does but Nova Scotians are getting tired of that junk, they're getting tired of it, so let's see what he's got to say.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it is again an honour to stand, especially to talk and debate an important issue like emergency room closures. I know first-hand from my career before I entered this Chamber how important emergency rooms are to Nova Scotians, especially in rural communities and I know after I've entered this Chamber how important it is for a government to act and make it a priority. That's one of the things we're going to do - make it a priority - something I believe the previous government did not do. They only made it a priority when we were just on the eve of an election, and you would see the announcements, you would see the money flowing to certain areas of the province. We're taking the steps we've outlined in the campaign to improve health care and that means addressing emergency room closures.

Emergency room coverage is a long-standing issue, a problem that cannot be fixed overnight. I believe Nova Scotians spoke very loudly on June 9th to give us the ability to make health care a priority for this government, for my government, and I think Nova Scotians will give us that time to bring forward the initiatives that we outlined in our

[Page 1218]

campaign that will make an improvement, will definitely improve delivery of health care to Nova Scotians around the province.

Anyone experiencing a medical emergency knows that we have great emergency services here as our paramedics - men and women who are based throughout this province, and I have to say that they've picked up the slack over the last number of years, especially over the last 10 or 12 years, with the transformation of that service and the ability to really provide world-class health care in the homes, in the ditches, and in the accidents on the roads and streets that we see around the province. That transformation is important and I'm glad to see that we did have the improvements to that system because of the closures that we see throughout Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, during the election one of our commitments was to appoint an emergency room adviser. We've kept that commitment. Some short three months into our mandate we've kept that commitment. (Applause) The appointment of Dr. Ross to that position is vital to addressing some of the concerns with the emergency room closures because, I must say, he's an expert in that field. I don't think there's anybody in this province, especially other emergency room physicians, other paramedics, other nurses, other health care providers who work in the health care field, who would disagree with me that having somebody with that expertise, looking at areas in the province and the issues in the province, especially around emergency room closures, is the key to addressing some of the concerns that we see.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health spoke earlier today about the fact that Dr. Ross will be going around the province to see what's going on in certain areas of the province, especially, I think, the area of Digby where we know there have been chronic closures of that emergency room. I have spoken many times in this House about some of the good initiatives that we see down in Digby and in that area of the province.

It's unfortunate today that we've seen some of the issues around nurse practitioners on Long and Brier Islands, who have worked extremely hard to provide services in that area that is underserviced by physicians. We're committed as a government. I know the Minister of Health is committed to ensuring that health care providers like nurse practitioners are utilized in our province, are utilized in a collaborative approach to health care, because that's the key.

Mr. Speaker, we know that we don't have enough physicians to staff every emergency room in this province right now. We have a high percentage of physicians in our province but, unfortunately, they congregate closer to the metropolitan area, like Halifax. There's a distribution problem, the minister knows that and our government knows that, and we're going to work extremely hard to try to encourage those physicians to take up their practice in those underserviced areas, in rural communities, so that Nova Scotians can gain access to the much needed care they need in their own communities.

[Page 1219]

To stabilize physician coverage in rural Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, and to better meet the emergency department needs of communities, we're giving district health authorities more freedom to tailor services and doctors' compensation to their unique situation. We're allowing them to do that so that they know that if it's an issue to a particular area, they have the ability, that their hands aren't tied to address the issue, if the issue is compensation, or if the issue is recruitment and they needed funds to go along with that, because ultimately we need to be competitive here in Nova Scotia, especially around health care providers and their compensation and how much they get paid because we all know how many of our health care providers have left our province. Other jurisdictions around the country are knocking on their doors on a daily basis to try to attract them to their parts of the country.

Mr. Speaker, an effective, accessible health care system is important to Nova Scotians and we know that access to care is crucial to families and their communities. That's why I think the residents of this province responded so overwhelmingly to our commitment and the fact that we are going to make health care a priority here in Nova Scotia. I know in the days, the months and the years ahead that Nova Scotians will thank us for finally putting health care delivery in a high regard and a priority for this government. I thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place today to speak to Resolution No. 168. There is so much history, so much to say, around ER closures that I decided to break from my usual approach and write out a few notes for today.

[5:45 p.m.]

Here's Nova Scotia's reality when it comes to emergency room closures. More than 4,000 hours of closures since June 10th, the day this government took power. That equates to more than 166 days. That is a staggering amount, Mr. Speaker, on an issue that has been plaguing this province for some time. It is high time this government do stop blaming others and start governing. They were elected by the people of Nova Scotia to point to solutions, not point fingers.

We know how important having emergency rooms open in the smaller communities, here in metro and in fact, right across the province, how important it is for people's peace of mind. This is a sad statement but for many communities, emergency rooms have become the first point of access to our health care system. They have become places where people and communities go to access primary care. The Annapolis Valley is a great example. We have 12,000 to 14,000 people without a family doctor. Our caucus has said this many times in this House and we will continue to say it - emergency rooms across this province no longer function as emergency rooms, they function as doctors' offices. That, Mr. Speaker, is a sad statement but nonetheless true.

[Page 1220]

This government will never solve the ER closure crisis simply by appointing Dr. John Ross and hoping things will turn around in a year's time. If we have learned any lesson at all, money will not fix that problem. Just ask the people of Cumberland County if their pilot worked, where doctors were paid more to cover shifts at the North and South Cumberland facilities. Despite the pilot, emergency room closures continued.

Emergency room closures started out in this province as sporadic, infrequent events; now they're scheduled. They're scheduled in places where people expect 24/7 emergency service. People in communities can now routinely expect that every Tuesday, Thursday and every other Friday, the emergency room will be closed. That may help the minister and the District Health Authorities out by making it easier to plan but it certainly is not good when you're dealing with health care issues that know no bounds when it comes to schedules.

Further complicating closures of emergency rooms is the fact that multiple hospitals and facilities in adjoining communities are facing closures on the same day. This has a cascading effect on our regional hospitals and puts tremendous pressure on them as well. I can speak to this cascading effect drawing on experiences in my own community in the Annapolis Valley. On one occasion this summer we had Soldiers Memorial ER closed, Eastern Kings Memorial Community Health Centre closed and, in fact, a Code at Valley Regional Hospital that sent people bypassing Valley Regional on to another facility.

This current government, the NDP Government, campaigned and promised from one end of this province to the other that they would keep emergency rooms open everywhere; all emergency rooms 24 hours a day. That is a commitment that Nova Scotians heard during the election, that is a commitment we will hold them to, just in case Dr. Ross has other ideas.

All emergency rooms across this province will remain open and function 24/7 as emergency rooms. The one thing that we have seen in this last little while is a government now has appointed a very learned person to be our ER adviser. Now we have a single person, while he's out there studying, he's going to fill in and actually provide some emergency services in emergency rooms around the province. I hope it doesn't take him too many hours, because I'm sure he could become a one-man locum service. That's a little bit of what we're worried about because we don't need a lot more studies and we need more than one person being the locum registry for the province's ERs.

What we really need is the plan that the NDP presumably had when they promised to keep emergency rooms opened. What was the plan? Why hasn't it happened? Why haven't we heard anything more than the appointment of an adviser? One person alone is not going to make this change. We're also being told that we have to wait a full year for this person to study the problem before he comes back with solutions. During the election campaign, we campaigned on both a short-term and a long-term solution to the emergency room closure crisis. We looked at the locum list as a short-term solution. There are locum registries used

[Page 1221]

for emergency rooms in Ontario. They create a list of doctors - they're not all emergency room specialists, some of them are family doctors - but doctors who are qualified to go in and fill shifts at the emergency rooms.

You can put your name on that list if you have some flexibility in your schedule and agree to serve in Northen Ontario, or sometimes it's in the hospitals in Toronto, to say, I'll take a weekend and do three shifts this weekend. We have doctors - you'll be surprised to know this - from here in Nova Scotia on that registry, flying up to Ontario, serving two or three or four shifts on a weekend and coming back, and they're well paid to do that. It's worth their while to go there and spend that time. In fact, the registry in the communities they're going into makes it very attractive for them.

Nova Scotia doctors choosing to go to Ontario because the locum registry is available, and they can put in for weekends or for shifts they can do. It's been tried and true somewhere else, but no, we don't want to try that here, apparently, even though we know it works. Even though we know we have a lot of doctors and they would love to do this. I think we're just not making use of the services and the people we have right in our own system.

In the longer term, we made a commitment to provide tuition for 20 new students, and with that, I do have to take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, it's an honour to rise this evening to speak to this very important issue across Nova Scotia. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid did have one thing 100 per cent correct, I'll give him that. We've got one of the best, we have a world-class first response ambulance system in this province with the best-trained people you'll find anywhere in this country or anywhere in North America. We have the best you'll find anywhere out there working in the streets today. (Applause)

There are also a lot of nurses, doctors, et cetera. All those people who work - the CCAs, the LPNs, the cleaners, for that matter - everybody that's working in each one of those facilities and hospitals, long-term care facilities, et cetera, are the very best and doing everything they can to make the lives of Nova Scotians better each and every day in this province.

We've heard an awful lot of talk over the years in this place about emergency rooms - the backups, the closures. I worked for a lot of years in the EHS, the emergency on the streets system, as has the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, and we both know this problem didn't start yesterday, or five years ago. It's been going on in this country for many, many years. Many years. We've seen it. We've seen it in Ontario with large backups - it didn't happen over the course of a few months or a year. It happened over many years - many, many years.

[Page 1222]

Part of the problem - and it's great, Dr. John Ross, an excellent, excellent physician. Should be in the Emergency Department working as a physician, now we have him hired two days a week. If anybody can probably shed some light on this issue, it will be John Ross. Very intelligent, and I admit that wholeheartedly. I think that he has a lot to offer the people of Nova Scotia, but I don't see any short-term fixes by way of emergency room closures unless they're willing to look outside the box.

We've seen for quite a few years now, and it doesn't matter what hospital you go in - we've seen along the South Shore, the Valley, Cape Breton, the Northern region - all experiencing closures. This summer we've seen notices go out that the Hants Community Hospital that's in my area could potentially close. Do you know why it didn't? I'll tell you why it didn't. We have doctors there who are not young doctors. Catherine Smith told me that hospital won't close, I don't care if it's my last breath, I'll be in that Emergency Department and I'll work night shifts and I'll work day shifts. She's not alone - there are other committed doctors like that who will keep that facility going.

The people of Hants West - Hants County, for that matter, the Valley and wherever they may come from - now coming from the city getting procedures done. They're very appreciative, I know they are, that those doctors are there. We're lucky out there, we're less than an hour away from downtown Halifax. Those new, young doctors can go out there and experience what that little bit of rural atmosphere is like.

It's not a money issue. We can talk all you want about money, dollars and cents, and sometimes there is just not enough money that you could offer a doctor to go to places in rural Nova Scotia. You can't discredit them for that - they're young, some of these guys and gals right out of school, they want to be in the bigger urban centres with all the toys to play with and learning the technology, everything that's available to them.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis had to come to Halifax, as he said earlier in this House today, to have his issue resolved. Thankfully, he could get that done and looks mighty good and we're very glad to have him back in this House today. It's a pleasure to have him here, it really is, because he speaks his mind. (Applause) We all know that he's not afraid to get on his feet and speak about a number of issues. I thought he might speak to this one this evening but maybe he's not quite up to it yet.

I know we'll hear a lot more from that member and others on this important issue, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption) Starting with late debate, is it? Excellent.

As I said, this is not a problem that started a couple of years ago, this has gone on for a long time. Do we need to look at places like the Cobequid Emergency Centre being 24 hours, to help take some of that load off? Yes, we do.

[Page 1223]

I heard the Minister of Health, today, in this House, mention the fact that they're considering, or at least they're looking at reviewing, potentially opening that facility. I remember when they were in their first facility, down on Memory Lane, a great facility with great staff, pushed to the limits every night at 10:00 p.m. and before, trying to shift people out. I was in there helping move them out, I know what it was like, but still there was no place in those days, and that was early on in the 1990s, no place to go then. Beds were an issue.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, one of the problems is we've got people waiting, taking up beds in hospitals and emergency rooms and hallways, wherever, in closets, wherever you can put them, because there are no beds in the broader hospital system.

Well, there could be. What's taking up the beds in some of the other areas are people waiting to get into long-term care facilities. We have something in this province called a single-entry system, access point - it doesn't work, it never has worked. You can talk to the doctors out in rural Nova Scotia, you can talk to them in Windsor at the hospital there - we have Unit 500 there and that's basically getting great care. It might as well be a long-term care nursing home facility because it's constantly full with patients who are waiting to go to a nursing facility.

Why can't they get there? There are beds available and we're going to talk about that on another day, I know my time is running short but we're going to talk more about that. That issue is going to help resolve. The minister and the government need to listen and they need to review that issue as well because you have to start moving some of those people out of those areas and getting them into beds that are available. We know days and weeks and even months go by where there's not a bed available in those long-term care facilities that is not being used. That's the first point. If we can get those people and their families where they need to be, Mr. Speaker, that's the first point of resolving this issue.

Again, I know time is drawing near and I'll say thank you very much for the time tonight to speak to that issue and I look forward to coming back to speak a lot more, and I'm sure a lot of members are, on the issue of ER closures in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. We have now arrived at the moment of interruption.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader for business and hours for tomorrow.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., with daily routine, Orders of the Day, also to resolve into Committee of the Whole House on Supply and, if time permits, Public Bills for Second Reading, continuing with Bill Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5.

[Page 1224]

MR. SPEAKER: The adjournment motion for debate has been chosen, as announced earlier, and won by the honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour:

"Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the organizers of the 12th Annual Aquaculture Harvest Festival recently held in Sheet Harbour and recognize the value of the aquaculture industry to some coastal communities in Nova Scotia."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

SHEET HBR. AQUACULTURE HARVEST FEST.:

ORGANIZERS - CONGRATS.

MR. JIM BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure this evening to talk about the aquaculture industry in Nova Scotia and, in particular, to talk about the annual Aquaculture Harvest Festival that was held in Sheet Harbour on September 26th

.

[6:00 p.m.]

The aquaculture industry in this province is a very important industry and often it is overlooked. If you look at aquaculture worldwide, approximately 50 per cent of the food fishery is provided to us by aquaculture.

In Nova Scotia, the value of aquaculture is approximately $36.2 million. We have approximately 700 people who are directly employed in the industry and one of the nice facts about the aquaculture industry is that it is an industry that employs some of our younger individuals in our coastal communities. For example, the average age of people involved in the aquaculture industry is below the age of 40 and when you look at that with regard to the regular fishing industry, you could probably add 15-plus years on that age.

In the Province of Nova Scotia we have 329 aquaculture licences spread out through the province and we have 62 finfish, 265 shellfish and two marine plant sites. Now, over the past number of years, there has been some expansion in the industry, in particular with the salmon and trout sector and that has led our industry or allowed our industry to certainly grow. Now, if you look at the industry in the province, there's a great opportunity for potential growth. We have, for example I said, 329 sites but approximately half of those sites are not being used at the present time. If we were to bring those sites up to speed and make those sites productive, we could, in essence, double the number of employees in the province

[Page 1225]

or people employed in the sector and we could certainly double the amount of revenue generated from this industry.

I feel the industry, for example if it had the support, could rival New Brunswick very easily because, in fact, many of the sites that we have in this province have been developed by New Brunswick companies. Actually even our shellfish sites have been developed by P.E.I. companies. So I think there's a huge opportunity to look at this industry and to grow it in the future.

One only has to go to the supermarket to see that some of the fish that we presently consume and we can buy in this province comes from offshore companies and offshore countries. Right now, some of the fish that's being consumed in this province is coming from China and other Asian countries and we know perfectly well that the standards that they hold their industry to is quite lenient as compared to us in Canada.

Now, just a couple more facts. Nova Scotia is home to one of the world's largest marine plant product manufacturers, utilizing cultured and wild-harvest sea plants. One of the things that I think would be worthwhile for the honourable members to see, if they have the opportunity, is to go to the National Research Council. They have a facility up at Oxford Street and they have a facility out in Ketch Harbour where you can actually see some of this activity going on. Right now, out in Ketch Harbour, they're actually growing algae and looking at the opportunity to produce fuel from the algae. I found that very fascinating to see that that is going on and actually there are a couple of companies, aviation companies that are quite interested in looking at that. So that is something that is happening right on our back doorstep and certainly something I wasn't aware of and maybe other members of the House weren't as well.

Now, I just want to give you a little more background on aquaculture itself. In this province we have a long history of aquaculture. Nova Scotia was home to Canada's first land-based Atlantic salmon farm in the 1960s. Mussels, trout, and oyster farms were established through the 1970s and the 1980s, and actually, if you go back through history, we've been practising aquaculture in this province probably since the time of the early explorers, and certainly in the 1800s oyster cultivation and oyster harvesting were going on quite extensively throughout this province.

We have aquaculture sites located throughout the province and I'm sure in some of the ridings of the honourable members there are active sites, and there are probably some inactive sites that we could look at. I might say the department is certainly looking at trying to grow this industry, because they see an enormous potential with regard to the need for fresh fish and shellfish.

Now, if we look at some of the species - I just want to bring out some of the species because, again, some of this was new to me and may well be new to some of the members

[Page 1226]

here in the House. I'll give you some of the values of the fish products for 2008. In the province we have a fairly healthy Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout program. The production last year was over four million kilograms which, when you translate it, means approximately $20 million. That, of course, amounts to about 53 per cent of the actual value of our aquaculture industry in the province. We do have a number of land-based and hatchery and nursery facilities to raise the salmon to the smolt size, where they are then put into the salt water. Approximately 132,000 kilograms of rainbow trout were produced last year, and that totalled $1.3 million.

One of the interesting opportunities I had was to visit the Atlantic char facility - the Arctic char, excuse me, I said it was the Atlantic char - the Arctic char facility out in Millbrook, and I think that was worthwhile to see because that's an opportunity that I think we should be looking at in this province, but anyway, I won't talk too much more about that because I only have a few minutes, is it? (Interruption) Okay.

So what I would like to just talk about is the aquaculture festival that was held in Sheet Harbour on the 26th. That was in Guysborough-Sheet Harbour. So it was nice to have the minister out there in Guysborough-Sheet Harbour - Minister Belliveau - and we were able to bring together a number of people from the local area to participate in the aquaculture festival. For example, we had Trevor Munroe from Sober Island, just starting up with his American oysters; Ocean Legacy, that has a facility in Owls Head. We had people from Wine Harbour who were demonstrating the European oyster culture. Millbrook, as I mentioned before, and the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia was there serving smoked halibut, which is another one of the opportunities that exists in this province and it's nice to see that that's moving ahead.

I assume, Mr. Speaker, I'm out of time, so I would thank the honourable members for listening and I do encourage you to support this industry whenever you can because it's local, it's sustainable, and it's an opportunity for us to build capacity in some of our coastal communities.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member, but I would remind all members of the Legislature that we cannot use names while in the Legislature; we can use ridings and honourable ministers.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise tonight to speak on this very important topic about aquaculture and the effects it has on Nova Scotia. I want to congratulate the member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour for bringing this forward because, as he mentioned in his talk, what we sometimes don't realize is just how important the aquaculture industry is to the Province of Nova Scotia. It's important for the fishery, it's important for the people around the communities, but it's also a key element in what we have

[Page 1227]

when we talk about some of our major tourist attractions because people come to Nova Scotia to enjoy the seafood, to enjoy the fresh tastes, so to speak. You can tell by looking at me, I've enjoyed the fresh tastes on many occasions.

But seriously, when you think about what takes place related to our fishing industry, which is a very important and valuable industry, but at the same time when you think about the many different offshoots of celebrations, for example, on the Cabot Trail we have the Lobsterpaloosa where people come from all over Nova Scotia and parts of the Maritimes to be part of that great adventure of Lobsterpaloosa and there's something going on right around the trail in the different communities. If you go to Englishtown you can enjoy the Mussel Fest, mussels that are grown in St. Ann's Bay, working together with other people from different areas, working together with aquaculture.

You can also go to Bay St. Lawrence and enjoy a crabfest. Now, the crabfest in Bay St. Lawrence is good, but if you want to go to the best one, you'd have to come to Louisbourg to enjoy all the good and wonderful things. Of course, at the Louisbourg Crabfest, we also have mussels, again, that are grown locally in some of the aquaculture farms around the province. Of course, if you're in Baddeck you can go into the lobster suppers there in Baddeck and you can enjoy the all you can eat mussel bar and guess what? Those mussels are grown in St. Ann's Bay, they're used here to help bring people around, so as important as this whole industry is, it has another effect on another industry and that's the industry of tourism.

Now, on Cape Breton Island we've seen the use of aquaculture for a long time. In Eskasoni we've seen the people there enjoying oyster farming and it was a very significant thing when it took place because it was one of the first times that the First Nations joined together with other companies to bring forward an industry for a community like Eskasoni, so it was a very important time.

We had a trout farm brought by the Cape Breton Development Corporation that used to work out of New Harris and other areas around the Province of Nova Scotia and it was fairly successful until someone cut the nets and all the fish disappeared, but it was a good industry and it was a good start. There were salmon there and there were other things. In Arichat at College l'Acadie, they have a group there that is actually studying lobster eggs, how lobsters reproduce and how they can get those lobster eggs to survive in different types of water so that they can help maintain the amount of lobsters that are available down the road. It's a very important piece of infrastructure that's being used.

We also have of course - and the member from Guysborough-Sheet Harbour had mentioned about Millbrook and what Millbrook is doing with the Arctic char, but the other thing that Millbrook is doing with the Arctic char is they're not only producing it, but they're doing value added. They work with Chefs Nova Scotia to make sure that the product that

[Page 1228]

they have is used in different types of areas and they promote it across the country, even at the Boston Seafood Show. Talking about all this food is making me a little bit hungry.

In 2008 there was over $36 million produced by the aquaculture industry. In 2008 there were 700 full-time and part-time jobs in aquaculture, but also, back in 2007 - and this is a little bit worrisome - there was close to $53 million in revenues from aquaculture, so that dropped from $53 million to $37 million. We have to be concerned about that because, indeed, we want to know what's going on. The same way, in 2005 there were 889 full- and part-time jobs and in 2008 there were only 700 full-time jobs, so it's in a very important part of our industry and it's also a good employer but we want to find out why the decline. It might be because of technology, it might be as simple as new technology coming forward. (Interruptions)

[6:15 p.m.]

The honourable member for Cape Breton North asked if I went on a diet and that was how, indeed, the reduction came. But you know in the spirit that it was meant, we'll talk to him later.

Aquaculture is a very important part of where we need to go in the Province of Nova Scotia. Fisheries, and we have a member here, our Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has been involved with fisheries for 30-plus years. The member for Digby-Annapolis, he's been involved with the fishery for a long time and these people have seen a number of changes. Even in the community that I come from, I remember a time when I could go to the dock and we could see 18 and 20 boats, today there are seven. It's a decline in the industry, it's a hard industry and it's an industry that people actually put their life on the line to go out and make a difference and make a living for their families.

The technology has changed how things are going and we see different types of fisheries growing all the time. Aquaculture could be one of those things, when you look at the water we have, you look at the number of coves when you go across and around the Province of Nova Scotia. Nowhere in Nova Scotia are you any more than about half an hour away from the sea. You could have an aquaculture setup somewhere so that, indeed, we could be growing trout, we could be growing oysters, we could be growing mussels. We are doing that but we could grow more and I think that's what is important.

There are all kinds of other types of products that come from the sea that could, indeed, add to the bottom line of the fishery. I think what we hear when we're talking about the fisheries from day to day is as the time moves forward, it is important to find new ways of doing the types of things that need to get done so that the industry is sustainable.

We have seen changes in things like the size and the measure of lobsters, so that we can meet the market demands in different areas in different provinces. We've got to look at

[Page 1229]

the size of a lobster when we're shipping to the U.S. Because, indeed, right now the standard for our lobster here and the standard for a lobster going to the U.S. are different so we need to work on those kinds of things to make them more uniform, so that if somebody is catching lobster they can sell wherever the market demand is the best.

The celebration going around, I think it's the 12th year - and it has been in places like Mabou and it has been in places like Yarmouth and Argyle and it's important for that to move around. I think it's important to bring awareness because any time that you can make people in the Province of Nova Scotia more aware of some of the things that we have here in Nova Scotia, the better it is. It's always about awareness.

We have the greatest province in all of Canada. We have the greatest people and we have great resources. Our problem sometimes is we don't see what we have and we don't utilize it to the best of our abilities. It is important that we start looking at these things. Looking at the technology that is available. Listening to the people who have been in the industry for a long time. Hearing what they have to say about ways that we can improve this industry and make aquaculture more sustainable and more viable, so that the young people who want to be involved in the fishing industry have more options. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis. (Applause)

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very honoured to rise here in my place tonight and speak about the fishery. It is something that has been in my family for 15 generations and I hope it is there 15 more. I want to congratulate the 12th Annual Aquaculture Harvest Festival that was held in Sheet Harbour and recognize the value of aquaculture, the aquaculture industry to some, to some, of the coastal communities of Nova Scotia.

I wanted to repeat that word some, Mr. Speaker, because for the next seven or eight or 10 minutes I'm going to tell you why I think it's only some that's written there. Nova Scotia was one of the fishing capitals of this country at one point. You can go right back to the Bluenose and before that, many generations before the Bluenose, from rowboats, without ships like the Bluenose to take them out to the Banks - and it was the capital, we supplied fish to all the people on the coast, in the United States. Nova Scotia alone did, and that's why we recognize the Bluenose today on the dime that we have, because she did make this province the capital of the fishery.

In many coastal areas, people still believe that we can still do that. We're still waiting for the fishery to come back in our coastal communities. It is not going to happen, Mr. Speaker. Nova Scotia, again - the coastal waters of Atlantic Canada, period - will never see the fishery that happened once before, in the Bluenose days and thereafter, because the

[Page 1230]

demand grew so great for fish - the demand grew great, the federal government got involved and called the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. With that not being bad enough with poor management from Ottawa for our coastal fisheries, in our coastal areas now, we have problems with other things such as seals that some people believe we should leave alone. As long as we leave them alone our wild fishery will never return.

We did, I admit, take the fishery down to its knees because the demand was there. If the demand hadn't been there for the fish, we wouldn't brought the fish in. As we brought that fishery down, the seals seemed to populate, for whatever reason - I'm not going to get into that, I'm certainly not a scientist, but they did. They exploded from 2 million seals to 8 million on this coast of Atlantic Canada. That there alone, if you want to figure it out, is a lot of fish. A lot more than the Bluenose and her fleet ever landed in any time, that's for sure, if you want to sit down with a calculator and figure that stuff. But we're still waiting in these coastal communities, a lot of fishermen are waiting this fishery to come back.

For 15 years we've been waiting on the wharf for our finfishery to return, and we're going to keep waiting and keep waiting. We've tried to get some aquaculture going. To tell you what's going on in the aquaculture right now - us, who used to be the fishing capital of country - we're in a position where British Columbia provides 48 per cent of the aquaculture fish of this country. New Brunswick, producing 24 per cent. Prince Edward Island - little tiny Prince Edward Island, we thought it was a potato province - is producing 12 per cent of the fish. Newfoundland and Labrador started two years ago - they're producing 5 per cent already and they're predicting in the next five years, the coastal communities of Newfoundland will produce as high as 30 per cent of the fish. Nova Scotia produces 6 per cent of the fish, mostly for export.

We harvest and produce 100,000 tons of fish in this country. We have Third World countries like Chile producing 600,000 tons of fish. If you want to go down to the Superstore here in the city this afternoon, you'll see a lot of that 600,000 tons is in there, waiting for us to come and eat it. But yet we can go out here on the coast and say to the people, we need to grow fish. Oh no, we can't grow fish. Our wild fishery is going to come back. People are also scared of change out there. They're scared of the change, and I say to some of the people, back 100 years ago when the buffalo ran out and the deer ran out, we couldn't feed the people out of the wild from the buffalo and deer - we had to start growing other creatures to feed us. If we still depended on the buffalo and the deer to feed us today, we wouldn't have very many Sunday afternoon barbecues would we, Mr. Speaker? We had to grow cattle.

If we don't grow fish for the future - and we have medical personnel every day saying, do you want to be healthy - eat more fish. I just went through a procedure here awhile ago and the doctors in the QE II are promoting fish. They're even promoting sardines - eat sardines instead of smoking cigarettes. I bought a case of sardines, by the way.

[Page 1231]

We have health professionals around the world saying, eat more fish. We're sitting on our shores waiting for our wild fishery to come back - just imagine if the people in Alberta were out there waiting for the buffalo to come back. Can you imagine? Talk about becoming a wealthy country - there are two great things in demand in this world right now, two great things. And we have the potential to produce both. The first one is the fish, the demand is growing greater and greater every day while we're waiting for a wild fishery to come back, and the second thing is energy to cook them. We have the potential of wind and of tide. We're sitting on it.

Alberta became rich, rich beyond rich, just from energy - plus their beef. We have to give them their beef, too. But we could have twice the wealth, twice the wealth from fish grown around Nova Scotia that Alberta does have in beef. You see how wealthy Alberta has become from dirty oil and not so healthy beef - I shouldn't say that, beef is healthy if you don't . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Moderation.

MR. THERIAULT: Moderation.

But what could this province do with the tidal energy, the wind energy, and the fish with it. Think about it - you talk about a vision for a province - it sits right there. We need a government, we need leadership to get around to the coastal communities and say to the people we know how, we have the capability of growing fish in a sustainable way, in a healthy way. It can be done.

We're talking about going to Mars; we're going to the moon now - we're going to drill wells on the moon to find water. Surely to God we can grow fish out here without harming anybody. (Applause) Mr. Speaker, that is what we have here in this province. If we want to look at growing fish - and if we don't do it, Chile is going to. My God, the Prairies, out in the Prairies - where we just talked about, of Alberta - has grown 1 per cent of the fish. We're growing 5 per cent. They're not supposed to be growing fish there, but they have to grow them because they don't want to bring them from Chile, I suppose.

So, let's get our heads together, let's see the leadership of this province and get out to the people. We need to get to the people and educate them in the coast that this is what we have in this province and this is the way we gotta go - and we'll all become rich, we'll get rid of our debt, we'll get rid of our deficits, and we will control it all. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all honourable members for an excellent debate tonight.

[Page 1232]

The motion for adjournment has been made. The House now stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:29 p.m.]

[Page 1233]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 606

By: Hon. Sterling Belliveau (Fisheries and Aquaculture)

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

Whereas Forest Ridge Academy student Cain Perham was a member of the winning team, Atomic Atoms, at the Tri-County Regional School Board's regional Science Olympics on June 4, 2009; and

Whereas Cain Perham helped his team achieve a third place finish in the Grade 5 competition; and

Whereas the Atomic Atoms were among the 27 teams of Grade 4 through Grade 6 students who advanced to the regional Science Olympics by topping district competition;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Forest Ridge Academy student Cain Perham, who was a member of the winning team, Atomic Atoms, at the Tri-County Regional School Board's regional Science Olympics on June 4, 2009.

RESOLUTION NO. 607

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 two gifted skaters in their teens from Hants County, Sarah Leopold and Jessica Lake-Crossley, took to the ice in Fredericton between April 3-6, 2009, and competed in the National StarSkate Championships, doing the bronze biathlon; and

Whereas Sarah, 16 years of age, and Jessica, 14 years of age, competed at the nationals for the first time ever and performed three dances as part of the biathlon, with the dances including "The Fourteen Step" and "The Foxtrot," with their final dance involving music from an old B.J. Thomas classic, "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head"; and

Whereas Sarah and Jessica, who skate out of the Riverview Skating Club at the Newport Rink, as well as the St. Margaret's Bay arena during the summer, ended up placing fourth at the nationals following three amazing skates and are coached by Lee-Anne Cross and Shannon Sutherland;

[Page 1234]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the dynamite skating abilities of Sarah and Jessica and wish them every success as they prepare for the upcoming 2009-10 season.

RESOLUTION NO. 608

By: Hon. Christopher D'Entremont (Argyle)

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

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

Whereas an American author once wrote, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person; and

Whereas on July 25, 2009, a very special occasion took place when Ron and Marietta Scott celebrated their 50th Anniversary;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 609

By: Hon. Christopher D'Entremont (Argyle)

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

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

Whereas an American author once wrote, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person; and

Whereas on June 6, 2009, a very special occasion took place when Bradford and Lorraine Muise celebrated their 50th Anniversary;

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

[Page 1235]

RESOLUTION NO. 610

By: Hon. Christopher D'Entremont (Argyle)

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

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

Whereas an American author once wrote, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person; and

Whereas on June 21, 2009, a very special occasion took place when Gilbert and Loretta Frotten celebrated their 40th Anniversary;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 611

By: Hon. Christopher D'Entremont (Argyle)

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

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

Whereas an American author once wrote, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person; and

Whereas on June 6, 2009, a very special occasion took place when Paul and Edna LeBlanc celebrated their 50th Anniversary;

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

[Page 1236]

RESOLUTION NO. 612

By: Hon. Christopher D'Entremont (Argyle)

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

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

Whereas an American author once wrote, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person; and

Whereas on July 26, 2009, a very special occasion took place when Ralph and Mabel Churchill celebrated their 65th Anniversary;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 613

By: Hon. Christopher D'Entremont (Argyle)

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

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

Whereas an American author once wrote, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person; and

Whereas on July 25, 2009, a very special occasion took place when Barbara and Louis Pothier celebrated their 50th Anniversary;

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

[Page 1237]

RESOLUTION NO. 614

By: Hon. Christopher D'Entremont (Argyle)

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

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

Whereas an American author once wrote, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person; and

Whereas on August 23, 2009, a very special occasion took place when Bernie and Linda Doucette celebrated their 40th Anniversary;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 615

By: Hon. Christopher D'Entremont (Argyle)

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

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

Whereas an American author once wrote, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person; and

Whereas on August 8, 2009, a very special occasion took place when Lillian and Vernon Raynard celebrated their 70th Anniversary;

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

[Page 1238]

RESOLUTION NO. 616

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas on June 6, 2009, the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place celebrating both individual and team accomplishments; and

Whereas the 1993-1994 Central Kings Gators High School hockey team was recognized for their Provincial AA Championships; and

Whereas Justin Halbersma contributed to the team's success as the statistician;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the members of the 1993-1994 Central Kings Gators High School hockey team for their induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.