The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 09-29

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

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2009

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Library Funding Task Force Rept., Hon. M. More 1752
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Library Funding Task Force Rept. - Tabling, Hon. M. More 1752
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 827, Marie Stella Bourgeois - Prix Grand-Pré,
Hon. P. Paris 1754
Vote - Affirmative 1755
Res. 828, Robinson, Doug: Death of - Tribute,
Hon. R. Jennex 1755
Vote - Affirmative 1756
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 50, Wilderness Areas Protection Act, Hon. S. Belliveau 1756
No. 51, Sydney Casino Profits Distribution Act,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1756
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 829, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review - Dep. Prem. -
Request, Hon. S. McNeil 1756
Res. 830, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Commissioner - Review,
Hon. K. Casey 1757
Res. 831, Ryl. Cdn. Sea Cadet Corps. 339 Iroquois - Anniv. (10th),
The Premier 1758
Vote - Affirmative 1758
Res. 832, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. Conflict: Review -
Acadian Affs. Min. Request, Hon. S. McNeil 1759
Res. 833, Lacoste, Tracy - E. Hants & Dist. CC Vol. of Yr. Award,
Hon. J. MacDonell 1759
Vote - Affirmative 1760
Res. 834, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review -
Com. Serv. Min. Request, Hon. Manning MacDonald 1760
Res. 835, Waldman, Barry - Donner Award,
Hon. C. Clarke 1761
Vote - Affirmative 1762
Res. 836, Kedge Peddlers Health & Stroke Big Bike Ride: Coodinators -
Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 1762
Vote - Affirmative 1762
Res. 837, MacKay, Marilyn: Death of - Tribute,
Hon. M. Samson 1763
Vote - Affirmative 1763
Res. 838, Fox, Fred - Windsor FD Serv. (38 Yrs.),
Mr. C. Porter 1764
Vote - Affirmative 1764
Res. 839, Breau, Michel - Academic Achievements,
Mr. G. Ramey 1764
Vote - Affirmative 1765
Res. 840, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review -
Health Min. Request, Ms. D. Whalen 1765
Res. 841, Agric.: Local Products - Usage,
Hon. M. Scott 1766
Vote - Affirmative 1767
Res. 842, Cole, Rev. Jonathan & Rev. Harold/Revival Ctr. - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. B. Skabar 1767
Vote - Affirmative 1768
Res. 843, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review -
Nat. Res. Min. Request, Mr. L. Glavine 1768
Res. 844, Pendleton Place: Funding Commitment,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1769
Res. 845, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review -
TIR Min. Request, Hon. W. Gaudet 1769
Res. 846, Kennedy, Jim & Lori/Louisbourg Seafoods -
Sydney & Area Bus. Award, Mr. A. MacLeod 1770
Vote - Affirmative 1771
Res. 847, RCMP Guysborough Dist. - IACP/Cisco Award,
Mr. J. Boudreau 1771
Vote - Affirmative 1772
Res. 848, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review -
Environ. Min Request, Mr. A. Younger 1772
Res. 849, Arcadia Cons. Sch. - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. R. Hurlburt 1773
Vote - Affirmative 1773
Res. 850, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review -
Educ. Min. Request, Ms. K. Regan 1773
Res. 851, Baddeck - Communities in Bloom Comp.,
Mr. K. Bain 1774
Vote - Affirmative 1775
Res. 852, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review -
SNSMR Min. Request, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1775
Res. 853, Agric. - Min.: Atl. Can Trade Barriers - Removal,
Hon. K. Casey 1776
Res. 854, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review -
TCH Min. Request, Mr. H. Theriault 1777
Res. 855, Yorke, Jake: Three Peaks Challenge - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1778
Vote - Affirmative 1778
Res. 856, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review -
ERD Min. Request, Hon. K. Colwell 1778
Res. 857, MacKinnon, Lisa et al: Ingonish Parade of Lights -
Organizing Efforts, Mr. K. Bain 1779
Vote - Affirmative 1780
Res. 858, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Review -
HPP Min. Request, Ms. D. Whalen 1780
Res. 859, Windsor FD Ladies Aux. - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. C. Porter 1781
Vote - Affirmative 1782
Res. 860, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict; Review -
PSC Min. Request, Mr. L. Glavine 1782
Res. 861, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict; Review -
Fin. Min. Request, Hon. W. Gaudet 1783
Res. 862, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict; Review -
Energy Min. Request, Mr. A. Younger 1783
Res. 863, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict; Review -
Justice Min. Request, Hon. M. Samson 1784
Res. 864, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict; Review -
LWD Min. Request, Ms. K. Regan 1785
Res. 865, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict; Review -
Communications N.S. Min. Request,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1786
Res. 866, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict; Review -
African N.S. Affs. Min. Request, Hon. K. Colwell 1787
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 234, Fish. & Aquaculture Min. - Conflict: Commissioner - Review,
Hon. S. McNeil 1788
No. 235, Agric.: Beef Farmers - Commitment, Hon. K. Casey 1790
No. 236, Prem.: N.B. Power/Hydro Québec Sale - Stance,
Hon. S. McNeil 1791
No. 237, Educ.: H1N1 - Parent Notification, Ms. K. Regan 1792
No. 238, Health: Bayview Mem. Health Ctr. - Redevelopment,
Hon. M. Scott 1793
No. 239, Health - H1N1 Immunization Clinics: Prenatal Classes - Effects,
Ms. D. Whalen 1794
No. 240, Fish. & Aquaculture: Lobster Fishermen - Protection Plan,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1796
No. 241, Agric.: Beef Farmers - Assistance, Mr. L. Glavine 1798
No. 242, HPP - H1N1 Vaccinations: Rural Areas - Time Frame,
Mr. C. Porter 1799
No. 243, Justice: Policing Profession - Leadership, Mr. A. Younger 1800
No. 244, Health: Digby Neck/Islands/Health Auth. Meeting -
Min. Briefing, Mr. H. Theriault 1802
No. 245, HPP: H1N1 Vaccine - Distribution & Supply,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1803
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 49, Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation Act,
Hon. W. Estabrooks 1806
Hon. W. Estabrooks 1806
Mr. A. Younger 1808
Hon. C. Clarke 1811
Hon. F. Corbett 1814
Vote - Affirmative 1814
No. 28, Education Act, Hon. M. More 1815
Hon. M. More 1815
Ms. K. Regan 1816
Hon. K. Casey 1817
Hon. M. More 1817
Vote - Affirmative 1817
No. 48, Pension Benefits Act, Hon. M. More 1818
Hon. M. More 1818
Ms. K. Regan 1819
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1820
Hon. M. More 1821
Vote - Affirmative 1821
No. 38, Condominium Act, Hon. R. Jennex 1821
Hon. R. Jennex 1821
Ms. K. Regan 1822
Hon. C. Clarke 1823
Ms. D. Whalen 1824
Hon. R. Jennex 1831
Vote - Affirmative 1831
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Agric.: Beef Ind. - Solutions,
Mr. L. Glavine 1832
Hon. C. Clarke 1834
Hon. J. MacDonell 1837
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Oct. 28th at 2:00 p.m. 1840

[Page 1751]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 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'll get underway with our proceedings for today. Before we go to the daily routine, I'll announce that the subject of the late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis:

Therefore be it resolved that government find solutions for our struggling beef industry in Nova Scotia.

That will be debated at the hour of interruption.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education on an introduction.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, before I table this report, may I make some introductions?

[Page 1752]

1751

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. MORE: In the east gallery, I would like the following people to stand as I call their names, and at the end perhaps my honourable colleagues could give them a warm welcome. These are the members who are able to be present here today from the Library Funding Task Force: Jennifer Evans, Denise Parrott, Milica Kunovac, Gary Archibald, Claire Detheridge, John Patterson, Eric Stackhouse, and Debbie Hum. I ask everyone to give them a very warm welcome. (Applause)

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the report of the Library Funding Task Force. Copies will be distributed to members.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I earlier tabled the report of the Library Funding Task Force. This report is the result of much hard work. I would like to thank the task force members who represented the Council of Regional Libraries, Library Boards Association of Nova Scotia, the Department of Education, and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities for their thoughtful and thorough report. I just attended the Library Boards Association of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Library Association joint conference this past weekend in Yarmouth and, once again, I was very impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm of our library professionals and supporters.

Mr. Speaker, this report was completed in August 2008 and I want to commend the honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party for being a champion of this task force. Although this report is now publicly available for all, it has not been sitting on a shelf while I have been minister. I used the task force's recommendations as a starting point while I advocated on behalf of libraries during the recent budget discussions, and will continue to do so in the future.

While our fiscal situation currently prevents us from signing a formal multi-year funding agreement, Mr. Speaker, our government remains very proud of our public libraries.

[Page 1753]

They are often the centre of our communities, they inform us, they entertain us and they help us improve.

[2:15 p.m.]

Our libraries are well-used by Nova Scotians, more than 7.2 million items were borrowed last year. That's an amazing number. I'd like to thank all of the people who work in our public libraries. We are grateful for your efforts and applaud your commitment and diligence. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I will now take my place. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, minister.

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

MS. KELLY REGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, would like to thank the task force for their work. I brought up the Library Funding Task Force Report in this House session and I'm glad to see the government has finally addressed this report but the government has neglected to act on a key recommendation of that report, and that is multi-year funding.

The minister said in her statement that the government's fiscal situation currently prevents us from signing a formal multi-year funding agreement and I guess our universities can't count on renegotiating their multi-year funding agreement when it expires in 2011.

The thing about multi-year funding is that it allows for planning. It would let libraries know what resources they would have to work with a year or two ahead of time and that can make a huge difference. This government is very hesitant on multi-year funding agreements, leaving a constant worry of major funding cuts for groups that provide key services and they have traditionally relied on a certain level of funding, even though that level of funding isn't enough in many cases, they've been able to get by up until this point.

I also note there was an increase to the Regional Library Board grants but that funding was cut from the Nova Scotia Provincial Library. I would be curious to know why this is the case and it seems to me that perhaps the department is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Thank you.

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

HON. KAREN CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to first of all, before I begin my remarks, to also acknowledge the folks in the gallery here today. People who have put endless hours of their time and their dedication and their commitment to public libraries

[Page 1754]

in Nova Scotia over the past number of months. I'm sure they are very pleased to see this being tabled. I'm sure there may be a bit of disappointment but I would like to welcome them again and thank them for joining in with us.

I would also like to thank the minister for her comments and her reference to my passion and commitment for this particular project and for this particular report. It was something that we recognized that needed to be addressed. We listened to the library boards and the representatives who came forward. We worked with them and I believe that they are the ones who need to be complimented for the quality of the work that is within this report.

It has also been noted that there are a number of recommendations, and I believe the committees that worked to put this report together did give very serious consideration to the difference between their needs and their wants. I believe that this report reflects the needs of the public libraries in our province and I think there's a big difference - this is not a gift they are looking for. This is something that they need in order to continue to operate.

We recognize, as the minister has said, that there are many users of our public libraries. I believe we have 77 libraries in total, nine library boards and the usage in all of those is on the rise, so I think that's a credit to the library boards, that they have been able to provide, with limited dollars, the services that are needed.

So I think in that context we have to recognize that the hard work has been done and although it has been tabled, it is disappointing. One of the reasons why it is disappointing is that the reason for no formal signing of the agreement, as I understand it, is because of the fiscal situation of the province. I would just like to remind the minister that I believe she has a responsibility to make sure that her colleagues understand that this is a priority and to remind the Premier that when there are priorities, that funding can be moved from one department to another. We've seen that.

I would encourage the minister to go back to her colleagues at Cabinet, to convince them that these people should not have to wait any longer for the funding that they need. Thank you very much.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 827

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

[Page 1755]

Whereas the Prix Grand-Pré was established in 1987 to honour Nova Scotian artists whose work reflects Acadian cultural values and demonstrates excellence and originality; and

Whereas the 2009 Prix Grand-Pré was awarded on Saturday, October 24, 2009, at the annual Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala in Tusket; and

Whereas this year's Prix Grand-Pré was presented to Marie Stella Bourgeois, a renowned rug-hooking artist and founding member of the Chéticamp Coopérative Artisannale;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Madame Bourgeois on receiving the Prix Grand-Pré, and thank her for the contributions she has made to preserving Acadian culture in Nova Scotia and the traditional art of rug hooking.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 828

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

Whereas Doug Robinson served on Parrsboro's town council for 15 years, 11 of which as mayor; and

Whereas Mr. Robinson had to step down as mayor last month due to an ongoing battle with cancer; and

Whereas Doug Robinson passed away on October 26th surrounded by his family;

[Page 1756]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly acknowledge Doug Robinson's service to the Town of Parrsboro and all Nova Scotians, and offer our heartfelt condolences to his family, his friends and colleagues at town hall.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 50 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 27 of the Acts of 1998. The Wilderness Areas Protection Act. (Hon. Sterling Belliveau)

Bill No. 51 - Entitled an Act to Establish a Board to Distribute to Charities One Half of the Profits From the Sydney Casino. (Mr. David Wilson, Glace Bay)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 829

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

[Page 1757]

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light, and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of a resolution put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Deputy Premier encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

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 Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, if I could table some documents before reading the resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 830

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 Conflict of Interest Commissioner has provided valued counsel and impartial opinion and advice on matters pertaining to the Ministerial Code of Conduct and the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act; and

Whereas concerns have been raised by members of the House of Assembly associated with businesses and personal transactions involving the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; and

[Page 1758]

Whereas the matter can only be fairly and fully considered by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner by resolution of this House, or by the Executive Council, to bring it to an appropriate conclusion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House ask that that review be considered, materials submitted to be considered to his office in addition to any further information by members of the House, the government or the Executive Council and that the findings or conclusions be accepted as resolution to the concerns raised.

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 Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 831

HON. DARRELL DEXTER (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas October 2009 marks the 10th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, Iroquois No. 339; and

Whereas over the course of 10 years, Iroquois cadets have become a common sight in the neighbourhoods of Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage, where many of these cadets reside; and

Whereas the leadership of Iroquois No. 339 take great pride in witnessing the cadets of their program grow into decent and caring adults instilled with the values, morals, and ethics fundamental to the cadet movement and Nova Scotian society;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate the leadership and cadets, both past and present, of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, Iroquois No. 339, on their 10th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1759]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 832

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light, and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of a resolution put forward by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Acadian Affairs encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 1760]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 833

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

Whereas small businesses comprise a vital sector of the economy; and

Whereas the East Hants and District Chamber of Commerce provides encouragement and support for area businesses; and

Whereas on November 20, 2009, Ms. Tracy Lacoste of Jasmine's Hair & Esthetics will be awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by the East Hants and District Chamber of Commerce;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Tracy Lacoste for her Entrepreneur of the Year award and wish her business great success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 834

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

[Page 1761]

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the lobster boat and licence of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the lobster boat and licence of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, in addition to the new information that has come to light, and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

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 Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 835

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

Whereas the Donner Awards are Canada's largest recognition program for not-for-profit social service agencies, and they held their annual awards on October 16th in Toronto; and

Whereas 582 non-profit service agencies from across Canada applied for the awards and, for the third straight year, Educational Program Innovations Charity founded by North Sydney resident Barry Waldman was a finalist; and

[Page 1762]

Whereas Barry developed the program, Give Right Back, where young people identified with having social and academic risks are invited to become community service volunteers and develop a better community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Barry Waldman on his hard work and dedication, and congratulate him for being bestowed the Donner Canadian Award for Excellence in the delivery of child care services and the $5,000 prize that accompanied the 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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 836

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

Whereas fitness and health are such important components of all of our communities; and

Whereas each year the Heart & Stroke Foundation take their "Big Bike" throughout the province to raise money for the foundation; and

Whereas North Queens, under the name of The Kedge Peddlers Heart & Stroke Big Bike Ride, was able to raise over $980 this summer;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the coordinators, Sheila Delong, Mary Frail, Alicia Crouse, Katelyn Mansfield, Nicole Hirtle, Alan Mansfield, Margie MacLeod, Paul Baker, Alanna MacDonald, Barrett Hawkes, Wayne Crouse, Laura Wamback, Rose Mansfield, Mike Clooney, Gary Mansfield, David Lohnes, Reese Lohnes, and Roddy Weagle for all of their fundraising efforts.

[Page 1763]

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 837

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I will be requesting a moment of silence after reading this resolution.

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

Whereas Richmond County residents are mourning the loss of Marilyn MacKay, who passed away following double-lung transplant surgery in Toronto, for which she waited two and a half years; and

Whereas Nova Scotians learned of Marilyn's story when she and her husband, Ken, lead a campaign to get the Province of Nova Scotia to cover the living expenses for Nova Scotians forced to seek medical treatment elsewhere in Canada, which is unavailable in our province; and

Whereas Marilyn and Ken were successful in getting the Department of Health to provide a $1,500-per-month living expense allowance for Nova Scotians requiring out-of-province medical care, a benefit which will help many families in our province for years to come;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly extend their deepest sympathies to Marilyn's husband, Ken, and her children, Andrew and Mark, while thanking the MacKay family for sharing their personal story with Nova Scotians, which helped bring about positive change for our province.

[Page 1764]

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.

[A moment of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 838

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

Whereas Fred Fox has been offering quality leadership as chief of the Windsor Fire Department for 20 years since becoming chief in December 1989; and

Whereas besides his 20 years as chief, Fred rose through the ranks since joining the department in 1971, and answering one of his first alarms on a hot, sunny, July, Friday afternoon when a general alarm was called in for a fire in the large coke sign at what was then Jim Surette's corner store on O'Brien Street; and

Whereas Chief Fox, besides his busy schedule with the Windsor Fire Department, has also taken the time to help bring forward new provincial legislation on fire inspections, been an executive member of the Chief Fire Officer's Association of Nova Scotia, as well as many local associations such as the Hants County Firefighter's Association and the former Western Nova Scotia Firefighter's Association;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate Windsor Fire Chief Fox on his 38 active years of fire service with the Windsor Fire Department, including the past 20 years as chief.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1765]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 839

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 Advanced Placement Program is a rigorous academic program that provides motivated and academically prepared students with the opportunity to take college-level courses while in high school; and

Whereas Michel Breau, a graduate of Bridgewater High School, achieved exceptional grades in this program by scoring at least four out of five on a five-point scale on five exams, earning him National Advanced Placement Scholar status; and

Whereas Mr. Breau, as a result of his academic achievements in this program, gained acceptance to an Ivy League School, the University of Pennsylvania, to continue his studies;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Michel Breau on his outstanding academic achievements and wish him well as he continues his education at the University of Pennsylvania.

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 1766]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 840

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light, and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 841

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

[Page 1767]

Whereas cattle producers in Nova Scotia continue to face many challenges in regard to the beef sector in this province; and

Whereas we have seen such a dramatic decrease in the number of producers in Nova Scotia over the last number of years because of issues that are outside of their capability to deal with; and

Whereas the previous government made a commitment to use as much local product as possible in provincial institutions;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government commit to pursue a policy that all provincial institutions in Nova Scotia will, as much as possible, use Nova Scotia-grown beef along with other Nova Scotian products in provincial facilities, and work with the federal government to advance the use of Nova Scotia-grown products, especially agricultural products such as beef and others, in all federal institutions in this province, and that the provincial government commit to ensuring that it will work with the Nova Scotia agricultural producers to ensure that all Nova Scotia products will be used as much as possible throughout the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 842

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

Whereas the Revival Centre Faith United Pentecostal Church, in Amherst, celebrated its 50th Anniversary with special services throughout the weekend of October 23-25, 2009; and

[Page 1768]

Whereas the Revival Centre has evolved from a few members in a one-room building, to a fellowship of more than 100 in a church that was built from the ground up by the pastor and his congregation in 1982; and

Whereas Reverend Jonathan Cole and his father, Reverend Harold Cole, in their roles as pastor and bishop respectively, aim to build a body of believers that promote and attain good news and spiritual health;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend our congratulations to Reverend Jonathan Cole and Reverend Harold Cole of the Revival Centre and its congregation on its 50th 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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 843

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

Whereas it has been made clear in the House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light, and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

[Page 1769]

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 844

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

Whereas the cold winds of winter are beginning to set in on Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the NDP had criticized the closure last year of Pendleton Place, which is a homeless shelter used to protect people in the winter months; and

Whereas faced with tough financial decisions, the previous government had to cut some services last winter and the new government is stating it must live within its means;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House ask for a commitment from the Minister of Community Services on funding for Pendleton Place before winter sets in and the homeless know there is a place for them to stay when it is desperately cold.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1770]

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 845

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light, and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

[2:45 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 1771]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 846

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

Whereas Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd. has been a successful, family-run business since 1984, which has provided significant economic spinoffs to the community; and

Whereas owners Jim and Lori Kennedy were honoured at the 20th Annual Excellence in Business Awards held by the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce, taking home the Business Person of the Year Award as well as the Export Achievement Award; and

Whereas this tireless effort in expanding their business into new markets has not only paid dividends to the company and its employees, but set a positive example for Cape Breton businesses to follow in the future;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Jim and Lori Kennedy, as well as the staff of Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd., on winning these impressive awards and acknowledge their contribution to the economic development of Cape Breton Island.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 847

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

[Page 1772]

Whereas the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Guysborough District, received the IACP/Cisco Community Policing Award for a population of under 20,000 from the International Association of Chiefs of Police; and

Whereas the RCMP Guysborough District received this award for their involvement in the creation of, and their continued participation in, the Eastern Communities Youth Association; and

Whereas this international honour is awarded to recognize the best practices of agencies around the world featuring innovative ideas utilizing the power of community policing;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Guysborough District, on being awarded the IACP/Cisco Community Policing 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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 848

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence nor his relationship with a member of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

[Page 1773]

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light, and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay to rest the ambiguity surrounding the case through the passage of resolutions put forward by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Environment encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

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. 849

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

Whereas Arcadia Consolidated School in Arcadia, Yarmouth County, celebrated its 50th Anniversary this past May; and

Whereas it was on September 10, 1958, that the cornerstone of this important community centre was laid by the Hon. Robert Stanfield and to this day the school continues to be a main focal point for residents; and

Whereas the quality education and guidance received by so many students in Arcadia over the past half century has helped improve the quality of lives for countless numbers of people in the tri-counties, thanks to the hard work and dedication of teachers and staff;

[Page 1774]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the staff, students, and teachers at Arcadia Consolidated School on its 50th Anniversary and thank them for their continued efforts and tireless commitment to education.

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. 850

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call on the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine the case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1775]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 851

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 Village of Baddeck recently became a finalist in the "Up to 1,000" population category of the 2009 National Edition of Communities in Bloom, receiving a 5 Bloom rating and special mention for the "Flight of the Silver Dart"; and

Whereas the Communities in Bloom organization describes Baddeck as an ideal place to relax, explore, and feel at one with nature; and

Whereas the organization recognizes that Baddeck's businesses and citizens have taken on the Communities in Bloom to serve as a template for creating an ideal place to visit, live, and work;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Village of Baddeck for their tremendous showing in the 2009 National Edition of Communities in Bloom competition and wish them the best in future competitions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier on an introduction.

[Page 1776]

THE PREMIER: If it would please the Speaker, I'd like to make an introduction in your gallery. Joining us today is Almir Guilherme Barbassa, who is the Chief Financial Officer for the Brazilian company Petrobras. With him is Fernanda de A. Custodio, who is the Regional Manager for EDC in Rio, and with them is Charles Larabie, who is the Consul General in Rio. They're here today on very important business in the province and they've joined us in the gallery today, and I'd ask all members to welcome them both to the House and to the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests here this afternoon.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 852

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 it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member of the Fisheries and Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 1777]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 853

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

Whereas Nova Scotia beef farmers held an emergency meeting in Truro on Friday to discuss the precarious state of their industry and the government's failure to address the dire consequences of their industry; and

Whereas beef farmers are losing approximately $200 every time they take an animal to market; and

Whereas beef farmers in Nova Scotia have reached a critical level and many could be forced out of business, losing their homes in the process;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly encourage the Minister of Agriculture to seek an emergency meeting of Agriculture Ministers from across Atlantic Canada to see if trade barriers can be removed, allowing Nova Scotia beef to be sold anywhere in Atlantic Canada.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 854

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

[Page 1778]

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 855

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

Whereas having already scaled academic heights like few others, Jake Yorke reached a different kind of pinnacle recently; and

Whereas the Parrsboro native, who is studying at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, joined two friends on the September 26th weekend in the National Three Peaks

[Page 1779]

Challenge, a mountain endurance challenge in Great Britain with a history of more than 40 years; and

Whereas the trio climbed the tallest peak in Scotland, Wales and England, in 24 hours, completing the challenge battered and thrilled to have accomplished this mission in which they participated to raise money for a cause back home in Canada which is close to their hearts, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, which affects the families of these young men;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jake Yorke on his outstanding achievement and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 856

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

[Page 1780]

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forward by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic and Rural Development encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information that is available.

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 857

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

Whereas Lisa MacKinnon, Billy Joe Robinson and Shelly Coones are organizing a parade of lights on December 6th in Ingonish, Victoria County; and

Whereas as far as the organizers are aware, there has not been a Christmas parade in the Ingonish area in the past; and

Whereas Lisa, Billy Joe and Shelly have been pleased so far with the response from the community and are hoping for both a lot of local participation and a big turnout for the parade;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Lisa MacKinnon, Billy Joe Robinson and Shelly Coones in their efforts to organize a parade of lights in the Ingonish area and thank them for making the Christmas season in the Ingonish area even more special.

[Page 1781]

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 Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 858

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all the pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1782]

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 859

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

Whereas 2009 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Windsor Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary; and

Whereas the auxiliary works just as hard today as it did when it originated in 1959 by assisting Windsor firefighters with a wide array of tasks, including considerable fundraising; and

Whereas members of the Windsor Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary are always ready, just like firefighters are, to have a hot lunch or breakfast prepared following major fires that firefighters have battled for a number of hours;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly recognize all members of the Windsor Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary for 50 outstanding years of service and wish them nothing but continued success and good fortune.

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. 860

[Page 1783]

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Public Service Commission encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 861

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the

[Page 1784]

Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 862

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all the pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the minister's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

[Page 1785]

Whereas the government has refused to lay to rest the ambiguity surrounding the case through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Energy encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 863

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all the pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

[Page 1786]

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 Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 864

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay to rest the ambiguity surrounding this case through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 1787]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 865

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 it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding the case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Communications Nova Scotia encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

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

[Page 1788]

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. I believe that was already read, and that one is out of order.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 866

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

Whereas it has been made clear in this House that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have been privy to all pertinent information related to the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, nor his relationship with a member on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board; and

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, in addition to the new information that has come to light and the possible conflict of interest therein; and

[Page 1789]

Whereas the government has refused to lay the ambiguity surrounding this case to rest through the passage of resolutions put forth by the Official Opposition to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate this potential conflict further;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs encourage the Premier to do the right thing and have the Executive Council call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time now is 3:14 p.m. We will go to 4:14 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE MIN. - CONFLICT: COMMISSIONER

- REVIEW

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Last week the Premier was given a chance to do the right thing - the right thing for his Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and for the people of Nova Scotia. The Premier claims there is not a scintilla of evidence that his minister is in conflict of interest, despite the fact that he benefited financially from a decision made by his department while a Minister of the Crown. He has had multiple chances since last week to send a clear resolution from this House to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner.

My question to the Premier is, will you do the right thing today and pass a resolution in Executive Council to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner examine this case?

[Page 1790]

[3:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to see that the member opposite had made an application to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. He received that. I was fortunate enough to see a copy of the letter that he got back that said there was, in fact, no grounds whatsoever for any inquiry because there was no evidence. (Interruption) The same thing that I had been saying all along.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the Premier to read the letter which was tabled here today because he knows he is misleading this House with that statement. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. I would ask you to be very careful in your selection of words. Be very careful in your selection of words.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I will be very careful in my selection of words and I would encourage the Premier to be very careful in his answers. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture had a cloud of doubt over his actions. He said he did nothing wrong and the Premier said he did nothing wrong and still the cloud remains. My question to the Premier is, if you believe in your minister, will you give him a chance to clear the air, to move away the cloud that is over his department and have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner review this case?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is no cloud over the department, no cloud over the minister and I am fully satisfied in respect to this matter.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, when a minister financially benefits from a decision of his department, there is a cloud over his department. The Premier has a choice here - he can choose to obstruct public scrutiny of his government's actions or he can be open and transparent. The Premier was a fan of openness and transparency when he was on this side of the House. My question for the Premier is, will he commit today to pass a resolution so the Conflict of Interest Commissioner can deal with this case once and for all?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate that I'm very pleased with the actions taken by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. He openly disclosed, as he is supposed to, all of his interests. He reported them to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, he received the advice of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner and he followed it.

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

[Page 1791]

AGRIC.: BEEF FARMERS - COMMITMENT

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. On October 13, 2009, your Minister of Agriculture was reminded of his previous comments when he was agricultural critic regarding the beef industry: Will the " . . . government show its real commitment to agriculture and offer immediately a program of dollars that will save suffering farmers . . ."? My question to the Premier is, your Minister of Agriculture is now in a position to show his real commitment to beef farmers,what is that real commitment?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture, in the performance of duties, of course carrying out the appropriate consultations, he's well aware of the issues that exist in the beef industry, the challenges that they face. He's working with them to try to provide the kind of assistance that will be meaningful for the industry.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, while we believe the minister is sincere, and we believe he cares about the farmers in our province, we continue to hear that he hopes to have a plan soon. My question to the Premier is, what is preventing this minister from making his hopes soon become reality now?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party for the question. If we're going to have an effective program, it has to be based on having all the available information, it means you have to have an appropriate process of consultation. We have to make sure that the program design is one that will actually meet the needs of the industry. I have full confidence in my minister. I think you're right, he is sincere and he is working hard on this issue.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier. Mr. Premier, you have demonstrated already that you can and you will redirect dollars across departments in order to respond to program needs that were not included in the September 24th budget; point in question, Antigonish Library.

My question is this, a crisis faces the Nova Scotia beef industry and beef farmers in this province are hurting - if there are no dollars in the agricultural budget now, why have you not redirected dollars to that department to allow your minister to respond to an industry in crisis?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that we are very concerned about the issues related to the beef industry. We recognize the challenges they have before them and we are working, in fact, across

[Page 1792]

departments with the Minister of Agriculture to recognize and find a way to meet those challenges.

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

PREM.: N.B. POWER/HYDRO QUÉBEC SALE - STANCE

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. It appears the Premier has taken sides in the potential sale of New Brunswick Power to Hydro Québec. He indulged in speculation that Hydro Québec would block power from the Lower Churchill Falls hydro project from moving through New Brunswick and, at the same time, speculated that that would be good for Nova Scotia. So my question to the Premier is, explain to us exactly how would that be good for Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I also pointed out was that any speculation was just that, purely speculation, because we don't know what the details of any agreement between New Brunswick Power and Hydro Québec is. I pointed out that, over the course of this story becoming more evident, the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador pointed out that a route through Nova Scotia was one of the possible options he was prepared to consider.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the future of our energy security and stability is sharing our green energy with our neighbours, and them sharing that green energy solution with us. Greater co-operation is the key. Increasing our transmission capacity and being part of a national energy corridor just makes sense.

Meanwhile, this Premier is musing about building an underwater transmission from Yarmouth to Maine, at more than three times the price of an above-ground system. So my question to the Premier is, why would you promote an expensive, unwanted project instead of fostering co-operation with our Atlantic neighbours?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, well I've done exactly the opposite from what the Leader of the Official Opposition says that I said. In fact, what I said - and this was just a very short time ago to the assembled press - that I think it is very important that we look regionally at the question of energy transmission. That the transmission of new, particularly, green energy through the region - in whatever route it takes - will be important for all of the region. I also pointed out that anything that would restrict the ability of the region to benefit from that energy would be potentially harmful for the Province of Nova Scotia. I am aware of all the potential ramifications and I will be speaking shortly to the Premier of New Brunswick in this regard.

[Page 1793]

MR. MCNEIL: Well, if the Premier had been following this issue, he would know full well that the sale of New Brunswick Power to Hydro Québec would not restrict the moving of hydroelectricity through New Brunswick. They can't, they simply can't, Mr. Speaker - if they want to move that energy into the Eastern Seaboard, you have to have an open transmission system. New Brunswick Power knows that, Hydro Québec knows that, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro knows that, and Nova Scotia Power knows that.

What they are looking for is some leadership in making sure that Atlantic Canadians get to be the beneficiaries of our natural resources here - the green power that is available to us to ensure that we have a stable and secure energy supply here, that Nova Scotians be able to benefit from it and that the entrepreneurs in our province benefit.

My question to the Premier is, when are you going to start showing leadership and make sure that Nova Scotians and our entrepreneurs have access to that secure, stable energy that is available here in Atlantic Canada?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the direct answer to the Opposition Leader's question is, we started that on June 9th. (Applause)

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

EDUC.: H1N1 - PARENT NOTIFICATION

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, this past weekend Nova Scotians had their first look at how schools are able to function when it comes to dealing with H1N1, and that first glimpse was not pretty. While school boards were attempting to deal with high absentee rates, it was clear from media reports that these same school boards weren't certain whether they were supposed to notify parents. My question to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection is, why were school boards seeking clarification from the Department of Education on the issue of notifying parents when notification is so necessary if we are to prevent the spread of flu?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, our department, the chief medical officer, Dr. Bob Strang, and his team have been in contact with school boards throughout the province. This is a province-wide pandemic. Getting information into all of the school boards, all of the health authorities, all of the private industry, in fact, is a priority for us. We've worked very hard to lay out what the concerns are, what the process needs to be in terms of encouraging people to take measures to protect themselves, and now our focus is on vaccination. We will continue to communicate as directly as we can throughout what is a worldwide pandemic with H1N1.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education sent letters to parents at the beginning of the school year which seemed to indicate there would be no announcements when flu hit particular schools. The Department of Education spokesperson then sent out a

[Page 1794]

reminder letter to school boards that once a critical mass was reached, information must be communicated to parents.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the last time I checked these two people worked for the same department. My question is to the Minister of Education, based on the confusion that we saw last week, why were there no clear action items in the school board's pandemic plans when it comes to communicating with parents?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, there is no confusion. The letter that was sent out in September indicated to parents that cases of H1N1 would not be identified in schools. What we have encouraged and asked school boards to do, and they've been following very faithfully, is to notify district health authorities and Public Health officials as soon as there is a spike in absenteeism in the school, and in conjunction with the district health authorities and the Public Health officials, letters are being sent home to remind parents of the plans, to encourage them to keep students home when they are sick, and to encourage everyone to follow the personal hygiene protocols.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, parents need to know what is happening in schools sooner. Perhaps the absentee rates would not be as high if parents were informed earlier and, you know, it's interesting, when you look at the pandemic plan for HRSB, for example, and you search for the word parent or parents, it does not come up once. My final question is to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. Why did your department allow any pandemic plan to be approved if it did not include an action item that involved notifying parents of an unusually high absentee rate due to an outbreak of the flu?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would simply reiterate what the honourable Minister of Education has indicated. Principals have been given a template from the department for notification to parents when a critical mass of the students are absent. We don't know for sure that students are absent because of H1N1 in some schools, but I suppose we can presume if the flu season comes upon us and absentee rates surpass their normal percentage, that H1N1 may be at play. But certainly there will be communication with parents, not only from the school boards and the principals to the schools, but through the social marketing campaign that we will have underway encouraging people to go get the vaccine. It is the best protection that we have from H1N1.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HEALTH - BAYVIEW MEM. HEALTH CTR. - REDEVELOPMENT

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I will table a letter dated June 3, 2009, regarding Bayview Memorial Health Centre's redevelopment plan - it is in Advocate Harbour. It confirms an additional two long-term care

[Page 1795]

beds and other renovations. It also confirms that the department has approved this allocation of funds once the budget passes, and I'm also going to table the replacement beds sheet which was provided by the minister which, with regard to Advocate Harbour, says "unknown". I wonder if the minister could explain to the House the discrepancy between the two departmental memos?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. The department has a continuing care plan which includes either replacement or the building of new beds. The facility that the member refers to is part of the planning process. With respect to the tables that he has tabled, I would have to have a look at them so I can get a better appreciation of what he's referring to.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest to the ministers that a contract has been negotiated and reached between the community of Advocate Harbour, their foundation and the Department of Health. They were asked to raise a portion of those funds, which they've done. In fact, they disposed of a property that was used to house a local nurse practitioner and a doctor as part of their contribution to this project. They have done that, they've upheld their part of the bargain. They want to know, from the minister, when will this project proceed?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I would be very happy to review the file in the department with respect to this facility and get back to the member with an answer to his question.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. A master plan for the Bayview Memorial Health Centre by the Department of Health was completed and they asked the community to come up with 25 per cent and they've done that. They sold this property. I want to table, at this time, a piece that was in the paper that says, "Dexter says he'd keep Tory promises". He said, "we need to know just exactly what it is that the government has committed to those communities and what I have said is that we would live up to those."

Mr. Speaker, it's very clear to me and very clear to the people of Advocate Harbour, they've upheld their part of the bargain. I'm asking the Premier today, will he uphold his?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, just exactly as the honourable member pointed out, there is a process underway to ensure that these matters are being appropriately responded to. He raised this with the minister, I think she has given you a very clear answer in this regard and frankly, she's free to add further to it if she likes at this time, but I think the questions from the member have been fully answered.

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

[Page 1796]

HEALTH - H1N1 IMMUNIZATION CLINICS: PRENATAL CLASSES

- EFFECTS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, it was reported in the media that the rollout for the immunization clinics will be impacting the delivery of Health Promotion and Protection programs, specifically the prenatal classes. Not only are prenatal classes important, but this is one of the target groups, in fact the most at-risk target group, that was singled out by the Chief Medical Officer. In fact, it seems to me that maintaining prenatal classes, and having immunization for H1N1 administered at these classes, would be a good way to enable this important program to be maintained and get this high-risk target group immunized.

My question to the minister is, why are prenatal programs being postponed when this is the highest risk group and they require clear messaging and speedy access to immunizations?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for a very good question. We have, with the H1N1 immunization process, embarked on the largest immunization campaign in the history of this country. That is a very challenging and daunting task in front of us, and a task for which we have had to divert resources in our public health care system that are normally focused on other aspects of public health, including the prenatal classes.

I want to assure the honourable member, and all members of this Chamber, that the Chief Medical Officer, in discussions with myself on this, has assured me that high risk families will continue to receive the public health services that they require. Thank you.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, without question we need widespread immunization. However, public media ads looking for retired nurses and doctors did not appear in the newspapers until last week. The use of retired health professionals was mentioned as a strategy a month ago at the Public Accounts Committee as one of the principal ways that we were going to account for and manage the widespread vaccinations.

Last week national media reports indicated that other provinces were working on an early release date for vaccines. It's not so clear that Nova Scotia was doing the same thing. As a result, we are now deferring important public health services.

My question to the minister is, will the minister please indicate why our capacity to deliver a mass immunization program is so low that we have to cancel Health Promotion and Protection programs in order to set up these immunization clinics?

[Page 1797]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I've been very impressed with the kind of planning that has gone on in our department. People have worked day and night, around the clock, preparing for what can be, and what is, a very challenging situation. We have had to divert existing resources in our public health care system to carry out the largest immunization program that has occurred in our country's history.

We are at the very beginning of that process. We are receiving good response from retired health care professionals with respect to their participation in this process. I have great confidence in both the health care providers in our public health system and those who have recently retired, who are prepared to come back and give us a hand.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question again to the minister would be, Plan A was to use retired health care workers. While the early release of vaccine was welcomed, it did need an immediate follow-up plan in order to be implemented. Nova Scotians are seeing the deferred health services, as it is now being called, as a result of our absolute need to immunize as many people as possible. In essence, we're redeploying existing staff, which was Plan B. My question to the minister is, what happened to our early release plan and why are we facing Plan B, which includes the diverting of health care programs?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have no idea what the honourable member is talking about in terms of an early release plan. The federal government was not going to provide vaccine to this province until early in November and here it is today, October 27th, and we, in fact, are vaccinating people across the province. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, health care workers throughout the province are also getting the vaccine as a first priority. We've only had under 100,000 doses of vaccine arrive in the province. The schedule for the rolling out of the vaccine is well laid out and well planned. I'm not sure what the honourable member is referring to. I think people need to have confidence in the vaccination program. I certainly do.

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

FISH. & AQUACULTURE: LOBSTER FISHERMEN

- PROTECTION PLAN

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you will be to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. As the minister is fully aware, last year we saw record low prices in lobster sales, and we also know the industry is faced with challenges on a regular basis. That same situation could take place this year. The hard-working fishers of this province need to know from the minister what his plan is to protect the lobster fishermen of the Province of Nova Scotia?

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I just want to remind the member opposite that this particular member, a week before the season started in 2009, was one of

[Page 1798]

the first people to ask for a lobster task force. We are in the process of that being developed as we speak, and the very first thing I did, I took away a vendor permit that the member opposite introduced to the fishing industry. I took away the permits and I'm working on behalf of the lobster industry and we're moving forward. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, we all have heard what he might do and what he could do and what he wouldn't do and what we didn't do. What about what he's going to do?

During the campaign, as well as the three years this minister was the Fisheries Critic in this House, time after time again he made promises to fishermen right across this province - time and time again. He promised a lobster working group, he said he was going to ease the access to capital to the fisheries for these people. Can the minister specifically outline what he has done to fulfill these promises? Not I might be, I'm going to, I was, I will, I went. I want to know, what has he done?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to have the time today to go into great detail of what we have done in the most recent months. I can highlight that we called for a task force and the lobster council is being developed as we speak. The executive are picking their representatives to do this. The industry is going through a crisis. I have made that very, very aware to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa and I was the first one - and I challenge the member opposite - to recognize there was a problem dealing with the lobster aid package. I brought that to the minister's attention in Ottawa before that was introduced, and I have a letter that I can table in the future that we recognized there was a problem with that. I challenge the member opposite to find some from his colleagues. Thank you.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it's not me that the minister should be challenging, it is the people that he's representing and the people in the lobster fisheries that need him to challenge the federal government and his government to come across with a half-decent package. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACLEOD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) Well, we've heard time and time about due process, we've heard about promises and promises. He was the minister that said the $250,000 package that the former government brought forward for fishermen was not enough. It was him. Now he's standing up and he's bragging about the fact that he took off a $40 licence fee for roadside sales. That's what he's bragging about. Mr. Speaker, I want to know from that minister, what is it that he's going to do for the people who are in the fishery in the Province of Nova Scotia who are facing a season of uncertainty, who do not know where indeed the price of lobster is going to be? He had all the answers

[Page 1799]

when he sat over here. Today the question is, does he have any answers over there? (Interruptions) I'll ask the question when I'm ready to ask it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. MACLEOD: Does that minister have a plan to help the real people of Nova Scotia, the people involved in the fishery?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I think the people of Nova Scotia are looking forward to plans. They introduced that plan on June 9, 2009. I encourage the member opposite, I have talked with the federal minister, my first phone call was to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I can assure you that we have brought the issue regarding the lobster industry very proactive. I intend to bring those issues forward and I encourage the member opposite to follow the agenda that I have put forward. We intend to be proactive in representing the fishing communities across Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

AGRIC.: BEEF FARMERS - ASSISTANCE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. Nova Scotia cattle farmers are struggling to survive - many are leaving the business - following a similar path as the hog industry. As the minister knows, just a few years ago we had 200,000 hogs, now we're down to a matter of a few thousand. The same pattern is emerging and I will table documents showing that from just July 1, 2008 to July 1, 2009, the drop is from 102,000 to 88,000 total cattle in the province.

Mr. Speaker, this government is now four months into its mandate and we have seen nothing come forward to support the beef industry. My question to the minister is, when will beef farmers receive the help from this government that they deserve?

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. I would concur with his anxiety, I think. My department has worked, actually, for some time on a kind of short-term help for the industry and I'm hoping within the next few days to sign off on that. I think the plan will be well received by the industry.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, beef farmers are trapped. They can't afford to stay in the industry because of deflated prices and they have little ability and support to manage the debt they are facing. My question to the minister is, when will we see a strategy from this government to help our reeling beef producers manage their farms or properly exit the industry?

[Page 1800]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm certainly hoping that before this House rises in this Fall session that I can deliver that plan for cattle producers and certainly there won't be a component in that plan for cattlemen to exit the industry. That's something I'm hoping to prevent.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, if the province implemented recommendations from the Kelco report for our beef producers, it could really put money back into the pockets of farmers. Large retailers are now prepared to sit at the table and be part of the solution. My question to the minister is, will you implement the recommendations from the Kelco report, recommendations asked for by the beef industry?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, actually I've asked my staff to look at the Kelco report, the transition plan that the industry had hired a consultant to construct. I think there are a lot of positive aspects of that plan, so until I get some further direction as to what actually is possible to implement, I'll hold off. There are three components. I think the environmental goods and services is one of the components that may have a possibility, but I want the member to be aware that all the components of that plan have not been all that well-fleshed out, and until that is done, I wouldn't commit to take the cattle industry in that direction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HPP - H1N1 VACCINATIONS: RURAL AREAS - TIME FRAME

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Strang, is urging all Nova Scotians to get the vaccine for H1N1. He also said our priority is to ensure all Nova Scotians have the opportunity to receive the vaccine in a timely manner.

Mr. Speaker, my question through you to the minister is, why are people in Hants West and other rural parts of the Capital District Health Authority needing to wait two weeks longer for their clinics to open?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. As I said earlier in Question Period, we initially were expecting that the vaccine would arrive in November but, in fact, it is here earlier.

The Capital District Health Authority received proportionately its share of the first 52,000 doses of vaccine that arrived. With 14,000 health care workers in that DHA, their decision was to first focus on their health care workers to get the vaccine. Additionally, because of the population of the Capital District Health Authority, the CDHA didn't want to be in a situation of getting out there early with public clinics and not having enough supply of vaccine.

[Page 1801]

Now that is not going to be a problem, Mr. Speaker, as we've received additional doses of vaccine this week and we will be getting additional next week. So this is the reason for the way the CDHA is rolling out the clinics here.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, if you go on-line on the government Web site, you can see the clinics have been set up within the HRM from Monday, November 2nd through to December, yet no clinics are planned in rural areas, including Hants West, until November 9th. This is an area, I'll remind everyone in this House, where this first started - in Windsor, Nova Scotia, unfortunately, at King's-Edgehill. It doesn't seem we have a focus on those people or anyone in the rural parts of the Capital District Health Authority.

Does the minister consider this to be timely, given that the second wave of this virus is upon us?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I want to assure the honourable member is that there will be adequate vaccine for everyone in Nova Scotia who wants to receive the vaccine, and that there will be clinics in his area. Additionally, family doctors who sign on to the program of vaccination will have access. There will be a variety of ways to be vaccinated and I would urge people in his community to either call 811 to get information or go to the Web site. Thank you.

MR. PORTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, the people in my area, and lots of areas in this province, do not have a family physician to go to and ask for the vaccine. They will have to wait for clinics to be set up. Many, like seniors, will have to make arrangements to get to the clinic and back home, especially those living in seniors housing who don't have vehicles of their own anymore. This will once again add extra cost to those living on fixed incomes.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, will part of the $50 million set aside in the budget be used to help cover transportation costs for these folks?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as you and everyone here in this Chamber understands, influenza and immunization for influenza in our province is a regular occurrence, although this is the largest immunization campaign that has ever been undertaken in our country and the vaccinations are available free of charge. They will be done in clinics and they will be done in some physicians' offices and both vaccines, both the regular influenza and H1N1, are available free of charge and I would encourage members to be vaccinated and also to spread the word and get people in your communities into the clinics for vaccinations.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

JUSTICE: POLICING PROFESSION - LEADERSHIP

[Page 1802]

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Today, the Minister of Justice presented 75 Nova Scotia Police Long Service Awards. These medals, of course, recognize officers who have served the province for 15 and 25 consecutive years. My question for the minister is, would he care to take this opportunity to comment on what he considers to be the current state of leadership within the policing profession?

HON. ROSS LANDRY: That's a hard one to come at. My point in the leadership in Nova Scotia with the policing, as I've said in many news conferences and numerous articles within the newspapers, I have great confidence in the police service in Nova Scotia.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the minister that he clarified that he said that in news conferences because it's certainly not what he said during Budget Estimates. During Budget Estimates, the minister stated that we need to change commanders so they become leaders in our community. The minister then went on to say, we need to ensure that they have the leadership skills to start looking at policing differently.

I guess my confusion - and this is what I'd like the minister to clear up - is exactly what changes does the minister plan on making to ensure that policing is looked at differently and what leadership skills does he feel our police commanders are lacking?

MR. LANDRY: It's a good thing that honourable member is in Opposition as his hearing skills and paying to attention to what is actually said in the hearings is lacking. I want to be very clear in my answer. He has taken parts (Interruptions)

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

MR. LANDRY: Taking points out of context doesn't add value to the question. I stand by my earlier answer, I have confidence. What's happening in policing and the changing environment that we're in is that we're in a global community. We're in a global economy and we can no longer deal with policing issues from a small town. We have to look at the big picture and one of the things that happens in this evolution is that we're trying to expand and that takes new leadership skills and a new direction.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the Minister of Justice that I listen very carefully, which is why I have to ask these questions, because the Minister of Justice has certainly said some very odd things in Estimates.

In addition to talking about Mexican drug cartels, which my colleague brought up the other day, the minister, in response to my question about policing priorities during Estimates, went on to talk about terrorism and how police need to be worried about terrorists in Nova Scotia. This is despite the fact that the minister followed it up by saying that senior police officers are telling him, quote - just like before, these are quotes, we're not taking it out of

[Page 1803]

context - " . . . you can fire a cannon down a particular street and not hit a terrorist." That makes me feel a lot safer. So the police are telling the minister that his terrorism priority is not the priority of the police and then the next thing he said to that is, " . . . that just tells me it's time for a shift in management."

Would the Minister of Justice please tell me what a shift in management is going to be and exactly what role police officers will have in setting the Department of Justice priorities?

MR. LANDRY: Justice is continually looking at how we improve leadership skills within all departments and to provide support. We have been very honoured to support the 250 Program, to continue that support, and we're looking at a number of changes that are going to occur. Leadership is one of the issues that we're always looking to make advancements, improvement. But I stand by my first answer on the question of, do I have confidence in the leadership that is there now? Yes. Do we need to find new methods and new directions and take a leadership role and move in as we move forward, and move forward with a new leadership direction? Of course.

[4:00 p.m.]

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

HEALTH: DIGBY NECK/ISLANDS/HEALTH AUTH. MEETING

- MIN. BRIEFING

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last week, the Minister of Health played facilitator by organizing a meeting between concerned residents of Digby Neck and Islands, the South West District Health Authority, and a representative from her department. Unfortunately, from the residents' perspective, the meeting on October 23rd resolved nothing. I'm quite certain that officials from the district health authority feel quite differently, as they would just like this issue to go away. My question to the minister is, has the minister been briefed on the department's staff representing about this meeting on October 23rd?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I am very concerned about this situation in Digby Neck-Long Island, and I listened with great interest this morning to CBC Radio, to the account of one of the citizens from the Community Liaison Committee who attended that meeting. I've been fully briefed by the member of my staff who attended that meeting, and I understand that residents from that community will be traveling here to the Legislature tomorrow. I've asked my staff to be in contact and make arrangements for them to meet with me while they are here in Halifax, so I hope to have further discussions.

[Page 1804]

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, this issue down home is tearing our community apart. It should have been solved long ago, but it hasn't been. The suggestion was made by residents at this meeting to create an oversight committee. This oversight committee would enable the previous nurse practitioner to resume her position, while creating a mechanism for her to share her health care concerns without going public and without fear of reprisal. This would, from the residents' perspective, be a win-win solution to this problem. My question to the minister is, did the department representative make any recommendations as to solving this issue? If so, what were they?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I've said here in the Chamber before, this is a personnel matter. The employer is the district health authority. I believe that the employee in question has access to a grievance procedure and representation by her union, the Nova Scotia Nurses Union. I would expect that those processes that are in place - a legal process to be followed to take up grievances - are the appropriate processes to pursue. Thank you.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, the people down home believe that the ministers of this House of Assembly have the power to do whatever is necessary to make people's lives a little bit easier. They truly believe that, so they're losing faith in that. They're believing that the minister has no more power, that the DHA down there has all the power and they're running a dictatorship. That's what the people down there believe. That's a scary thought for people to have.

This is a real problem and it requires real action. Yesterday alone a flu clinic down there was cancelled because of this issue - elderly people wondering how they're going to get their flu shot and the clinic down there closed down and a wonderful nurse practitioner sitting there with nothing to do. In light of the meeting on October 23rd, does she realize now that her personal intervention is the only way to resolve this issue? Do you believe that, Madam Minister?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that a part-time nurse practitioner is in that community two days in one week and three days the next week providing temporary services to the residents and that an advertisement has been placed to recruit a new nurse practitioner into the community. I want to tell the honourable member, and all honourable members in this Chamber, that although the Minister of Health has certain powers, the Minister of Health is not above the law. The Minister of Health has to observe the law and that's exactly what I'm doing. The employment relationship here is between an employer and an employee and I am not the employer.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HPP: H1N1 VACCINE - DISTRIBUTION & SUPPLY

[Page 1805]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you today is to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. As a part of the H1N1 pandemic plan we're seeing some unusual and alarming directives being given to doctors' offices across Nova Scotia, perhaps the minister is not aware but I would like to bring this to her attention. Last week and throughout the pandemic planning process family doctors were told that the regional board would supply all of the products necessary for the immunization program. This week GPs are told to get their vaccine and associated equipment from their regular suppliers. Well, guess what, because of the late date, the increased demand and limited supplies, some doctors may not be able to get H1N1 vaccine in the necessary time frame.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, this was supposed to be a coordinated effort, why is the central distribution and supply network breaking down when doctors are relying on your department the most?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the vaccine in question has a limited shelf life. It has a requirement that it be stored in a certain manner. Not all doctors' offices will be capable of providing this particular vaccine. The chief medical officer requires that family doctors enter into an agreement with the department that they will adhere to a certain set of protocols or requirements with respect to the administering of this vaccine and that is proceeding very well, as far as I'm aware, and I know with the public health clinics in the community, the large community clinics, that we will see a very successful immunization program.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the doctors' offices that have signed on to the protocol are still unable to get the products that they need in order to have flu clinics themselves, but the problem doesn't stop there. On October 24th U.S. President Obama issued a national emergency over H1N1 and I'll table that press release. As a part of the emergency declaration is to reduce the amount of necessary paperwork that is required for medical services to do their job as quickly as possible to deal with such a large influx of people seeking treatment, the department is requiring doctors to record the following for all vaccinated patients: everyone's name, date of birth, MSI number, who gave the shot, location it was given, site of the body injected and the three batch numbers that go with the shot, along with sending a bill to MSI, of course. All this is totally unnecessary. My question to the minister is, if a rapid response is important with the mass immunization clinics, why are we increasing the red tape upon our overburdened health professionals?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's obvious that that member didn't learn very much in the three years that he was Minister of Health. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, as part of the administering of this vaccine, there is a very important component in terms of surveillance, in terms of identifying who it is that is receiving the vaccine.

[Page 1806]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park asked me a very good question last week, which was, how are we going to monitor whether or not, for example, young people, the highest target group at risk in this province, are getting the vaccine? Mr. Speaker, one of the ways we do that is to require that when people are receiving the vaccine this information is recorded, so we can actually know if we're hitting the groups that we need to be hitting. That's why there's paperwork - so-called "red tape."

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, at the central distribution centre, all they had to do was create a little form that they can fill out with all the numbers on it and provide it to the doctors offices. They can do a little bit of the work for them, with all of the stuff that is going on.

I did learn a lot when I was Minister of Health, and it was not to trust in people who are on that side of the table. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, there are experienced health professionals across Nova Scotia who are seeking nothing more than to make this process more expedient and reduce the number of infections and deaths. We have issues that should have been in pandemic planning, such as school boards, that we talked about today; for on-site immunization; central ordering, that was promised by that government; and realistic times to administer and recover from the vaccination shot. My question to the minister is, do you not see the serious shortcomings on what is taking place within the province regarding the implementation of the H1N1 plan?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General had a fair amount to say about the shortcomings of the pandemic planning of that government. (Applause) The former minister is saying nobody is going to be vaccinated. The lineup at the Elmsdale clinic today tells a very different story. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: I will remind the honourable member for Argyle that you had your chance for the question. I'll let the minister respond. (Interruption) Let her respond.

The honourable Minister of Health Promotion and Protection has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the clinics today were very well attended. I think that this is an indication that people are getting the message that they need to get immunized. What we need is members of this Legislature to be speaking in confidence about the campaign that's underway to get people immunized in the face of a very serious virus. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Dartmouth General is overcrowded again. We've gone through 240 per cent capacity . . .

[Page 1807]

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 49 - Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it's nice to be able to stand on my feet in this historic Legislature and make a few comments. I know the members opposite are encouraged to take part in this debate. This is an important piece of legislation and I look forward to hearing from all members on all sides as we discuss Bill No. 49, an Act to Establish the Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation in our province.

[4:15 p.m.]

This legislation follows the recommendations of the report submitted to the government by Dr. David Wheeler, Dean of Management at Dalhousie University. I've had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Wheeler on a couple of occasions and let me tell you, he's an impressive academic who has wonderful skills, has gathered some great information on a number of issues for this government and the previous government, and it's his advice that we are responding to.

Dr. Wheeler led the public consultation for demand side management and we've heard very clearly from those Nova Scotians who participated in this process. What they've told us is they want a new independent administrator of electricity efficiency for Nova Scotia. They also told us they don't want Nova Scotia Power or Conserve Nova Scotia to manage these programs.

[Page 1808]

As a result, this legislation creates a new independent body to manage electricity efficiency programs in our province. Its main focus will be to help Nova Scotians use less electricity. I repeat, the main focus will be to help Nova Scotians use less electricity. When we use less electricity, we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and we curb Nova Scotia Power's need to build more coal-fired power plants. This will help keep electricity affordable for Nova Scotians.

As demand for power continues to grow, energy efficiency and conservation are cost-effective ways to manage this demand. It's also the lowest-cost option to protect our environment and our environment, of course, remains a concern for us of all ages, I want to assure you. Nova Scotians want a clearer and greener province, and energy efficiency and conservation will help us achieve this goal. This is a sound investment that will help deliver long-term energy savings for Nova Scotians.

Dr. Wheeler and the process he was involved with and all Nova Scotians who took the opportunity to come forward with these opinions - we now are going to support them with a meaningful piece of legislation that will help Nova Scotians. With the creation of the Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation, this government is ensuring that electricity remains affordable for Nova Scotians. This means that Nova Scotians will continue to have access to programs to help them use less electricity so they can save money on their power bills.

This legislation also allows the new corporation to manage energy efficiency and conservation programs other than electricity. We believe that a single access point through the new corporation is the best solution for Nova Scotians. I'd like to table for the members opposite and members of this side of the House a good piece of journalism by David Jackson, who on Friday covered the launch of Bill No. 49. I encourage members to pay attention to this article. In particular I would like to quote from it in one particular place, if I may.

Dr. Wheeler is quoted in this article by saying, "That's why it needed to be an independent agency where people are not worried about year-to-year budgets or not worried about political influence changing which programs are run or not run. This is an independent organization that will only focus on delivering programs to Nova Scotians, including small businesses and larger businesses that will help save them money." Dr. Wheeler has hit the nail on the head again when he says very clearly that independence is the key factor which we must be involved within Nova Scotia when it comes to delivering these important services.

A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to attend a home show on the Prospect Road, in my constituency, where I heard first-hand from Nova Scotians about the great work of the staff at Conserve Nova Scotia. In fact, there were people who were more interested in speaking with the staff, asking for them by name, and on one occasion I was identified as Donald Dodge who works at Conserve Nova Scotia - Mr. Dodge is a valued employee. A

[Page 1809]

lady came forward and questioned me as we did this Conserve Nova Scotia program for people at the home show at Exhibition Park on the Prospect Road.

When I told her I wasn't Mr. Dodge, that I was the Minister of Energy, I want you to know the surprise. She wasn't interested in talking to the Minister of Energy, she was interested in talking to Mr. Dodge. Mr. Speaker, that's okay with me, it just reinforces what a talented and committed group we have had at Conserve Nova Scotia. Like those visitors to the home show, I truly appreciate the efforts of staff to help deliver these quality programs for Nova Scotia.

Over the past few years, Conserve Nova Scotia has been helping people make energy efficiency and conservation a part of their daily lives in this province. Thanks to the committed staff, thousands of Nova Scotians have learned ways to save energy and money, and we want to ensure that Nova Scotians continue to have access to these important programs. Our hope is that the new corporation will draw on the expertise of staff at Conserve Nova Scotia. The people at Conserve Nova Scotia have very efficiently and professionally talked to each member of the staff at Conserve Nova Scotia, making sure that we will be there with them as we go through this transition period, and whether they are absorbed into the bureaucracy of the government or whether they're working for this independent identity, our hope is that the new corporation will draw on this expertise. This will ensure a smooth transition and get the new corporation up and running as soon as possible. This will also ensure that Nova Scotians can continue to access programs and information on practical, affordable, and meaningful ways to use energy more efficiently.

With the creation of the new Energy Efficiency Corporation, our environment will also benefit, for sure. Reducing the use of fossil fuels results in cleaner air for Nova Scotians. This brings us closer to meeting our goals to have one of the cleanest and most sustainable environments in the world by 2020.

Dr. Wheeler said it best that day when the bill was launched last Friday on October 23rd, when he was quoted as saying Christmas has come early for Nova Scotians with this bill. With those comments, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to rise and speak to Bill No. 49. I'd like to speak to, I guess, two elements of this bill: one, what is in the bill, and one, what is not in the bill, and it's actually what's not in the bill that concerns me most of all.

First, with respect to what's in the bill, I think most people, if not all, as the minister suggested, agree that moving to an independent corporation to manage the DSM funds is a smart move. It certainly is something that the public asked for. I think that from an optics point of view, it's certainly better to take it out of Nova Scotia Power's hands as well as the

[Page 1810]

government's. I'm not convinced that the corporation is as independent as it should be or could be in this respect. I think that it certainly goes part of the way, but not necessarily far enough.

As well, I'm concerned in the bill that the bill really doesn't address the issue of governance and oversight in any meaningful way. I've spoken to a number of people with some expertise in this field to see whether my feelings the other day are similar to theirs when they look at it, and I've heard the same thing from them. Specifically what we've done here is, you've created a corporation that will report to the Utility and Review Board, which there's probably some sense in that if we truly want it to be independent. However, the fact is the Utility and Review Board is not given parameters around overhead costs, around how we deal with DSM breakdowns and so forth, and that's an issue because even the Act governing Nova Scotia Power has those sorts of regulations in it for the Utility and Review Board to use as guidelines.

What we ultimately end up with here is a situation where you have an independent corporation that, in fact, can really operate under a carte blanche with no real direction in terms of how much it can spend on CEO salaries, for example - which is always a hot topic in Nova Scotia - and so forth. Now, we may like to suggest that both the board of the new corporation and the URB would act in the most responsible manner, but the public has said before that they don't feel that many of these boards have done so in the past, and so I really find it hard to fathom why the government has introduced a bill that doesn't include parameters around things like percentage range, perhaps, of overhead expenditures that would be permitted.

As well, the end of the bill allows Nova Scotia Power to recover the start-up costs from ratepayers, and in speaking with the departmental staff, they admitted that it is in some ways a little bit unclear in that it's hoped that that money would come from the DSM funds - but there's actually no direction that it must come from that, it just says it has to be collected from ratepayers and so it actually can come from the general rate base. That's something that the departmental staff confirmed to me, that in fact the way it is worded currently it would allow that - I know that's not the intent, but I'm not sure why we would want to go forward and pass an bill that, before we even pass it, we know that there's a bit of a grey area.

Now I think we have to look at this and say that when we look at Conserve Nova Scotia, which obviously this bill doesn't roll up Conserve Nova Scotia, but it provides the power to do so - I agree with the minister in that I think there is some merit in combining two into one, but I think it will be incumbent on the minister to show the cost savings that are achieved. One of the things that, unfortunately, the minister was unable to fully answer at the press briefing the other day was what happens to the employees at Conserve Nova Scotia. Of course they're all civil servants at this point, and one would assume that if this is truly going to be an independent corporation that the staff there will not be members of the Public Service Commission.

[Page 1811]

He had indicated, if I understood him correctly, that people there could apply for either other positions open within the provincial government - in which case, if they are new positions there's no savings of course from the windup of Conserve Nova Scotia - or they could alternatively go the other direction and they could apply for jobs at this new independent corporation, but he hasn't made it clear whether those would be secondments, whether they would lose their status as Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union members, or what would happen in that case. So I think that there is no doubt that a number of employees who, as the minister said people know by name in many cases, are at Conserve Nova Scotia are also wondering exactly how their jobs become defined in that situation and, again, the bill is not clear on that - and maybe it's just the staff that need the clarity on that, because I'm not sure whether this was thrown in as an afterthought or not.

Let's not forget in all this that as much as this was a recommendation, as much as this makes sense to go, that consumers will be paying for this on their electrical bill, starting January 1st. So electric bills will rise on January 1st to pay for this.

Now, obviously, this is a direction that was decided to go and, in fairness, it was decided by previous governments and there were hearings, and I participated in those hearings at the time, in a different role, and obviously there were other - while they were all round consumer-based, there were other methods suggested. This is the one that was selected and that's fine but, Mr. Speaker, what I don't want to have happen is, it almost came out in the press briefing the other day that this is all good and don't worry, nobody is going to pay for it and so forth, and in fact that of course isn't the case. Consumers, industrials, commercial small business - they will all pay for this on their power bills, and that's a rate that will undoubtedly go up over time.

One could argue that there is a cost saving associated with avoiding future generation capacity, and I support that argument and I think there is merit in the DSM charge. Obviously we're not debating the merits of the DSM charge today - that would be a whole different debate, we're debating what do you do with it now that we have - but I am frustrated by seeing the government sort of gloss over the fact that this does mean that as part of this, there is an increase in electric bills on January 1st for everybody who pays for electricity in Nova Scotia and we shouldn't forget about that.

The question becomes - related to the second part of the bill which talks about Conserve Nova Scotia and rolling Conserve Nova Scotia into this Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation - what happens to those programs. At the moment, I would suggest that the programs there, while good, are certainly wanting when compared to the federal one and other provincial governments. At the moment, members of all sides can make representations to the Minister of Energy, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and the Minister of Environment suggesting other programs and suggesting enhancements to

[Page 1812]

energy efficiency initiatives. That is because Conserve Nova Scotia falls under a government department, so this is another area where the bill is unclear.

The bill does not make it clear how that new corporation will interact with the provincial government and if Efficiency Nova Scotia is going to be responsible for these programs. Many of these types of programs are, in fact, tax credits which would come under the Department of Finance.

[4:30 p.m.]

So the question is, and the bill actually does not at all deal with the issue of, what happens with a tax credit for energy efficiency. At the moment, the Minister of Finance and his staff have to look at that and determine if they can afford that but if Efficiency Nova Scotia is truly going to be an independent corporation, does this mean that all the tax credits disappear and there's no option to look at tax credits, or will there still need to be duplicate infrastructure and duplicate Public Service operation of energy efficiency programs in Nova Scotia because the tax credits for energy efficiency will have to be managed inside government whereas it's only truly the granting programs and the financial grants that would be operated by Efficiency Nova Scotia?

So, Mr. Speaker, I don't have much of a problem with this going forward to the Law Amendments Committee but I would like the minister to be able to address some of these concerns because at the moment the bill is silent on a lot of issues that are going to become major issues for members on all sides of this House in terms of how we deal with energy efficiency programs. So I really need to know whether the minister is open to amendments in the governance language in the legislation as well as the clarity on if all the programs from Conserve Nova Scotia are rolled into Efficiency Nova Scotia, how the tax credit portion is dealt with.

Mr. Speaker, before we vote on it, I will wait to hear the minister's closing comments on it and hopefully he'll take the time to address those or, at the very least, to indicate that he's open to amendments at the Law Amendments Committee, I hope he will be, and with that I'll take my place.

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak to Bill No. 49, an Act to Establish the Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation. As with many pieces of legislation, there have been some carry-overs. We all know that this has been part of the work at Dalhousie University and a report that was brought forward. However, I also know in responding last week to this, there have been some changes that the current government has made in dealing with this. Questions are left outstanding. Just from reading the paper today, the Halifax ChronicleHerald, those questions are being asked by the media, about looking

[Page 1813]

at what the government's legislation is versus the reality associated with that legislation as it deals with the measures in place to create the Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation.

We now know that what they're going to do is in a way try to abolish Conserve Nova Scotia by just saying that other ongoing aspects that were to be separate will come in and some sort of service arrangement under Efficiency Nova Scotia, which from what I recall was not the intent of what this legislation was about. It was to be very specific to demand- side management of electricity, and to be focused on that in dealing with a number of programs and supports to help those individuals and businesses deal with the demand-side management aspects.

So what we do have and, more importantly, what we don't have is clarity truly of what the other functions of Conserve Nova Scotia will be - how they'll be, how they'll report, if there's a service arrangement to a new board of directors. That board, which is yet to be picked, will also have to take on other responsibilities that the legislation doesn't deal with. So we're setting up a board to oversee demand-side management which came out of a report that we generally agreed with and understood the approach, but now that board will oversee a mandate that will be added to it, yet with no parameters, with no budget understandings at this point of what level of programs or service delivery will be there, no indication as to what the government, through the Department of Energy and their role, is going to provide, knowing that at the same time consumers are concerned about the role and function of the Utility and Review Board with a new board and the concern they have of a board increasing fees and increasing rates for programs or services that will be shifted and changed but no parameters put in place, so that is a concern that I've heard already. It is a matter that the government hasn't effectively dealt with in delivering on Efficiency Nova Scotia.

The other aspect, Mr. Speaker, that people are aware of is the cost to Nova Scotians. There's still uncertainty as to the connections and the priorities within the government when it comes to demand-side management, in other words, energy efficiency within the consumer base of Nova Scotia for electricity. Yet at the same time, the government has chosen - I believe the number is $15 million this year for the HST off electricity that applies universally. That is a $30 million item, at least for next year. We're going to have the Utility and Review Board increase the rates through Nova Scotia Power bills that will pay for this. While one media personality has indicated that it's a wash and it's a windfall for the government, what we do know is that $30 million will be added with regard to removing the HST, or is projected to be, and that contradicts the very basis of what the demand-side management is supposed to be. It was to target very specific things - to help people reduce electricity, to use it more wisely, to look at alternative forms of energy utilization.

At the same time, we're taking off, through our government tax-funded rebate of $30 million that applies universally, that Efficiency Nova Scotia is, I know, directly trying to target low-income Nova Scotians. Yet they're not helping those low-income Nova Scotians

[Page 1814]

deal with the cost pressures because they're universally applied, without an income test, without recognizing, as a government, the benefits that would be derived of $30 million going to those in greatest need, because we have within Nova Scotia families in financial need that have to - they have no choice but to consume electricity, have less capability to deal with implementing energy efficiency programs. Yet those who have the ability, like myself and every member of this House, that could do a lot of our own demand-side management activities and programs individually, managing our household, the appliances that we use, the electrical devices that are employed within our houses. All of those things, a lot of Nova Scotians with the means can do and are doing and are very astute in their need to be stewards of the energy.

However, at the same time, what we also don't have is clarity about where the government is going with the actual generator of electricity. We've heard sort of smatterings, here and there, of different announcements when it comes to the energy in this province. We have certain initiatives that are prototypes, which we've all encouraged and when we see our utilization of tidal, but we haven't addressed something that's very key to the demand-side management side, and that's the cost of power generation to the vast majority of Nova Scotians even with renewable sources being added in. We haven't looked more effectively at the co-gen opportunities, the biomass that could be utilized within the burning processes. We haven't had clarity with regard to the scrubbers and the reduction of emissions.

So I step forward, albeit with many uncertain aspects to it that the government has not provided clarity on. We also have other aspects that affect the direct rate base of this province, where we haven't seen the ability to have efficiency. There are other things that come up that are very practical. We've heard even about the dredging of Sydney Harbour and the ability to bring in larger vessels with greater quantities of coal. That would help the rate base and stabilize that base so that consumers don't have this revolving door at the URB by Nova Scotia Power looking for rate increases.

So like my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, we want to see this moved forward in the process, but there are many outstanding questions that have to be answered. The consumers and ratepayers of this province deserve the clarity of those answers. It would be a shame, Mr. Speaker, if the minister or the government were to just default to the URB and say, you folks work it out, you folks come up with all the rates and the like, and if we don't like it and the public doesn't like it, we're just going to blame you because we're arm's length from it, and that's not good enough. We have a minister that I do believe is sincere in wanting to make this work, however, there isn't a full connection of programs that are being articulated.

I would think that we're going to want to look at that. I would hate to think that everything - there's a disturbing trend as well from Nova Scotians who are paying at the pumps, that the government is now putting that over to the Utility and Review Board because it's not politically convenient to deal with the leadership of dealing with the realities of how

[Page 1815]

we manage that. But it was politically convenient to pick out a certain area in the province and say, you get a better rate than the rest of Nova Scotia as an entry point, or gateway, but the people in Digby and Yarmouth and North Sydney who are all part of being gateways in and out of this province do not have the same benefits.

What we do know is the government has great discrepancy with regard to its approach to overall energy-related policies and the legislation they have has a disconnect from the original purpose and intent. There isn't a full disclosure of the true cost to the ratepayers of this province. There isn't a sense of what the long-term costs are going to be, so we know. I know Sunday morning past, after church, one of the women in the congregation was just talking about, what do you mean another fee? What do you mean they're going to add more rates? They're taking something off our bill, then they're adding something to it. What are they really doing?

The problem is, these are Nova Scotians who are ratepayers, who are taxpayers, who are seeing confusion on the government's approach and how it integrates into a well-thought-out and, more importantly, a process that achieves better outcomes. There has been nothing indicated by this that produces better outcomes. Those are the types of things that I would call upon the minister to provide to Nova Scotians and seek from the Minister of Energy and his department, that they're going to be looking at this and in the interim where Conserve Nova Scotia will go, where Efficiency Nova Scotia will be.

People will be mindful of what they're charging from the ratepayers versus the government's responsibility to continue with other aspects of Conserve Nova Scotia. Again, if all we're going to do is just continue to defer this to other agencies like the Utility and Review Board, and not produce tangible outcomes that Nova Scotians were expecting, yet at the same time have the government impose - in a sense because they're imposing a pressure on Nova Scotians, they're using tax dollars to give relief but not really helping the ones in the greatest need who would benefit from what Efficiency Nova Scotia would do.

There are some disconnects and I think the government needs to take those into account. There are aspects about what these programs do in achieving the greatest outcome, serving those with the greatest need and helping to encourage others with the ability to meet some of these targets voluntarily without needlessly using their own utility rates and/or tax dollars to do something they're willing to do and capable and competent enough to do on their own basis and not having to have an agency telling them they have to do it, you're going to do it because we've decided you're going to do it.

Those are some of the things that I've been hearing from individuals. However, we will recognize and go back to the root cause of Dalhousie, the report and the intent of the legislation.

[Page 1816]

With that, I'll conclude. As we get to the Law Amendments Committee, there are some questions we'll be seeking from the minister, but I do appreciate the indulgence of the House on discussion of Bill No. 49. Thank you.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 49.

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

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 28.

Bill No. 28 - Education Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in support of Bill No. 28. This bill is essentially housekeeping legislation that will clarify and improve upon school board governance amendments that were passed by the House of Assembly almost a year ago. As members of this House may recall, we passed a package of Education Act amendments in November 2008 that were designed to improve school board effectiveness and support a more respectful working environment around the boardroom table. Bill No. 215 contained a number of important amendments that will go a long way to ensuring we enhance the work of our elected school boards. I think everyone can agree, that the more effective our school boards, the more effective we make public education everywhere.

[4:45 p.m.]

As a former school board member myself, I can tell you first-hand how critical it is to have a strong governance model in place so that school board members are as effective and as focused on their mandate as they can be. Our goal is an effective and accountable public school system. We want out school boards to deliver quality education to our students. We want them to be good employers and we want them to be accountable to the voters and

[Page 1817]

Nova Scotia taxpayers who, of course, expect their tax dollars to be spent as efficiently as possible.

The legislation we are debating today in Bill No. 28 supports those goals, in that it addresses the terms of office and procedures around the election of the two primary leadership positions within the school board, the chair and the vice-chair.

Mr. Speaker, since November, Department of Education and our Legal Services staff have been at work drafting regulations to support the amendments outlined in the school board governance legislation, Bill No. 215. Over the course of developing those regulations my staff identified an area of concern. They found that while the Act provides for the replacement of a school board chair, it is silent on the replacement of board vice-chairs in the event of a vacancy.

Bill No. 28 corrects that oversight and will now require school boards to fill a vacancy in the office of vice-chair in the same manner as vacancy in the office of chair.

The legislation also repeals a provision enacted in 2008 that would have provided for a two-year term of office for chairs and vice-chairs. Instead, Bill No. 28 will maintain the current practice of boards electing its chairs and vice-chairs annually.

I met with the Nova Scotia School Boards Association this past summer and its members shared with me their concerns regarding the two-year term of office. School board members were polled recently on this question and they want more flexibility in choosing their leadership. Mr. Speaker, after listening to their concerns, I agree with them. Boards want the freedom to elect strong chairs and vice-chairs. The one-year term gives them the ability to elect a leader and in a year's time, re-elect that individual if they prove themselves worthy of a second term.

Mr. Speaker, as I highlighted earlier, school boards are crucial to the smooth delivery of education to the 130,000 students attending our public schools. That is why it is important we provide the tools they need to govern efficiently and effectively. I believe this bill adds a further bit of clarity and legislative support to boards that will help ensure our school resources continue to be well managed, relationships among school board members stay respectful and that the best interests of students are kept foremost in every board decision. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the honourable minister that it is important to have a respectful working environment and I am pleased to see that these

[Page 1818]

changes will go towards producing that. Last Fall the Liberal Party welcomed changes to the Education Act that dealt with governance. School boards are made up of very dedicated board members and the changes made last year ensure that they could operate in a positive environment. There is no problem with the government refining the legislation but the NDP did not do what they advocated for last Fall. My question is, if they were going to change the Act, why didn't they follow through and implement elections for vacant seats, as they advocated for last Fall?

In fact, the former NDP Education Critic - the member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank - said during the second reading of Bill No. 215, "I also have some concern with two-year appointments for vacant seats. I don't know why it's a two-year because it's a four-year term and I would think that for a seat to be there by appointment on an elected board causes me some concern. I would like to think that even though we recognize the costs associated with any elections, we also recognize that democracy comes at a price. Sometimes, in the name of democracy, we have to bite the bullet and do what's right for the sake of democracy."

So I'm wondering why the government did not go one step further and ensure that there are elections for vacant board seats. Despite these concerns, I am pleased to have this legislation go forward to the Law Amendments Committee where we can hear more on this issue.

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

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to speak to Bill No. 28 and to the amendments that are there. I would concur with the minister; I don't think it would come as any surprise to her that I recognize that the strength of a school board is critical for the effective delivery of programs in our public schools and, as minister, I certainly believe that I took a stand on that to ensure whatever I could do to make that happen would happen.

My comments with respect to Bill No. 28 will be very brief, and it is the (b) section that I want to speak about. I recognize in the first amendment that it is important that once a position becomes vacant that it is filled immediately. I think the strong leadership that's provided at the board needs to be continuous and that both the chair and the vice- chair need to operate as a team, and an effective team, as they govern through the board.

My concern, however, is with the duration of that term and I know that comments have been made that this is something that has been discussed with NSSBA and perhaps supported there, but from my own experience - and I'm sure from the experience of ministers who have taken on new responsibilities - that it takes a bit of time to become very familiar

[Page 1819]

with your role and your responsibility and once you are comfortable with that, then you become a better leader. To have that changed annually, and it could change annually at a board table, I believe that is lack of continuity and lack of time for that leader to develop those skills which will allow the board to be more effective. To have that change of leadership - the potential for change of leadership every year - I think, breaks that continuity, breaks that ability for each year, perhaps, a new member to get up to speed on the roles and responsibilities of the chair or the vice-chair, and I believe that takes away from the full development of that member into the leader that we want around our school board.

It is the (b) part, the term, that is of concern to us and I certainly will be looking forward to hearing from those who come forward and I will respect that decision, but I need to speak of that concern at this time. Thank you.

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

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable colleagues for their thoughtful comments. I move second reading of Bill No. 28.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 28. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 48.

Bill No. 48 - Pension Benefits Act.

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

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commence second reading of Bill No. 48, an Act to Amend Chapter 340 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Pension Benefits Act. As I noted in the bill briefing on October 22nd, this is legislation that was introduced by the previous government. The bill would provide business owners with a tool to retain key employees who are retirement eligible and the third option for workers who can retire but want to stay in the workforce.

[Page 1820]

Up until now, Mr. Speaker, an employee's options would have been limited to either full retirement or retiring and finding work with another employer. While our government does not always see eye to eye with the previous government on all matters, this legislation makes sense to us and we are pleased to advance it through the House of Assembly. This bill could apply to any of the 167 private sector and municipal defined benefit pension plans under the Pension Benefits Act. There are 53,732 members with defined benefit pension plans.

Under a defined benefit pension plan, Mr. Speaker, the members are promised a specific set of benefits. This may or may not include health benefits or whether a surviving spouse continues to receive benefits when the plan member dies. This is different from a defined contribution plan where the employer, and possibly the plan member, contributes a set amount to the pension plan. When the employee retires, the member receives benefits based on what the accumulatived value of the plan can buy at that time.

I should mention, Mr. Speaker, that the Pension Benefits Act governs pensions registered with the department by private sector businesses, municipalities, and universities. The Nova Scotia Pension Agency, under separate legislation, oversees pension plans for public servants, teachers, MLAs and judges. So this legislation would not apply to those plans. The legislation is meant to help offset demographic challenges to attracting and retaining staff. It supplements actions our government is taking to make Nova Scotia workplaces safe, healthy and sustainable.

Specifically, Mr. Speaker, this bill would permit those employers to offer phased retirement to their employees. A phased retirement allows a worker to continue working and accruing benefits from a pension plan while at the same time receiving partial benefits from that plan. Phased retirement would help employers to retain staff who know the business and who want to continue working past the retirement eligibility date.

While mandatory retirement is a thing of the past for most employees, Mr. Speaker, federal and Nova Scotia pension legislation often prohibited retirees from receiving benefits while continuing to work for the same employer and continuing to contribute to the pension plan. In December 2007, the federal income tax rules were changed to permit simultaneous receipt of pension benefits and accrual of pension benefits.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 48 reflects the changes to the federal legislation and enabling phased retirements. The new federal rules do not require the pension plan member to reduce his or her work hours to receive a pension payment. They do limit the amount of pension available in a phased retirement to 60 per cent. Similarly, the amount of pension to be paid need not be linked to a new work reduction. However, one could work reduced hours towards the end of their career and receive pension benefits at the same time.

[Page 1821]

Ultimately, Mr. Speaker, the specifics of any phased retirement arrangement would be determined by the employer and the employee. Both the Nova Scotia Pension Review Panel and the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities have recommended that phased retirement be permitted. Phased retirement would be very helpful to people who have had a broken employment record; for example, women who took time off to have children. A phased retirement would allow them a longer work life during which they could accrue additional pension benefits if they wanted to do so.

Mr. Speaker, it will be up to the employer whether they want to offer a phased retirement option. The employer would also determine which employees would be offered a phased retirement. While some employees may suggest that phased retirement be mandatory, both the Nova Scotia Pension Review Panel and the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities recommended that it be voluntary. There may be many reasons why a business or a municipality may not feel that offering phased retirement is appropriate or doable. We believe they are the best judge of their capabilities.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this legislation recognizes our changing world of work - that some people want to work past their anticipated retirement date and are capable of doing so. I look forward to hearing the comments of the honourable members opposite, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

MS. KELLY REGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On October 22, 2009, the government introduced amendments that would help employers to more effectively retain key staff who were eligible to retire but would like to keep on working. They also introduced amendments to provide new opportunities for workers approaching retirement.

In January of this year, the pension review panel recommended permitting phased retirements, which would allow an employee who meets pension plan retirement criteria to continue working with the employer and accrue additional benefits while receiving pension benefits. In 2007, the federal government made changes to income tax rules to allow workers to continue working and accumulating pension benefits and receiving part of their pensions.

Now in the past, workers had not been allowed to contribute to a pension plan while drawing pension benefits from that plan. There is no mandatory retirement age for most Nova Scotian workers as of July 1 of this year. Upon reaching what we normally considered retirement age, some workers may want to stay employed; for example, workers whose careers began late in life or whose careers were interrupted might want to continue working longer to maximize pension plan contributions. Many employers would like to offer older

[Page 1822]

workers a reason to remain with the company longer because they know the business - the clients, the products, and the services.

To me, the key point is that under the proposed legislation, an employer would not be obligated to offer phased retirement to any or all staff. It would be a decision driven by business needs and the amendments would apply, as the minister indicated, to 167 defined benefit pension plans registered with the Department of Labour and Workforce Development.

These are all good measures because of our aging population and workforce, but my question is, what is the department still doing to really grow our working population, and what is the government doing to keep Nova Scotians working in Nova Scotia? We aren't really seeing a plan or a strategy yet. We want to know what the government is doing to attract workers from other provinces in Canada, and what incentives are we really offering to businesses of all forms to start up operations here in our province?

Mr. Speaker, these are my few words on this subject and I look forward to further debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, with some very short words, of course this is a bill that we presented - I believe in the last session - so therefore we agree with everything that is held within it. We look forward to this moving on for the next process in this House, of course - off to the Law Amendments Committee and then to third reading, to make sure, of course, that the issues that are held within are brought forward in a quick time, so thank you very much.

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

The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the members opposite for their observations and I move second reading of Bill No. 48.

MR. SPEAKER. Thank you. The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 48. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 1823]

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 38.

Bill No. 38 - Condominium Act.

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

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to talk about the proposed amendments to the Condominium Act. A fast-growing number of Nova Scotians today are either buying or thinking of buying condominiums. These may be young families purchasing their first homes, professionals who want to live near their work places or older people who now prefer the convenience of a home that they do not have to worry about while they travel. Given the strong demand for condominiums, the government needs to ensure that the right measures are in place to protect condo owners and their investments.

These amendments will, among other things, update the Condominium Act to reflect current market realities and practices. These will also correct any inconsistencies in the Act and clarify issues for condo owners, buyers and developers. These proposed amendments are the result of a comprehensive review of the Act and extensive consultation with condo owners, various stakeholder associations, condo managers, developers, developer solicitors, the legal community and Nova Scotians.

The primary aim of these amendments is to enhance customer protection for Nova Scotians who currently own condominiums or are intending to purchase one in the near future. For example, one of the proposed changes is to require developers to provide more information to prospective buyers. This ensures that buyers have all the information needed to make an educated decision before investing in a unit in a condominium corporation. The requirement for additional information also benefits developers as it helps manage buyers' expectations and helps lessen future conflicts between the sellers and the developers.

Another proposed amendment is to double the cooling off period for cancellation of the purchase and sale agreement from five to 10 days to provide prospective buyers more time to review documents about the property and the condominium corporation.

In addition to the consumer protection aspect of these amendments, these proposed changes also aim to improve the operation of the condominium corporations. For example, proposed changes will clarify issues such as consistency in voting requirements, the process

[Page 1824]

to develop rules and regulations, accountability for budget estimates and lower cost alternatives to arbitration for violations to condominium unit and common element rules and regulations.

The amendments to the Condominium Act that we are proposing will strengthen consumer protection for thousands of Nova Scotians who have made, or are making, the big decision to buy a condominium. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the Condominium Act. There was a lot of consultation that went into producing the Condominium Act and these are, for the most part, things that we are very pleased to see. I do have several points that I would like to make, several areas of concern. The amendments ensure more information about a corporation that is available to buyers at purchase time but one of the things that we have recently heard about is, in fact, that there is still a lot of small print. The problem is that you can, for example, be told that if the condo building isn't incorporated when you go to move in, that you may have to pay rent, and when you look at how much this rent is, it's extremely expensive. When people are in the middle of buying a condo, they don't always look at the fine print and realize that is still going to happen.

The amendments prohibit developers from forcing buyers into moving into units in unfinished buildings and paying rent in the unit. What this amendment does is only prohibit developers from forcing buyers into early occupancy. It still enables buyers to move in early if they wish and that's the particular case I'm talking about where you either have to pay rent if you're doing that, or you have to pay your purchase price up front in full, and that's asking condo buyers to take a big leap of faith and that is our concern. You could be asking someone to pay $300,000, for example, and say to them, yes, we're going to get this, we'll have it made into a condo and, yes, that's going to happen, but the fact of the matter is, it is a leap of faith and it's an awful lot of money to ask somebody to put up front in a leap of faith.

There are some really good points to this bill. Voting requirements and guidelines are clarified and that's really important, but one of the things that concerns me still is that while this bill protects condo owners going forward, what it doesn't do is correct the wrongs that we've seen happen over the last number of years. People who have bought condos are out tens of thousands of dollars individually because of construction problems and there is no redress here. I realize that it's not a common thing to see across the country but it has happened - in British Columbia, for example, where there was redress for condo owners.

If you look at the collectivity, if you look at a building, for example, and you look at the number of units in there, what those condo owners are out, in some cases has been over $1 million to repair some of these buildings. So what I would like to see, and what condo

[Page 1825]

owners would like to see, is some form of redress for the wrongs that have happened in the past. That said, the bill today, the amendments are a large step forward in what we wanted to see and I am pleased to have this bill go forward and send it along for more debate at the Law Amendments Committee.

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, the way this government is going in dealing with the economy, it's going to be a long time before anyone in Cape Breton could ever afford to think of a condominium, but I'm pleased to rise here to speak to the premise of Bill No. 38. I do know this has been long-standing and it has had a lot of consultation and work.

It has been derived, you know, from matters of reality that people have faced here within the HRM, but we will note that we are now seeing condominiums go up elsewhere in the province and so the application of this piece of legislation is not Halifax only, because we do have Cape Breton's first condominium on Kings Road, it was placed in, but we also know that condominiums are in Baddeck, in Dundee, in the Ingonish area. People are seeing it as a choice, I guess, of how they would choose their home ownership in the sense of what a condominium environment can offer and the services that are provided by virtue of working within that wider realm of group ownership.

So one of the things, as the minister would know, this has been worked on for a long time. There has been much consultation that has been had around this. I do know, because people have been watching the progress of the development of the Condominium Act, that they will indeed come forward to the Law Amendments Committee, if there are concerns, and/or, I would hope as well - because what I can recall when we were in government, people were very enthusiastic about this framework coming in and I know the minister has nothing but the utmost of providing the best framework of legislation for condo owners and that they indeed have as much protection and have the clarity of the legislation to know where they stand as well as for developers, and what the rules of engagement are there as well.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I do know if there are any items that get raised at the Law Amendments Committee, I'm sure the minister will be mindful of that, as will the committee. I don't see anything political about this piece of legislation as much as it's meant to be practical and helpful for Nova Scotians who chose to look at condominiums as their choice in residence. So with that, I'll conclude my remarks and look forward to this proceeding through the House.

[5:15 p.m.]

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

[Page 1826]

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to speak today on Bill No. 38, which is amendments to the Condominium Act. This, in fact, is something that we've been waiting for for some time. Although the previous member mentioned there aren't too many condominiums in his riding in Cape Breton, there are, in fact, more and more in the province. We have 350 registered condominium corporations in the province right now, in that range.

Condominium No. 1 is in my riding of Clayton Park, as are quite a number of the others. A lot of those, especially the original condominium corporations, were townhouse condominiums or groups, so it is common ownership of the land that they are in individual townhouse units rather than in high-rises. More and more we're seeing new ones come on stream and the member for Bedford-Birch Cove has spoken before me, her area is really burgeoning with new apartments and condominiums.

We have found over the last few years there have been some significant problems in the construction of these new condominiums. In particular, that has been with the high-rise ones that have not been built to a proper standard and it isn't even any one particular builder, it is really across the board; any number of these units have been found to be deficient. The problem has come to a head. I had first raised this just after the 2006 election because I had the opportunity of walking through many of those buildings, knocking on doors and talking to people, and I saw first-hand the water that was coming into those condominiums and spoke to their owners and they were in new buildings that were less than five years old that were having significant, particularly water damage and water penetration.

What I was told when we began to look into it was that the buildings are using new technology, that we've a shortage of workers and skilled workers to build them properly and there were a number of problems with the inspection process.

Mr. Speaker, those are the issues that we brought here to the Legislature, asking the previous Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to look at this and to talk to the owners of these buildings because there is an issue at play here as well, and that is that when people buy into a condominium they need better education about what is involved and the governance of the building and how they have common and joint ownership. The buildings don't just manage themselves, the people who move in have to be part of that. They re actually joining - it has been defined as sort of joining a village, almost a village council because you are joint owners and you have care and concern for that building.

Mr. Speaker, there were issues of governance that were raised, as well as issues around the quality of buildings and the concern around the major investment that people have made in these condominiums that were, in fact, being eroded because the buildings were not in good shape when they were moving in.

We had a pretty good Act in that we had an Act that allowed for contingency funds to be set aside. We were one of the first provinces in Canada to do that, so that's a positive

[Page 1827]

thing. Those contingency funds were designed, and the whole schedule of the investments was designed, for major things like replacing windows or replacing a roof after 20 years. There was no way that these new corporations had funds set aside for the significant problems that were experienced.

Mr. Speaker, in one case in my riding there was a building that had an entire face of brick that had to be removed and redone because the brick was set at the wrong time of the year, the temperature was too cold and the concrete that they used or the mortar didn't set. That sort of thing should not be allowed, it should never have escaped the notice of building inspectors. When the buyers complained about that, they were told the buildings were never inspected. In fact, what we've discovered through considerable discussion with HRM and with the province was that the kind of inspections that are done on condominiums are really paper inspections - they look at the plans and they test them against building codes and they say whether or not they have enough exits or whether or not the stairwells are a certain width, but they didn't go in person to look at how they're being built.

I know the members of the House will be surprised to know that and the buyers of these units were more than surprised, they were extremely let down. It is a matter of consumer protection and that's why it is very appropriate that it's here today that we're looking at some of the issues around consumer protection when it comes to what is becoming a much more popular form of ownership in our province.

I mentioned there are 350 condominium corporations - there are roughly 1,200 condominium units - so just again, to put it into perspective, that's a lot of Nova Scotians who have an interest in what we're doing here today.

Now, when the issues around poor construction and huge expenses to new condo owners came to light, Mr. Speaker, at the very same time the owners themselves decided to get organized and to form an organization and to reach out to the condominiums right around the province, asking people to join them and to sort of add clout by joining together under the umbrella of an organization. That organization is called the Condominium Owners of Nova Scotia.

They felt the need to have an organization of their own because other condominium groups represented people with different interests. They represented lawyers, realtors, and property managers, and many other people who have an interest and make their living with condominiums but actually sometimes had divergent interests from those that had bought the condominium. So the owners felt they needed their own voice and they did form that association - an acronym for that is CONS, cons - which does reflect how many of those owners felt that they had not been protected in the system that was in place in Nova Scotia.

That group is chaired by two members who live in the Bedford-Birch Cove riding and had bought into a new building there. They had a lot of courage in coming forward to

[Page 1828]

actually do this, because we have to remember that when people move into condominiums, that is your largest investment - it's really as expensive as buying a home. When people put all their money into that investment, they're very frightened to have any repercussions if they speak out about the condition of their building; maybe their resale value is going to be impacted in some way.

Those concerns were paramount, and yet they still had the courage to come forward and to sincerely believe that if they spoke with a common voice that they can improve the standard of building and governance in the condominium world in our province. I think that was really important. They should be commended for taking that step and making those initial overtures to government. At the same time, I do commend the past Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations because he did listen, and he had some meetings with that organization and as a result called two different groups to start study groups, essentially. They split the issues into those that related to the construction and warranty and inspection of the buildings and another group that would look at the governance and the issues around the board and how boards function.

What we're looking at today, the amendments to the Condominium Act really relate to the less-pressing issues that were raised by the organization CONS; not unimportant issues, but less pressing. We don't see yet any changes to Acts that would be addressing the new home construction area. In fact, when the study was done on new home construction, we wanted it - in fact, my preference was that we focus on condominium construction, but the decision of government was to extend that and focus on all new construction - homes and condominiums. As a result, that is still in the works, it hasn't come forward yet.

I think it's important, and I know that I've had these discussions with the member for Bedford-Birch Cove. Our concern is that today, as we sit here in the House, any new construction is still going forward for condominiums under the same rules that were in effect for the last - you know, forever; certainly the same conditions that led to substandard buildings with problems, with very expensive problems for the owners.

We are concerned that there is not the consumer protection in place today that there should be to protect people from buying buildings that will not stand up to their billing, that will not be sound and will not be watertight and will perhaps have some very expensive renovations or fixes that will be required. That does concern us, that we haven't done anything at this time.

I have spoken to the minister briefly about this, but I'm going to remind the House that a couple of years ago I entered a Private Member's Bill which called for a deposit, basically a hold-back. From every unit sold in a condominium, we would hold back 5 per cent of the sale price. It would be put into a fund for that condominium building which would act as sort of an immediate contingency fund. If it's not called upon for any major structural problems in the first five years, the money would be returned to the builder or the original

[Page 1829]

owner that sold those units. That way the money goes back to complete the purchase, essentially.

By putting 5 per cent aside, we would know there was a pool of money that could cover those contingencies when it was found that there were leaky windows or something wrong in the envelope of the building. I think that is a prudent thing to do. It would have been something that could be done fast. It could have been done a year or two ago when I first introduced the bill and buyers today would have had that assurance that there was a fund in place. I don't think the obstacles of deciding what is a major renovation and what is ordinary maintenance would have been that difficult.

That was the reason I was given, Mr. Speaker, that the bill was not advanced was that once the money was in this pool, who would decide when you could withdraw it. But I don't think that's an insurmountable problem for a government with thousands of employees and a very large and competent staff at Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. So I think that we could look again at that idea because I don't want to see delays in the issues that the condominium owners originally brought to this House and their major concern was the protection of their investment and the protection of the large amounts of money that they are putting into their homes. I think that we should remember that as we go forward with these other amendments to the Condominium Act that we're looking at today.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I make the point that there were the two categories. We're still waiting on the major changes to any Acts that would relate to warranties, inspections and consumer protection as you buy those big buildings, but these changes before us, Bill No. 38 does address many of the smaller governance issues.

In anticipation of the consultation phase when the changes were proposed by a committee - and it was a multi-faceted committee, it did include all of the other stakeholders and condominiums, not just the owners whom I've talked about here at some length, but it also included the developers, the lawyers, the realtors, the property managers and so on, so it was a very balanced committee -they made a number of recommendations and those that were related to governance have by and large been included in the amendments before us.

But I have a couple of concerns and one of them was touched on briefly by the member for Bedford-Birch Cove, and that is the practice of charging rent to people who are moving into their very own condominium. For those of you who don't understand how that could be, here is what happens. While you're making your decision about buying a condo or not - that's the big thing in your mind, shall we purchase this condo, we're now giving people 10 days instead of five to consider that purchase, so we've doubled the cooling-off period, and that's good - in the fine print when you're buying this condominium, there is a clause that will say that if you move in before the condominium corporation is formed, you're going to be asked to pay rent to the builder.

[Page 1830]

The example I've had only recently brought to my attention by a constituent of mine was three-quarters of 1 per cent of the purchase price per month and that's $1,650 a month; $1,650 a month plus condominium fees, because you're now living in a condominium so you want to pay for your jointly-owned or -administered area, the common areas.

So, Mr. Speaker, it can take months for a condominium to get registered. A lot a paperwork has to go to the department. We have a Registrar of Condominiums who accepts all that paperwork. There's often a queue because we've had quite a rush on new ones being built and I'm sure, as we talked about, more and more are coming on-stream. So with that queue, it means that the paperwork can sit there while the staff, who are not many in that department - I think in the last couple of years, because there has been such a lot of attention, the registrar now works full time on condominiums and may have a little bit more support on the condominium side. There really have not been very many people working in that area and they have to make a site visit; even if it's in Cape Breton, or if it's on the South Shore, the Valley, they go in person and they see the building, unlike our inspectors who don't. They do go down there to make sure that everything is exactly as was submitted and it can take months.

Mr. Speaker, that's really my point, that people are anxious to move in. In the case of my constituent who called and told me that it was going to be $1,650 a month if he moves in and pays the rent, he had actually purchased that building four and a half years before, he purchased his unit, made a downpayment, and had been waiting for that building to be built. At this point he has sold his home and he's excited about getting into the building. He and his wife want to move in because it's finished, it looks great, it has got all their upgrades in it, and he's excited to get in there, but he knows he could be facing six months, or it could even be more. There's no guarantee how long he'll have to pay rent.

I don't think that's right, Mr. Speaker, and I don't think that the bill is strong enough in its response to that issue. I think that what we need to see, since the actual registering of the building is entirely outside the power of these individuals who have moved in, I think we need to see a system that would limit the amount that people can be charged because they've already committed to buy these expensive units and I don't think that they should be charged this rent, which is just lost, it's lost to them, it doesn't go towards their purchase price. I think that either the rules should be changed so it goes towards the purchase price or that the amount should be limited considerably, like limited to a very small amount that might be the incremental cost of them moving in, perhaps, but there's been nothing like that in here.

[5:30 p.m.]

What we've got in the bill is simply a change from the possibility that they could be forced to move in when the unit is complete, which would certainly have been wrong

[Page 1831]

because then they wouldn't have the option of waiting until they can actually take possession and get the deed.

Just to make it clear again, if you're moving in early and the condominium hasn't yet been incorporated, you can't get the deed to your property, you can't own it, so that's what you're waiting for, the right legal framework so you can actually get the deed. Nobody wants to pay the full purchase price if you're not going to have some security for that, the actual deed and ownership of the building. This is again what we were referring to as a new practice, which was new to me and I gather new to the Registrar of Condominiums for our province, which was offering people the option, well, if you don't want to pay that much rent, you can give us the full purchase price today and we won't charge you rent.

There's one catch, you don't have the deed and you can't secure a mortgage against that, but if you sold your house, perhaps you're at a stage of life where you have the money and you could pay it all up front but that's where people are taking a risk, to put down all that money and not have the security of knowing that you own that unit because if anything does go wrong, if the builder runs into difficulties, if the building isn't registered for a long time and something should happen in the meantime, you are risking the purchase price of that building.

Again, I think that we should allow people to move in when they want to and I think we should set a very low amount that any builder can charge on the rent side because to me it's essentially abusing the consumer, it really is and it's putting them in a very difficult position. That is one of the main things that I would like to see changed right away that we've addressed in the bill. I'd like to see some recognition of the fact that there is no help for people who are being charged this rent really. If they want to move in, all they have according to this bill is a choice to stay in their own home and wait months to get into what they've been waiting for for years to be built, so that is a big concern.

When this came out as a discussion paper, I had the opportunity to visit a number of condominiums in my area and speak to their boards and some of their interested owners that came out and I did find a lot of support for the suggestions in governance changes. It is amazing that we haven't had a better system to deal with small disputes. The arbitration that is offered and if you have a dispute with your board, if you're an owner, or if a board has a problem with an owner, either way, you ended up at an arbitration hearing and that really did require legal representation.

One of my first introductions to any condominium issues was with a constituent who lived in a townhouse, not one of the new high-rises, but she wanted access to the books of that condominium simply to look at their records and their books and she was not given access. That should be a basic right, she is one of the shareholders. When you're a condo owner, you're a shareholder in this corporation and she was not given access to those books, she had to fight for it. When she was given a chance to look at the books it was under

[Page 1832]

conditions that were less than optimal. She had to go to, in fact, their home, the property manager's home and see them in a very uncomfortable situation with limited time to look at them.

She went to arbitration and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations assured her that she didn't need to have legal representation but you can be darn sure that when you're going up against your condominium board they have legal representation and they did and they fought that and she, in fact, lost, which was astounding to me. She was a very intelligent woman who worked very hard at all the legalities of creating her case and building her files. I know there are lawyers here in the House that know how difficult that is but despite all her best efforts, she did not win what would have seemed to be a very cut and dried case.

The fact that this now provides for a different mechanism, I gather it's more of a board similar to our Residential Tenancies Board where small issues can be brought forward and wouldn't require that sort of level of legal expertise or level of just being more sophisticated about governance and about how corporations work. I think that is better for owners, the fact that we've offered a different choice. It will also save money for the boards because sometimes the boards had said to me that they might object to some of their by-laws being broken. For example, maybe you're not allowed to smoke in the building's common areas and people would smoke in elevators or hallways but they had no real means to punish the people who were doing that. They could ask them to stop but they didn't feel - other than this route, which would be expensive, of going to arbitration - that they had very many tools.

I think that has been addressed as well by introducing the alternate means of dispute resolution and also introducing some fines, I believe, are in this bill as well, so that they have a small amount of clout, in terms of fining the people who are breaking these rules. So that might give them a little bit more authority in trying to enforce them. Some of those things we definitely think are positive, Mr. Speaker.

As I said, we need better information to buyers and something that I saw in the bill was that buyers will now be given the minutes of the annual meetings for that corporation for the last two years. That means they'll actually be able to see if issues were raised or if there were any complaints from among the owners and they get a better sense of, I guess, how well governed the building is that they're moving into. I think that will help them as well to realize that you're not just buying a property like any other house, that you are part now of a corporation and of a community and that you have some common interests and common responsibilities.

I think that is important. Again, it's like better transparency as you move into a new building. So we certainly think that is a very good idea, better accountability which is important.

Mr. Speaker, there were so many different things that seemed to trouble the owners in a lot of ways, about how corporations are managed. I think that we've addressed a few of

[Page 1833]

them here in this bill. I do look forward to hearing what comments may come at the Law Amendments Committee as we go forward. I know that overall these issues were not the most pressing, but they will take away some of the irritations and some of the problems and just day-to-day issues that people have been subjected to because of the current Act. So we hope they will make a fairly major difference in the lives of people who have chosen to live in condominiums and will make them stronger that way.

Mr. Speaker, I know we'll have more opportunity to speak at third reading, after we do hear from the public. I would like to say that from having spoken to condominium owners in my area, they are welcoming these changes although we make the point that they don't hit some of the very big issues that are threatening condo buyers even today.

I know the minister has been listening and will take note of those concerns and I hope that the department will continue to work on them as well. Thank you very much.

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

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for the comments on second reading of this bill. I was listening and appreciated the comments made by both Parties this afternoon. At this time I move second reading of Bill No. 38.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 38. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for the day and I'll turn the reins of this very astute House over to my good colleague, the member for Cape Breton North.

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, Opposition Members' Business for tomorrow, following the daily routine, will be consideration of Resolution Nos. 568 and 695.

[Page 1834]

I move that the House do now rise and meet again tomorrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m., obviously for Opposition business, until 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House now rise and resume tomorrow from the hour of 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We are now at the moment of interruption. Under Rule 5(5), the late debate topic tonight is:

"Therefore be it resolved that government find solutions for our struggling beef industry in Nova Scotia."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5 (5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

AGRIC: BEEF IND. - SOLUTIONS

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased tonight to talk about a very challenging issue facing the agriculture sector, in particular beef farmers, in our province. It is important that we actually propose and talk about possible solutions to this dilemma that we are facing.

Just to put it into context, Mr. Speaker, if we look back to the farm census of 1981, there were over 140,000 cattle of the whole range relating to cattle in the province. There were over 140,000, and now we're down to 88,000 on July 1, 2009. So this is a dramatic slippage of over 50,000. Perhaps what is even more startling, and I tabled this during Question Period today, is that on July 1, 2008, there were102,000 head of cattle in Nova Scotia - of course that's including dairy and one-year olds and calves under one year. Now, on July 1, 2009, we're down to 88,000. So we can see a pattern here that emerged during the hog crisis.

[Page 1835]

We saw that the numbers went down because, simply, farmers were moving out of that sector. This is not so much a reduction of herd, and perhaps that is the case to explain some of those numbers, but it simply is that farmers can no longer make a living with beef cattle.

What is really alarming is that we only have, perhaps, between 50 and 75, 100 per cent dedicated beef farmers in Nova Scotia. This is the group of farmers that is most at risk here.

Many other farmers today in a whole range of sectors need off-farm income in order to survive. That often comes from a spouse, but more likely today the farmer himself is doing something to provide some of the income. So I think what is jeopardized right here now, and truly the tipping point has arrived, and that's for the 50 to 75 full-time beef farmers that earn their living in this manner. So I want to draw attention to that reality.

I think now it needs to be a top priority of government. We don't want to see the demise of a sector of agriculture that actually spreads over all 18 counties in our province. There are a number of sectors which are very geographically tight and only involve a few counties. This is one that is of historic importance to rural Nova Scotia, and to see this collapse of the beef industry is actually to impact on the rural economy of Nova Scotia. As we know, in rural Nova Scotia when a dollar is spent, it has the greatest multiplier effect and a multiplier effect of five or six with every dollar that comes through beef raising and sales and back to the farmer and generated throughout the community.

There are a number of solutions now that are being advanced. The one that I'm very akin to is seeing a wonderful report, the Kelco report, finally get some take-up in this province. Where this concept has been instituted it has had some value. We only need to look to our neighbour, New Brunswick, that introduced this concept with their apple industry, and the benefits to them were immense.

The first phase of the report, in fact, not only targets the Department of Agriculture and an agriculture budget to bring some relief, but it says that beef farming, or any of the sectors, actually have a benefit well beyond the commodity, the product itself, and that with the work that's been done, especially with the environmental agreements that have now been brought in by many farmers in this province, we know that there is an environmental benefit to have agriculture and to have the beef industry, in particular, in all of our counties.

[5:45 p.m.]

We've seen a dramatic change through the last two or three generations. There was a time when 4 million acres were farmed in Nova Scotia and we're now down to below a million acres and so it's a dramatic turn of events. The cattle industry is one that can keep

[Page 1836]

our forage land from growing up in alders, apart from that, we can grow top quality beef in this province.

That brings me to the second phase of the Kelco report, which focuses on a consumer-funded model and that means it was designed to take a few more cents through the retail and from the consumer to go back directly to farmer. According to this model, payments to farmers would not be based on market prices, but on cost of production, and that would be to whatever sector it was applied. We know at the heart of the current prices, as I brought up in Question Period today, in fact, are the deflated prices.

Beef farmers today are getting a price that their fathers - for those who are on second, third and fourth generation farms, but when they look back - their fathers got the same price that farmers are receiving today. So we have to get a little bit more out of the movement from the farmer to the processor and into the retail.

The Kelco report set a target return on investment of about 12 per cent, matching returns in food retailing and processing as determined by federal studies of those sectors that would, in fact, work to create some viability. This system is also designed not to reward inefficiency. The payment per unit is based on the average return of the top 50 per cent of producer returns in that sector, which I think is a wonderful safeguard to look at those that are in the business full-time and want to produce the best head of cattle and the best product for the consumer.

I know the minister believes firmly that we can grow top-quality beef in Nova Scotia and I think that's the premise that we need to start from. The unfortunate aspect that I hear so far from the beef strategy is simply that it's going to take some time. Well, time is not going to be kind to some of our beef farmers this winter and over the next 12 months. Time is simply going to take some of them out of production and that's why this topic is of urgency, that it is addressed, even looking at interprovincial agreements whereby beef can move to the other Atlantic Provinces may not happen quickly enough.

It would be great to see that the minister does address government with the urgency that is facing our beef farmers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to rise and join in the debate this evening with regard to looking for solutions to our struggling beef industry in Nova Scotia. I do recognize the validity of this resolution, the concerns that are not just in the industry but also of Nova Scotians looking to having long-term stability regarding food supply and domestic food supply and domestic food supply especially. I know the Ministers of Agriculture, and Fisheries and Aquaculture are both concerned about providing a reliable and stable basis for two very key industries, and traditional industries, in this province, but at the same time there are many challenges. We don't want to lose sight of the pressing need.

[Page 1837]

I know that specific to the beef industry, as the now-minister would know, back in March 2008 there was $1.9 million invested to assist in the revitalization; in 2005 there was $0.5 million to assist with planning; and then regrettably, we all know in 2004, on two different times, especially with the BSE crisis where $9 million, in December, was put in but prior to that, in September, $10 million regarding a loan to help people get through this with the market. So it just goes to show you that those numbers are not insignificant when you go to my honourable colleague, the member for Kings West, who indicates when you look at the size of the market - I mean Nova Scotia is not a large province, we don't have a very large industry, but the one we have is very important.

I remember my former colleague, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, who always said, his quote was, farmers feed us all. That's so true, but I also recognize as much as we are - and to the minister, I do note that we have had, and made efforts as it was discussed today regarding our institutions buying as much Nova Scotia product as possible, providing not only healthy choices, but providing stability when you consider that our institutions do have significant food requirements, can provide a base that should be consistent based upon fair market pricing for the effort going in to produce any product, in this case with beef.

We also know that there is a sincere interest in making sure that that provides a base to stop some of the volatility that has been in the retail market. I know there isn't any member in this House who hasn't dealt with the agriculture sector, who has been frustrated with the big box stores with regard to how their pricing mechanisms are. I know from the agricultural industry, even from Cape Breton where they'll go and send product only to have it returned from the buyers, and they're sitting on a lot of commodity that they thought was good quality, provided on request, yet rejected when they realized that they got a cheaper price elsewhere and actually harmed the indigenous market here in Nova Scotia.

So there is a role as well, not just of government, I guess my point, and the minister would recognize this, there is an advocacy component here and a role that goes beyond just what the government can do to support the industry, and that's what the government is dealing with, and maybe what we have to look at in dealing with the retail sector. What I do know is Nova Scotians want to have access to the product that is farmed or fished locally. Like Nova Scotians, I know the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture would rather get fish from around the province than from China, or some other part of the world, which is the case many times, I hear. Some of those issues are not easy to deal with. In the case of fisheries, we have an issue with seals and that's a major issue. When you start to manage an ocean, you have to manage all components of an ocean. If you're going to deal with the marketplace, as it is with beef, we're going to have to manage all the components of it.

The minister does know, and he has understood from the House and I know that he does understand, that people are hoping and looking for more immediate action from the

[Page 1838]

government. I know there was a request for an emergency meeting with the producers but it's my understanding, if I heard the minister right, he's doing that anyway. So maybe it's not as urgent because it's planned, and he may speak to that and provide us with some clarity. I guess my point with this debate is hopefully it's not to condemn as much as to incent and support the government to help our industry that once again finds itself at a crossroads before it was necessitated that there had to be a response regarding the BSE and I believe that every good measure was done.

Now people are looking to the government and, in fairness, the minister will soon have a government that has been in office for six months, that the industry is looking for the actions to go with supporting them. In fairness, if we lose that industry sector, and we all know the trials and tribulations, especially with the hog industry, it's really regrettable when people have to lose being part of something that they have actually put a lot of heart and soul into, to produce quality food product, and not have the market or the opportunity for it to be sustainable as a livelihood for them and their families.

The other thing that we are at a crossroads is not just supporting the industry, but looking for the next generation of farmers. I know from dealing with farmers they're just having a difficult time when they look at their sons or daughters, and them saying, it's really not feasible. They're worried. They've listened to their parents, they've listened to their neighbours, they've been in their community corner stores and coffee shops and they've all talked about their concern about their industry being relevant.

We also know that if, for whatever reason, the industry disappeared tomorrow, the hue and cry from Nova Scotians to have support for it would be significant. I do want to recognize my colleague in the Liberal Party in bringing this resolution forward. I think it allows for some constructive next steps, and I would urge the minister and note that there is urgency here. We don't want to ratchet this up to the point that it becomes a greater crisis than it needs to be with the industry.

Government does, from time to time, have to make choices. I know in Question Period today when it was asked of the Premier - in some ways it's not just to deal with the heat or any potential rhetoric of QP, but there is an industry and they're looking for some answers and solutions. I also recognize that the government has an ability to advocate with the industry, with the retail outlets, to make sure they're playing their fair role in maintaining that base, not just in Nova Scotia.

As the minister knows, we're part of an Atlantic Region that needs to be co-operating more. Those Atlantic ministers have to get to the table. It's not conceivable in this day and age that we can have a free trade agreement - and free trade agreements that can span a multitude of sectors within the economy - allow it to operate efficiently, yet we get into our own regional areas and there are barriers that are there withholding and/or prohibiting better

[Page 1839]

economic performance and liability of an industry sector such as our beef industry here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I think we all echo that we want the government to start advocating and taking the action. I do believe, and again I will say, I know the minster is sincere but I also know that when he was in Opposition, buy local was very, very important to him. He comes from a constituency where that sector is very important. We know that, and I'm hoping when the minister has his opportunity to speak here this evening that he can lay out some constructive things of what he's done and some of the discussions and what he may see as a path forward that we can actually work and support our government in supporting our industry rather than being at odds and trying to do the right thing.

I do believe the government in this instance wants to do the right thing for the agricultural community, and I'll be the first one to stand and commend the minister and the government, and all I would note is the industry's looking for answers now. Some time has gone since the transition in government, and I do know we want to have our Nova Scotia beef industry to be a valued and, more importantly, supported industry here in the province.

With that, I will take my place and look forward to the minister's comments. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Pictou East, for that applause. I want to thank the Liberal caucus for their resolution. I have to say that it's timely, and this is not the first occasion we've had to speak on the beef industry. As much as I'm going to try to stick to my notes, I do want to address some of the issues raised by members opposite that I think I do have an obligation to respond to. They've raised some really critical points and I think they deserve to get some lay of the land as much as I'm capable of doing that for them. They're truly doing their job in Opposition, I think, by bringing this debate to the House.

[6:00 p.m.]

We want to support Nova Scotia families, create more jobs and fuel economic growth, and continue to build pride in this magnificent province we call home. Along with my staff in the Department of Agriculture, I've been actively working with all agriculture producers across the province and with the federal government to deal with issues and explore opportunities within Nova Scotia's vital agriculture industry.

Our government's priorities are to ensure that agriculture in this province contributes to long-term prosperity and growth for Nova Scotia producers and to make sure that this growth is used to secure a bright future for all Nova Scotians.

[Page 1840]

I indicated during the election campaign last June that we see the issue as one that requires action on two fronts. I don't remember if either members were at the Truro - Atlantic Stockyards, I guess; I keep wanting to refer to it as Maritime Cattle Sales. Certainly I did make comments there that I do feel were a commitment to the industry and that the industry requires a two-phase approach, it requires some action in the short term and a long-term strategy; we've committed to a 10-year strategy in agriculture but in the short-term there's going to have to be some kind of bridging, some kind of funding to ensure that beef producers are still around to take advantage of any long-term plan. I want the members opposite to be aware that I am committed to that.

I guess that has been the biggest thrust for me, as minister, and I am hoping, as I answered a question for the member for Kings West today, that before this House rises in this Fall session that actually I can make an announcement to that effect around funding and what that plan might look like.

The department's development of a value-added and diversification strategy will focus on growing sustainable and profitable business opportunities in our sectors. The result will be a significant, positive economic and socio-economic impact, as well as enhanced competitiveness within the agricultural, seafood and related industries.

We are working to position Nova Scotia as a world leader in adding value to our primary resources. We are conducting a feasibility study to identify barriers and potential opportunities of local food procurement in academic institutions, hospitals and correctional facilities. There has never been a time when consumers in Nova Scotia have had as keen an interest in where their food comes from, who produces it and how it is produced. Consumers are beginning to understand the extra environmental, economic and health benefits and values provided through local food. Canadians and Nova Scotians are making decisions about their food choices. Given the interest shown by the mainstream media in grass-fed beef, it appears to be one transition opportunity for the industry.

Mr. Speaker, strategic investment in the beef industry needs to provide the necessary stimulus while, at the same time, providing broader benefits to all Nova Scotians, in terms of food security, food safety and rural development. In Nova Scotia the beef industry is one of those areas where we have huge competitive and comparative advantages and we should be investing in the areas that will provide the best returns for farm families and communities in which they live and work. Geography, proximity to some of the most lucrative markets in the world, our land resources, the skills level of our farmers and climate are all assets that can help our beef industry.

We understand the beef sector has faced a number of problems in recent years that have had a negative impact on income levels. These include high operating expenses, costs associated with high debt levels, the high Canadian dollar, lingering effects of the U.S.

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border closure due to BSE, low market prices and changes to consumption trends, but we believe there are opportunities for our beef industry to grow in Nova Scotia and the industry has developed the strategy that will help them be more sustainable.

Our agricultural industry needs to produce a valued product that consumers are willing to pay for, something we believe Nova Scotia consumers should support. Nova Scotia cattle producers are looking for the beef industry and stakeholder support so key projects can be implemented over the Fall and winter. Mr. Speaker, we encourage beef farmers to work together to ensure the industry is successful.

I understand the strategy recognizes the importance of working with other beef sectors and stakeholders in the Maritimes and drawing on resources and infrastructure within the region. Federal and provincial support in risk management programs are not enough. The Borden beef plant is the only federally inspected beef processing plant in Atlantic Canada and has been seen to be of strategic importance to the Atlantic beef industry.

We recognize the hard times currently impacting the beef sector. We are in the final stages of our plan for the sector and will announce details in the very near future. The cattle industry should, and can, be a vital part of Nova Scotia's future, but to assume the role it could in the future the industry needs the right kind of public investment, strategic investment, that creates change and improves the lives of producers and everyone in rural Nova Scotia.

Beef producers have an advantage in that when you mention beef, people know exactly what you're talking about. This is a product that takes no great selling - Nova Scotians have been eating beef as a product practically since they've been here from Europe and it is one that, not that very many years ago, Nova Scotians consumed beef that was basically all provided, for the most part, in the province. So that is only a trend that probably in the last 30 or 40 years has changed - it has moved away so that less and less of the beef that we consume is produced here. But as far as marketing a product, as soon as you mention beef, Nova Scotians know what you're talking about. So that is a product with a great advantage rather than trying to introduce them to something that is completely new, that they never heard tell of, Mr. Speaker.

As I mentioned earlier today, we need to brand our own beef as a different product and we have what has been referred to as the "grass advantage." Raising grass-fed beef requires more knowledge and skill than just sending them to the traditional feed lot. For example, in order for grass-fed beef to be succulent and tender, the cattle need to forage on high-quality grasses and legumes, especially in the months prior to slaughter.

I really believe that the transition of the industry rests on more than grass-fed beef - given our natural advantages, I believe that grass-fed beef is just one of the many options that we have that will lead us to a viable and profitable beef sector. We have small, intensively

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managed herds of purebred livestock that, with the right stimulation, can provide the genetic material needed here and in other jurisdictions. With the right kind of assistance, producers could be on the leading edge of supplying the demand both right here and across North America.

The member for Kings West had mentioned the Kelco report. I think he was leading to environmental farm plans in his comments. I think they recognized what I think has been referred to now as public goods and services as a possible way for additional income. I have asked my staff to review that entire Kelco report to see if there is any potential for assistance. My preference would be to get for farmers what they need out of a value chain based on a cost-of-production model, but I think we should really plan on a fallback position to ensure that we try to come up with some way that might work. That would be more of the long-term, that's not the short-term strategy that I talked about in terms of bridging, that would be more of a longer-term strategy.

I've heard the comments around shipping beef to other provinces. I can see for some producers that there might be an advantage in individual cases, but I think for the overall industry generally, we have 1 million people consuming beef, so we're supplying so little of that that we really don't have to ship it outside our boundary.

As far as meeting - the member for Cape Breton North - I've stayed in touch with cattle producers practically since I became minister. I've made a commitment to contact them once a month, and I met with them just prior to this meeting that he referred to - I've met with the president, and I certainly intend to continue to do that.

Mr. Speaker, it would be nice if it were simple, but it is not, but it's not impossible either. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank all members for their involvement in this debate tonight.

The House will now rise, to meet again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 6:10 p.m.]