The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 09-11

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Charlie Parker

Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.

Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

First Session

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 279, Vaughan, William: Acting Career - Success,
The Premier 574
Vote - Affirmative 574
Res. 280, McNeil, Dep. Chief Chris - N.S. Chiefs of Police Assoc.:
Pres. - Appt., Hon. R. Landry 574
Vote - Affirmative 575
Res. 281, Pub. Serv. Wk. (10/05-10/11/09): Pub. Servants - Congrats.,
Hon. F. Corbett 575
Vote - Affirmative 576
Res. 282, Michelin (N.S.) - Anniv. (40th),
Hon. P. Paris 576
Vote - Affirmative 576
Res. 283, Lr. Sackville Access N.S. Ctr.: Opening - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Jennex 577
Vote - Affirmative 577
Res. 284, PSC - Long-Serv. Awards: Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. F. Corbett 577
Vote - Affirmative 578
Res. 285, Hfx. Shipyard: N.S. Economy - Congrats.,
Hon. P. Paris 578
Vote - Affirmative 579
Res. 286, Can. Summer Games (2009): Participants - Success Congrats.,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 579
Vote - Affirmative 579
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 26, Advisory Council on Mental Health Act, Ms. D. Whalen 580
No. 27, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Hon. M. More 580
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 287, Gov't. (N.S.) - Bills: Opposition Parties - Provide,
Hon. S. McNeil 580
Res. 288, Com. Serv.: Dart. North MLA - Advice,
Hon. K. Casey 581
Res. 289, Finlay, Tanisha/Forest Ridge Acad. - Reg. Science Olympics,
Hon. S. Belliveau 582
Vote - Affirmative 582
Res. 290, Dal. Psychiatry Dept. - "oneinfive.ca": Init. - Comment,
Ms. D. Whalen 583
Vote - Affirmative 583
Res. 291, MacNeil, Dan - Persons With Disabilities: Efforts - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 583
Vote - Affirmative 584
Res. 292, Blood, James: Figure Skating Success - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 584
Vote - Affirmative 585
Res. 293, Hum. Res. Comm.: ABCs - Applicants List,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 585
Res. 294, Theberge, John & Carmel - Anniv. (65th),
Mr. A. MacLeod 586
Vote - Affirmative 586
Res. 295, Willy Wonka Kids - Astral Dr. Elem. Sch.: Production
- Congrats., Ms. B. Kent 586
Vote - Affirmative 587
Res. 296, Villa Acadienne: Staff Work - Acknowledge,
Hon. W. Gaudet 587
Vote - Affirmative 588
Res. 297, Yarmouth Women's Hosp. Aux.: Healthcare Efforts
- Congrats., Hon. R. Hurlburt 588
Vote - Affirmative 589
Res. 298, Hatfield, Tom: Lobster Eating Contest - Congrats.,
Hon. S. Belliveau 589
Vote - Affirmative 589
Res. 299, Eric Graves Mem. Jr. High: Outdoor Green Classroom
- Congrats., Mr. A. Younger 590
Vote - Affirmative 590
Res. 300, Lake, Sam: Creativeness - Applaud,
Mr. C. Porter 590
Vote - Affirmative 591
Res. 301, Horizon Achievement Ctr. - Anniv. (25th),
Mr. G. Gosse 591
Vote - Affirmative 592
Res. 302, Parkers Brook Dev.: Bldg. Const. - Congrats.,
Ms. K. Regan 592
Vote - Affirmative 592
Res. 303, Romeo and Juliet - de Par-en Bas'/d'Entremont, Yvette:
Production - Congrats., Hon. C. d'Entremont 593
Vote - Affirmative 593
Res. 304, Arsenault, Kenny - Mar. & Cdn. Firefighter of Yr.,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 593
Vote - Affirmative 594
Res. 305, Boutilier, Alyssa/Hebblethwaite, Josh -
Glace Bay Atl. Youth Bowling Championship,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 594
Vote - Affirmative 595
Res. 306, Boularderie Veterans Mem. Monument Comm. - Commend,
Mr. K. Bain 595
Vote - Affirmative 596
Res. 307, Westfield Commun. Ctr.: Celebrating Communities Award -
Finalist, Ms. V. Conrad 596
Vote - Affirmative 596
Res. 308, Acrobat Research Closure: Cheticamp/Chebucto - Assistance,
Hon. K. Colwell 597
Res. 309, Cameron, Billie - Remarkable Seniors Award,
Hon. K. Casey 598
Vote - Affirmative 598
Res. 310, Musquodoboit Hbr. Lions Club: Commun. Needs - Commitment,
Mr. S. Prest 598
Vote - Affirmative 599
Res. 311, Sackville Rivers Assoc.: Vol. - Contribution,
Ms. K. Regan 599
Vote - Affirmative 600
Res. 312, Kings Meadow Residence Soc. - Anniv. (40th),
Mr. C. Porter 600
Vote - Affirmative 600
Res. 313, Amherst Fire Assoc.: Firefighters' Mem. Day -
Organizing Commend, Mr. B. Skabar 601
Vote - Affirmative 601
Res. 314, Seaview Manor Corp. - Natl. Quality Instit. Award,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 602
Vote - Affirmative 602
Res. 315, Marion Bridge FD - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. A. MacLeod 602
Vote - Affirmative 603
Res. 316, Back to School Event: Cobequid Commun. Health Bd. -
Congrats., Mr. M. Whynott 603
Vote - Affirmative 604
Res. 317, Arthritis Awareness Mo. (10/09) - Acknowledge,
Ms. D. Whalen 604
Vote - Affirmative 604
Res. 318, Brown, Douglas Arthur - Raddall Award,
Mr. K. Bain 605
Vote - Affirmative 605
Res. 319, Centre Stage Theatre - Anniv. (25th),
Mr. J. Morton 605
Vote - Affirmative 606
Res. 320, Justice - Jail: Cumb. Co. - Retain,
Hon. C. Clarke 606
Res. 321, "Kitty Cochran": Hist. Launch - Recognize,
Ms. P. Birdsall 607
Vote - Affirmative 608
Res. 322, Cook, Megan - Duke of Edinburgh's Award,
Mr. J. Boudreau 608
Vote - Affirmative 608
Res. 323, Kirk Logan Fiddle Contest: Organizers - Commend,
Mr. G. Burrill 609
Vote - Affirmative 609
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 324, Veinot, Rex/Fam. - Woodlot Owners of Yr. (2009),
Hon. J. MacDonell 610
Vote - Affirmative 610
Res. 325, Can. Summer Games (2009) Mission Staff - Congrats.,
The Premier 610
Vote - Affirmative 611
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 326, Saint Genevieve Parish Church - Anniv. (125th),
Mr. S. Prest 611
Vote - Affirmative 612
Res. 327, Wallace River Baptist Church - Anniv. (160th),
Mr. B. Skabar 612
Vote - Affirmative 612
Res. 328, Anderson, Pastor Rev. Lennet J./Fam.: Ministry - Anniv. (10th),
Mr. M. Whynott 613
Vote - Affirmative 613
Res. 329, Lynch, Shane: Taekwondo Comp. - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 613
Vote - Affirmative 614
Res. 330, Tools for Life Conf.: Comm./Vols./Partners - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Morton 614
Vote - Affirmative 615
Res. 331, Antigonish Guysborough Early Childhood Intervention Prog. -
Anniv. (10th), Mr. J. Boudreau 615
Vote - Affirmative 616
Res. 332, Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life: Commun. Health -
Contribution, Mr. L. Preyra 616
Vote - Affirmative 616
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 62, Health: Caregiver Allowance: Clawback,
Hon. S. McNeil 617
No. 63, Gov't. (N.S.): Openness - Balance Achieve,
Hon. K. Casey 619
No. 64, Health: Caregiver Allowance - Web Site Info.,
Hon. S. McNeil 620
No. 65, TIR: Building Canada Fund - Approval,
Hon. W. Gaudet 621
No. 66, Health: Nakile Home for Special Care - Serv. Agreement,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 622
No. 67, SNSMR - Gas Reg.: URB - Costs,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 624
No. 68, Health: Caregiver Allowance - Criteria Explain,
Mr. K. Bain 625
No. 69, Health - H1N1: Pharmacists - Practice Scope,
Ms. D. Whalen 626
No. 70, ERD: Small Bus. - Tax Cuts,
Mr. C. Porter 628
No. 71, TIR: Highway/Infrastructure Projects - Funding,
Hon. W. Gaudet 629
No. 72, SNSMR: CBRM - Equalization Formula,
Hon. C. Clarke 630
No. 73, TIR: Fairview Overpass - Replacement,
Ms. K. Regan 631
No. 74, ERD: Sydney Hbr. - Dredging,
Mr. A. MacLeod 633
No. 75, SNSMR: Commercial Energy Rebate - Details,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 635
No. 76, Justice: Springhill & Antigonish Jails - Construct,
Hon. C. Clarke 636
No. 77, Educ. - Prince Andrew HS: Renovations - Tender,
Mr. A. Younger 637
No. 78, Com. Serv.: Correspondence Response - Protocol,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 638
No. 79, Nat. Res.: Brigadoon Children's Camp Soc. - Land Acquisition,
Mr. L. Glavine 640
No. 80, Com. Serv.: Basic Allowance - Changes,
Hon. K. Casey 641
No. 81, SNSMR: Cosmetic Pesticides - Mun. Ban Allow,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) ^642
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 28, ER Closures - End - notice given Sept. 18/09,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 643
Hon. C. d'Entremont 643
Ms. D. Whalen 645
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 648
Hon. K. Casey 651
Res. 192, Environ.: Mink Farm (Yar. Co.) - Environmental
Review - notice given Sept. 24/09, Hon. R. Hurlburt 653
Hon. R. Hurlburt 654
Mr. A. Younger 656
Hon. J. MacDonell 658
Hon. S. Belliveau 660
Hon. C. d'Entremont 661
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Home Electricity: HST - Removal:
Mr. M. Whynott 664
Mr. A. Younger 666
Hon. C. Clarke 669
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Oct. 1st at 2:00 p.m. 671
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32 (3):
Res. 333, Glace Bay Red Devils U-12 Soccer Team -
Accomplishments Congrats., Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 672
Res. 334, Yarmouth Jr. High Girls Soccer Team - Anti-Bullying Stance,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 672
Res. 335, Central Kings Gators HS Hockey Team (1993-94):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 673

[Page 573]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 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 start the day's proceedings. First of all, under Adjournment motion, Rule 5(5), the late debate, submitted by the honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville, it reads:

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that removing the HST from home electricity, effective October 1st of this year, is a positive step towards making life better for Nova Scotian families.

That will be debated at the moment of interruption.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

[Page 574]

573

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 279

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 Cole Harbour native William Vaughan is a talented and gifted actor; and

Whereas his superior acting skills have landed him in a lead role on ABC's series Defying Gravity; and

Whereas Mr. Vaughan trained at Vancouver Film School and was awarded the 48-hour Film Festival best male actor award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mr. Vaughan on his successful acting career and wish him continued 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 Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 280

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

Whereas Halifax Regional Police Deputy Chief of Operations Chris McNeil has been selected by the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association to serve as their new president over the next two years; and

[Page 575]

Whereas since 2002 Deputy Chief McNeil has been a hard-working and dedicated deputy chief of police to the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association; and

Whereas Deputy Chief McNeil is wished well in his new post leading Nova Scotia's chiefs of police to work together to create a safer and stronger province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Deputy Chief McNeil on his new appointment as president of the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association, with best wishes for future success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of the Public Service Commission.

RESOLUTION NO. 281

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

Whereas Provincial Public Service Week will be celebrated October 5-11, 2009; and

Whereas the slogan "Great People Doing Great Things" is the theme for Provincial Public Service Week; and

Whereas resourcefulness, dedication, and innovation are among the qualities Nova Scotia's public servants demonstrate;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Nova Scotia's public servants on doing a great job and wish them well during Public Service Week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 576]

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 Economic and Rural Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 282

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

Whereas Michelin has been a stable employer in the province over the last 40 years and currently employs 3,600 Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the company has been a model corporate citizen, putting both time and money into the communities of Bridgewater, Waterville, and Granton, where its plants are located; and

Whereas the Michelin plants across the province have some of the most advanced machinery and are well-positioned for the future;

Therefore be it resolved that we recognize the social and economic contributions Michelin has made to our province, congratulate the company and its staff on their 40th Anniversary in Nova Scotia, and wish them many more years of success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

[Page 577]

RESOLUTION NO. 283

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

Whereas Access Nova Scotia provides a broad range of services and assistance to Nova Scotians, serving approximately 80,000 customers each month; and

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia deserve to have services as close to home as possible; and

Whereas the newest Access Nova Scotia location opened its doors on September 21, 2009 at 486 Sackville Drive in Lower Sackville;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer congratulations on the opening of the Lower Sackville Access Nova Scotia centre and thank the provincial staff who worked so hard to make this newest location a reality.

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 the Public Service Commission.

[2:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 284

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

Whereas 360 provincial government employees were honoured September 28th at a special ceremony celebrating their 25, 30, and 35 years of service; and

[Page 578]

Whereas these employees demonstrate their dedication and commitment to public service and the people of Nova Scotia every day; and

Whereas the work of public servants has a positive impact on communities from one end of this province to the other;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the 360 Public Service employees on receiving recognition for their years of service at the Long Service Awards Ceremony.

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 Economic and Rural Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 285

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

Whereas the Halifax Shipyard is celebrating its 120th Anniversary this month; and

Whereas the yard has recently been awarded a $194 million contract to build patrol vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard, which will employ people for the next four years, in addition to a navy contract that will employ Nova Scotians until 2017; and

Whereas the shipyard is well-suited to become a centre of shipbuilding excellence;

Therefore be it resolved that we recognize the great contributions that the Halifax Shipyard has made to Nova Scotia's economy and the art of shipbuilding in its 120 years of operation on the waterfront; may we congratulate them on their success and wish them luck in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 579]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 286

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

Whereas over 300 athletes competed at the 2009 Canada Summer Games in athletics, baseball, basketball, beach volleyball, canoe/kayak, cycling, diving, golf, rowing, rugby, sailing, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, triathalon, volleyball and wrestling; and

Whereas during the 2009 Canada Summer Games our athletes had the best showing ever; and

Whereas Team Nova Scotia brought back 52 medals and ranked fifth place in the country and displayed excellent sportsmanship at all times;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize our province's athletes, coaches, managers and mission staff and congratulate them for their success at the 2009 Canada Summer Games.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

[Page 580]

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Before I do the introduction of the bill, I would like your permission to do an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you very much. In the west gallery we are joined today by a group of people who were here for an earlier launch of a new Web site, called oneinfive.ca. They are people who are mental health advocates. I would like to read their names and then we'll ask you to stand. It's Dr. Stephanie Casey, who is a psychiatrist at the IWK Health Centre; Dr. Stephen Ayer, the Executive Director of the Schizophrenia Society; Carolyn Townsend; Vince Daigle; Shaleen Jones, Executive Director of Laing House; Dr. Carrie Lee Cassidy; and Dr. Nick Delva.

I wonder if you would all rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause) Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 26 - Entitled an Act to Create the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on Mental Health. (Ms. Diana Whalen)

Bill No. 27 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1996. The Occupational Health and Safety Act. (Hon. Marilyn More)

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. 287

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 is the wish of the Official Opposition that this Legislature work for the benefit of all Nova Scotians, regardless of political stripe or views on particular issues; and

Whereas the Premier has indicated that his government is trying to improve communications with Opposition Parties and the Opposition is eager to work with the Premier on this issue; and

[Page 581]

Whereas the Opposition has an important role in the function of democratic government in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the government provide Opposition Parties copies of bills that they plan to table in the House at least four hours prior to tabling and also that government provide the Opposition similar advance notice on bill briefings.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 288

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 member for Dartmouth North said in this Legislature on November 12th last year that it was important for the 81,000 individuals living in poverty, including 19,000 children, in Nova Scotia to have an increase in their basic allowance so that those living in poverty can purchase the basic necessities; and

Whereas the member for Dartmouth North was sincerely passionate in his plea for an increase to the basic allowance; and

Whereas the Minister of Community Services has had plenty of time since her election in June to consult with that member for Dartmouth North concerning his pleas in this House last November 12th;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services tell all members of this House today whether she has any intention of following advice provided by the member for Dartmouth North and announce an increase in the Community Services basic allowance.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 582]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 289

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

Whereas Forest Ridge Academy student Tanisha Finlay was a member of the overall winning team, the Mad Scientists, at the Tri-County Regional School Board's Regional Science Olympics on June 4, 2009; and

Whereas Tanisha Finlay helped her Grade 5 team score 73 out of a possible 75 points to win both the Grade 5 event as well as the overall title at the Regional Science Olympics; and

Whereas the Mad Scientists placed first out of the 27 teams of Grade 4 through Grade 6 students that competed in the Regional Science Olympics;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Forest Ridge Academy student Tanisha Finlay, who was a member of the overall winning team, the Mad Scientists, at the Tri-County Regional School Board's Regional Science Olympics on June 4, 2009.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 583]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 290

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

Whereas one in five Nova Scotians, or approximately 181,000 people in our province, will personally experience a mental health issue in their lifetime; and

Whereas many of these individuals go either untreated or suffer in silence; and

Whereas today the Dalhousie Department of Psychiatry, in conjunction with their partners, launched a micro-site called www.oneinfive.ca, a tool that will enable us to hear real stories from real people so that we as legislators are in a much better position to effect change when it comes to mental health programs;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House commend the leadership of the Dalhousie Department of Psychiatry and their partners for this exciting initiative and make a pledge to visit the site often as we continue to make policy and program decisions aimed at addressing the mental health needs of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 291

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

[Page 584]

Whereas Dan MacNeil of Sydney Mines and a long-time advocate for persons with disabilities has become the mayor of a virtual town , Our Town Earth, a social networking and information resource portal for persons with disabilities - the Web site can be found at www.ourtownearth.com and was constructed by New Media and Moxi Creative, two well-known Nova Scotia businesses; and

Whereas Our Town Earth has a specific aim to strengthen community involvement, provide opportunities, focus on entrepreneurs, fair trade with others, fiscal responsibility, create education and awareness surrounding disability; and

Whereas the citizens of Our Town Earth will play a major role in the evolution of this site as it goes global in the very near future;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating "Mayor" MacNeil in his efforts to break barriers that exist for persons with disabilities.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 292

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

Whereas James Blood of Lower Sackville is 19 years old; and

Whereas James Blood competed in figure skating in the categories of Male Singles and Pairs, winning gold in Male Single Level 3 and Pairs Level 1 in Nagano in 2005, and was inducted into the Sackville Sports Hall of Fame in 2006; and

[Page 585]

Whereas James Blood was one of the four Nova Scotia athletes competing in figure skating at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho, in February 2009 where he won gold medals for Male Singles Level 4 and Pairs Level 2;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate 19- year-old James Blood of Lower Sackville for his success at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho, and wish him all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 293

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

Whereas the honourable member for Richmond asked the Human Resources Committee to request that MLAs get a list of qualified applicants for agencies, boards and commissions; and

Whereas the committee chairman said it's not the committee's role to say whether MLAs should get the list of qualified applicants and directed the member for Richmond to pursue the issue through the Committee on Assembly Matters; and

Whereas a review of the mandates of both committees clearly places this issue in the hands of the Human Resources Committee and not the Committee on Assembly Matters;

Therefore be it resolved that the Human Resources Committee Chairman erred in her ruling and that the Premier, in the spirit of "openness and transparency", direct the committee chairman to put the issue on the agenda for the next committee meeting.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 586]

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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 294

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

Whereas John and Carmel Theberge from Dutch Brook recently celebrated their 65th Wedding Anniversary on September 17, 2009; and

Whereas on this, their star sapphire anniversary, John and Carmel can look back with pride on the life they have built together, as well as an accomplishment few couples ever see; and

Whereas the world has seen tremendous change since September 17, 1944, yet in spite of all that their love remained a constant as well as a comfort;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate John and Carmel Theberge on this impressive milestone while also wishing them many years of health and happiness in the years ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 587]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 295

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

Whereas each year families in the Cole Harbour area look forward to the annual musical production at Astral Drive Elementary School; and

Whereas after months of dedication and commitment to hard work, rehearsals, meeting deadlines, and designing sets and costumes, last year's musical production, entitled Willy Wonka Kids, was performed at the Astral Drive Elementary School on May 12, 2009; and

Whereas the many teachers, staff, students and parents at Astral Drive Elementary School had sacrificed countless hours and extracurricular activities to successfully produce the musical Willy Wonka Kids;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the teachers, staff, children and parents of the Astral Drive Elementary School in Cole Harbour on their production of the musical Willy Wonka Kids, and commend them for their efforts and wish them all the best with this year's preparations for their production in the Spring.

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 296

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

[Page 588]

Whereas September is recognized as Continuing Care Month in honour of the tremendous contributions made by the many employees who care for those in need; and

Whereas Above and Beyond, Because We Care: Enriching Lives Every Day has been chosen as the theme for 2009; and

Whereas the staff of Villa Acadienne continue to demonstrate the commitment, compassion and professionalism towards their residents;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly acknowledge the tremendous work the staff of Villa Acadienne do for the residents and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 297

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

Whereas for close to 50 years the Yarmouth Women's Hospital Auxiliary have hosted the Hospital Hullabaloo for people of the Yarmouth area; and

Whereas the long hours and dedication have been put forth for the goal of raising money for the hospital so that all citizens of Yarmouth can benefit from state-of-the-art equipment; and

Whereas in a time where the provincial health care system is in constant strain, the important work of the Women's Hospital Auxiliary and groups like them are more important than ever;

[Page 589]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the members of the Yarmouth Women's Hospital Auxiliary for hosting another successful Hullabaloo and thank them for their efforts in improving the health care system.

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 Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 298

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

Whereas Tom Hatfield of Clam Point, Cape Sable Island, was the winner of the annual lobster eating contest during the Shelburne County Lobster Festival on June 6, 2009; and

Whereas Mr. Hatfield clocked a time of five minutes, 12 seconds to win the contest; and

Whereas the Shelburne County Lobster Festival is a celebration of Shelburne County's heritage and culture;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Tom Hatfield of Clam Point, Cape Sable Island, for winning the annual lobster eating contest during Shelburne County Lobster Festival on June 6, 2009.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 590]

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. 299

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

Whereas students, parents and staff at Eric Graves Memorial Junior High in Dartmouth, with the help of Fed-Ex Canada and Tree Canada, planted trees and plants to create an outdoor green classroom; and

Whereas the school is encouraging the teachers to use the outdoor classroom for a variety of subjects from math to art class and the students can also use it to socialize during lunchtime and after school;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate students, parents and staff on their work to beautify the school grounds at Eric Graves and create an outdoor learning environment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 300

[Page 591]

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

Whereas involving young people in cultural activities in an innovative manner will emphasize the importance of our heritage; and

Whereas Sam Lake, a 12-year-old student at Windsor Forks District School in Hants County, displayed exceptional originality and inspiration in creating the graphic that was selected as the temporary tattoo winning entry in this year's Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival; and

Whereas acknowledging such exceptional qualities in our youth such as Sam Lake will enforce to them the relevance of participating in activities related to our legacies and traditions;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the creativeness and ingenuity shown by Sam Lake and encourage her to pursue her artistic talents.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 301

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

Whereas the Horizon Achievement Centre is a vocational training and employment service centre for adults with mental disabilities, or those facing multiple barriers to employment, who reside within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality; and

[Page 592]

Whereas their mandate is to promote and enhance the independence, choice and employability of those they serve through training, employment and community-based partnerships; and

Whereas the Horizon Achievement Centre is celebrating its 25th Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the important work that Horizon Achievement Centre does in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and congratulate them on their 25th 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 Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 302

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

Whereas Parkers Brook Development is an apartment building for older adults in Bedford; and

Whereas owner Sid Chedrawe has taken exemplary care of residents, responding swiftly to their concerns, and looking after their physical well-being in the building; and

Whereas Sid and his wife Sally Chedrawe, through the furnishing of a lounge for residents and constructing a garden so they can garden, have created a home-like atmosphere for residents;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Parkers Brook Development on the construction of their building and the fostering of a community within its walls.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 593]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 303

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: M. le Président, à une date ulérieure, je demanderai l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que le 20 mai denier était la soirée l'overture de la production de Roméo et Juliette présenté par L'École secondaire de Par-en-Bas d'après la pièce de Shakespeare du même nom; et

Attendu que une douzaine de personnages principaux composée d'étudiants et d'enseignants de l'école et plus de 80 personnes dans différentes capacités de l'équipage ont pratiqué pendant plus de douze mois pour perfectionner plus de 34 numéros musicaux dans le chant et la danse; et

Attendu que la production était le plus grand project théâtral entrepris par l'enseignante de drame Yvette d'Entremont qui était également directeur de la comédie musicale, producteur et acteur dans la présentation;

Par conséquent, qu'il soit résolu que tous le membres de cette Chambre se joignent à moi pour féliciter Yvette d'Entremont, les comédiens et l'équipe de la pièce pour leur dévouement, passion, enthousiasme et professionnalisme pour mener cette histoire d'amour tragique de la scène pour petits et grands de profiter;

M. le Président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis.

Mr. Speaker, I also have the English version and I'll table that one, in case somebody does want to read it.

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

[Page 594]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 304

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

Whereas Kenny Arsenault, a volunteer firefighter with the Little Harbour Fire Department in Pictou County, began participating in boot drives to raise money to fight muscular dystrophy many years ago; and

Whereas approximately two years ago, at the age of five, his son Daniel was diagnosed with this crippling disease; and

Whereas at this year's Maritime Firefighters Convention in Pictou County, Kenny Arsenault was named both Maritime and National Firefighter of the Year by Muscular Dystrophy Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Kenny Arsenault for being named both Maritime and Canadian Firefighter of the Year, his commitment to firefighting in his community and the years of fundraising for a cause that now affects his own family.

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 595]

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 305

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

Whereas the Glace Bay Atlantic Youth Bowling Seniors Mixed Team participated in the Canadian National Youth Bowling Championship hosted by Heather Lanes in Sydney; and

Whereas the Seniors Mixed Team from Glace Bay won the bronze at the Canadian National Championship; and

Whereas team members are Alyssa Boutilier and Josh Hebblethwaite;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Alyssa and Josh of the Glace Bay Atlantic Youth Bowling for their accomplishment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 306

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

Whereas in 2008 the idea of erecting a monument to honour veterans from the Boularderie Island area was presented to the St. James Cemetery Committee by John K. and Norma MacLeod and their family; and

[Page 596]

Whereas the idea soon became a community project which included research, collecting names, the creation of biographies for each of the veterans and obtaining the necessary funding; and

Whereas on September 12th the project became a reality with the unveiling of the monument containing over 290 names, with Her Honour Mayann Francis, members of the Royal Canadian Legion and other dignitaries in attendance;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature commend and thank the members of the Boularderie Veterans Memorial Monument Committee for their tireless efforts in bringing this honour to our veterans.

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. 307

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

Whereas a community suffered the loss of their centre in a devastating fire in April 2007 and within a year, the community of only about 100 residents put in more than 5,500 volunteer on-site hours to replace the building; and

Whereas the dedication, imagination and resourcefulness of the community resulted in the new hall that is a source of great pride for all of the people of North Queens; and

Whereas today the centre is used by many community groups to host meetings, concerts, receptions, fundraisers, parties and dances;

[Page 597]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the Westfield Community Centre on being a finalist in the Community Development Excellence category of the 2009 Celebrating Communities Awards.

[2:45 p.m.]

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. 308

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 598]

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and before I read the resolution, if I could, with your permission, do an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. CASEY: I would like to draw our folks attention to the gallery before me. I'd like to introduce John Guinan, a friend from Truro and the proud father of Chris Guinan who is there with him. Chris is a recent university graduate and a new employee as a researcher in our caucus office. Welcome to the House.

RESOLUTION NO. 309

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

Whereas Billie Cameron has been instrumental in organizing a cohesive, energetic and successful team to do upgrades in the North Shore Recreation Centre; and

Whereas the Tatamagouche Elementary School playground project is one of Billie's favourites and most successful and was named the William Cameron Playground in his honour; and

Whereas this impressive senior from Colchester North has been chosen to receive the Remarkable Seniors Award at this year's 20th Annual 50+ Expo;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Billie Cameron for receiving this prestigious award and for serving as an example of how and why a small community like Tatamagouche can achieve such outstanding accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 599]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 310

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

Whereas the Musquodoboit Harbour Lions Club has been devoted to serving its community since 1982; and

Whereas the Lions Club is in the process of adding an addition to their community centre to better facilitate the housing of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon and the Eastern Shore Food Bank; and

Whereas the Lions Club members are a group of volunteers that are dedicated to better their community and provide an environment where most needs are met;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature commend the Musquodoboit Harbour Lions Club for their commitment in meeting the needs of their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 311

[Page 600]

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

Whereas in 1988 the Sackville Rivers Association was created when several community members organized a clean-up of the Sackville River; and

Whereas for 21 years they have worked diligently on yearly clean-ups, which have restored and maintained the quality of the river; and

Whereas the river now boasts 14 sustainable species of fish and a riverside trail from Sackville to Bedford, which is used by 1,000 people per week throughout the summer;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly recognize the significant contribution all the volunteers of the Sackville Rivers Association have made over the past 21 years and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 312

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

Whereas King's Meadows Residence Society in Windsor celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a special ceremony this past June; and

Whereas King's Meadows was the first community residence or group home in Nova Scotia and to this day remains a leader due to their professional staff and strong community support; and

[Page 601]

Whereas the lives of countless individuals have been positively affected by this centre, as they are guided by the philosophy that life is to be lived to the fullest every day;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate King's Meadows Residence Society on its 40th Anniversary and thank all staff for improving the lives of many over the years.

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. 313

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's emergency responders, such as firefighters, law enforcement officers, EHS, EMO, and other emergency personnel are required on a daily basis to face and overcome dangerous situations in their efforts to save lives, prevent violence, and better their communities; and

Whereas Amherst Firefighters Association is hosting their 9th annual Firefighters' Memorial Day on Sunday, October 4th to pay tribute to emergency personnel of the past, present, and future; and

Whereas this service provides Amherst and area residents a chance to reflect upon the lifesaving services provided by all emergency personnel and thank the men and women who embrace these roles in their communities;

[Page 602]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the importance of emergency personnel in our province and commend the efforts of the Amherst Firefighters Association in organizing the Firefighters' Memorial Day.

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.

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce two friends of mine who happen to be up in the gallery, Kathie Swenson of Halifax and Donna McCready of Dartmouth. They're both good campaigners, shall we say. I'd like the House to recognize them and give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome them and certainly welcome all of our visitors here today.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 314

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

Whereas the Seaview Manor Corporation nursing home of Glace Bay is the recipient of one of the National Quality Institute's 2009 Canada Awards for Excellence; and

Whereas this award is presented annually to private and public sector organizations to recognize outstanding achievements in the areas of quality, customer service, and a healthy workplace; and

Whereas Seaview Manor Corporation will be presented with this prestigious award at the 2009 Performance Excellence Summit Awards dinner on October 22nd at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre;

[Page 603]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Seaview Manor Corporation and its staff in this remarkable achievement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 315

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

Whereas the Marion Bridge Fire Department will celebrate their 50th Anniversary in operation on October 3, 2009; and

Whereas for half a century, brave and selfless volunteers have put their lives on the line in order to preserve safety and security for the people of Marion Bridge; and

Whereas the debt of gratitude owed to volunteer firefighters all over this province is truly impossible to measure, as countless lives have been saved by their acts;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize this important milestone for the people of Marion Bridge, while thanking all of those who have served and those who continue to serve so bravely in volunteer fire departments across Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 604]

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 Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville.

RESOLUTION NO. 316

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

Whereas on Saturday, September 12, 2009, the Cobequid Community Health Board hosted their annual Back to School Safety event; and

Whereas the event was attended by parents, children, RCMP and the Halifax Regional Police; and

Whereas they focused on road, bike, helmet and sun safety to help parents and children prepare for a safe Fall;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Cobequid Community Health Board for their work on the annual Back to School event and extend very best wishes in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 317

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

[Page 605]

Whereas 23.7 per cent of our population, or approximately 180,000 Nova Scotians, live with arthritis making this the highest incidence rate in Canada; and

Whereas each September, the Arthritis Society uses Arthritis Awareness Month to heighten understanding of this disease and raise much-needed funds for arthritis research and services;

Whereas this year, the Arthritis Society is focusing its efforts on highlighting the importance of physical activity for people suffering from arthritis;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly acknowledge the month of September as Arthritis Awareness Month and extend our appreciation to the staff of the Arthritis Society for all of their efforts, especially their powerful message around the importance of physical activity in dealing with arthritis.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 318

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

Whereas Boularderie's Douglas Arthur Brown was the winner of the 19th Annual Thomas Head Raddall award in May of this year for his book Quintet ; and

Whereas the Raddall prize, at $15,000, is the largest fiction prize in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas Mr. Brown, along with his writing, also serves on the Victoria County Economic Development Committee as well as Writer-in-Residence for Boularderie School;

[Page 606]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature congratulate Douglas Arthur Brown on winning this prestigious award and wish him the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 319

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

Whereas Centre Stage Theatre was founded in Kentville in 1984; and

Whereas the success of the theatre has been the result of the untiring and creative work of numerous board members and volunteers; and

Whereas the theatre has enriched the life of the Kings County community for a quarter of a century;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the board and volunteers of Centre Stage Theatre on the 25th Anniversary of its founding and extend best wishes for continued success on its plans for future growth and development.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 607]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 320

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 member for Cumberland North has not been able to comprehend yet plans by the Minister of Justice presently underway behind closed doors to have the new North Nova Correctional Centre constructed in Pictou County; and

Whereas the Mayor of Springhill, Alan Dill, is seeing red over the delay in construction on the $18 million correctional facilities while officials in Antigonish also want to know about their new correctional facility; and

Whereas the member for Cumberland North has accused the member for Cumberland South of fanning the flames over the construction of a new correctional facility adjacent to the federal medium security prison in Springhill;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLA for Cumberland North, instead of throwing accusations at the member for Cumberland South, immediately come forward and stand up for the people who elected him and speak with the Minister of Justice about keeping the jail in Cumberland County.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MS. PAM BIRDSALL: Mr. Speaker, before I read the resolution, I would like to acknowledge a member of the Lunenburg constituency who is a long-term member of our Party.

MR. SPEAKER: By all means.

MS. BIRDSALL: I would like to recognize David Young who is a hard-working member of our Party, who was a pinnacle person in our election campaign and whose

[Page 608]

birthday it is today. So I would ask you all to give him a happy birthday welcome and greeting. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 321

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

Whereas the Kitty Cochran, a newly-built wooden schooner, was launched on the Lunenburg waterfront on Saturday, September 12th; and

Whereas the Kitty Cochran, built by David Westergaard and owned by Duncan Veasey, is the first newly-built wooden boat to be launched in Lunenburg in the last 40 years; and

Whereas the Kitty Cochran was built in Lunenburg at The Dory Shop, which has operated since 1917;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the historic launching of this wooden schooner and congratulate David Westergaard, Duncan Veasey, and The Dory Shop for maintaining Lunenburg's shipbuilding history.

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. 322

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

[Page 609]

Whereas on September 28th Megan Cook was awarded the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze Award at Chedabucto Academy in Guysborough and was the first recipient of this award at this school; and

Whereas the Duke of Edinburgh's Award encourages self-discipline, initiative and creativity, community involvement and social responsibility, the spirit of adventure, development of leadership and teamwork skills, and many more important qualities; and

Whereas to be a recipient of this award you must complete the following requirements: community service, skill development, physical recreation, adventurous journey, and a residential project;

Therefore be it resolved that Megan Cook be congratulated on her hard work and dedication to obtaining the requirements for the Bronze Award and on being awarded the Duke of Edinburgh's 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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 323

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

Whereas the 14th annual Kirk Logan Old-Time Fiddle Contest was held successfully on September 26th at the Bicentennial Theatre in Middle Musquodoboit; and

Whereas this event preserves the legacy of Kirk Logan, legendary Musquodoboit fiddler, whose music filled dance halls in such places as Birch Hill, Elderbank, Moose River Gold Mines, and Upper Musquodoboit for over half a century until his passing in 1997; and

[Page 610]

Whereas the Kirk Logan Old-Time Fiddle Contest is an integral dimension of a renaissance of old-time music in Nova Scotia, finding expression through a whole new generation of musicians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly extend its commendation to the Board of Directors of the Bicentennial Theatre and to Martha Higgins, Kirk Logan Old-Time Fiddle Contest Chair, and offer its best wishes for the ongoing future of the contest.

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. (Interruptions)

There has been a request to revert back to the order of business, Government Notices of Motion.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 324

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources presents the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owner of the Year Award each year to recognize and reward landowners for outstanding stewardship of their woodland and to help encourage the practice of sustainable woodlot management; and

[Page 611]

Whereas this year, Mr. Rex Veinot and his family of Lunenburg County were chosen as the provincial 2009 winners; and

Whereas Rex is not only an excellent woodlot manager but also the first to receive this award twice, having won with his father 13 years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly acknowledge the outstanding achievement of Mr. Rex Veinot and his family as Woodlot Owner of the Year for 2009, and thank them for their enthusiastic and innovate approaches to woodlot management in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 325

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members opposite for allowing another Government Notice of Motion. I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the mission staff of the 2009 Canada Summer Games have spent countless hours preparing so that athletes could have a successful and rewarding experience at the games; and

Whereas the volunteer mission staff promote healthy, active living amongst youth in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas mission staff positively contributed to the overall experience of Nova Scotia athletes, coaches and managers who participated in the games;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate the mission staff of the 2009 Canada Summer Games on their support for youth, community and sport in Nova Scotia.

[Page 612]

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.

[NOTICES OF MOTION]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 326

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

Whereas on September 27, 2009 the Saint Genevieve Parish Church celebrated its 125 years of ministry; and

Whereas the presider was most Reverend Anthony Mancini, Archbishop of Halifax; and

Whereas the Saint Genevieve Parish Church has provided community leadership and fellowship for many years;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Parish of Saint Genevieve Church on its historic 125th Anniversary and extend very best wishes in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 613]

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. 327

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 Wallace River Baptist Church has been part of the Wallace community since 1849 and celebrated its 160th Anniversary with special events on September 25th and September 27th; and

Whereas the church encourages spirituality in the small community through weekly music nights, fellowship gatherings and meetings; and

Whereas the residents of Wallace take pride in its history and celebrate such milestones together as a community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend our congratulations to the Wallace River Baptist Church on its 160th 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 Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville.

RESOLUTION NO. 328

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

[Page 614]

Whereas on Saturday, August 29, 2009 the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Hammonds Plains celebrated Pastor Reverend Lennett J. Anderson and the family's 10th Anniversary of ministry; and

Whereas Pastor Reverend Lennett has provided community leadership and fellowship for these many years; and

Whereas the occasion was celebrated with a luncheon under the theme of The Year of the Awakening - Maximizing Divine Opportunities;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Pastor Reverend Lennett J. Anderson and family and extend very best wishes in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 329

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

Whereas Dry Tears is an organization committed to raising funds to build wells and irrigation systems in African communities; and

Whereas 20-year-old Shane Lynch of Lower Sackville is a fourth-year public relations student at Mount Saint Vincent University who recently placed in the top 10 in a tae kwon do competition in Italy; and

Whereas Shane Lynch founded the first Canadian chapter of Dry Tears and has worked with volunteers to raise approximately $2,000 for the organization, with aspirations to promote the cause with a larger event;

[Page 615]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate 20-year-old Shane Lynch of Lower Sackville for placing in the top 10 in a tae kwon do competition held in Italy, commend him for his contribution to the Dry Tears organization by founding the first Canadian chapter and raising approximately $2,000 to date, wish him well, and future success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 330

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

Whereas Mr. Dwayne Compton and Mr. James Roy co-founded the Tools for Life Conference in 2005, a conference which is open to anyone interested in learning more about addressing barriers throughout our homes, workplace, and community; and

Whereas last year's event attracted over 200 organizations and agencies, 125 exhibitors and 60 presenters offering 75 educational sessions covering various topics related to children, youth, adults, and seniors, with over 1,000 consumers and professionals participating in the conference; and

Whereas the 4th annual Tools for Life Conference and Exhibit will be held on Friday, October 23, 2009, at Horton High School in Greenwich, Nova Scotia, and provides free admission to all;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Dwayne Compton, Mr. James Roy, the committee and volunteers, and the partners in Tools for Life, Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre, and the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board, on their initiative in creating the Tools for Life conference.

[Page 616]

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. 331

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

Whereas on Tuesday, September 22nd, the Antigonish-Guysborough Early Childhood Intervention Program hosted an open house to celebrate their 10th Anniversary; and

Whereas early intervention is a family-centred program for children with special needs, from birth to school age, providing an opportunity for parents to gain knowledge to make informed decisions and offering support and networking; and

Whereas the Antigonish-Guysborough Early Childhood Intervention Program offers advocacy and support, co-visits with other professionals, resource/toy lending library, play group, transition to daycare, school and community programs, and many additional services;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the board and staff of the Antigonish-Guysborough Early Childhood Intervention Program on their 10th Anniversary, with best wishes for future success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 617]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

[3:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 332

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

Whereas the Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life took place on the Halifax Common on Sunday, September 27th; and

Whereas the Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life is hosted by the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life provides prevention education to communities and organizations across Nova Scotia as well as providing health promotion programs for people living with HIV/AIDS and their family members;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognizes the significant contributions to the health of our community from the Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life facilitated by the AIDS Coalition 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.

Before we go to Question Period, I just want to take a minute and bring to your attention - if I can indulge you for a second - yesterday's Question Period. I find it difficult to bring this matter to the attention of the House, but I feel it's necessary. I certainly don't want to be seen as interfering with what I've come to admire as the spirit and liveliness in this place. But, I just want to take a minute to ask for the support of all members of the

[Page 618]

House to deal with certain problems that I've observed here yesterday and previously, especially during Oral Question Period.

I believe, I guess the best description of the difficulties, as I see them, is just a general lack of respect - whether here of the institution, of each other or for the authority of this Chair. While it is not my style, nor my wish to be seen as authoritarian or inflexible, I feel it is important that order and decorum have to be held on a higher level than witnessed here yesterday.

At this point, I'm asking for the assistance of all honourable members and I just want to point out a couple of things. Sometimes it's difficult to hear the questions and the answers. Secondly, some of the supplementary questions are becoming a bit long and also the answers to those questions are becoming a bit unduly long.

Having said that, I just again say that this Chamber, we certainly have a stellar history. It has witnessed fervent passionate debate. Different points of view are the lifeblood of this place and will, I hope, remain that way. But mutual respect has to be part of that mix.

As has been said many times, the special rights and privileges of members also comes with equally special responsibilities. Thank you honourable members for your attention. We're now going to start Question Period.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time is 3:18 p.m and we will go to 4:48 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH: CAREGIVER ALLOWANCE: CLAWBACK

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday I told the House about a family in my riding who qualified for the caregiver allowance. Mathew and Guylaine care for their son with multiple challenges to his health. They met all the government's stringent criteria and were approved but because they receive social assistance, the Department of Community Services clawed back 70 per cent of the allowance. My question for the Premier is, why is your government giving on one hand to a family in true need and taking away with the other?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want the Leader of the Official Opposition to know that there are many stories just like the one he has just related in this province with people who are caring for people in their own homes. The design of this program is to assist to the extent that the government can those people with providing that care.

[Page 619]

It was decided in the design of the program that it would be taxed - or it would be treated as income - in the hands of the recipient. That is why, although I don't know the particulars of that situation, that is why that situation presents itself.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the government considers the caregiver allowance earned income under the rules for receiving social assistance. Yesterday and today, the Premier said the reason Mathew and Guylaine were losing most of their allowance was because the allowance was taxable income. The Premier would know this had nothing to do with this couple having its money clawed back. It has to do with a policy within the Department of Community Services, and he has the power to change that policy. My question to the Premier is, will you tell the Department of Community Services to stop the practice of clawing back the allowance for families who need our help?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the design of the program as we found it when we came into office and the application thereof is what you're seeing. As the Minister of Health has indicated on many previous occasions now, it is our intention to monitor the progress of the program as it goes along, to hear the advice that we're receiving - not just from the member opposite, but all the members of the Legislature - and take that into account when we are in a position to launch our own program next year.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the Premier of what he had to say in 2005 when he complained that the $250 fuel rebate for low income families was being clawed back by the Department of Community Services, and I am quoting here, "why is your government forcing people on social assistance to choose between being cold and being hungry?" End of quote. So my question for the Premier is, will he commit to removing the clawback provision for families who qualify for the caregivers' program immediately and do what is right?

THE PREMIER: Before this government came to power, there was no assistance for anyone. It is because of the work of the Minister of Health that this program moved forward. We are doing an analysis of it. We're going to make sure that it is the best fit for as many people as we can serve. We are, in fact, going to design the best possible program we can, and we're going to do it so that we provide the services that are needed and so that we also live up to our commitment to live within our means.

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

GOV'T (N.S.): OPENNESS - BALANCE ACHIEVE

[Page 620]

HON. KAREN CASEY: My question through you is to the Premier. To date, since the election, there appears to be a sense of secrecy over everything this government is doing. The Premier told the media that a process is required that works for government and all Opposition parties. My question is this, what is the Premier prepared to change in the existing process in order to achieve a greater balance of openness with his government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the first thing we did is we lowered the fees for the Freedom of Information.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, nine of twelve members on the front bench have had experience as critics and understand very well the role of the critic in Opposition. In a recent media scrum, the Premier said he would continue to try every day to operate this House for the people of Nova Scotia and that it is important to have a respectful House. It is the belief of our caucus that we are not seeing that openness of which he speaks and my question to the Premier is, what direction has he given his ministers to help achieve that openness?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are providing advance notice of ministerial statements. In fact, they've been congratulating us on that. (Interruptions) As I said, we're prepared to consult on bills. We're going to continue to do that. I read the comments of the member opposite in which she said that I had only ever called her once. Well, I met with her in my office as well in two months, and I can tell you that in the entire time that I was there, I rarely ever received a call from the government.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to suggest that the ministers need more time because of, quote, "growing pains," is not acceptable. For example, the minister from Timberlea-Prospect worked well with me as Education Critic, as did the minister from Kings West. Those ministers and this government know full well the importance of working with critics. My question to the Premier is, why is the same sense of co-operation with critics in the Opposition Parties not being shown by the ministers in your Cabinet?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know this was raised the other day in the context of a scrum. I canvassed through many of my colleagues and very few of us could ever remember being consulted with respect to briefings of departments by the previous government - that just didn't happen. They may think that it happened but it didn't. But nonetheless, that's not the point. The point is to make this House work. So the question of consultation, and the question with respect to replying to the requests of the Opposition, is a two way street. If they have questions that they would like to ask, if they have information that they would like to send to us, if they have information they require, they should call.

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

HEALTH: CAREGIVER ALLOWANCE - WEB SITE INFO

[Page 621]

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. This government introduced the caregiver allowance in August and at that time the minister said that there was a great need out there and the people are looking for help now. Caregivers who need help got their hopes up. Yet recently this government changed the information it's providing to people looking for assistance. If you check the government's Web site, it has laid out a more and more confusing criteria. So my question for the Minister of Health is, has your department changed the information on its Web site to discourage people from applying for this program?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for his question. Caregivers in this province are very important to this government and that's why we decided to go forward with the program that was designed by the former government with the support of the Official Opposition. As this program is a new program in the province, we want to provide the best information to people with respect to what the criteria are and we will be continually updating our communications on that program as we identify the ways to get information out there.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the changes they have made make it more difficult for Nova Scotians looking for this program to get the assistance they were looking for and required and were promised, quite frankly, in the announcement. The only thing that this government has changed about this program is its website. Nova Scotia families who need help were misled by this government. So my question for the minister is, why did your government change a Web site to justify rejecting people in need instead of changing the program to make it work?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I regret that the Leader of the Official Opposition has characterized the actions of the department as misleading. We have laid out the criteria for the caregiver program so that people who are interested in this program will understand what the criteria are and we will continue to have that website, we will update that website as needed.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister called this a Tory plan supported by the Liberals. In fact, it is a Liberal idea, picked up by the Tories, and messed up by the NDP. (Applause) That is why they have changed their website and that is why they refuse to admit how many people have applied to this allowance and how many people they have rejected. So my question for the minister is, when will you admit that this program is not delivering what you promise and fix it?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would say to the honourable member that it's important not to mislead the House by indicating that I've refused to provide the numbers. I have made it very clear on the floor of this House that

[Page 622]

getting the numbers is difficult because this service has been devolved to the DHAs. We will have those numbers very soon. Thank you.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

TIR: BUILDING CANADA FUND - APPROVAL

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. In 2007 the federal government announced a Building Canada Fund. This fund is dedicated to major infrastructure projects, particularly in priority areas such as the national highway system, transit, water and waste water treatment and green energy. A portion for our two major municipalities, Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are set to receive over $198 million. The problem is that it has been two years and the agreement has not yet been signed in full, leaving numerous infrastructure projects hanging in the wings. My first question to the minister is, what is your government doing to expedite the process to get this funding approved?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member for his important question on a topic where I can assure him that it is a constant, important matter when it comes to communication, particularly with the federal government. During the short time that I have been the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, on a number of occasions I've had the opportunity to place phone calls to appropriate federal ministers.

I want to assure the member opposite that the response I received from federal ministers, the Honourable John Baird in particular, has been extremely co-operative on a number of occasions. At one time he actually contacted me at home, on the weekend, with some information. In addition to that, the Honourable Peter MacKay has been very forthright, following up calls and contacts that we've had.

I'm aware, of course, of the difficulties and the frustrations particularly with municipalities. I encourage the municipalities to keep us in the loop, honourable member. In addition to that, I encourage the mayors of those particular municipalities to make sure that they contact Ottawa in the forthright manner that I've done on a number of occasions.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this agreement runs out in 2013. That does not leave much time for tenders and actual construction for potential projects like libraries or road and bridge construction. So while this government waddles, the clock is running out for these projects to start and finish before the 2013 deadline. So my question to the minister is, will you take action to make certain that this agreement is signed immediately?

[Page 623]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member opposite. I wish to point out that because of the good communication between the federal government and this new government here in Nova Scotia, in the year 2009-10 there will be approximately $70 million worth of projects that will be brought forward in this province. That is in the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal alone. During the year 2010-11, there will be $85 million that has already been assigned to projects within this province.

The point that I would like to make and I encourage members of the municipalities to be very clear in the fact - give us a call, we'll help you out in your communications with Ottawa.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister stated yesterday that 90 per cent of Ottawa's $29 billion plan to stimulate the economy for this fiscal year has been committed to specific projects. So, this is a critical matter for the province; they need to reach an agreement with the federal government for HRM and CBRM in advance of infrastructure projects. So hearing the statement from the Prime Minister, the province needs to act quickly to sign off on this portion of the Building Canada Fund. Again to the minister, given the Prime Minister's statement, can we expect our major cities to still receive their allotted funding?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member opposite. One of the concerns that has been brought to my attention is the criteria that's used at times when it comes to the federal government. In the exchanging back and forth, with whichever federal minister you're dealing with, you have to make it quite clear the projects which you consider a priority, that fit within that criteria.

I look forward to meeting with Mayor Morgan or Mayor Kelly at any time because as far as I'm concerned, in the communications that we've had with federal ministers through this process, there is some give, there is some take, there are some positive communications. Thus far, the provincial government in this province has done very well when it comes to that money and accessing it to make sure that across this province, from one end to the other, we're going to have those dollars. I share the frustrations of those two mayors. I can assure you I look forward to working with them to end those frustrations.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH: NAKILE HOME FOR SPECIAL CARE -

SERV. AGREEMENT

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday during Question Period, and of course during estimates, I

[Page 624]

spoke of Nakile Home for Special Care, their desperate issue of getting their 22-bed expansion going again. This afternoon marks the last few hours that the board may award the tender that has been open for two months. As a matter of fact, they have about 24 minutes. Madam Minister, Mr. Speaker, through you, the time is now to help the residents of southwestern Nova Scotia by allowing Nakile to adjust their service agreement. Does the minister have some good news for Nakile today?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for his question. I met with the honourable member shortly before this Legislature came back into session and with the administrator of that home because that home was having difficulty with respect to bringing a project in, as approved, on budget. The budget has escalated considerably and - as I said to the honourable member yesterday during estimates - we are very prepared to continue to work with Nakile, and with the honourable member, to see if we can find a resolution for this situation.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that comment although, as I've said, the tender has been open for almost two months now - ample time for the Department of Health to come up with a solution. The administrator and I met with you almost a month ago, probably three weeks ago now, giving you plenty of time to direct the department to resolve this issue as well. You are the minister. What steps have you taken to help the board of directors in the Nakile Home for Special Care?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again, I met with the honourable member, on very short notice, along with the administrator because I placed a great priority on working co-operatively with members of this Chamber when they bring their issues to my attention. My staff has been working very hard with that organization to see what measures may be taken to reconcile the situation and we are more than happy to continue to do so.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I've given the solution on a couple of occasions now where the minister has to allow for renegotiation of that service agreement to allow for the true costs of the project. We know when the service agreement was signed that the estimate was incorrect. It doesn't allow for a true cost of that tender. The tenders came in. Yes, they came in high but they do represent the Hanscomb numbers that have been received.

So I know we've been talking about the province only spending the money that they have and this isn't money to be spent on a per diem at a later date. These are numbers that are going to be paid when the construction is complete, probably in 2011-12. Will you commit now to change the agreement and give Nakile the go-ahead before the end of business today?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, these matters are often very complicated. Changing that agreement may result in significantly higher costs to residents and their families, in the future, in those facilities. More costs than they're able to bear.

[Page 625]

Additionally, we're talking about expenditure that's significantly more than what was estimated for this project.

Other projects have been able to be brought in the long-term care sector on budget. We'll continue to work with Nakile, but as I told the member yesterday, this is not something that can be solved in 24 hours. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

SNSMR - GAS REG.: URB - COSTS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The minister has announced that the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board will be responsible for setting the price of gas. As we all know, the board regulates the electric utility, auto insurance, gaming, liquor licencing, assessment and expropriation, film classification, municipal and school board boundaries and now on a bi-weekly basis, the price of gas. They're going to hold public hearings on gas regulation and it's not going to be cheap. In fact, when price setting was done by only a few bureaucrats behind closed doors, it still came to about a $1.2 million price tag. My question for the minister is, will the minister tell Nova Scotians how much more they're going to have to pay as an additional cost of regulation?

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, at this time there will be no changes in the fees.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, as many will do, I will try and figure out exactly what that means. Setting the price of gas affects Nova Scotians from Yarmouth to Glace Bay, from Caledonia to Inverness. They deserve to have a say on the board's decision-making process. These price-setting hearings may be marginally more public than the closed-door policy of the previous government, but only if you happen to be in the community where the hearings are held. My next question to the minister is, since setting the price for gas affects all municipalities, not just one, where is the Utility and Review Board going to be holding their public meetings?

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I would not be able to answer where they will be having their hearings. that is a question that would have to be directed to the Utility and Review Board.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are already paying an artificially high price at the pumps. Now it looks like they're going to have to subsidize the URBs traveling gas price road show. For a lot of Nova Scotians, ironically, if they want to participate in the road show, they're going to have to get in their cars and buy a tank of gas and drive wherever the URB might be on that particular day in order to be heard. My final

[Page 626]

question for the minister is, will the minister tell us what Nova Scotians will be paying for the cost of outsourcing regulation?

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, there is no increased cost to the movement of the gas pricing to the Utility and Review Board.

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

HEALTH: CAREGIVER ALLOWANCE - CRITERIA EXPLAIN

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health and it deals once again with the caregiver allowance. A constituent of mine in Georges River, Julia MacCormick, has terminal cancer and a year and one-half ago was given two months to live. This brave woman has beaten the odds, but is no longer able to do much for herself. On top of this, recent hip surgery has left her immobile.

Without a doubt, Ms. MacCormick has trouble managing her personal needs, and she can't do laundry, clean, or prepare any meals. The MacCormicks' financial status qualifies them for the program, yet their application was still rejected. My question to the minister is, why would someone like Julia be refused assistance under the Caregiver Allowance Program?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't know about the situation that he speaks of, but this program is targeted to people who have very low incomes and the highest level of need that is determined after an assessment by the home care coordinators. I just want to read for the honourable member from what his colleague, a former Minister of Health, said last night in estimates. He said, "After a lot of discussion and I can say, you know, in Cabinet and otherwise, we spent a lot of time trying to come up with what kind of costs would be associated with this program, what kind of criteria might we want to put in it . . . So over the last number of months, of course, we were able to put the funding aside, we were able to get the program details done."

As I've been saying, the program was designed by the previous government and the details were debated by the previous government. We will be reviewing this program and bringing forward our own in-house support program.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I'd also like to table a quote from the minister on August 11, 2009 where the minister says, "We recognize the very important role that caregivers have in the lives of the people they care for. We know that caregivers need support themselves so that they can continue to provide care to their family members and friends."

[Page 627]

Ms. MacCormick's children have sacrificed greatly in order to keep their mother going. In the letter they wrote to me, they said for Ms. MacCormick's daughter to keep her job, her son needed to come home from Ontario to take some burden off his sister. The Premier talked between May 5th and June 9th, throughout the election campaign, about the importance of seniors being able to stay in their homes. My question through you to the minister is, will Ms. MacCormick and people in similar situations to hers be able to get this caregiver allowance and stay in her home where she is the most comfortable?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this is not a universal program for all persons who are providing care. This was designed by the previous government to be a targeted program for people who are eligible, based on a number of criteria, including an eligibility test based on the level of need.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, it's very interesting - we've asked for the numbers and we still haven't received them. We realize the importance of the Caregiver Assistance Program in Nova Scotia. The minister has said that they will in due time look over the allowance program and make necessary changes. We don't know how long it would be. Next year may be too late for Ms. MacCormick. My question to the minister through you is, am I to take from everything you say and all your answers, both now and to other members in this House, that if I have Ms. MacCormick's children contact your office, you will immediately look into this troubling situation?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my department is prepared, if people feel that they were wrongly assessed on the home care assessment, to do a review of that assessment, and we are perfectly happy to do that in the case of the honourable member.

Let me say this as well, Mr. Speaker, the budget is working its way through this House and there is an allocation in that budget for a particular amount of money for this program and it was designed to support approximately 740-some caregivers in the province. It is not a universal program; it is a targeted program. In terms of how many people are receiving this program, we will be having that information available very soon.

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

HEALTH - H1N1: PHARMACISTS - PRACTICE SCOPE

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Today during Public Accounts, we heard from officials of both the Department of Health and the Department of Health Promotion and Protection with regard to pandemic preparedness. During this session, I questioned the Chief Medical Officer around the issue of expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists so that they would be available to assist in administering vaccinations. During the election, a response was provided to the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia on behalf of the now-Premier, which supported expanding the

[Page 628]

scope of practice for pharmacists. My question to the Minister of Health is, has she recommended to the Deputy Minister of Health that we proceed with expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists in light of the H1N1 influenza?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to thank the honourable member for raising the question. The health of Nova Scotians is primary in the concerns of this government. We want to be able to manage and plan for the H1N1 virus in a very, very responsible way. Certainly part of what we're doing is looking at the various providers who will be giving the vaccine when it becomes available.

Pharmacists, certainly in the scope of their practice, with some additional training, would be able to do this. However, Mr. Speaker, in the middle of the pandemic, the Chief Medical Officer has raised questions about the practicality of training a new group of professionals if we have an adequate supply of doctors, nurses, paramedics, et cetera. So that is the balance here - we need to get ready for the pandemic right now.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that departmental officials stated that they were working through the normal process when it comes to expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists. Yet yesterday, an article appeared in a New Brunswick newspaper where a New Brunswick Pharmacy Association representative stated that Nova Scotia is considering a fast-tracking process for expanding the scope of practice. Although I realize the comment is coming from a New Brunswick paper, it still comes from the director of the New Brunswick Pharmacists Association so I think it is reputable. My question to the minister is, could the minister please clarify if we working through the normal process in terms of expanding the scope of practice, or is it, in fact, being fast-tracked in light of H1N1?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, Dr. Bob Strang has been in contact with the pharmacists and they will continue to have discussions. It's not anticipated at this stage that we will require pharmacists in the administration of the H1N1 vaccine.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, we all know that one of the biggest challenges facing the delivery of health, really, in our province and in our country is the shortage of health professionals in all types of health services, so looking at expanded scopes of practice could be, in fact, an answer on a lot of levels. So my question to the Minister of Health is, could the minister please indicate when we can expect recommendations around expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists here in Nova Scotia?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would say to the honourable member, we are in the middle of doing very rigorous planning for a virus that we still have a fair amount of unknown questions around. Our primary focus is putting in place a regime for vaccination and encouraging all Nova Scotians to get the vaccine and additionally to

[Page 629]

practice good public health practices so that we can try to contain the virus as much as possible.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure that this is the environment in which we want to be taking our human resources in our department and diverting them into looking at working with groups around their scope of practice. This is a longer term piece of work which would have to be done when we are not facing what potentially could be a very serious threat to the health of Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

ERD: SMALL BUS. - TAX CUTS

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, the economic recession has been difficult for everyone, especially the small business sector. The previous government in May made a pledge to the people in Nova Scotia and to the small business industry that a small business credit would drop from 5 per cent to 2.5 per cent over a three-year period. Will the Minister of Economic and Rural Development stand before this House today and commit to small business that he will, indeed, follow the previous government's lead and implement these tax cuts?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in my place today and we do agree that certainly small business is very vital to Nova Scotia and we'll be looking at our own tax credit.

MR. PORTER: Well, that's hardly a commitment. Mr. Speaker, there are over 12,000 small- and medium-sized businesses in Nova Scotia and they're truly the backbone of our provincial economy and represent the livelihoods of countless families. What is the government's plan to specifically help small business through these difficult times and I think they would like to know now, not down the road in two or three years when they are no longer in business?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, we have done quite a bit in three months with respect to small business in Nova Scotia. We've met with various departments within the provincial government, we've met with the Mayor of Canso, as an example - a very small community that is in trouble. We've been to Shelburne, we talked to the Shelburne people, we've met with the unions in Shelburne. Mr. Speaker, we've been doing a lot in a very short period of time and we will continue with consultations as we move towards assisting companies here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. PORTER: Again, I hear no commitment in that, Mr. Speaker. I guess the time for meeting is over and the time for action is now and that is what small business is waiting for. (Applause) the tax burden is too high on all Nova Scotians. Lower taxes means more money in the people's pockets for small businesses to reinvest. Our previous government

[Page 630]

announced measures in May which set out to combat this, yet so far the measures announced by this government are insufficient. When will this government finally recognize the importance of small business and announce immediately meaningful tax cuts?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate that we are committed to business here in the Province of Nova Scotia. We've demonstrated that commitment (Interruption) and we will continue to do that. We've helped the construction industry of Nova Scotia with the new home rebate. We will continue with the efforts and the track that we're currently on.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

TIR: HIGHWAY/INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS - FUNDING

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minster of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. We heard lots of talk of stimulus from government, especially regarding highway and infrastructure. However, with potential cuts to highway projects, it begs an answer from this minister. So my question to the minister is, have any highway or infrastructure projects been cancelled or delayed due to funding reallocation this year?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. When it comes to having stimulus funding, we're on a constant flow with projects coming and going. We submit lists. We hear back from the federal department. The federal department for one reason or another looks at this project or that project and there's a lot of give and take involved. There are projects - I want to assure you - at times I question why they're not going forward. Yet we continue to be in touch with Ottawa and we'll continue to put forth the best case available because this is a project which we support. This is a project that Nova Scotians want. We go back and forth on a number of occasions and at this stage there are many negotiations yet to be finalized.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the previous government delayed on providing this House a priority list for highways. We heard so much about change from the current government. I hope we can expect something different today. So my question to the minister is, will the minister undertake to table the priority list for highway projects in Nova Scotia?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member opposite. I know that member at one time served in Cabinet and I know he has served in a number of important positions. As the Cabinet Minister responsible for highways, when projects are brought to my attention, we look at them on a first-come, first-served basis. We want to make sure that we have the money available - when the issues are finally... when we look back on the issues that are important to you as a member, or to members on this side -

[Page 631]

for a particular project. I want you to know that when the money is not there, sometimes tough decisions have to be made.

Mr. Speaker, I assure all members of the House that all projects are looked at very carefully. Sometimes, because of various delays, the election for example was a time, during the last number of months, that no tenders could be assigned during that particular time. There will not be projects that will all be completed in this budget year but I want you to know all projects are being considered.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the maintenance and improvement of our highways is not only good for economic development but it's crucial to keeping our roads safe and our drivers secure. So my final question to the minister, when can we expect a highway priority list to be tabled in this House?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, thank you again to the member for that question. We all agree that safety remains a priority for roads in this province and, in addition, for economic development, particularly in rural parts of the province, it is crucial that roads are maintained in such fashion so goods, people and services can move from one end of the province to the other. This government will continue to make sure that (Interruption) I want the member opposite to know that we will consider (Interruptions)

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

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you. To the member opposite, I know that because of the good issues that you have brought to my attention, we will continue to address the issues in your constituency, members on that side, particularly some members of course who have met with me privately about their concerns, and members of my own caucus.

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

SNSMR: CBRM - EQUALIZATION FORMULA

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Prior to the last election, the NDP went out of their way to gain political favour within the CBRM. From their own election correspondence, "The NDP is prepared to undertake improvements to the equalization formula in consultation with CBRM, UNSM, and other stakeholders, but within the context of a balanced budget." Even their election material started to veer away from their prior enthusiasm for the CBRM. Mr. Speaker, after 100 days in office, will the minister inform this House of what commitment she has made to Nova Scotia's second largest municipality, its mayor and council?

[Page 632]

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I welcome an opportunity to meet with the mayor and members of the council in Cape Breton. I'm just waiting for when the House rises - that will be my first priority, to travel to Cape Breton.

MR. CLARKE: Well, Mr. Speaker, after 100 days she's had lots of opportunity to travel to Cape Breton, but apparently that's not the case.

As the minister would know, the CBRM is the second largest metropolitan area in our province, with over 100,000 residents, and I think they're due the presence of a minister to go down and talk to them about their issues, but what has been clear from this is the minister hasn't taken the time, from what it sounds, to even talk to them, let alone visit Cape Breton or meet with their officials and council and communicate with those individuals. Will the minister please inform this House how she possibly can meet the infrastructure and community support needs of the CBRM if she won't even talk to them?

MS. JENNEX: It was a very busy first 100 days and I've met with every group that has asked to meet with me, and unfortunately I did not have a request from CBRM for a meeting. But I repeat, it is my first priority to travel to Cape Breton as soon as the House rises and I welcome the opportunity to meet the mayor and council members in Cape Breton.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I do welcome the direction of the minister to at least make a commitment to go to Cape Breton, and hopefully it won't be another 100 days before she makes that trip to Cape Breton because the people there deserve it. Hopefully while she's there, unlike the Minister of Economic and Rural Development, she does more than have tea and dinners and networking - it's about action and results that the people of that area have been looking for from Municipal Relations, from Economic and Rural Development.

What is clear is that in the 100-plus days of being a government, they have no plan for the second largest municipality in this province. Again, to the minister, what types of issues will she discuss with them and, more importantly, commitments she'll make to the people of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality?

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, to answer the question about what questions I'll be answering are the questions that I'll be asked by the mayor, and with the consultation and discussion I will make commitments based on their requests within the context of a balanced budget. Thank you.

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

TIR: FAIRVIEW OVERPASS - REPLACEMENT

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. On September 11, 2009, the member for Halifax Clayton Park and I sent a letter to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal outlining our

[Page 633]

concerns about the replacement of the Fairview Overpass, this construction project will last until at least March 2010. In our letter we offered the minister some constructive suggestions for easing the gridlock. My question to the minister is, since this replacement is set to begin, I would like to know, have you read the letter and examined our suggestions?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I thank the member for Bedford-Birch Cove for this important question because I've heard from many Nova Scotians who are regular commuters on that very busy stretch of highway, and the more suggestions and the more input that we receive the better because there will be delays and there will be inconveniences, but it is work that is necessary to go forth.

Your September 11th correspondence has crossed my desk. I have had regular meetings with members of my staff, and I know there has been some interaction between the HRM, as there usually is on issues such as this, and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. We are currently in the middle of an education process to make sure that people are well aware of what is happening during the busy rush hours.

I would like to table this particular piece of information, which of course will be brought forward to the residents in your community and the residents of the member for Halifax Clayton Park. It's of course safety first, but it does give the advice to take alternate routes, drive a bit earlier and later than usual, take a car pool, and make Metro Transit work for you. So I want the member opposite to know that we're listening to your concerns, we're listening to your constituents. Thank you.

MS. REGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have seen the ads and heard the discussion on the radio this morning. The member for Halifax Clayton Park and I are very concerned about the indications that lanes traveling into Halifax are going to be reduced to just one, with two lanes going out. Now this is a recipe for traffic chaos in HRM.

Mr. Speaker, thousands of residents drive over this overpass every day. With so much traffic from the outlying areas of HRM, this construction will cause massive traffic congestion and huge delays. My question to the minister, what provisions has your department put in place to alleviate the heavy traffic congestion that we are sure to see from this replacement project?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that there are going to be inconveniences and there are going to be delays. It has been closely looked at by members of the department that I am fortunate enough to be the minister of, and also the Streets and Roads Division within the HRM. It has been decided that there would not be reversing lanes. It would cause too much difficulty, particularly during winter construction.

Winter construction is going to cause some real concerns in that particular deadlock, which we face at every time. I know that on many occasions when it comes to deadlock,

[Page 634]

that's where it happens each and every morning. With the confusion of reversing lanes, it has been decided that would not be a good idea, and that we would have a regular traffic pattern so that we would not have to put up with these reversing lanes as they change every day. Winter is the difficult time when it comes to construction. That's why the decision is made not just by my department but by the department.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, minister.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Not a bad speech, though.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MS. REGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Reversing lanes was just one of the many suggestions that the member and I gave to you in that letter. The Mayor of HRM has already stated to us that they cannot add buses, for example, during peak hours to help ease congestion, because they don't have any more buses to add. My question to the minister, is your government prepared to assist HRM financially so they can rent buses for peak hours of traffic, and have you spoken to your own government about allowing public service employees the opportunity for flex hours to relieve congestion?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the Fairview Overpass Project is one that is a top priority for this government and a top priority for the HRM. We are in regular communication with the city and with the regional municipality on this issue. We're looking forward to their input. We're looking forward to the concerns that are going to be brought forward to us.

Metro Transit is an important part of the solution because on many occasions - and I see it in my community, Mr. Speaker, as I drive to and from - one person, one vehicle. I would suggest that we look at that particular bottleneck, that we look at it as a good test to see how we can make an improvement to the Fairview Overpass. It's a project of some importance and we look forward to it being completed on time, as of March 1, 2010.

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

ERD: SYDNEY HBR. - DREDGING

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. The minister yesterday indicated to the House that he met with the Port Authority in Sydney. The Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce has identified the dredging of Sydney Harbour as a top priority for its 600 members. The previous government contributed $2.0 million to this project. Before and during the election the NDP were in favour of this project. My question to the minister is, what steps have you

[Page 635]

taken, as minister - not your department, but you, as minister - to move the dredging of Sydney Harbour forward and make it a key plank to the gateway initiative?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is true that I met with the port authority, and I thought we had a very good introductory meeting and we will continue to move forward. You know, we've had one meeting, so.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, maybe somehow we can get into the Hansard the shrug of the shoulders. One meeting, I don't know what that means, but anyway.

Mr. Minister, as you know, the dredging of Sydney Harbour is not only important to Cape Breton, but it is important to economic development right across Nova Scotia. Among the benefits of dredging the harbour is the fact that Nova Scotia Power would be able to bring in larger ships of coal into the port thus cutting down on the number of shipments needed. That would probably mean stabilization of prices for all Nova Scotians.

Yesterday in Hansard you said we've entertained, I've attended dinners, I've done some networking. My question to you is quite simple, Mr. Speaker, when is this minister going to come forward with a real plan for the people of Cape Breton regarding the dredging of Sydney Harbour instead of simply entertaining, attending dinners, and networking?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I think, as we move forward, it's very important that we meet with people, that we see what their needs are. It's incumbent also, some of the (Interruptions) some of the communities that we've met with, including Sydney, you know we're interested in seeing their plan. They gave us a verbal presentation, what I asked was for them to provide that to me in writing and I trust that they will do that in due time.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the minister that maybe if he asks his department to look in the files, he would already have a copy of what the plan is for the dredging of Sydney Harbour. (Applause)

We know the dredging is important for the economic rebirth in Cape Breton. As well, we know another key plank of the Gateway Initiative is maintenance and improvement of the Sydney to Port Hawkesbury rail line. The current subsidy for this crucial piece of infrastructure will soon run out. Mr. Speaker, is this minister prepared to continue the subsidy for this railroad so that the Port of Sydney will be an integral part of the Atlantic Gateway? Yes or no. Yes or no.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, actually the railway hasn't approached me yet. I certainly would encourage (Interruptions)

[Page 636]

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

MR. PARIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would encourage the member opposite to pass the message along that I'd be willing to meet with them at any time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

SNSMR: COMMERCIAL ENERGY REBATE - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The government's mixed residential or commercial energy rebate program would appear to be flawed. Nova Scotians are not happy with it and it has caused confusion for a lot of people. People who are not receiving an income from their non-residential space are being charged more to have their oil tanks filled. This is a direct hit on seniors and those who live on a fixed income. My question for the minister is, what is being done for people who receive no income from their property use, yet still are being charged more to heat it?

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I unfortunately don't really understand the essence of the question, so could I please have that question repeated. I apologize.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, you may. I will ask the member again if he will ask his question.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Would you like me to start from the very beginning Mr. Speaker? Perhaps a little slower. I'm asking the minster what's being done for people who receive no income from their property use but they're being charged more to actually heat - what's known as the commercial energy rebate program?

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to answer that and I will make apologies, but I will get back to the honourable member with the information, probably by later on today. Thank you.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, perhaps a little explanation is in order here. The rebate has not been designed, apparently, with the user in mind. This rebate requires that a four-page application has to be filled out each and every time, and the application can only be submitted April, July, October, or January of each year. The applicants are told that they have four to six weeks to wait for their paperwork to be processed each and every time. That isn't an easy process and one - people likely have mixed-use properties do not have accounting departments. My next question for the minister

[Page 637]

is, in the past 102 days that this government has been in power, what has the minister done to eliminate all of that red tape?

MS. JENNEX: I don't think that there's anything wrong with being able to say that I am not familiar with this question. I have not received any complaints or literature or any letters from anybody with this particular difficulty. If the honourable member would provide me with the information that I need, then I would be able to answer his question in a timely manner. Thank you.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I have the question, she's supposed to have the answers. Perhaps she may want to talk to her Premier, and let me tell you why - on October 30, 2008 the Premier, while he was still on this side of the House, had some serious concerns about the very same program. It would make sense that after 102 days in power no changes have been made, but I'm going to direct my final question to the Premier, and I'm going to use his own words, words that he spoke to then-Premier Rodney MacDonald. "My question for the Premier is this, why is this Premier imposing this kind of red tape on so many Nova Scotia families and seniors?"

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, my understanding with respect to the program was that it had to do with the way in which the databases were composed. I remember the former minister indicating that that coordination had been looked after. I, myself, have not received any further complaints about the program to date, but I'm sure that the minister, as she has represented to the member opposite, would be happy to look at the program to see if there are further complaints. If there are ways in which we can deal with red tape in order to smooth that process, then we'd be happy to do so.

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

JUSTICE: SPRINGHILL & ANTIGONISH JAILS - CONSTRUCT

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Justice. The people of Springhill and Antigonish have had their faith in this government shattered by the move of the minister to walk away from commitments to construct correctional facilities in their communities. Will the minister confirm that this is not the case and that he will continue to move forward with the Springhill and Antigonish facilities?

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier in the House, the business case is being developed. Once the business case is completed, action will be taken.

MR. CLARKE: The people of Antigonish and Springhill will be interested by that lack of an answer from the minister. Much effort and planning went into realizing new correctional infrastructure in partnership with both of these communities. In Springhill, the "business case," as the minister would like to suggest, is a working partnership with

[Page 638]

Corrections Canada, which just makes plain sense. What doesn't is the move of this government to turn their backs on these communities, infrastructure, and needed jobs. Will the minister state unequivocally that he'll honour the commitments made to Springhill and Antigonish or is he going to continue to play politics with these communities?

MR. LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, the Opposition there, it seems it's very important to them that the minister go to their communities. I want to state that I've been in those communities. I've had the pleasure of meeting with them, hearing their concerns from a number of other communities. Each are important and once the business case is finished, we will make a very informed decision that's in the best interest of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. That will stay in line with the needs of the correctional worker and the people who have to reside in the institutions.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, apparently the new government has spent over the last 100 days, obviously doing some visiting, having some tea, having some dinners and networking, but not taking action on the things that are important to those communities and those people. Since the minister failed to deal with this issue, maybe I can try his colleague, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

Mr. Speaker, since she's now in the travel mode, would the minister commit to visit both Springhill and Antigonish and meet with local officials to explain why the Minister of Justice refuses to honour the commitment of new correctional facilities for their communities?

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, if invited by the municipalities to speak with anybody, anything to do with the municipalities, my door is open and I would welcome the invitation if invited.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

EDUC. - PRINCE ANDREW HS: RENOVATIONS - TENDER

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Education. On the day of the swearing in - what was it, somebody said 102 days ago - I had the pleasure to speak with the Minister of Education about the renovations that have been long overdue, many times announced, many times apparently budgeted for, but not yet even started at Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth. Those renovations were first announced by the Department of Education in 2003. They were told they were going to start in 2007 and be completed in 2011. They still haven't been completed. I know the minister knows the importance of these renovations so my question to the minister is, when is the tender going out for those renovations?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I share the concern of the honourable member for Prince Andrew High School because a number of students from my own

[Page 639]

constituency attend that school. Certainly I've been inquiring as to the capital budget and how it impacts on that school. During the Supply debate, hopefully, I'll be able to answer those questions but I don't think it's appropriate for me to be specifying timelines and money related to the budget during Question Period.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, according to the original estimate for renovations, it was supposed to cost $8.85 million to renovate the school and that's from the Department of Education Estimates. That number has almost certainly gone up now because a lot of the items in the school that were supposed to be renovated have now collapsed or deteriorated further. As I noted before, the work was supposed to be completed by 2011. While I understand the minister may wish to give further detail in estimates, which I look forward to, this government during the election campaign committed that they would honour every single one of the previous government's infrastructure commitments. This was one that was made over and over by the department. So can she confirm that those renovations are going ahead?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, certainly the issue of the renovations and upgrading to Prince Andrew High School has been a topic of interest in this Legislature for a number of years and I remember on an annual basis during the Supply debate estimates. The former member for Dartmouth East had a deep interest in Prince Andrew High School and would ask the question of the former government. I certainly will be prepared to give some details during estimates.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad the Minister of Education brought up my predecessor, the former member for Dartmouth East, because, in fact, during the election campaign, in a debate that any member can watch on You Tube, currently, if they want, the member said it would be an immediate priority of an NDP Government to immediately issue the tender for the renovations at Prince Andrew High School. It has now been 102 days, where is the tender?

MS. MORE: Stay tuned. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

[4:30 p.m.]

COM. SERV.: CORRESPONDENCE RESPONSE - PROTOCOL

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. I would like to know what the protocol is for that minister to respond to correspondence, i.e., e-mail, letters, phone calls, et cetera and all members of this House would like to know the time frame that she uses to get back to people. Is it an hour from the time she receives it, a day, a week, a month, a year or never?

[Page 640]

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the honourable member for his question. Due to the fact that I come from a very strong communications background, very often there are e-mails where I get back to people immediately and it depends on the e-mail or the telephone call. I do respect each and every contact that's made with me. We take due process to get back to the individual or the group in a timely manner.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for getting me that answer. On August 12th I sent the minister a letter requesting a meeting. I did a follow-up letter on September 17th with no response to either letter. I have here an article in the local media, the Vanguard, by Michael Gorman. In this article he tried for two weeks to have an interview with that minister and no response. I have another article here with Mayor Mooney, from my town, asking for a meeting about the housing crisis in our community and that minister has yet to respond. We had a meeting with two of her staff but she has never stepped foot in our community. I want to know, will that minister meet with my community to talk about the housing crisis that we are in, in Yarmouth?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I must comment to the honourable member that what he is saying is not true. I had spoken to the reporter and any calls that I received are filtered through to my office directly to me and I respond immediately. Also, with respect to Mayor Mooney - the staff met, we did correspond and I did send out correspondence to him with respect to the staff meeting with him. So actually I'm not quite sure if he has any kind of information he would like to table so that I can see proof of his comments, I would appreciate that.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I would be honoured to table all the documents that I just mentioned. There are the two letters, there are the two articles and I think I heard that Michael Gorman is misleading the people of Yarmouth. He is doing the article in the local Vanguard where he quotes that he tried for two weeks to have correspondence with that minister and she never returned his calls.

Mr. Speaker, we have asked that minister to meet with the citizens of Yarmouth. There is a housing crisis in Yarmouth. We have 120 people who are displaced right now in Yarmouth. We have winter coming and that minister has turned her back like all members of that government, the Premier has not even entered our community yet.

There happens to be an airline coming to our community morning and night. She can fly down in the morning and fly back at night and we will make sure that there are tea and biscuits, if that minister would come down and tell the people of our community what they are going to do about the housing crisis.

[Page 641]

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say with respect to the housing crisis, staff actually met with the mayor and the councillors as soon as we received indication that there was an issue there. Senior staff went to Yarmouth and met with the members of council and organizations that required a meeting. (Interruptions.)

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

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Thank you. I would like to state that I am extremely accessible and that I have always been that way, and I invite people to come and speak with me or give me a call and I respond to them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

NAT.RES.: BRIGADOON CHILDREN'S CAMP SOC.

- LAND ACQUISITION

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Brigadoon Children's Camp Society is a not-for-profit organization that is working to develop an exceptional year-round facility for residential camps for children and youth living with a chronic illness. This exceptional work and the service this facility will provide is tied to extensive outdoor recreation for these children; however, the land nearby is in danger, as it is owned by Wagner Forest Management, who are now in the process of selling the land on the world market. My question to the minster is, the Aylesford and Loon Lake Property Owners' Association and Brigadoon want a meeting to deal with the province to help purchase land in this area, will you and the MLA for Kings South meet with these groups?

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, by all means. I'd be very pleased to meet with any groups.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, they did ask. It is now over a week, but I guess eventually they will hear. Brigadoon supplies a wide range of outdoor activities. These activities stem on having adequate land nearby that is not invaded by any sort of commercial development. My question to the minister is, is the minister aware of how critical a buffer zone is to Brigadoon, a world-class facility for chronically ill children, to protect intense development within metres of their facility?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I'm not particularly familiar with that facility. I could recognize that having a kind of pristine environment around it would add to the quality of it. I want the honourable member to be aware that the people who

[Page 642]

own the abutting land - it's private property, but I'd be more than happy to meet with the group to discuss their issues.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, for the minister's information, their prime building will be within 100 feet of land owned by Wagner. Wagner Forest Management is a forest management organization. This is a tremendous opportunity for Wagner Forest Management to be a good corporate citizen and partner with the province to protect these lands. We can ill afford these lands being purchased by the wrong hands. Will the minister commit today to making every attempt to purchase Wagner-owned lands for the protection of Brigadoon?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think the member could recognize that if I made that commitment to him today there would just be a lineup of members across the benches asking for the same thing. I think it would be unrealistic of me to do that for him or anybody else. I'd be glad to take a look and see what would be possible.

COM. SERV.: BASIC ALLOWANCE - CHANGES

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

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Community Services. Your colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, said in this Legislature on November 12, 2008 that it was important for the 81,000 individuals living in poverty, including 19,000 children, in Nova Scotia to have an increase in their basic allowance so that those living in poverty can purchase the basic necessities. Since you became minister nearly four months ago, have you and the member for Dartmouth North discussed the basic allowance, and what action have you taken on behalf of those families and individuals living in poverty?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Actually, that is a budget question.

MS. CASEY: Well, I could repeat the first one because obviously it was misunderstood. My first supplementary. Our government allocated an additional $19 million towards a basic allowance late last year, an increase that was severely criticized by the NDP members. Can this minister provide the House today with details of her plan on changes to the basic allowance?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I will give you a little bit further explanation. I had real difficulty when I looked at the figures and what we had available in the budget because it was the former government's budget. I know that they took a lot of criticism for that $4 per month increase and it is a very difficult situation when you're

[Page 643]

looking at the amount of monies that you have available. It is the former government's budget but we are looking forward to making changes (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Community Services has the floor.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: We are looking forward to consult and to look at what decisions we can make to help the most vulnerable people and we're going forward with that after this particular budget.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the minister understand and learn the difference between a budget issue and a policy issue but I will ask the following question. When the announcement of the additional $19 million for the basic allowance was made last Fall, this is the Party, now the government, that said it wasn't enough. My question to the minister is, what amount does your NDP Government plan to increase for this basic allowance? (Interruptions)

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: I can answer the question myself. I have a great deal of respect for Bill Estabrooks. (Interruptions)

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

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I do understand. The fact is that it is not enough money and it does pain me that that's the situation our province is in because of a former government that did not dedicate themselves to help the vulnerable. I'm going forth to look at what we can do to help the vulnerable.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

SNSMR: COSMETIC PESTICIDES - MUN. BAN ALLOW

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. When will the minister act on past NDP promises and allow individual municipalities to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides?

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: I am very pleased to say that interdepartmentally with Health, with Environment and with Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, we are proceeding on our commitment that we have made during the election and commitment to Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, since the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2001, the move to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides at the local level has continued, with over 60 municipalities across this country passing their own laws. In that unanimous ruling, the justices wrote that such a law is best achieved by the level of government closest to the citizens affected. My question to the minister is, when will her

[Page 644]

government provide powers to municipalities, other than the Halifax Regional Municipality, and permit them to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides - when exactly will that happen?

[4:45 p.m.]

MS. JENNEX: At this time we are looking at making sure that we are following the recommendations as put forward by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and we honour their commitment for this and the recommendation and, as I speak, we're working towards that. Thank you.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, while Halifax is the only municipal unit in this province with the authority to ban pesticides, there are other towns that are keen to introduce similar bans and are pushing for that right. The Town of Truro passed a bylaw last year regulating residential use of cosmetic pesticides, starting this year. Very democratic of the Town of Truro one might say - new and democratic, as a matter of fact. My question to the minister is, when will your 102-day-old government amend the Municipal Government Act and allow communities to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides?

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I am going to defer this to the Minister of the Environment, not because I do not know the answer to this, but the minister's department is the lead with this bit of work, so I would pass it over to the minister. Thank you.

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I just want to point out that this in particular is on my radar screen and we are reviewing all the options. I also want to point out that I had the pleasure of meeting my counterparts in Newfoundland and Labrador and we are working towards harmonizing this and having more of a regional approach. So I just want to assure the member opposite that this is on my radar screen. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle. (Interruptions)

Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. Thank you for your co-operation today, it has been a good Question Period.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 28.

[Page 645]

Res. No. 28, re ER Closures - End - notice given Sept. 18/09 - (Hon. C. d'Entremont)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Speaking on behalf of our caucus when it comes to this resolution, when it pertains to ER closures in this province, I thought I would spend the next eight minutes or so that is accorded to me to speak of the continuing issue of ER closures in this province.

You know, for a number of days we have been running these resolutions and basically counting the days that the NDP have been in government and the continuing issues of closures that we've been having. In particular, there are a number of ERs, such as the Shelburne Roseway Hospital that we talked about a number of days ago that is probably closed for the next 12 days during the month, something like every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday or something like that, and the member for Shelburne on many occasions criticized us, as government, for those closures and said it wasn't good enough - that it wasn't good enough for his residents to have to consult a closure list to see if they can go to the emergency room or not. Mr. Speaker, this continues to happen after 102 days of this government. The answer, of course, was to hire an ER consultant.

Mr. Speaker, I think bringing in Dr. Ross is a wonderful idea - you know, we need to have some kind of expertise to call from. Something that I know from my meetings with Dr. Ross, that he has a tremendous view, some tremendous insight on the operation of ERs around this province but it gives cold comfort to the residents who are in these affected areas.

What do we say to the people of Digby? I know the member for Digby-Annapolis could probably recite how many days this month the ER is closed in Digby and I know the member for Shelburne, the Minister of Fisheries, could tell me how many days it's closed in Shelburne. I'm sure the member for Cumberland North could tell me how many days the ER is closed in Pugwash. I'm sure the member for Cape Breton North can talk about how many times the Northside General is closed. I'm sure the Deputy Premier can tell me how many times the ER is closed in New Waterford and I'm sure the member for Glace Bay will tell me how many times it's closed. The member for Annapolis can tell me how many times his ER is closed. So the issue is that it's now that we need to have some kind of solution.

Mr. Speaker, on our second round to be able to speak to this issue, our leader will speak to it and talk about the solution that she was able to come up with in Colchester to stop the closures at Tatamagouche and to stop the closures in that district. But what causes a closure? You know it's the unavailability of a doctor, the unavailability of nursing and what are the solutions to that? Well, I can tell you that we have the highest concentration of doctors per population of any province in Canada. We have the doctors. It's not that we don't have them because we have doctors. They might be disbursed around this province a little bit in a haphazard way. The concentration, of course, probably would be here in metro where

[Page 646]

they can work Capital District, where they can continue to work with Dalhousie Med School, or what have you, in order to do research and those kinds of things.

Mr. Speaker, what we need to do is find opportunities to get those doctors to move out and work in rural emergency rooms. We also have to work with the staffing ratios that we have in those emergency rooms as well. I think gone is the day where you need to have this kind of person, or that kind of person. If we look at let's say Yarmouth, Yarmouth has a wonderful emergency room which does not experience closures yet is one that is notoriously slow. I know that the doctors work as best they can and as fast as they can, as hard as they can, but maybe there's some processes. As Minister of Health at the time, I provided that district with, I believe it was like, $56,000 to create a better flow in that emergency room. I think by utilizing people like nurse practitioners, working with paramedics, advance care paramedics, we should be able to clear and fix the flow in the emergency room as well as find opportunities to keep them open.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing is finding the better way to pay for the services that we are receiving. We know right now when you work overnight, you get paid more to work the overnight. So you'll see actually in the closure lists that emergency rooms tend to be open more at night than they are during the day when they don't get that surcharge. Heck, if you go to some of these emergency rooms, they might see one, two, three patients during an overnight process, an overnight period versus seeing, you know, 50, 60 or so patients during the day. So remuneration needs to change on how we treat these emergency rooms.

Mr. Speaker, you know, I forget how much time I have left here but ultimately the districts have the capability with a little bit of support from the Department of Health, to make the changes to ensure that emergency rooms remain open. There will be some tough decisions to be made too, I think. If we look at the Corpus Sanchez Report, the transformation of our health care system - there were some very valid recommendations within it that would allow a better model of care. Many times we trumpet what happens at Annapolis, what happens at the Annapolis hospital, the emergency room there. How that whole clinic, after the terrible cuts in health care, back in the early 1990s, they were able to find a way to work collaboratively - not just doctors but nurses and other practitioners - and keep that emergency room open.

Now, it is experiencing a bit of problem and we need to find something and I'm sure the member for Halifax Clayton Park - I was going to say Fairview, I apologize for that, it's close, but not quite - and I know she'll speak to what's happening in Annapolis and her ideas as well. But I think it just takes a lot of people working together. We don't need a big report to tell us what's wrong with the system. I think we just simply need to pull up our boot straps and get the job done.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to hearing the comments from the other members and thank you very much for the opportunity to speak today.

[Page 647]

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure today to speak a few words, I think I have nine minutes to speak on the emergency room closures. Believe me, nine minutes is just enough to barely skim the surface of this subject. Luckily we've heard where a lot of those emergency rooms are, so I don't need to go through them geographically. We know how important having emergency rooms open in the smaller communities and here in metro, right across the province, how important it is for people's piece of mind.

What we've seen over the last number of years has been an increasing number of closures to the point where closures now are not just occasionally being called, they're scheduled. They're scheduled in places where people expect 24-hour, seven-day-a-week emergency service. They're now being told every Tuesday or every Thursday or alternate weekends you can expect us to be closed. That may be good for planning, but it's certainly not good for people's peace of mind.

A lot of times when other rooms are supposed to be open, they're not and people are ending up going farther and farther from home when they need to see a doctor on an emergency basis. So I want to begin my comments by making the point that the current government, the NDP Government, campaigned and promised from one end of this province to the other that they would keep emergency rooms open everywhere, all emergency rooms, 24 hours a day.

That promise, I have to say, resonated in communities. It's what people want. It's what they want to hear and that was what that government fed to them. What I'm worried about today is that there is a lack of will to follow through on that promise. Because now, we've heard several times today we're 102 days into this new government and, in fact, the closures continue. The figures I've been given for today show that since June 10th, the emergency rooms have been closed almost 4,000 hours in this province. If you add them all up over three months, 3,963 hours.

That doesn't sound to me like a move towards having them open all the time. In fact, if you take the same period of time from the year before, when the province was being governed by the Progressive Conservative Party, there were 128 hours less closures. So, maybe a margin, maybe a small amount, but there were, in fact, fewer closures a year ago for that three month period than there is this year. I think that is a telling statistic. It points to the fact that there hasn't been progress and we've, in fact, declined further in terms of closures.

[5:00 p.m.]

[Page 648]

The one thing we've seen in this last little while that the government's done is appoint a very learned person to be our ER advisor. Now we have a single person, while he's out there studying he's going to fill in and actually provide some emergency services in emergency rooms around the province. I hope that doesn't take him too many hours because I'm sure he could become a one-man locum service. That's a little bit of what we're worried about because we don't need a lot more studies and we need more than one person being the locum registry for the province's ERs. What we really need is the plan that the NDP presumably had when they promised to keep emergency rooms open. What was the plan? Why hasn't it happened and why haven't we heard anything more than the appointment of an advisor? One person alone is not going to make this change. We also are being told that we have to wait a full year for this person to do the studies.

As I say, we have the highest regard for Dr. Ross, I want to make that clear. Everybody in this House has a very high regard for Dr. John Ross. One of the things I admire most is, he has been outspoken. When he has been on the front line here at the QEII, he spoke out when the closures - while it was too overcrowded, when there were difficulties, when they were calling Code Orange and so on.

We know that he will be honest, that he will assess the situation and that he'll give us good solid answers based on his own experience. I'm glad because we need people who will tell government and tell those of us in elected office the truth and I know that he is one of those people. So I applaud his appointment, if we're going to go that route, if we're going to have an adviser, I think he's a good one.

What we've said from the start, what we campaigned on - and I say, we, the Liberal Party - we campaigned on a really solid idea for emergency rooms and that was the idea of creating a locum registry, a list. Locums, for those of you who don't know, are what they call it when a doctor goes and takes a short-term appointment in another practice. I mentioned here earlier in another late debate not long ago, my father was a doctor and at one point he did a three-month locum in Parrsboro. He had the opportunity to live and work in Parrsboro for a short period of time while he gave the doctor who lived there time to go do other things or recover or whatever the reason was that he needed time off, so that's a common practice.

Now there are locum registries used for emergency rooms in Ontario, in particular. I know there are other places but I'm going to reference Ontario because I've heard directly about them. They create a list of doctors, they're not all emergency room specialists, some of them are family doctors, but doctors who are qualified to go in and fill shifts at the emergency. You can put your name on that list if you've got some flexibility in your schedule and agree to serve in northern Ontario or sometimes it's right in the hospitals in Toronto, to say, I'll take a weekend and do three shifts this weekend.

We have doctors - Mr. Speaker, you will be surprised to know this - from here in Nova Scotia on that registry, flying up to Ontario, serving two or three or four shifts on a weekend and then coming back and they're well paid to do that. It's worth their while to go

[Page 649]

there and spend that time. In fact, the registry and the communities they're going into make it very attractive for them, not only financially, they'll make sure they're put up in a hotel, they might give them tickets to the theatre, to a ball game so that it's really quite attractive. Here are our own doctors choosing to go there because the locum registry is available and they can put in for weekends or for shifts that they can do.

Mr. Speaker, it's been tried and true somewhere else, but no, we don't want to try that here apparently, even though we know it works, even though we know we have lots of doctors and they would love to do this. I think we're just not making use of the services and the people we have right in our own system.

I think, again, we'd like to throw out, once more, the idea that a very practical, immediate solution to some of these closures would be to create that registry today, not a year from now after Dr. Ross has had a year to study it and fill in. As I say, I go back to the idea that he's going to test the waters in these different emergency rooms by filling in himself.

Mr. Speaker, how many minutes do I have?

MR. SPEAKER: Two minutes.

MS. WHALEN: Two minutes left. Mr. Speaker, again, I could probably recap in those two minutes. There was a promise made, a solid commitment from the NDP, and yet we have more closures than we've seen the year before. I'm not satisfied that we've hired an advisor who is going to take a full year before we'll have recommendations and changes made. I would like to - in a very respectful and positive way - suggest that the Department of Health and the Minister of Health look again at the option of creating a registry for doctors to fill in here in our own province, even started on a pilot project basis. Pick one DHA, pick one of the emergency rooms that has chronic closures. I think you'll find that it would work immediately and then we'd be able to move forward.

I had a chance to visit the QEII new emergency room. We've spent an inordinate amount of money to make that far better. I admit it's well designed and it works well but it's not really helping with the overcrowding there either. Thank goodness they're not closed but they're overcrowded with the H1N1 coming, I'm concerned what is going to happen at the emergency rooms as we go forward.

Mr. Speaker, it's really time that we look at the resources we have. I wanted to mention at the QE II that they are using paramedics in the intake area, freeing up nurses to be in other parts of the emergency room. In fact there was another paramedic working further back in the actual emergency room itself, not just in the assessments. They receive a little bit of extra training to do that so they have some special training. They are filling in and allowing some of the other medical professionals to be used more productively.

[Page 650]

There is another immediate answer that we see in place in Halifax today so please, Mr. Speaker, my plea to the government is that they look at some of these obvious answers. Thank you.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's a pleasure to stand and address this important issue. I've stood many times over the years to discuss this very important issue. It is important that we recognize where we came from, in order to see the crisis we see before us today.

The results of decisions made by past governments have indicated why we see such a crisis in health care delivery today in Nova Scotia. I talk about decisions made not only five or 10 years ago, but 15 years ago when the Liberal Government cut and slashed health care, where they cut nurses, they cut doctors, medical seats at the medical school, they rolled back wages, they cut beds in hospitals. We're feeling that effect now. Then, after that, Mr. Speaker, we had a Progressive Conservative Government that ignored the issues for so long. They ignored the issues for over 10 years.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I can say that we did not ignore people in Nova Scotia. That is just absolutely false, what he is saying there.

MR. SPEAKER: It is a dispute between two members, not a point of order, thank you.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, they ignored issues within health care for so long and it was because of efforts like our Party, when we were the Official Opposition, that changes were made. They did do some good things but it was because we pushed and pressured them to make those changes.

I talk about the draconian practice of charging seniors health care costs in long-term care facilities. The Progressive Conservative Government did not want to make those changes so we made those changes. We pushed that change so that today seniors are not being charged for health care in this province. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor. Thank you.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Another issue, Mr. Speaker, is the cancer drug Avastin. The government said they would not cover that drug and it was people

[Page 651]

and advocates like Jim Connors, Judy Young, who came forward with the stories and the issues. We pressured the government to do the right thing. We're happy that they finally did that.

There are going to be challenges to fixing the health services and delivery here in Nova Scotia. It's a challenge for which we are ready because this Party, more than any other Party, is committed to the quality health care and will make the right decisions. We are going to put patients first, something that I think has been ignored for too long in this province. When we decide where we're going to build hospitals, when or where we invest new equipment, it will be because the patients need it. It won't be because we're buying votes. The days of playing politics with health care dollars are over because we need to realize the delivery of health care is important to all Nova Scotians, no matter where they live in this province, if you live in Sydney (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor, please.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. No matter if they live in Sydney or in Yarmouth, those decisions need to be made because of what the patients in those areas need.

In June Nova Scotians put their faith in us and we will not let them down. Our commitment to health care is beyond reproach. We will do everything in our power to fulfill the promises that we made to Nova Scotians.

Nova Scotia has a strong public health care system, Mr. Speaker. We're committed to making it better, we've committed to Nova Scotians that we would deliver on our promises over the last number of years. One of the commitments that we made was to ensure that we had an emergency room adviser and we have done that. The Minister of Health has announced Dr. John Ross who will consult with health care professionals. Something that I think lacked in the previous government, where they would not consult with those individuals or health care providers who delivered the services.

I will give one example on how the former government didn't do, I think, the proper consultation in ensuring that health care delivery was the top priority. We look at the example of patient records. When the former government introduced patient records to a hospital, they didn't realize that the nurse who was taking care of that patient needed to be beside the patient the whole time. No, they had to leave that patient and go input the patient's information into the computer system which was at the nurse's station. If they had asked and consulted that health care provider in the first place, on what would be best for them to deliver the health care services they would need, they would have saved millions of dollars.

[Page 652]

We will gather information and review data on patterns of use and demand on emergency rooms throughout the province to understand the root causes of persistent emergency room closures in small rural communities. We look forward to hearing Dr. Ross' recommendations. He is well respected within the health care system, especially with emergency departments. He has worked very hard at Capital Health, at QE II Emergency to deliver the best possible care to the patients that utilize that facility, Mr. Speaker. I have full confidence that he will be an asset to this government and to the people of the province to ensure that changes that need to be made in emergency rooms will be made. In the meantime, Nova Scotia regional and tertiary care emergency departments throughout our province are always open and emergency care is delivered in those facilities.

I want to ensure, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotians know also that we have one of the best emergency services here in the province with our ground ambulances. We have men and women ready to act upon any emergency throughout the province and I think Nova Scotians can rest assured their needs will be well met.

To stabilize physician coverage in rural areas and to better meet emergency department needs for our communities, we've given the districts more freedom to tailor services and doctors' compensation to their unique situation. We have increased funding for locum programs and are paying our emergency physicians more to help keep emergency departments open, something that I think the member for Halifax Clayton Park mentioned earlier. But we have also extended the interim financial arrangement with the Cumberland Health Authority which hopefully will increase their ability to provide services in our local area. How much time do I have?

MR. SPEAKER: Two minutes.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): An effective accessible health care system is important to all Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker. We know that access to care is crucial to families and their communities. We've heard that time and time again as we were in Opposition. As the former Health Critic for the past four years, I'm very confident now in the leadership that we have with the Minister of Health and our Premier. Nova Scotians will be well served by our Minister of Health and our Premier, they'll be well served. Something that I haven't been able to say in many years in this Legislature.

We care about Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, we will strive to provide better patient care, we will make the right choices for Nova Scotians that will help lower wait times to give Nova Scotians the kind of health care they deserve when and where they need it. I'm confident that our government will live up to our commitment and provide the necessary services that Nova Scotians need in our communities throughout this province. We have an excellent number of health care providers who provide amazing services throughout our communities from paramedics to nurses to nurse practitioners, the whole gamut of health care providers and allied health support services. So I'm confident that Nova Scotians will

[Page 653]

allow us to make the changes that we need to provide better service in health care here in our province. (Applause)

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

[5:15 p.m.]

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that I'm pleased to be able to stand in my place and address the issue - a very serious issue, as everyone knows, about being able to deliver quality health care in a timely fashion to the communities in Nova Scotia. As a former Minister of Health, I certainly recognized very early on that emergency rooms and the issue of closures, the issue of overcrowding, and the issue of patient flow were all very real issues within those emergency departments. It was not long into the time as minister that we had Dr. Ross getting some attention with his Code Orange, and I think it's important to know that I certainly respect Dr. Ross. I met him two days after he called that Code Orange because I thought it was important that we talk.

My understanding of the use of Code Orange was that Code Orange is used for internal crisis, and internal crisis at the QE II had not been called. The Code Orange had not been used since the Swissair accident. So whether it was appropriate that Code Orange be called or not is the question, and it was a question that many people asked. I asked that of Dr. Ross, and I think he recognized that there were other options he might have had, but in the course of his frustration with what was happening within that particular emergency department he opted to get attention.

Now, I also invited the CEO of Capital, Chris Power, to come into my office on the day that the Code Orange was called. I think it's important for everyone in this House to know that there are many, many factors that contribute to the issue of emergency room overcrowding and emergency room closures. One of the things that we discussed with the CEO, both she and I with my deputy and then also with Dr. Ross, was more to do with patient flow and to do with procedures that were in place to improve the patient flow in that particular hospital. One of the things that I was told at that time was that a new set of procedures and guidelines to manage patient flow was going to be put in place on February 1st. On a monthly basis I was able to monitor that with the CEO, and I would be very interested to know, now that we've gone into this most recent crisis in the emergency departments, what happened to that new set of directions and those new procedures that were intended to improve patient flow and thus avoid the crisis situation?

So it would be very interesting if the Minister of Health would be able to share that with all members of the House, because it certainly was designed, according to the CEO and supported by Dr. Ross, to be a part of a solution. Perhaps it has not been as effective as it was designed to be.

[Page 654]

Another part of the whole issue with emergency room closures has to do with something that I stood in the House and shared with my colleagues and shared with all members of the House, and that was that the closures and the cause of closures that exist throughout the province are unique to the individual hospitals in which they occur. People have criticized that, saying no, no, we just need to get a consultant and he will have a solution. Well, he fails to understand, or the people who have suggested that this would be the best move have not yet accepted the fact, that the conditions that exist in Digby that contribute to closures are not the same as they are in Pugwash, nor Parrsboro, nor Tatamagouche. Every one of those has a unique set of circumstances and thus every one of them requires a unique solution. So it's not one size fits all.

Unfortunately, I believe the members opposite have campaigned and led Nova Scotians to believe initially that one size fits all, but it has been not long into their mandate that the folks in Cumberland County, in particular in Pugwash and Parrsboro, have recognized that the one size fits all has not fit in those particular communities. The deputy minister went out to meet with the folks with the DHA No. 5 and in those discussions there was a great announcement that a solution had been found. As my colleague opposite has suggested, those closures continue to grow and continue to increase.

So it is unique and what has to happen, and where there's a will and where somebody will sit down, there is a way, and I'm very proud to say as Minister of Health there was a way to address the closures in Lillian Fraser. It was done within existing human resources. It was done within the master agreement for doctors but what it took was the DHA, the Department of Health staff and community folks sitting down and saying let's solve this ourselves. I was very happy to be part of that solution. I can tell you that since that time there have been no closures in Lillian Fraser for July, August or September. What this government fails to realize is they've got to get out, they've got to get out of their office. They've got to work with the DHAs, and they've got to work with the resources that are there. I met with the folks in Digby - a completely different problem will take a completely different solution.

So the whole approach and the misleading of Nova Scotians by saying we'll hire a consultant, we'll pay him $100,000, he'll work two days a week, and lo and behold in a year's time we might have a solution. Well, I'm here to tell you folks that that will not work and Nova Scotians know it will not work.

One of the things I would like to say in closing is that I do respect the professionals who are working in our hospitals and in our emergency departments. When I was touring the hospitals, I met with those folks and the one place I asked to go was to the emergency departments. They are extremely committed folks who have given their time and their dedication to the health care of the folks in our hospitals. So I do want to say that whether it's the paramedics, whether it's the people who are arriving on foot to the emergency departments, whether it's the people receiving them, or the people giving them the care,

[Page 655]

every one of those health care providers is committed to their job. What this government needs to do is to forget about taking a "one size fits all" and get out into the communities, talk to the folks who have the solutions, and make sure that what is happening now does not continue because this is not what we wanted. This is not what we were prepared to do and, you know, the whole complications of emergency departments (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party has the floor.

MS. CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I hear members opposite saying it will happen. We will not hold our breath because we've had 100 days - you campaigned on that and it has not yet happened. The will of the people to sit down and come up with a solution allowed it to happen. That example that was set is not an example that this government is prepared to look at because it does not fit with a $100,000, two-day-a-week consultant. I wish to table schedules here that show you that the solution to the problem has not yet been found. Thank you very much.

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

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 192.

Res. No. 192, re Environ.: Mink Farm (Yar. Co.) - Environmental Review - notice given Sept. 24/09 - (Hon. R. Hurlburt)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, it's a shame and I feel bad to stand in my place here tonight to speak on Resolution No. 192 when there's an easy fix. It's an issue that is hurting my riding. The people are arguing and fighting in small communities. The people in those communities have a deep concern about their environment. There have been numerous public meetings that nobody from the government side would come to. There have been numerous council meetings and PAC meetings that not one member from government would come to.

Mr. Speaker, it's a total shame and lack of respect for the people of Yarmouth and area. That this government will not even come down and listen to the concerns of the people. The citizens of Yarmouth are not against fur farming, but what they are against is maybe, maybe polluting a waterway in Yarmouth. (Interruption) That is right, maybe. That is right, maybe.

[Page 656]

Maybe there's a way that we can prevent this from ever happening. Maybe we should have the study before we talk about this. Why don't you stand on your feet and speak on the issue? If the issue was maybe in your riding and the people had a concern you might get to your feet, if the Premier would take the muzzle off the minster.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Order, please. The honorable member for Yarmouth has the floor.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, the environment is very precious. We must all do our part to protect it. And when that group was on this side, they had all the answers. All the answers. Everything that was going on, they had the answer for it. Now the Minister of Environment has chosen to turn his back on the people of southwestern Nova Scotia.

There was a radio call-in show on Sunday and the radio was flooded with calls from people with concerns. I told them what this minister had to say, that the issue - he's been at this job for 100 days and he's resolved the issue. Well, the people in Yarmouth do not know the issue's resolved. The people on Sunday at a rally in Yarmouth did not know the issue was resolved. Monday night, the issue at the council meeting - the issue has not been resolved. (Interruption) It's the minister from Shelburne, I believe he is, he's from the southwestern area.

Mr. Speaker, all the people of Yarmouth were asking for from day one is a moratorium in the Yarmouth area only until the environmental study on the waterways is completed, so we could tell what is causing the environmental issue. So, what is wrong with that? Why can't they hear that loud and clear? Why do they want the citizens of my community to be arguing and bickering over this issue when there's a very simple solution. - put on a moratorium until this study is complete. That is so simple, I guess maybe that's why it's not being done.

There have been threats on people's lives in Yarmouth. There have been threats. I can tell you, that we sure hope no one gets hurt, but if anybody does, the onus will be on that minister. Because the councils have asked that minister to intervene, the people have asked him to intervene and he sits back and does absolutely nothing. Nothing. They did have a private meeting with a handful of citizens from a few different communities but they would not have the backbone to stand up and come out and meet the people of the community at a public meeting. I don't know why they won't come down, I guess maybe it's because we don't have a highway system all the way to Yarmouth. I don't know what the issue is. But I can tell you that I will provide every member of that government tea and biscuits if that's what they need to come to a community. I heard that's what they want when they go to a community is tea and biscuits. We'll give them green tea, whatever colour they want. They will have tea.

[Page 657]

Mr. Speaker, I'll take it a step further. Tonight I asked the Premier and his full Cabinet to come to Yarmouth. They would have an opportunity to see the issues in our community. Maybe the Minster of Community Services wouldn't even have to answer the two letters that I've already sent to her; she could see first hand. I would take her around and show her the housing issues in our community and I know that our councillors will. I know that.

Maybe the good Minister of Health would come down. I can assure you there would be a number of senior citizens that will come out to a public meeting to meet with her to talk about the in-home care support that they so badly need - that this government is turning their backs on them. Yes, and the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal - we would invite you down. Maybe you could see that there's no highway to Yarmouth on either shore. There's no completed highway. (Interruption) We announced Highway No. 103 but there's been nothing from this government since they took office and every member from the South Shore has their muzzles on, they're not allowed to speak about the Highway No. 103 or any other issues and we're seeing the marks on their cheeks where the muzzles are getting tighter.

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia could meet with the councils and I'm sure that my good colleague from Argyle will bring his council over. We could have one meeting with all three councils and discuss the issues in our communities and there are numerous issues. As I've said numerous times since I've been on my feet, we have issues with transportation in southwestern Nova Scotia. Our ferries are bleeding from the eyes; they need some assistance from this government. Our airport needs help, our highways need help but what does this government choose? They choose not to even speak to the people, ignore the people. (Interruption)

Well I can tell you, there are no blinders on this member and he will stand up for the people of Yarmouth and they can hackle and bug me all they want but it doesn't matter. I guarantee you, I can out-shout them ten-to-one. Ten to one, right, Wayne? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is here because he mentioned in this House one day a week ago, that when you get 2,000 votes, come and talk to me. Well, I'll reiterate it again today, 4,537 votes I took in the riding, every poll. The people told me to stand in this House to speak for the people of Yarmouth and I can tell you I darn well will and I guarantee you the ministers are going to get so tired of hearing it, but that's ok.

[Page 658]

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Could the honourable member please speak to the resolution?

MR. HURLBURT: Well Mr. Speaker, I have been speaking to it but no one is listening. The Minister of Environment is sitting there in a daze, he doesn't know. I've invited him to a public meeting and if he wants a public meeting this weekend, I can assure you I will have the public meeting and I can tell you this, that if he doesn't come to my riding to meet with the people, we will come to this Legislature. I will drive the bus if I have to, but we will come here and we will let him know that there's a concern in our community and the environment cannot be overlooked. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, the members of the House will probably be glad to know I'm going to speak to the Resolution and not about highways in southwestern Nova Scotia. (Applause) This is a very serious issue and I think that the member for Yarmouth has brought forward something that should be of concern to all members of this House, and it is something that I believe is going to require the minister taking it upon himself to bring together all levels of government, as well as people in the industry, the fur ranching industry, as well as members of the public.

Today in the Chronicle Herald, out of Yarmouth, and I'll table this, there is an article about the proposed mink farm and they talk about how the Yarmouth YMCA said they had to close their summer camp this year because of algae in the water that some believe was caused by run-off from existing mink farms in Digby County.

There's no question that the fur ranching industry is very important in Nova Scotia. We have the single largest mink industry in the country. I understand there were about 700,000 pelts last year and so this isn't about closing down an industry and shouldn't be about closing down an industry. I think that what happens is when you get a number of these ranchers who may be causing problems that, in fact, they may tarnish the entire industry. So it's incumbent upon the government to get to the bottom of this situation.

Some of the background on this actually troubles me a bit and it troubles me because, when I read it, none of it sounds good. Back in 2005, the South West Shore Development Authority, as I'm told, sent a letter to the warden of the Municipality of Barrington, who is now the provincial Minister of Environment. In it, they indicated that they were planning a experimental mink farm where new mink farmers would be trained and they would be mentored and so forth. So this went on for a little while and as I understand it and there wasn't much about that that got out to the public. The province then provided a $950,000 loan, which would have been under the previous government, and on February 27, 2006, Barrington Municipal Councillors voted 6 to 1 to sell 120 acres of public land for this purpose for $66,000.

[Page 659]

So we have the Minister of Environment who is involved in this at some point along the way and in fairness to the minister, at six to one, he may have been the vote against; I honestly have no idea. But he certainly knew about it at that time before even joining this House. Then when I looked further, I find out that not only did the previous government give a $950,000 loan to some of these operations, but a report done for the Department of Environment - and it's available on the Internet, so I have to assume it's available to the current minister and was available to the previous minister dated March 18, 2009 - actually pointed to the idea that there may be an issue with mink farms and run off into lakes and that more investigations is need.

So, Mr. Speaker, as I stand here and I look at this and although I've been to a mink ranch and I've seen how these things operate, I don't for a second profess to be an expert in mink ranching. But what I can say is that when I read the conclusions of the report done for the Minister of Environment at the time, and I assume that report is still available to the current minister, the conclusion actually suggests that the minister investigate to find the potential sources of the cyanobacteria. But it doesn't seem like a lot of that was done.

In fact, when I look at just in the past few days, the many articles that have been written in community papers and in the Chronicle Herald and so forth about this issue, it seems that either the work isn't being done to identify the sources of the runoff and, in fact, whether it was from the mink industry - and let's accept for a moment that it is from a couple of farms - or if we have identified them then the public isn't being told about that. We heard the honourable member for Yarmouth talk about that a bit earlier that the members of the public are not getting that information and there's a number of problems with that.

One, there are a lot of people who have homes or cottages and I've heard that the YMCA have camps here who are very concerned that they can't use the watercourses for recreational purposes. Then we hear people from the fur-ranching industry saying, there might be a couple of guys, or women, out there who are causing us hardships and causing a bad reputation for our entire industry. So what I'm troubled about, Mr. Speaker, is that I haven't heard any of the questioning from the honourable member for Clare or the honourable member for Yarmouth to the current minister, of any effort to try and bring all the parties together and get a resolution on this issue, which is the only way that we're going to solve this, in my view, and the only way that we're going to have a situation where people actually believe in the process of the Department of Environment and actually believe that they are here to protect them.

In fact, I think that when they look at the government at the moment, they think the opposite, because at a public meeting that was held not that long ago, which I understand was held in Weymouth, a representative of the Department of Agriculture was asked whether they look at mink farms and how they regulate them and the answer that was given by the representative who attended on behalf of the department was, "The facility has to be built

[Page 660]

before we do our permitting inspection". (Interruption) It was in Carleton, thank you very much. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It strikes me that it is kind of like the horse has left the barn, you have to have some of this permitting in place beforehand.

But the reason you also need the municipalities involved and the Minister of Environment would know this as well as anybody else in the House who has served on a municipal council - the municipalities have a role in this too in terms of setting the zoning and what the regulations are going to be. However, Mr. Speaker, those zoning regulations can only go so far and odds are that there is no municipality that is going to create a mink ranch zone. They're going to create an industrial zone or they're going to create some type of industrial zone that allows a number of uses.

So, Mr. Speaker, what has to happen is the work has to be in conjunction with the municipalities so that the municipalities know that when they create zoning laws that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment are going to be there to ensure that the uses don't pollute the waters, don't further damage the environment.

Mr. Speaker, I'm very concerned about this and the more that I learn about it and the more that I read about it, the more concerned I get about it because it strikes me that it's not only - as far as I can tell - being ignored by the current government, but it was ignored by the previous government that is bringing this motion forward. (Applause)

Well, you can clap but, Mr. Speaker, it's interesting to hear the members of the government clap, in fact, their own government is one of the Parties ignoring it. The fact of the matter is, both of them are ignoring it, but we all need to get to a solution because this is good for nobody. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Look, I'm really pleased to have an opportunity to speak to this resolution. I'll be sharing my time with the Minister of Environment. I really want to speak to the issue of the moratorium as much as anything because that really falls under the purview of the Minister of Agriculture. I'm glad to hear the member for Yarmouth speak. I've been a member of the House for 11 years and Agriculture Critic for 11 years - I never got a call or a question in this House on mink farming.

I was surprised that the question of the moratorium that the member from Yarmouth raised kept going to the Minister of Environment. I want to say to the member who just spoke - well, in that time and actually not in my 102 days but in very few days did this issue of mink farming come up and in all my career I never heard an issue, never ever heard the member for Yarmouth speak against the mink industry - never heard him speak about mink at all.

[Page 661]

So what I want to tell the members opposite, there's no point in saying, " might be this and might be that." You can't impact the lives of those farmers or any citizen on an assumption. There has to be clear evidence that there has been pollution by a particular mink farm or more than one mink farm and we don't have that.

There is research being done to try to find out what the cause of the algae is and that hasn't directed to any particular cause. It could be mink, it could be other agriculture, it could be septic systems in the area, we don't know. As far as the moratorium goes, I've been told that there may be good legal grounds for me to be unable to stop a development based on our application process, if they meet the conditions of the application.

There are problems with the application process. My department has been in discussion with the mink industry for over a year in the process of drafting new regulation for that industry. These present farms got approvals from the municipalities for their development. We want to impose environmental farm plans, which they agree to do, and put conditions associated with those environmental farm plans which we haven't imposed on other farms, but try to allay the fears of the communities in this regard.

The member for Yarmouth had nine minutes to speak. I didn't time how much time he spent off the topic, but in his nine minutes to speak on this issue that was so important as to raise a resolution in the House, he couldn't speak for nine minutes on it.

On September 8th, my colleague, the Minister of Environment, and I went to Yarmouth and we met with people from those communities who were recognized as concerned citizens with this issue.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many people did you meet with? How many?

MR. MACDONELL: I'm going to say 15, a dozen.(Interruption) Well, now you can go back and tell them they weren't worthy of meeting - I thought they were. They had a request in to me and I was glad to go do it.

The issue around the moratorium - if someone in your community had a dysfunctional septic system and somebody else puts in for a building permit, would you say no because somebody else's system is bad? Why would you blame the person who hasn't built one? It seems to be kind of ridiculous.

[5:45 p.m.]

So we recognize that there may be issues. The mink industry has grown and grown and grown and my department recognizes a need for us to step in, have regulation for that industry, draft new legislation - and the people in that industry have been saying they agree.

[Page 662]

They're interested in seeing change. It's one of those areas of agriculture that's making money. It generates about $80 million in the community, 60 per cent of which is spent within 30 kilometres of the area of the farm. That should be worth a lot to the people in Yarmouth - certainly to the municipal council, to the Chamber of Commerce. They all should be glad to have mink farms in their area.

AN HON. MEMBER: But they do not want a lake polluted because of it.

MR. MACDONELL: That would be a reasonable thought, not to have a lake polluted because of it, and that's the steps that we want to take to assure them that it won't happen. (Interruption) Well, I can tell the member opposite the farms that don't exist are not polluting the lakes. So for those people who have a concern, we have to identify whether the pollution in any lake or any waterway is caused by mink, and that hasn't been made clear yet. There's no evidence of that. So whether it's mink farming or any plant down the road of another type, people want to know that their environment is safe, and we're going to take steps to ensure that those fears that people have can be put to rest because this is an industry worth keeping. Their environment is worth protecting and this NDP Government is going to do that. I will share my time with the Minister of Environment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment.

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for this resolution regarding this particular matter. As we have just heard, the issues regarding the operation of mink farms are dealt with by my honourable colleague's department. I know the Department of Agriculture is watching this very closely and is listening to Nova Scotians and to the mink farmers. As previously mentioned, on September 8th the Minister of Agriculture and I met with concerned citizens and toured some of the mink farms. We both are committed to working on options for improving the management of mink farms. It is also important to note that the mink farms in Nova Scotia, like other forms of farming, do not require an approval from the Department of Environment to operate. Again, the development of farms, including mink ranches, in rural Nova Scotia is governed by the Department of Agriculture. That department provides advice and directions to the ranchers through farm management plans, nutrition, and nutrient management guidelines.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard about the actions they are taking to address this issue. Our Environment Department works closely with the Department of Agriculture in investigating any possible point sources of contamination that may result in poor water quality. Our government believes that the best future of Nova Scotia lies in recognizing the connection between the environment protection and the economic sustainability prosperity. The Department of Environment is concerned with both sides of this principle. This issue is perhaps a good example of putting the principle into practice. Environmental health and economic health go hand in hand; each rely on each other.

[Page 663]

With that being said, I am pleased to speak to the potential environment implications that have been part of this discussion. Environment Department staff members have been investigating water quality issues in the watershed of the Yarmouth area. We continue to do research to support the investigation, and we will keep monitoring and following up on information as it is collected.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report today that our staff has completed water sampling in Sloans Lake, in the Clyde River sites in Shelburne and Yarmouth Counties. Those samples will provide important baseline data. The baseline data will help us assess whether any effects develop in that water so that corrective actions may be taken. As well, the operator of the proposed mink ranches in Sloans Lake and Clyde River have agreed to participate in monitoring programs to help prevent adverse effects.

On top of that, our department staff will continue to work with stakeholders and Nova Scotia Agriculture to address any source of contamination to these water systems that may result from mink farming. Algae blooms in water are caused by a rise in level nutrients. That rise can have a variety of causes. We need to rely on monitoring and science to address the contributing factors to this problem.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to the rest of the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm very happy to stand today and speak to this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, as the members of this House know, I was fortunate enough for two years to be Minister of Agriculture. If you look at this very impassioned discussion around this issue, you can understand why the honourable member for Yarmouth is so impassioned about it in his community.

What is happening in his community is that a lot of things have gotten blown out of proportion. If you look at the discussions that are happening in Carleton . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Does he know the Rules of the House?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: No, he wouldn't actually.

If you look at what is happening in that community and because this has been allowed to get out of control, by various people, because of the inaction or the visible inaction by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment, that the community has rallied against the mink industry, an industry that I have tons of respect for. An industry that I have, I believe, four farms in my riding alone which, up to last week or the week before - or when this whole thing started to get completely blown out of proportion - when the

[Page 664]

minister lost the file, I had not received one e-mail on mink firms. But yet I can tell you that over the last number of weeks it hasn't stopped, because of the inaction or by letting this thing - we've got it figured out, don't worry about it, don't worry about it.

It's a simple fix. The minister alluded to it earlier, we have to have better regulation on the treatment of the manure coming off of those farms. The dairy farms had to do it a long time ago. They've had a phenomenal manure management plan. Why hasn't the department moved more quickly, in this particular case, to take care of that community and what the community is feeling right now?

Mr. Speaker, Lake Fanning is polluted. I know you had the opportunity to visit Lake Fanning, I believe, and the surrounding lakes as they lead up the Carleton River, up to Highway No. 340 and where the highest concentration of mink farming is in this province. I don't remember what the number is in that area but it's like one million animals. The concentration is incredible. That water, that cleaning, the manure that would be created would be phenomenal. So the community has put two and two together and said, there, that's why that water is polluted. Whether it is or it isn't - and the member alluded to that. He said, you know, we don't know what is causing the bloom. The community has put two and two together and regardless - the frustration that the member has is that he has called for help. He has called for people to come down and try to explain this. He has called because he believes the industry is good, too, and it needs a bit of tuning up and it can coexist very nicely in a community like Carleton.

I know it can coexist in a community like Argyle Head. Now what I'm getting from Argyle Head is the same concerns. We might not have the algae bloom, but what we have are people complaining about the stink and the flies. I have never heard that up to now. So we need to find a mechanism in which to allay the fears of those communities and not to damage the industry. Right now, the industry, in my mind, hasn't really stepped up a little bit here. Their voice needs to be heard too.

My 10-year-old boy had the opportunity this summer to go to Camp Wapomeo, whether or not he had a good time, that's up to him, he was upset when he finished. I can say I know he had a good time because he talked about the swimming, the canoeing and all the stuff that he was able to do at Camp Wapomeo. He was looking forward to another session at Camp Wapomeo next year. Because of the algae bloom, Camp Wapomeo probably will shut its doors for the first time in 78 years. There's a huge community that supports Camp Wapomeo, they're upset and they've put two and two together and they're blaming the mink industry.

Before things get too far out of hand because right now there actually was a death threat against the guy that's building that farm, or wants to build that farm, in the Carleton area - a death threat.

[Page 665]

We need to find a way to say, listen, in order to have a time out, a place to maybe cool our heels or whatever you want to call it, is maybe a small moratorium. Just say, while we're researching the water system, while Environment's doing their work, while the regulations are being put together by the Department of Agriculture - ones that I would support, because I've said it before that we need to cool our heels and maybe put that little moratorium on for a very short period of time.

We're not building thousands of mink farms around this province right now. This is the only one I'm aware of, there might be one or two others, so it's not going to be a big hit to the industry. We need to calm down. We need to calm those communities down. We need to give them a voice, we need to be able to let them be heard. It's in the power of the government that sits in front of me and the two ministers I'm looking at right now. Do it not only for the sake of - you know, it's not just about the member for Yarmouth or the residents of Carleton or Lake Fanning, it's about the industry as well, one that brings millions of dollars to our community, brings millions of dollars to our province and one that is, in my mind, very sustainable.

As I said, all we need to do is maybe cool our heels a little bit, protect that water system, find out what's wrong with it and fix it. That's all we want to have happen. Fix it for the residents of Carleton and fix it for the residents of this province. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you honourable members for the debate this evening. We are approaching the moment of interruption. The honourable Government House Leader for the schedule for tomorrow.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, after the daily routine and Question Period, we will be going into the Committee of the Whole House on Supply. We will be sitting from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. I ask that the House now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that we rise and meet again tomorrow at the hour of 2:00 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.

The adjournment motion was submitted by the honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville:

[Page 666]

"Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that removing the HST from home electricity effective October 1st of this year is a positive step toward making life better for Nova Scotian families."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

HOME ELECTRICITY: HST - REMOVAL

MR. MAT WHYNOTT: Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to rise today and talk about the very important issue that is here before us today, to all the honourable members' constituencies right across this province. This is an issue that was certainly brought up during the most recent election campaign. I heard it day after day and week after week, door after door, meeting the various constituents who live in my riding. I certainly know that the people of Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville are quite delighted with the fact that as of October 1, 2009, this government is going to follow through on the commitment made in the most recent campaign.

[6:00 p.m.]

The fact is that it certainly is the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do because the HST should never have been put on the cost of home electricity and this will put money back into the pockets of the people right across this province and the folks out there certainly understand the issue and so does this government.

Taking the HST off home energy costs is very important because this will give the opportunity for Nova Scotians to have a little bit more money in their pocket. I don't think that any of us in this House would ever say that is not a good thing and it is a good thing.

Shortly after taking office, this Party, this government, under the genuine leadership of our Premier, announced that the 8 per cent HST would be removed from home electricity costs. That's starting tomorrow, October 1st. That was part of our commitments to the people of the province and it is one positive step toward making life better and more affordable for the people of this province.

We're getting into the time of year that the temperature is falling and we talked about, many times in this House, that there were people who were choosing between heating their home and feeding their children and again, this is a great opportunity for the people of the province. This will put money back into the pockets of the families who need it the most.

[Page 667]

When I was out on the campaign trail people would say, this is important to me and it didn't matter what house I went to, what door I knocked on, people would always talk about that. You know what? As a candidate they would say to me, thank you, someone, finally, a Party is listening to the needs of me and my family. You have a Leader who understands the issues. You as a candidate understand the issues that face me and my family. The people of Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville should know that, in fact, I do understand the issues facing those people and this Premier understands the issues facing the people of this province.

I would like to table a news release that was dated April 29, 2008, and this is a news release that was put forward by the now honourable member for Dartmouth East. The news release says and I'll quote here, "Media reports today indicate the provincial budget may eliminate the HST," and this is under the former Progressive Conservative Government, "rebate on portions of power bills below 27 kilowatts per day. The intent would appear to be to provide HST rebates only to those using electricity to heat their homes. While I understand the desire to keep HST rebates targeted to the heat usage, the changes reported to be proposed in the budget will increase costs for all families and will provide a disincentive for families to reduce their electrical usage."

That, I think, just shows the idea that removing the HST off people's electricity costs, what that does and the bipartisanship that shows in the member at the time as a councillor in Dartmouth and, obviously, supports that idea.

Mr. Speaker, we have to also note that in last year's budget, the 2008 budget - or, sorry, let's go back to the 2006 election, because in the 2006 election the Progressive Conservative Party said that they would remove the provincial portion of the HST off home electricity costs. They did, and then they put that tax back on the families of this province in the next budget - that was at the exact same time that Nova Scotia Power was asking for 13 per cent rate increase.

And you know, Mr. Speaker, right there that is almost a 20 per cent increase in electricity power rates for the people of the province. That's unfair. This Party and this government stated, because of the leadership of the Premier, it is removing that 8 per cent portion of the HST off home electricity costs, and it is the right thing to do - and you know what? I've been receiving phone calls from people in the constituency that I represent - the great people of Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville - and they're saying to me, thank you, you talked about a commitment in the campaign and you're following through on it. It is important to every person across the province that we do follow through on our commitments and, as we've said many times in this House so far, this government will follow through on the commitments of the campaign.

Mr. Speaker, it is a wonderful opportunity to be able to stand here and to talk about this. I remember in my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne I had the opportunity to talk about two families who liked the fact that they were going to be receiving money to

[Page 668]

be able to have, maybe, maybe, a couple more litres of milk in the fridge, maybe a couple more loaves of bread, to be able to feed their children and to help maybe their neighbour who may not have that extra money to go forward.

I certainly enjoy the opportunity to speak here today and I know that I'll have many more opportunities to do so. It certainly is wonderful to see. I'm glad that all the honourable members opposite and here on the government side were able to stay and listen to this today.

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: It's a full house.

MR.WHYNOTT: It is a full house, says the member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

Mr. Speaker, the people of the province should be aware that this government will follow through on its commitments, and we have done so because starting tomorrow the 8 per cent portion of the HST is being removed from the power bills of this province.

So thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I'm looking forward to hearing the members opposite in their remarks on this great resolution that talks about making life better for today's families. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for tabling this press release when I was a councillor because it is unfortunate that he didn't characterize it correctly and just took out parts, forgetting to mention the first part of the quote where it talks about - which was the position of the municipality, by the way, and I was the chairman of the Energy Committee at the time - that it would be completely defeating conservation efforts by individuals to move it around. Basically the municipality - this is one of two releases - we were suggesting at the time that the Tories were making it even worse. Either you have to do it all the way or not at all.

Mr. Speaker, I don't deny for a second that there are people - and there are people in my own constituency - who are happy to get a tax rebate and to me that is not what this is about. I don't want to pay HST on anything and I guarantee you that in the next four years that government is going to have tabled here, petitions asking for the HST to be taken off other essentials and there probably is a lot of merit in that, there probably is.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to speak against taking the HST off electricity. What I'm going to talk about is the choices the NDP has chosen to make in doing this, the choices that some of their own supporters, whom I will mention here in a few minutes, are criticizing their Party for. For example, this rebate in a full year has been estimated by the government to cost $30 million - $30 million that could improve the Caregiver Allowance Program; $30 million that could help improve Community Services payments. Yet the government has chosen to place this as a priority ahead of those things.

[Page 669]

I'm happy that the member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville has ensured that I'm going to save about $10 a month in my electric bill. The thing is, I didn't need to save that $10, but there are people in this community who do, and many of those people don't pay an electric bill because many of those people, on the advice of some of the staff from Community Services, seek out apartments and seek out rooming houses where electricity is included, so they don't get any benefit.

I was surprised to learn that this rebate won't apply to many, many people in this province including, for example, many students who attend university and have the cost of electricity factored into their residence payments. When I was at Dal, my electricity costs were included in the rent payment in the building - not covered, not covered at all. Rooming houses where electricity is almost always covered - not covered. Yet these are the people who can least afford to pay those bills, but the government hasn't implemented a system that will ensure the people who need this rebate the most actually get it.

In fact, you know, Michael Bradfield, who is a well-known, socially-minded economist in metro, who's very often supported NDP platforms - and a lot of them - put out a report the other week criticizing this. In fact, he said, "the NDP has lowered taxes, primarily for middle and upper income people by about $15 million in this budget year and by $30 million next year when the policy will affect the entire budget year ..." Yes, I'll table this, don't worry. He then went on to say, "These tax cuts should be offset by an increase in taxes on high incomes." So is that the next step? Because this is about social policy change, and if we want to take $30 million in a year that we have a deficit that's closing in on $600 million - we can argue about whose deficit that is, but at this point that doesn't matter.

What matters is the fact that this government has chosen to help people who can better afford that amount than to target that funding at the people who often don't have an electric bill because it's included in some of the housing they have, or can least afford it. Think about that money if it was targeted to low income. Think about what that would achieve instead of what we have. This government now has to find $30 million next year to meet their promise, an additional $30 million to meet their promise to balance the budget. So they've got to find $30 million.

So let's think about what those choices might be. You could cut the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture entirely - entirely eliminate it based on this year's budget estimates - three times over to pay for it. What else could you do? Well, you could cut the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage in half. Is that the measure that's going to pay for this? It's about priorities and about choices. What is more important? Then what happens, Mr. Speaker? The Utility and Review Board last year said to Nova Scotia Power that they now have the ability to use a fuel adjustment mechanism to automatically increase prices of electricity based on fuel prices within a certain range. All right, so that $10 a month is going to be gone by next year and, more importantly, the cost of that rebate is going to increase every time Nova Scotia Power engages the fuel adjustment mechanism - every single time -

[Page 670]

which means they're not just looking for $30 million next year, they're probably going to be looking for more and they're certainly looking for more in each consecutive year.

It's an increasing liability to the province. Why, in a case like that, would the government not have said, there are people who need help in this province and we can do a lot with $30 million? The people who will benefit most from this rebate are the people who least need our help. It doesn't make any sense when you look at priorities.

The government has some strange motivations here. On the one hand, it's reducing the price of electricity. All right, let's think about what that means. The Premier, on CBC television, said he doesn't think that's going to lead to increased usage. The Ecology Action Centre came out and disagreed, but let's just say that's a disagreement among members. Then yesterday, the Minister of Finance is quoted in The Chronicle-Herald as suggesting the EnerGuide is a good place to start cutting - the program that also helps lower-income and middle-income people reduce their electrical costs. In fact, most people I've talked to who have taken advantage of that program have found they have reduced their electrical costs, their heating costs and their other energy costs, by more than $10 a month that the $30 million will provide.

The Minister of Finance wants to cut the program that saves people more money and instead cut HST off of electricity. Why wouldn't you have taken $30 million and increased the EnerGuide program? Made more of it grants and targeted more at low- or middle-income families which would have saved people more money and it would have saved them over the long term and it would have saved them permanently.

This is about choices. I said at the beginning, I'm not going to sit here and say that in and of itself, taking the HST off electricity isn't a good idea, isn't popular. I don't dispute that. What I dispute are the priorities of this government. The priorities should be to help the people who need the help most and that's not what this does.

In the Speech from the Throne, the Lieutenant Governor talked about reducing poverty as a key element for this government. I said in my response to every Party here I hope supports that and will work toward that. To do that, you target programs like this at your lower income brackets. This is a program that is targeted mainly at higher income brackets. It just doesn't make any sense here, Mr. Speaker.

There's no way I could support this motion. There's no way I can support this motion because it simply does not make sense to me at the end of the day, that we would take $30 million and when you look at that over a graph, most of that money is going to go to people who are making far more money than those on community services. Mr. Speaker, I think the government has to get its priorities straight instead of choosing easy political targets and easy things that make people happy for a few weeks, but when their electricity goes up next year with the fuel adjustment mechanism, guaranteed they're going to be back here at the doors of the government asking them to still keep that electricity price low. Thank you.

[Page 671]

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased to rise in response to this debate presented by the honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville. I want to congratulate him, it's important to get up and speak about something you believe in. I also know unfortunately the honourable member did swallow the proverbial Kool-Aid when wanting to endorse this program and to look at it. Yes, in fact, the Progressive Conservatives in the election dealt with it and we were always forthright with Nova Scotians about staying within our means.

But there is a shift that's occurred with regard to the government honouring what is politically popular, no doubt. So it's politically popular and it may be good politics but there's no good policy behind this. In fact, I agree with my honourable colleague's comments with regard to those who are benefiting from it. It is disturbing to hear of a Finance Minister looking for areas to cut already when trying to deliver on this $30 million promise, that unlike Keep the Heat goes to the individuals who need the money the most, it's incontestable.

There isn't a single person in this Legislature who is eligible for those programs, nor should we be eligible for those programs, because we don't need it, but there are Nova Scotians who do need it. Just in Question Period today, when the government has ignored questions, when they were talking about the $19 million for low income and talking about poverty reduction, if they wanted to take $30 million and make a real difference and put more than just a couple of litres of milk on the table of low income Nova Scotians, they could have chosen to that, but they haven't. They went to the popular issue.

I know in the campaign, I've said it before in the House, I understood at the doorsteps that people were buying this, but what they didn't get at $10 per month is they didn't know coming out of that election that they were going to get a $590 million-plus deficit, which seems to be growing by the commitments and the actions of the ministers across the way. What they've done is they're prepaying next year's universities. They're adding hundreds of millions of dollars.

My question, really, for them to think about for these children and families they say they're concerned about, they've just cost the children and grandchildren of the current generation because they've just added on to the debt burden of this province. The Minister of Finance stood here and said he will balance the budget next year so what is he going to cut? He's going to have to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from line items. We've heard in Public Accounts today about immunization, they made promises and we find out they're not even funded from Cabinet at this point.

We had and thankfully still have a program that worked on income needs and I do agree with my honourable colleague, if they were really interested in helping those in greatest

[Page 672]

need, they would have put an income test in place. They would have had the flexibility to deal with those citizens who bought into this plan, who are not going to be included in this plan. Again, they can try to spin this however they choose but that $30 million that they are now spending (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is trying to say it's going back in the pockets of the people - a short-term fix for a couple of bucks now, that the rates go up, the costs are hidden and, indeed, is not addressing the root causes regarding poverty reduction in this province, is not helping those families greatest in need, is rewarding everyone and that's something that we stood by to make sure we had that balance within a government. This government has lost sight of those who are greatest in need and want the political expediency of a $30 million fix that we now find is not going to help those who are greatest in need.

Indeed, if they were truly concerned about the people who truly needed this assistance, they would have taken $30 million and distributed it in a more effective way. But they had to politically expedite a promise and try to get some quick fixes before they came into this Chamber to try and put some shine on a government that's already tarnished coming in here. I can tell you, the shine is going quickly and Nova Scotians are now seeing the reality but what is true is Nova Scotians will be paying for decades to come because they say they're going to balance. How they're going to get from $590 million-plus dollars and then balance next year and make those types of cuts - wait until Nova Scotians see that, because I'll be happy to go back to doorsteps. The challenge is going to be for the NDP members to go back to those doorsteps when Nova Scotians find out and know and they say to them, you misled us, you said things were going to be better. You said you were going to deliver good things for Nova Scotians and you didn't and they haven't.

If you analyze these numbers, the NDP have misled Nova Scotians to believing they were going to provide them with some benefit. Well it hasn't been the case and Nova Scotians are waking up to realizing that their bills, their everyday bills in life, are going to go up because of increased debt burden in this province. Instead of stimulating the things that get the economy moving, helping those greatest in need, they went to a politically expedited process. (Interruptions)

What I know is when I was part of the Progressive Conservative Government, we brought in balanced budgets and they voted against a balanced budget this past Spring. They don't (Interruptions)

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

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable members can wax on as much as they want but they can't wax over the reality and mislead Nova Scotians into thinking that this is going to be good for them at the end of the day - politically popular but from a policy point of view and from helping those who need it the most, who deserve it the most - with a Minister of Community Services today who couldn't even articulate where she is on poverty

[Page 673]

reduction, even though those members who stand here tonight to say this has been a great thing. Just think what $30 million could have done on top of the $19 million that our previous government was willing to invest, within our means, for Nova Scotians, but they're not even doing that. They can't even spend a deficit responsibly. They can't spend their way out of their problems fast enough.

What I can tell you, and I'll predict to the honourable members, we're going to have a Minister of Finance who is going to break his word to Nova Scotians before long because he won't be able to balance another budget to come, even though he promised he would balance the budget and live within his means.

They're going to be saying to Nova Scotians, well, it's too bad we can't do that and you're going to have to live within your means, and they're going to find out that more Nova Scotians are not going to have the means to address the issues that are priorities to them that they thought the NDP would possibly do.

So, Mr. Speaker, it may be politically expedient, it may look very nice for politics, but for policy it's wrong, it doesn't work, and it doesn't help those who deserve it the most. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I would like to thank all the honourable members who took part tonight in an excellent debate. That brings to a conclusion the business in the House. We will come to order tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Thank you.

[The House rose at 6:26 p.m.]

[Page 674]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32 (3)

RESOLUTION NO. 333

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the Glace Bay Red Devils Girls Under 12 "B" Soccer Team captured the season championship and continued on to win the Cape Breton Cup; and

Whereas team members were Riley Shea, Adria Boone, Melanie Cochrane, Sara Kelly, Becca MacNeil, Jillian MacKeigan, Isabelle MacIntyre, Lindsay Pyke, Jillian Morrison, Jessica Hardy, Emily MacDonald, Victoria MacIntyre, Amy Cameron, Emile Routledge, Shelby MacNeil, Taylor Burke, Megan Stubbard, and Hannah Kosick; and

Whereas under the guidance of Coach Michael Cochrane the Red Devils advanced to the provincials held in Sydney;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate the Glace Bay Red Devils Girls Under 12 "B" Soccer Team for their accomplishments.

RESOLUTION NO. 334

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas the Yarmouth Junior High girls' soccer team have switched from their traditional red and black uniforms in favour of pink ones for the current season in order to support anti-bullying campaigns; and

Whereas pink shirts have become associated with anti-bullying ever since a Kings County student wore one in solidarity with a colleague who was previously harassed for wearing a similar article of clothing; and

Whereas the provincial government now designates the second Thursday of every year as Stand Up Against Bullying Day, all in an effort to make schools safe and comfortable places for students to learn;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud the Yarmouth Junior High girls' soccer team for raising awareness of this important issue.

[Page 675]

RESOLUTION NO. 335

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

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

Whereas the 1993-94 Central Kings Gators High School Hockey Team was recognized for their provincial AA Championships; and

Whereas Frank Woodworth contributed to the team's success as the manager;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the members of the 1993-94 Central Kings Gators High School Hockey Team and manager Frank Woodworth for their induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.