The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 06-21

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Cecil Clarke

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/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Giffin, Stephen - Death: Inquiry - Order, Mr. H. Epstein 1416
Eastern Passage - High Sch.: Recommendation - Endorse,
Mr. K. Deveaux 1416
TABLING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
NSCC - Report to the Community 2006, Hon. K. Casey 1417
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Energy: Deep Panuke Offshore Dev. Plan - Update, Hon. W. Dooks 1417
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 777, Global Microcredit Summit: Accomplishments -
Recognize, The Premier 1420
Vote - Affirmative 1420
Res. 778, Keating, Charles - Cdn. Red Cross Humanitarian Award,
The Premier 1421
Vote - Affirmative 1421
Res. 779, Joyce, Ron: IWK Health Ctr. - Donation,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1421
Vote - Affirmative 1422
Res. 780, Uteck, Sue: HRM Dep. Mayor - Appointment,
Hon. J. Muir 1422
Vote - Affirmative 1423
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 781, Barry, David: Lifesaving Award - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1423
Vote - Affirmative 1424
Res. 782, Mining Matters Conf.: Prep. Work Acknowledge,
Hon. D. Morse 1424
Vote - Affirmative 1424
Res. 783, Richards, Carolyn/Ball, Phyllis - C.B. Cancer Symposium
Commun. Award, Hon. C. d'Entremont 1425
Vote - Affirmative 1425
Res. 784, TCH: C.B. - Magazine Ranking, Hon. L. Goucher 1425
Vote - Affirmative 1426
Res. 785, Little Dover: Septic Waste Management - Pilot Proj.,
Hon. M. Parent 1426
Vote - Affirmative 1427
Res. 786, Terris, Glenn/Patterson, Alasdair/Penney, Jacob:
Firefighting - Professionalism, Hon. D. Morse 1427
Vote - Affirmative 1428
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 94, Property Valuation Services Corporation Act, Hon. J. Muir 1428
No. 95, Municipal Government Act, Hon. J. Muir 1428
No. 96, Petroleum Products Pricing Act, Mr. M. Samson 1428
No. 97, Health Authorities Act, Ms. J. Massey 1428
No. 98, Revenue Act, Mr. P. Paris 1428
No. 99, Health Authorities Act, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1428
NOTICES OF MOTIONS
Res. 787, MacDonald, Frank: Novel - Recognition, Mr. D. Dexter 1429
Vote - Affirmative 1429
Res. 788, Keating, Charles V. - Cdn. Red Cross Humanitarian
Award, Mr. M. Samson 1429
Vote - Affirmative 1430
Res. 789, Hants Commun. Hosp. - Anniv. (35th), Mr. C. Porter 1430
Vote - Affirmative 1431
Res. 790, MacDonald, Allan: Death of - Tribute, Mr. F. Corbett 1431
Vote - Affirmative 1432
Res. 791, Joyce, Ron: IWK Health Ctr. - Donation,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1432
Vote - Affirmative 1432
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 792, Kinder Kampus: NSCC Stellarton - Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn 1433
Vote - Affirmative 1433
Res. 793, The Place Near & Far - Grand Opening,
Mr. J. MacDonell 1433
Vote - Affirmative 1434
Res. 794, Veterans - UNSM: Parking Fees - Exempt, Mr. W. Gaudet 1434
Vote - Affirmative 1435
Res. 795, LeBlanc, Lori - Arthritis Soc.: Dedication - Congrats.,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1435
Vote - Affirmative 1436
Res. 796, Boys & Girls Club (E. Dart.) - Award Night:
Recipients - Congrats., Ms. J. Massey 1436
Vote - Affirmative 1436
Res. 797, Trans County Transportation Soc.: Serv. - Recognize,
Mr. L. Glavine 1437
Vote - Affirmative 1437
Res. 798, St. FX: Women's Rugby Team - CIS Championship,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1437
Vote - Affirmative 1438
Res. 799, MacLeod, Marc-Andre - Cadet Award/Medal,
Mr. C. Parker 1438
Vote - Affirmative 1439
Res. 800, Bill C-217 - Gov't. (Can.): Passage - Urge,
Mr. H. Theriault 1439
Vote - Affirmative 1440
Res. 801, C. P. Allen HS - Music Achievements, Hon. L. Goucher 1440
Vote - Affirmative 1441
Res. 802, Weatherbie, Kristina - Female Athlete of Wk., Mr. G. Gosse 1441
Vote - Affirmative 1441
Res. 803, Merchant Navy Veterans: Sacrifices - Recognize,
Mr. S. McNeil 1441
Vote - Affirmative 1442
Res. 804, Piers, David: Col. Co. Sport Hall of Fame - Induction,
Hon. J. Muir 1442
Vote - Affirmative 1443
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 805, Yunus, Dr. Muhammad: Nova Scotia - Welcome,
Mr. L. Preyra 1443
Vote - Affirmative 1444
Res. 806, Gas Retailers - Seniors/Handicapped: Full-Serv. -
Awareness, Mr. Wayne Gaudet 1444
Vote - Affirmative 1445
Res. 807, Blenkhorn, Ruth/Llewellyn, Julia: Women's Instit. -
Buy Local Challenge, Hon. M. Parent 1445
Vote - Affirmative 1445
Res. 808, Muise, Graham - Triathlon Accomplishments,
Ms. V. Conrad 1446
Vote - Affirmative 1446
Res. 809, Uteck, Sue: Dep. Mayor - Appt., Ms. D. Whalen 1446
Vote - Affirmative 1447
Res. 810, Hart, Barbara - Joseph Howe Fellowship Award,
Ms. M. More 1447
Vote - Affirmative 1448
Res. 811, Knight, Reg: Commun. Work - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1448
Vote - Affirmative 1449
Res. 812, North Nova Educ. Ctr.: Boys Cross-Country Team -
Championship, Mr. C. MacKinnon 1449
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 190, Energy: LNG Terminals - Anadarko/Canaport,
Mr. F. Corbett 1450
No. 191, Energy - Dep. Min.: Conf. Call - Details, Mr. M. Samson 1451
No. 192, Health - Corpus Sanchez Review: Report - Table,
Mr. D. Dexter 1453
No. 193, Health: Service Review Presentation - Omissions,
Mr. D. Dexter 1454
No. 194, Econ. Dev.: EDS Call Ctr. (Pt. Hawkesbury) - Closure,
Mr. M. Samson 1455
No. 195, Fin.: Computer System Security - Problems Address,
Mr. G. Steele 1457
No. 196, Health: Nursing Home Beds - Shortage Address,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1458
No. 197, Gov't. (N.S.): Campaign Commitments - Propaganda,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1460
No. 198, Agric.: Pork Producers - Funding, Mr. J. MacDonell 1461
No. 199,Agric.: Hog Industry - Strategy, Mr. S. MacNeil 1463
No. 200, Nat. Res. Woodlot Owners - Quarantine Zone,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 1464
No. 201, Environ. & Lbr.: Chronic Pain - Definition,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1465
No. 202, Prem.: Gas Regulation - Failure, Mr. M. Samson 1466
No. 203, TPW: Road Study - Rural Plan, Mr. C. Parker 1468
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 77, Atlantic Baptist Churches Convention Act 1469
Vote - Affirmative 1469
No. 85, An Act Respecting the Transfer of Assets and Liabilities of the
Nova Scotia Freemasons' Home to The Masonic Foundation
of Nova Scotia 1469
Hon. J. Muir 1469
Vote - Affirmative 1470
No. 88, Richmond Stora Enso Taxation Act 1471
Mr. M. Samson 1471
Vote - Affirmative 1472
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 2:13 p.m. 1472
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 2:16 p.m. 1473
CWH REPORTS: 1473
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 15, Municipal Government Act 1473
Hon. J. Muir 1473
Vote - Affirmative 1473
No. 67, Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act 1474
Hon. K. Casey 1474
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1476
Mr. H. Epstein 1481
Mr. H. Epstein
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1484
Mr. G. Gosse 1486
Mr. K. Colwell 1491
Mr. F. Corbett 1493
Hon. K. Casey 1496
Vote - Affirmative 1497
No. 84, Wind Turbine Facilities Municipal Taxation Act 1497
Hon. J. Muir 1497
Mr. F. Corbett 1500
Ms. D. Whalen 1502
Mr. H. Epstein 1505
Mr. K. Colwell 1559
Ms. V. Conrad 1513
Mr. C. Parker 1517
Mr. C. MacKinnon 1521
Hon. J. Muir 1522
Vote - Affirmative 1523
No. 5, Degree Granting Act 1524
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1524
Mr. H. Epstein 1531
Adjourns debate 1532
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Nov. 10th at 9:00 a.m. 1533
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Com. Serv.: C.B. Pub. Housing Asbestos Rept. - Release,
Mr. G. Gosse 1533
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1536
Mr. C. Porter 1539
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 813, Martello, Eric, Wanda & Jason: Inside-Out Cleaning Serv. -
Sm. Bus. Award, Hon. M. Baker 1543
Res. 814, Wentzell, Arol & Marilyn: Wentzell's Bottle Recycling -
Entrepreneurial Achievement Award, Hon. M. Baker 1543
Res. 815, EADS Composites Atl. - Innovation Award,
Hon. M. Baker 1544
Res. 816, Kirumira, Aisha - Athletic/Educational Endeavours,
Mr. C. Porter 1544
Res. 817, Beazley, Erin - Athletic Accomplishments,
Mr. C. Porter 1545
Res. 818, Lunn, Melissa - Athletic/Educational Endeavours,
Mr. C. Porter 1545
Res. 819, Lamb, Margie/Murphy, Cheryl/Parker, Vicky/
Sanford, Marie - Retirement, Mr. L. Glavine 1546
Res. 820, Tantallon Elem. Sch.: Landscaping Donations -
Thank, Hon. J. Streatch 1546
Res. 821, Christmas Tree Producers/Exporters - Success Wish,
Hon. J. Streatch 1547
Res. 822, Whidden, Stuart: Danone Nations Cup - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1547
Res. 823, William Black United Church - Anniv. (185th),
Hon. J. Streatch 1548
Res. 824, Pico, Gary/Gore, Erin/Jollymore, Greg/Mitchell, Bryan -
Retirement, Hon. J. Streatch 1548
Res. 825, Lunenburg/Queens/Shelburne Counties - Harbour Improvement
Funding: Gerald Keddy/Gov't (Can.) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1549
Res. 826, Tantallon Tigers - Championship, Hon. J. Streatch 1549
Res. 827, Shoreham Village: Vols. - Thank, Hon. J. Streatch 1550
Res. 828, Schwartz, Cameron - Citizen of Yr. Award,
Hon. J. Streatch 1550
Res. 829, Sanders, Dwight: H. C. Sanders & Son - Export
Achievement Award Nomination, Hon. J. Streatch 1551
Res. 830, Gold River Elem. Sch. - Grade 3/4 Class (Mrs. Armstrong):
Success - Wish, Hon. J. Streatch 1551
Res. 831, St. Margaret's Bay Sailing Club: Sailing Events -
Congrats., Hon. J. Streatch 1552
Res. 832, New Ross Masters Soccer Team: Season - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1552
Res. 833, Girls Night Out: Organizing Comm. - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1553
Res. 834, Currie, Jenna/ Kohut, Samantha/Chapman, Shannon:
Int'l. Children's Games - Congrats., Hon. J. Streatch 1553
Res. 835, Big Bike for Stroke: Tantallon Participants - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1554

[Page 1415]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2006

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin with the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic:

Therefore be it resolved that this government release the Cape Breton public housing asbestos report.

That will begin at the adjournment of business today.

We will now commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

1415

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, which has been signed by 547 persons. The operative clause reads, "Therefore we the

[Page 1416]

undersigned petition the Minister of Justice, in his role as Attorney General, to order an inquiry into the wrongful death of Stephen Giffin under the Fatality Inquiries Act . . ."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name to this petition, as well. I wonder if I may, as well, make an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

Please do the introduction.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the members of the House to the presence in the west gallery of Mr. Cyril Giffin, who is the father of Stephen Giffin, the gentleman who is the subject of the petition. Mr. Giffin, unfortunately, lost his son as a result of a fight in a bar in Halifax in 1999, and has felt, ever since then, not satisfied with the process of trials, so that in addition to the deep sorrow of losing his son, he has had difficulty in dealing with the legal process; hence, the petition. I wonder if Mr. Giffin could rise and receive a welcome from the members of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to our guests in the gallery.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have an opportunity, and I beg leave to introduce a petition. The operative clause is, "We support the decision of the Halifax Regional School Board to make a new high school for Eastern Passage a priority. Discussions in government are currently taking place and a decision will be made by the end of October 2006. We strongly encourage the Department of Education to endorse the recommendation of the school board to build a high school in the community by 2011."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature, and it's one of 4,000 people who have signed the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 1417]

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, if I could, in advance of tabling the report, the Nova Scotia Community College Annual Report, I would like to request permission to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery, I would like to draw the attention of the members of the House to Joan McArthur-Blair, President of NSCC. I'm very pleased to be working with Dr. McArthur-Blair to ensure Nova Scotian students have the skills they need to succeed in our labour market. I would also like to welcome two NSCC graduates and entrepreneurs who helped to produce the report. Aaron Harpell is a graphic designer who graduated in 2003 and now has his own company called Hammerhead Design. Catherine Neily is a photographer who graduated in 2003.

Mr. Speaker, when this report is distributed to stakeholders across the province, including every member of this House, NSCC's new strategic plan will be included as part of the package. Dr. McArthur-Blair tells me that she and her colleagues at NSCC will welcome every opportunity to talk about this plan, the future of NSCC, and the future of Nova Scotia. I would like Dr. McArthur-Blair, Mr. Harpell and Ms. Neily to rise and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the report, Report to the Community 2006, Nova Scotia Community College.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure to stand to share an important update about the Deep Panuke offshore energy project. Today, EnCana filed its development plan application for Deep Panuke with the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

This is great news for continued development in Nova Scotia's offshore. Nova Scotia's offshore contains more than 40 trillion cubic feet of natural gas potential. We have established infrastructure and we have proven petroleum systems. As the Deep Panuke project moves forward, it means renewed interest in our offshore and new exposure to our oil and gas potential. Most importantly, it means more jobs and more opportunities for Nova Scotians.

To ensure that Nova Scotians benefit, we have signed with EnCana an OSEA. This agreement outlines the framework, including employment expectations, industrial

[Page 1418]

benefits, royalties, and R & D funding for development of the Deep Panuke natural gas field in offshore Nova Scotia. This agreement provides Nova Scotians with enhanced royalties, guaranteed personal hours of employment and jobs related to project engineering, design, procurement, fabrication, and manufacturing. It also includes a binding arbitration process in case of disputes.

As this project moves ahead to the production stage, it also means new royalty dollars, dollars that will benefit Nova Scotians through better roads, new schools and more money for health care.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to mention the new public review process. This single- window approach will bring together two commissioners, one appointed by the CNSOPB and one by the National Energy Board. This streamlined process will continue to provide the necessary review of the project while avoiding unnecessary delays. This process will protect the public interest and environment and at the same time meet the legitimate needs of businesses for a hearing that it is efficient and timely.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to continued development of the Deep Panuke project and I look forward to the day when natural gas from the Deep Panuke field comes ashore in Nova Scotia.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting statement today because you, in another life, were deeply involved in these discussions around Deep Panuke and we want to thank you for that, too, for your role in that. It is by and large a good news statement. The only problem is, we don't know whether the deputy agrees or disagrees and we'll find that out later, I guess - if it's going on NEB today.

[12:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, what I'm really happy about in this statement is the idea of the streamlining of the process that's done, that clearly the stakeholders know where to go. It's not revisiting the same item time after time and that proponents can go forward. We also have to be mindful though that we don't blur the line of regulator and promoter, that we know what that can lead to. So we have to be ever conscious of that but, by and large, you know, this would be greeted as a good news event for this province. That we can garner as much Nova Scotia content as possible is good news, that we have to help that industry grow as much as we can. We appreciate that not all components of this magnitude can be done here in the province, but it's very important that it can be done, it's done in here, and that's where we have to support local industry.

[Page 1419]

So, Mr. Speaker, by and large, I have to say that this is a good news statement today. I know it's a reaffirmation of statements made earlier, but we look forward to this project going forward and helping Nova Scotians to prosper.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, certainly as the Energy Critic for our caucus, we're pleased to see that EnCana is moving one step closer by filing its development plan application with the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board to the development of the Deep Panuke oilfield. We're also pleased with the earlier announcement of some of the benefits that will be there.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it's ironic that the timing of this announcement would take place today because I can tell you that for residents in the Strait area, they have a lot of questions to ask today and it's not about EnCana. It's about the Department of Energy.

It's about the deputy minister of that department and some of her comments that she has made, which we'll certainly have an opportunity to hopefully get answers from her superior, the Minister of Energy, later on and explain exactly why we have a deputy minister who has appeared to have given up on one of the most significant developments for our offshore industry and for energy here in this province by her statements which, in essence, have said that the province and the department are abandoning any hopes of developing an LNG facility in the Strait area, in my riding of Richmond County, which will benefit not only our whole province but benefit the riding of the Premier, the riding of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and the riding of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Mr. Speaker, how we are now seen as a province is exactly what happens when Tory Governments start rewarding Tories with important Civil Service positions. We saw it with Heather Foley Melvin being appointed to Conserve Nova Scotia and now we see it with the appointment of Alison Scott as the Deputy Minister of Energy. Now, let's look back. We had a Deputy Minister of Energy after undergoing a search where we found someone from out West who was known as an expert in energy. That's who we had here as a deputy minister, Mr. Speaker. You would know who he was. All of a sudden that member left and when that member left, who did we put in as an expert in the Department of Energy - a friend of the Premier of the day - Alison Scott. What was her experience in energy? Absolutely none - just like Heather Foley Melvin's experience in Conserve Nova Scotia. So now we're seeing the fruits of Tory patronage here in this province.

So, Mr. Speaker, this news is good news for our province. We hope that the development will happen, but there's certainly many more questions that need to be addressed about the statements made by the deputy minister and the actions of the

[Page 1420]

Department of Energy, and the actions of this government, in regard to the development of LNG here in this province. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 777

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

Whereas Halifax will host one of the largest international conferences in Atlantic Canada, the Global Microcredit Summit, November 12th to 15th; and

Whereas the Summit will be an opportunity to celebrate the first decade of the Microcredit Summit Campaign and the extraordinary goal of helping 100 million of the world's poorest families lift themselves out of poverty; and

Whereas the province is proud to welcome over 2,000 delegates from 100 countries to Nova Scotia, and congratulate them for their part to help make a difference to the world's less fortunate people;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of the Global Microcredit Summit as they work to help those in need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 778

[Page 1421]

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

Whereas one of the Red Cross's seven fundamental principles is humanity; and

Whereas the Canadian Red Cross, Atlantic Region, celebrates this principle each year by honouring a citizen with its Humanitarian Award; and

Whereas last night the award was presented posthumously to Mr. Charles Keating, who passed away last November, but who will always be remembered both for the success he made of himself in business and more so for the priceless contributions he made, big and small, within his beloved community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the Canadian Red Cross for continuing to highlight the achievements of caring Nova Scotians, and thank them for honouring a great friend of this province, whose legacy of kindness will not soon be forgotten, Mr. Charles Keating.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 779

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

Whereas the IWK Health Centre is fundraising for a four-year, $48 million children's site redevelopment project, to which government is contributing $36.6 million; and

Whereas Tim Horton's founder and philanthropist, Ron Joyce, visited the hospital yesterday and decided on the spot to double his already generous donation of $1 million; and

[Page 1422]

Whereas the $2 million donation will be earmarked for the construction of modern pediatric operating suites, to allow the hospital to keep up with emerging surgical technology, facilitate newer surgical techniques, and enhance education for students and staff;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House show appreciation to Mr. Ron Joyce for this very generous investment in the health of Nova Scotia's children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 780

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

Whereas Councillor Sue Uteck was recently elected as HRM's Deputy Mayor by her council colleagues, and is the first woman in HRM history to hold that office; and

Whereas Councillor Uteck represents the residents of Northwest Arm-South End Halifax, winning a by-election in 1999, and being re-elected in October 2000; and

Whereas Sue Uteck's late husband, Larry, also served as deputy mayor and was a champion of the Harbour Solutions project;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Sue Uteck as HRM's newest deputy mayor, and wish her every success in her new responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1423]

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 Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 781

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

Whereas Mr. David Barry, who together with his wife, Julie Ann, and young children, Caitlin and Tom, secured a work permit from the federal government and moved to Nova Scotia from Ireland in March by way of the Nova Scotia Nominee Program; and

Whereas just a few days later after arriving in our province, David, using his knowledge of first aid, took immediate action that resulted in saving the life of local resident, Barbara Dansart; and

Whereas David's heroics were recognized last Saturday by St. John Ambulance which awarded him the Presidential Citation Lifesaving Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members salute David Barry for his quick thinking and lifesaving action, and thank he and his family for choosing to make Nova Scotia their new home.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 782

[Page 1424]

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

Whereas mining supports the livelihood of thousands of Nova Scotians and contributes to the economic development of communities across our province; and

Whereas the Mining Matters for Nova Scotia 2006 Conference is now underway in Halifax, and provides a wealth of information to industry members and the public; and

Whereas management and staff in the Mineral Resources Branch of the Department of Natural Resources continue to apply their professional skills in support of the mining industry in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the hard work that has gone into the preparation of this year's Mining Matters Conference and please accept the department's invitation to attend sessions that may be of interest to them.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 783

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

Whereas we have many excellent nurses in this province who go above and beyond their duty; and

[Page 1425]

Whereas the Cape Breton District Health Authority recently announced the recipients of its 2006 Cape Breton Cancer Symposium Community Award for exceptional contributions to cancer prevention and care in the community; and

Whereas there are two nurses who have been site coordinators of the inspiring Look Good Feel Better program since it started in 1999;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Carolyn Richards and Phyllis Ball for their efforts.

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 Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 784

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

Whereas this summer Travel and Leisure magazine's readers told the world something Nova Scotians already know, that Cape Breton Island is a world-class vacation destination; and

Whereas that magazine ranked Cape Breton as the fourth best island destination in the world and the best in continental USA and Canada; and

Whereas another well-recognized magazine, Condé Nast Traveller, has just surveyed its readers who ranked Cape Breton Island in their top 10 best islands to visit in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize how this high- profile praise of Cape Breton Island boosts the marketing efforts that tourism partners are making together to bring more visitors to Cape Breton and Nova Scotia.

[Page 1426]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 785

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

Whereas the Village of Little Dover, the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, has undertaken a test pilot project to improve their septic waste management through innovative partnerships and thinking; and

Whereas this pilot project can use state-of-the-art and highly efficient sewage de-watering technology to filter and remove only solid septage and, accordingly, reduce the transportation, human resources and recovery time required to achieve positive impacts on the local groundwater and other environmental assets; and

Whereas this project is a result of a successful partnership between provincial and municipal governments, the international environmental industry, and individual Nova Scotia homeowners committed to exploring environmental solutions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join the people of Nova Scotia in congratulating the Village of Little Dover, the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, and other project proponents for the example and challenge they have set before Nova Scotia municipalities to embrace modern septic waste management for all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1427]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 786

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

Whereas three Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources staff travelled to British Columbia this past summer to help battle forest fires; and

Whereas incident commanders Glenn Terris of Antigonish, Alasdair Patterson of Coxheath, and Jacob Penney of Bridgewater supported firefighting efforts across southeastern British Columbia; and

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources is proud to live up to its commitment to provide mutual aid to other provinces in time of need, knowing full well that they are ready to respond in kind if and when we need assistance;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the professionalism of our Nova Scotia firefighting crews, and in particular Mr. Terris, Mr. Patterson and Mr. Penney.

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.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in advance of introducing my bills, I would like your permission to make an introduction.

[Page 1428]

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: I would turn the attention of members to the east gallery where we have two distinguished municipal politicians with us today. Russell Walker of HRM is the new President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, and Warden Lloyd Hines of the District of Guysborough, who was the co-chair of the committee which did the work, which is reflected in this bill I'm going to introduce - his work and that of his colleagues. They're standing there, and I would ask the House to recognize them. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 94 - Entitled an Act to Establish the Property Valuation Services Corporation. (Hon. James Muir)

Bill No. 95 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998. The Municipal Government Act. (Hon. James Muir)

Bill No. 96 - Entitled an Act to Repeal Chapter 11 of the Acts of 2005. The Petroleum Products Pricing Act. (Mr. Michel Samson)

Bill No. 97 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 2000. The Health Authorities Act. (Ms. Joan Massey)

Bill No. 98 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 17 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Revenue Act. (Mr. Percy Paris)

Bill No. 99 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 2000. The Health Authorities Act. (Mr. David Wilson, Glace Bay)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 787

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

[Page 1429]

Whereas the Inverness Oran is well-known as an independent, family-owned community newspaper that has succeeded thanks to hard work and dedication to serving its readers; and

Whereas the publisher of the Oran, Frank Macdonald, could have been well satisfied with the accomplishments of the newspaper; and

Whereas instead Frank Macdonald wrote a novel entitled A Forest for Calum, which has been nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Frank Macdonald of Inverness County for the recognition that he has already won for his first novel, A Forest for Calum.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 788

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

Whereas Mr. Charles V. Keating was a well-known and well-respected businessman, civic leader and philanthropist who served on more than 40 boards and charities throughout his illustrious career; and

Whereas among his many awards and honours, Mr. Keating received his Doctor of Laws Degree from St. Francis Xavier University, was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2003 and into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame in 2004; and

Whereas Mr. Charles V. Keating is being posthumously honoured by the Canadian Red Cross, Nova Scotia Region with the 2006 Humanitarian Award in

[Page 1430]

recognition of Mr. Keating's spirit of humanity and lifelong dedication to bettering our province;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the accomplishments and achievements of Mr. Charles V. Keating and congratulate his family on being presented with the 2006 Humanitarian 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 Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 789

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

Whereas the doors to Windsor's new health care facility, the Hants Community Hospital, were opened on the first week of May 1976 and later officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in mid-July 1976; and

Whereas the Hants Community Hospital has played, and continues to play, an integral role in the lives of some 22,000 people in Hantsport, Windsor and greater West Hants; and

Whereas today, the staff and local community in general are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the hospital with the grand opening of the Gifts of Hope Art Gallery;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly acknowledge both current and former dedicated staff of the Hants Community Hospital for their tireless work over the past 30 years while anniversary celebrations are underway today with the opening of the Gifts of Hope Art Gallery.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1431]

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 Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 790

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

Whereas Doris MacDonald, a war bride married for over 60 years, lost the love of her life, her husband, Allan MacDonald, this past weekend; and

Whereas Doris and Allan were the heart and soul of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 15 and spearheaded Remembrance Day ceremonies; and

Whereas Doris and Allan MacDonald loved to dance and share their wartime memories with the youth of New Waterford and area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend our deepest sympathies to Doris MacDonald on the loss of the love of her life, Allan, and thank the MacDonalds for their tireless work on behalf of all 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 Cape Breton South.

[Page 1432]

RESOLUTION NO. 791

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

Whereas the IWK Health Centre provides quality care to women, children, youth and families in the Maritime Provinces and beyond; and

Whereas Tim Hortons has been providing well-brewed coffee and doughnuts to Canadians since 1964; and

Whereas yesterday, upon seeing the excellent work by staff, Tim Hortons founder Ron Joyce donated double his initial contribution from $1 million to $2 million for the IWK Health Centre in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate the IWK and recognize Ron Joyce for his generous donation by contributing to the redevelopment plans needed at the hospital and the well-being of children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 792

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

Whereas the Stellarton Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College recently completed the construction of its new daycare centre; and

Whereas the newly opened Kinder Kampus allows more Nova Scotia Community College students to access convenient child care while they pursue their post-secondary education; and

[Page 1433]

Whereas owner and long-time New Glasgow daycare operator Janice Rehill started staggered admissions in August in preparation for the college's opening on September 5th, and will offer any additional spaces to residents of Pictou County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their warm wishes to NSCC Stellarton for its initiative. Such planning and accommodating means students can pursue their academic goals with more ease and NSCC can serve its community in even more ways that before.

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 793

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

Whereas art is an expression of culture that helps us to understand our world and ourselves; and

Whereas the exposure to art uplifts and provokes thought and creative expression; and

Whereas on October 21, 2006, Kennetcook Community Vision Society held the grand opening of its art gallery, The Place Near and Far;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Kennetcook Community Vision Society on its grand opening of The Place Near and Far, and wish them every success in showing the creations of artists to the public.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1434]

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. 794

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality recently implemented a program this past year that exempted veterans with designated licence plates from paying parking fees in locations where a fee is required; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality established this program to commemorate the brave men and women who served their country and to recognize 2005 as Year of the Veteran; and

Whereas this exemption expired on March 31st of this year and other provinces such as Ontario continue to exempt veterans from parking fees in their province;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly encourage the government to begin consultations with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities to evaluate the possibility of exempting Nova Scotian veterans from paying parking fees in locations where a fee is required.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 1435]

RESOLUTION NO. 795

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

Whereas one in 10 Canadians, young or old, suffer from some form of arthritis; and

Whereas on October 15, 2006, the Arthritis Joints in Motion Society sponsored a 42.2 kilometre marathon which was held in Amsterdam, Holland; and

Whereas Lori LeBlanc, a teacher from Meadowfields Community School in Yarmouth, as part of the Canadian team of 30 runners, seven from Nova Scotia, participated in and completed the marathon in four hours and 14 minutes, raising a total of $6,454.33 for the Arthritis Society;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating and thanking Lori LeBlanc for her hard work and dedication to the Arthritis Society.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 796

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

Whereas on June 26, 2006, I had the pleasure of attending the 24th Annual General Meeting and Awards Night for the Boys and Girls Club of East Dartmouth; and

Whereas awards were presented to outstanding citizens involved in making the Boys and Girls Club a success; and

[Page 1436]

Whereas through the efforts of the award recipients and many others, the Boys and Girls Club is able to provide a safe, supportive place where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships, and develop confidence and the skills for life;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Boys and Girls Club of East Dartmouth Award Night recipients, and thank them for their continued support.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 797

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

Whereas the Trans County Transportation Society provides people with disabilities or low income affordable transportation, allowing their mobility and limiting their dependence on others; and

Whereas when Debbie Decker, the General Manager of Trans County Transportation Society, took over, they were on the brink of collapsing with old vehicles which broke down and were costly to run, with one paid driver and several volunteers; and

Whereas through hard work, they have secured contracts with the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board and the Mountain Lea Lodge in Bridgetown, which has allowed them to grow to include seven paid drivers, one dispatcher, a wheelchair accessible minivan, two large passenger vans and a minibus;

[Page 1437]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the service the Trans County Transportation Society provides to the community and wish them every 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 Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 798

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

Whereas the St. Francis Xavier University X-Women's rugby team captured the Monilex Trophy at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport women's rugby championship; and

Whereas the X-Women have been the Atlantic Conference champions the last nine years, and with this win became the first Maritime team to claim the CIS women's rugby championship and the first CIS championship in women's sports in St. Francis Xavier University; and

Whereas in the final game, X-Women Kim Armstrong and Michelle Birks kicked a convert and added a penalty goal as they beat Guelph 10-5;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the X-Women's rugby team on their outstanding win and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1438]

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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 799

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

Whereas Marc-Andre MacLeod of Pictou County's Royal Canadian Air Cadets Flight 374 has been presented with two high awards; and

Whereas Marc-Andre MacLeod has earned the Wyman Young Award, which goes to the top power flight Air Cadet candidate in Nova Scotia, and also was awarded the Army Navy Air Force Veterans Association Medal, as the top power flight candidate in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas Marc-Andre MacLeod is a Pictou Academy student in his final year, and has plans to attend Flight College in order to fulfill his dreams of becoming an airline pilot;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Marc-Andre MacLeod on the receipt of the Wyman Young Award, the Army Navy Air Force Veterans Association Medal, for his hard work, dedication and determination, and wish him great success and clear skies in his 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 Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 1439]

RESOLUTION NO. 800

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

Whereas the fishing industry of this province lobbied the federal government for years towards a proper capital gains tax exemption for passing on their fishing enterprises; and

Whereas the federal government promised this during the last election where it then was brought before the House of Commons but only in its first reading; and

Whereas it doesn't seem to be a priority for the present federal government at this time, however, many of Nova Scotia fishermen are left waiting to transfer their fishing businesses to their sons;

Therefore be it resolved that this provincial government pressure their cousins in Ottawa for passage of Bill C-217 before we lose more young people to out-migration.

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 Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 801

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

Whereas music is a very important part of our lives and brings joy to all who listen and the music program at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford is held in high esteem and holds many national awards; and

Whereas on November 5th of this year the music students of C.P. Allen High School, directed by Nathan Beeler, who holds a master's in music, presented an evening

[Page 1440]

of entertainment with performances by the bass ensemble, drum corps, concert band, jazz band and symphonic band; and

Whereas these young musicians under the artful direction of Nathan Beeler performed some 16 arrangements showcasing their amazing talents, much to the delight of hundreds of parents and staff;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate the students and staff at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford for the excellence they have achieved in the field of music in our school 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 member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 802

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

Whereas on Tuesday, September 26, 2006, Atlantic University Sport announced its weekly awards; and

Whereas Cape Breton University's Kristina Weatherbie captured the Female Athlete of the Week honours; and

Whereas Kristina, a third year striker, tallied three goals in two games, giving her a total of six goals in six games;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Kristina Weatherbie on her noteworthy athletic achievement and wish her continued success in the season ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1441]

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 803

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

Whereas the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs had the privilege and honour of meeting and hearing from representatives from the Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas these brave men and women experienced the horrors of war while fighting to protect the freedoms that all Canadians enjoy today; and

Whereas the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs of Nova Scotia approved a motion to send a formal request to our federal Minister of Veterans Affairs, asking our federal government to formally recognize the Canadian Merchant Navy veterans with a service medal;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the heroic sacrifices made by our Canadian Merchant Navy veterans and honour and reward them with the dignity, respect and recognition they rightfully deserve.

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 1442]

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 804

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

Whereas David Piers, a Truro native, is a 2006 inductee into the Colchester County Sport Hall of Fame; and

Whereas David Piers was one of the finest tennis players ever produced in Nova Scotia and among his achievements are 58 Nova Scotia Open crowns, 46 New Brunswick Open titles and 21 Prince Edward Island championships; and

Whereas David Piers in 1958 was ranked number one among players 18 and younger in Canada and in 1988 he was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate David Piers on his induction into the Colchester County Sport Hall of Fame, and wish him good health and continued success in the sport of tennis.

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 Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 805

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

Whereas Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder and Managing Director of the Grameen Bank and Nobel Prize Laureate, will be in Halifax this month to host the Global Microcredit Summit; and

[Page 1443]

Whereas the Grameen Bank model of supplying small loans to people, primarily women, with no collateral or access to education or employment, has become a poverty-reduction strategy, used in more than 100 countries around the world; and

Whereas according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, one in six Nova Scotians is living in poverty and as such, we clearly have much to learn from successful poverty- reduction initiatives that empower underprivileged people to improve the economic and social conditions of their lives;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly welcome Dr. Yunus to Nova Scotia and strive to follow Dr. Yunus' leadership and commitment to poverty reduction at home and globally.

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. 806

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

Whereas full-service gas stations are disappearing from the landscape and with this development, a large population of Nova Scotians have difficulty purchasing fuel for their vehicles; and

Whereas seniors and people with disabilities are often unable to pump their own gasoline, have their oil checked or windshields washed; and

Whereas these citizens are perfectly capable of driving, but sometimes require a little extra help and are willing to pay for this service;

[Page 1444]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly help to make Nova Scotia gas retailers aware of this matter and attentive to the difficulties some citizens encounter at the pump.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 807

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Women's Institute is a far flung organization consisting of women living in rural areas across the province, promoting education, agriculture, community involvement and the development of personal skills; and

Whereas Institute Past President and Port Williams resident Ruth Blenkhorn . . . 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Clerks are having difficulty hearing the motion.

MR. PARENT: . . .

played a significant role recently when the Nova Scotia Women's Institute issued a six-part challenge asking people to buy local; and

Whereas Julia Llewellyn from the Lakeville Women's Institute in a recent newspaper article showed just how easy it was to buy local products;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend the Nova Scotia Women's Institute for the challenge they issued, and to Ruth Blenkhorn and Julia Llewellyn specifically, for their active involvement in institute activities and for the role they played in the Buy Local Challenge.

[Page 1445]

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. 808

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

Whereas the triathlon is a relatively new sport in Nova Scotia and will be introduced into the Canada Games in 2009 in Prince Edward Island and an introductory summer element of this sport is Kids of Steel; and

Whereas a young Queens County athlete, Graham Muise, placed second in his age category in his first provincial event, which garnered him an invitation to try out for the Nova Scotia Provincial Junior Triathlon Team; and

Whereas Graham Muise placed first in his age category during the tryouts and earned a spot on the Provincial Junior Team and placed first in his age group at the Shubie Park Triathlon, which was the Atlantic Regional Championship;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognize and congratulate Graham Muise on his triathlon accomplishments in 2006.

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 1446]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 809

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

Whereas the councillors from Halifax Regional Municipality have elected Sue Uteck, Councillor for North West Arm-South End, as deputy mayor; and

Whereas Ms. Uteck has represented her constituents since 1999 and is well known for her professionalism, leadership abilities and determination to get the job done; and

Whereas Ms. Uteck is the first woman deputy mayor in the history of HRM and is well recognized on council as a strong voice for her district and the concerns of the people of HRM;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Halifax Regional Municipality's Deputy Mayor Sue Uteck and wish her every success as she establishes herself in her new role.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[1:00 p.m.]

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 810

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

[Page 1447]

Whereas the Dartmouth Historical Association instituted the Joseph Howe Fellowship Award to recognize outstanding people who have helped to preserve heritage, culture, or have been leaders in community services; and

Whereas the Joseph Howe Fellowship Award was presented to Barbara Hart, a well-recognized Dartmouth volunteer and community leader; and

Whereas Barbara Hart's community service included terms as municipal alderman and deputy mayor, executive director of the Metro Planned Parenthood Association, Dartmouth YM-YWCA, Nova Scotia Head Injury Association, chair of the Central Regional Health Board, and member of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Dartmouth Historical Association and Barbara Hart on the occasion of her Joseph Howe Fellowship Award presentation and thank Barbara for her many contributions to the 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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 811

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

Whereas Reg Knight never stops working for his community of Lower Prospect; and

Whereas this legendary senior's initiative and dedication are exemplary; and

Whereas Reg Knight's efforts are an example for all of us to follow;

[Page 1448]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank Reg Knight of Lower Prospect for his hard work to make his community of Lower Prospect a better place to live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 812

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

Whereas the North Nova Education Centre cross-country team is 36 students strong with competitors in girls and boys senior and intermediate categories; and

Whereas provincial championships that were recently held in Bridgewater included teams from across the province with over 100 runners in each category; and

Whereas the intermediate boys team of Aaron Walsh, Zack MacDonald, Thomas Gourd and Calen Kinney won the provincial championship, thus winning the first provincial running banner in the history of the North Nova Education Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the North Nova Education Centre's intermediate boys cross-country team for winning the provincial cross-country championship in October 2006.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1449]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 1:03 p.m. and end at 2:03 p.m.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre. (Applause)

ENERGY: LNG TERMINALS - ANADARKO/CANAPORT

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Let's hope all the answers are that positive, Mr. Speaker. Today in Saint John, New Brunswick, the National Energy Board is continuing to assess the proposal to build a145 kilometre pipeline to Canaport LNG terminal. Nova Scotians have a keen interest in these proceedings and their outcome because the decisions made by the NEB will affect the viability of LNG terminals that are proposed by the Strait of Canso.

However, it is being reported today, that the Deputy Minister of Energy has written off the $650 million Anadarko proposal by highlighting her department's support for the New Brunswick pipeline proposal. My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Energy is, why has he and his deputy written off the Anadarko project?

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, to the member across the way and to Nova Scotians, I want to make it clear today that our position as a government has not changed in relation to that file. We're aggressively intervening. There's a process and a mechanism in place, and we're doing what's necessary for the interests of Nova Scotians.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it should be abundantly clear to any member of this House that thousands of Nova Scotians are leaving to find work in Alberta on a daily basis, and how the government put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy is beyond me. I guess I want to ask a very straightforward question to this minister. It says that there were minutes kept of that telephone conversation, will you, Mr. Minister, table in this House today, the minutes of the telephone conversation that was held by the deputy minister?

[Page 1450]

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'm aware that a conversation has taken place. I have no knowledge of the minutes of that conversation.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I'll take that as a no. It was clearly reported that was a fact, and I don't know if the minister is completely out of the loop on this one. People in the Strait have had a tough enough year with layoffs at EDS, the lockout at Stora and now this. They don't need any more of this put on them. When will this minister do the right thing and get serious about an energy policy for this province? When are you going to do it, Mr. Minister?

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, the member knows that this government takes energy issues very seriously. I just stood in my place minutes ago and made an announcement about EnCana. If that doesn't please that member, I don't know what would - thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars for Nova Scotia because of the direction of this government, and that's the premise that we stand on.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

ENERGY - DEP. MIN.: CONF. CALL - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this is the same Minister of Energy who was publicly quoted as saying he feared the wind was going to stop blowing, so I think Nova Scotians all know how serious this minister and this government truly are about energy. A few days ago, the Minister of Energy himself stood in this House and quite loudly, in fact, stated that his department would be defending the interests of Nova Scotians at the National Energy Board hearing concerning the proposed New Brunswick bullet pipeline. However, we've come to find out that three days before the hearing began, the Deputy Minister of Energy, during a telephone conference call, said that the province would be supporting the proposed $350 million New Brunswick pipeline as the best hope of getting more natural gas in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the front put up by the Department of Energy that they would fight against a New Brunswick bullet pipeline was a mere facade. I'm sure this morning, in light of the importance of this issue, the minister would have had the opportunity to question his deputy minister on this. My question to the minister is, can you confirm to the House today the accuracy of the comments attributed to your deputy, Alison Scott, in today's press?

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, if I may - the member across the way, the Interim Leader of the Liberal Party, continues to make reference to a comment that I regrettably said that was taken out of context. I would like to clear that up. I would ask the House for an opportunity to address this issue, because that member continually wastes the time of Nova Scotians in regard to this comment. Before I read from this

[Page 1451]

document, produced by Dalhousie University, Marine and Environmental Law Institute - I won't read the whole thing, but it makes reference (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to answer the member's question, if you would give me an opportunity. I'm just taking this reference from this document, which I'm going to table. It talks about credits and so on, but it says, ". . . it will be necessary to store power for when the wind does not blow, possibly using hydrogen." I'd like to deliver that, and maybe that will put that statement to rest, because the people . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. (Interruptions) Order, please. Order. I would note for those who were protesting, the microphone was shut off by the Chair.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party on your first supplementary.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the embarrassment continues - first of all, after the minister's comments, and refusing to answer the question put to him today about a most serious matter involving a deputy minister who's very well paid by the taxpayers of this province.

Mr. Speaker, the spokesman for Anadarko expresses displeasure with the government and was quoted as saying, "Last week they were saying something different, and now the province may be pulling back and not as supportive." His displeasure clearly stems from the deputy minister's comments during the conference call that Canaport LNG terminal has a better chance of getting a supply than the proposed Anadarko plant at Bear Head, Richmond County. So my question to the minister again is, do you stand behind the comments attributed to Alison Scott, your deputy minister, in today's paper - yes or no?

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, the position of this government is clear and I stand behind the position of this government, which is to advance the offshore, it's to advance LNG plants, and it's to create revenues for the good people of Nova Scotia. I make that clear to the members across the way and I stand strong in my position today that the reason why we're here is to create opportunities for Nova Scotia, and our position hasn't changed.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this is the same Minister of Energy who, during the last session when we asked him about the details surrounding the actual hiring of Heather Foley Melvin at Conserve Nova Scotia under his department, his answer was don't ask me, I didn't hire her, the Premier did. So he didn't even know the details back then. Today he won't even tell us what Alison Scott said, yes or no, that's attributed in the press.

Mr. Speaker, the press today is having a chilling effect throughout not only our province, but throughout the entire energy industry when we have a Deputy Minister of

[Page 1452]

Energy who has apparently given up on the LNG industry here in Nova Scotia. So once again, Mr. Minister, did Alison Scott make the comments attributed to her in today's paper about supporting the LNG pipeline in New Brunswick?

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, it's clear. In regard to this issue, in regard to the hearing that's taking place in Saint John today, our position is clear - we're there to advance the position of Nova Scotians and that is our position.

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

HEALTH - CORPUS SANCHEZ REVIEW: REPORT - TABLE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health, through you. I'm going to begin by tabling a briefing note that was received through a freedom of information request. The briefing note explains the timelines and mandate for the $1 million contract awarded to Corpus Sanchez for the so-called provincial health services operational review. The promised release of the final report from that review was the end of September or the first week of October.

Well, Mr. Speaker, here we are in the second week of November, so I'm going to ask the Minister of Health, through you, will you now table the Corpus Sanchez final report on their provincial health services operational review?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, at this point we do not have a report. We are anticipating to see that report in the very near future and I will look forward to sharing that with all Nova Scotians once that comes in.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'll now table messages, received from the same freedom of information request sent to CEOs and board chairs by the director of communications at the minister's department. The messages confirm that the final provincial report from Corpus Sanchez is expected at the end of the month - very convenient - after the House is likely to have risen. However, many of the district reports were to be forwarded to the Department of Health over the past few weeks.

So my question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health is, will the minister table the individual district reports submitted by Corpus Sanchez?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as you know, we are still undertaking this facility's review, looking at the whole system as it stands, looking at all the district health authorities on how they care for Nova Scotians and how they expend the dollars of taxpayers of Nova Scotia. As soon as the report is complete, I'd be more than happy to share it with the member. At this point, nothing has been received by my office.

[Page 1453]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister has referred to this as a process where everything is on the table. According to the notes, these reports have gone out to the district health authorities, despite the fact that his department has never publicly disclosed the award of the Corpus Sanchez tender in the first place, and despite promising a final report in late September, which he also failed to disclose until today, that the report would be delayed for another two months. So my question for the minister is, when this is all being conducted with the use of public money, why are you continuing to hold back so much information from the public?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure all Nova Scotians that we're in this process to look at how taxpayer dollars are being spent in the health system. We are looking at all programs and services to make sure that they are done in a safe and good manner. We're making sure that all things within the district health authorities are being done correctly. We're making sure that we have programs, provincially, that are responding to the needs of Nova Scotians, and through that process, I look forward to furthering discussions on improving health care for all Nova Scotians.

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

HEALTH: SERVICE REVIEW PRESENTATION - OMISSIONS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I would like to now table a PowerPoint presentation regarding the provincial health services operational review, which was used at a Cabinet briefing on September 28th. This presentation was obtained through a freedom of information request; however, out of the seven-page presentation, your department has withheld three pages and two partial pages. Please note that removed are the majority of both the key facts and the key principles sections. So my question for the minister is a very simple one, which of the key facts and principles in your approach to health care privatization are you hiding from the public?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure all Nova Scotians, as well as all members in this House, that we are not hiding anything. We are making sure that we have all the information available and all the key assumptions are there in making sure that our government is comfortable with the information held therein, and making sure that it is available to all Nova Scotians, when that report is available.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, they didn't disclose the tender of the contract; they didn't disclose the information on which the review is being done. So now, I'm going to table an outline of the agreement between the government and Corpus Sanchez. The agreement is valid from March 15, 2006 to September 30, 2006, and clearly, Corpus

[Page 1454]

Sanchez has not met the terms of the agreement. Clause 3.6, says that the agreement can only be extended by mutual written consent. So my question for the minister is, will the minister table the letter and the terms of the extension of this $1 million contract?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again, throughout this process, it has been one that has been a long one, making sure that we have the correct information from all district health authorities, to make sure that we can have the information available to us to ensure a safe and equitable health care for all Nova Scotians.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question was about public money being used on the Corpus Sanchez contract. It was originally a $1 million contract. According to the FOI, there are upwards of 15 Corpus Sanchez team members working on the project. That's a lot of salary, that's a lot of travel. That's a lot of public money that the public of Nova Scotia has a right to know, is being spent. My final question to the minister is, will the minister tell the House what penalty, if any, will be levied against Corpus Sanchez for being almost two months behind with their report, or if there is to be no penalty, what cost increases will the taxpayers see?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again, there are reasons why time to time the government departments need to look at the system and how they are delivering services for all Nova Scotians. We will, of course, continue to work with Corpus Sanchez and other groups as we require information, and I look forward to sharing the information held therein in the very near future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

ECON. DEV.: EDS CALL CTR. (PT. HAWKESBURY) - CLOSURE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians know that Tory times are hard times and no statement could be truer for the people of the Strait area. Earlier today, we learned that the Deputy Minister of Energy has all but abandoned any hopes for an LNG facility in Point Tupper. Last month, we also heard in Port Hawkesbury that the EDS Call Centre was downgrading and restructuring. At the time it was announced that 160 would be relocating to Sydney but that out of 500 jobs, at least 150 would be staying at Port Hawkesbury. Well, yesterday we heard that the centre will be closing down completely and the 160 jobs transferring to Sydney and leaving hundreds of people out of work and wondering what to do next.

Mr. Speaker, through all of this we have yet to hear one word from this government. My question to the Premier is, when did you become aware that EDS would be completely shutting down its call centre in Port Hawkesbury?

THE PREMIER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and indeed EDS has been a very good employer in the Strait area, as they have been in the Sydney area. I can

[Page 1455]

assure that member and all members and Nova Scotians that we continue to work to ensure that we see another good quality employer go in, in its place; discussions have been ongoing. No different than we saw success in Liverpool, I have every confidence to believe that we will see success going into this centre as well.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question was very specific to the Premier about when did he become aware that the centre would completely shut down and, as we all know, he completely failed to answer that question.

Mr. Speaker, this call centre has certainly received its fair share of funding from government-run agencies and departments. In 2002, the call centre received $2.2 million from the Cape Breton Growth Fund and $2 million from Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation. In 2004, the call centre wanted to expand and received an additional $2.1 million from the Cape Breton Growth Fund and another $2.1 million from Nova Scotia Business Incorporated.

Mr. Speaker, the total for this call centre is $8.7 million in public funds and now they are about to close down their operations in the Premier's own riding, which has an impact on the entire Strait area. So my question again to the Premier is, what efforts did you undertake to keep those much-needed jobs in Port Hawkesbury before the announcement to completely close down that centre?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again a number of conversations have taken place with EDS regarding the jobs there and the centre there. As I said already, ongoing discussions have started with other potential companies to come in its place. The two great things, Mr. Speaker, we see with the centre there, we have obviously a building but, more importantly, we have well-trained individuals. We have highly trained individuals who are able to move directly into new jobs when they do come about.

Now I didn't hear that member speaking out against the investments that government was making when he was standing there, when we were opening the call centre. I didn't hear that member speaking out against those jobs when we made the announcements because it was the Progressive Conservative Government that put those jobs there in the first place, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is the Progressive Conservatives who put the jobs there and it is the Progressive Conservatives who are going to watch them go away. That's what's going to happen in this case; $8.7 million to keep jobs there was a good announcement, to maintain the jobs is a whole different thing. That centre has been in operation for less than four years, and now it's completely closing and the jobs are leaving.

Mr. Speaker, not only are they leaving but many are being transferred to Sydney, out of the Strait area, more out-migration for our community. The question that I asked

[Page 1456]

earlier to the Premier is, when did he become aware that EDS was going to close that centre, which would give us an idea of when the government knew and what plans they had to try to convince EDS to keep those jobs in that community. So my final supplementary again is, what plan does the Premier have that he can provide to this House today that he is going to put in place to replace the loss of hundreds of jobs in his riding and in the Strait area?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member for the question. I can also tell the member and all members of this House that company had targets to meet and it met those targets, and it only got the payroll rebate as it met the targets for the job creation. They are a great employer in this province. They have another facility in this great province of ours with numerous jobs.

I can also tell that member and all members of the House, we do have staff on this file. They are working with that company and other companies to make sure there's no void in that community and that we can have a suitable replacement when they decide they will be closing down completely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

FIN.: COMPUTER SYSTEM SECURITY - PROBLEMS ADDRESS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Yesterday in the Public Accounts Committee, we heard some interesting and disturbing testimony about the government's corporate financial computer system. The Auditor General has issued a very strong and, if I may say, very harsh judgment about the system security. The Auditor General says there are "significant, persistent, fundamental control weaknesses". That's very strong language coming from an office that is usually known for very carefully couching its comments. My question to the minister is, what is the government doing to address the significant, persistent, fundamental control problems?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I watched part of the debate on Wednesday with the Public Accounts Committee and I can assure all members of this House that we are investing very wisely for long-term support to have the proper systems in place for all of our boards and commissions in this province. If you look at the system we have here in the province, we have over 30,000 employees on that system, and not one problem in the year 2005.

[Page 1457]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it's odd, yesterday in the Public Accounts Committee, the Director of the Office of Economic Development threw all these questions over to the Deputy Minister of Finance saying it was her responsibility, and here today, the Minister of Finance is saying it's not his responsibility, it's Economic Development's. Maybe we're getting a glimpse of part of the problem here.

What should cause the most concern about the Auditor General's comments is that some of these security issues were first identified in an audit in 1998 and they have still not been addressed. For example, the Auditor General had identified the inappropriate use of powerful access privileges as the root cause of the security problem. The software vendor, one the largest and most experienced financial software vendors in the world, says these privileges should never be used except in an emergency, but the Nova Scotia Department of Finance says that it knows better.

My question to the minister is, when will the Minister of Finance order his department to clean up its security procedures and heed the repeated warnings from the Auditor General?

MR. BAKER: I would refer the matter to the Minister of Economic Development.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, we are making investments to make sure that we have greater accountability, better service, improved efficiencies, better access and timely and consistent information. We're making wise investments for the future of Nova Scotians.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has more to say. He says it is "vital", he says it is "essential" that these security flaws be fixed before the system is rolled out any further, yet we are now only seven weeks away from this flawed system being rolled out to the regional school boards and plans are well underway to extend it, also, to the district health authorities.

My question to the minister - whichever minister wants to take responsibility for this - is, why is the minister going to take a system with significant, persistent, fundamental control problems and expand it to tens of thousands more employees before the problems are fixed?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I would like to quote the Auditor General saying on CBC News on November 8, 2006: The comments we made on the whole system have been overall favourable for the Province of Nova Scotia." (Applause)

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

[Page 1458]

HEALTH: NURSING HOME BEDS - SHORTAGE ADDRESS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, the Minister of Health referred to an election promise for nursing home beds in the Middleton area as election propaganda. I give full credit to the minister for acknowledging that his government was willing to promise nursing home beds to anyone to get their votes. There's a vast divide between promising and delivering those beds. So I ask the Minister of Health today, why won't his government deliver on its promises for the badly-needed nursing home beds we need in Nova Scotia?

[1:30 p.m.]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, if there are words you could pull back, I think that would be one of them. Let's say literature, campaign literature, is probably what I was looking for.

I think through the Continuing Care Strategy, we're working hard. I know staff is working extremely hard making sure we have the rollout for the new beds, the new 826 beds across the system. I look forward to again taking my place and announcing the RFPs for those bed constructions across Nova Scotia.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health continues to say, in the near future, in the very near future. We need those beds today. We needed those beds yesterday.

While this government plays political games with the nursing home beds, seniors in our communities across this province are waiting. They're waiting in hospital beds. They're waiting in transitional units. They're waiting in their homes for months and months. So my question to the Minister of Health is, how much longer is his government going to make the seniors of our province wait for the care they so badly need?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, throughout this process, it has been a very time-consuming one, making sure we're making the right decisions, making sure we put the right type of beds in the right places. I know over the last number of weeks, there has been a tremendous effort being made by the department's staff in concert with district health authorities and other groups to make sure we put those beds in the right place the first time.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, this government took five years to finally get a site selection done for the 150 desperately needed nursing home beds in the Bedford-Sackville area. This project is still progressing slowly while our seniors continue to wait. My final question to the Minister of Health today is, what

[Page 1459]

assurances can he offer Middleton and Barrington that they won't have to wait as long as the citizens of Bedford and Sackville for their nursing homes?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can say that process is one that did take far too long. I know the department did learn from those experiences and that kind of process will not happen again.

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

GOV'T. (N.S.): CAMPAIGN COMMITMENTS - PROPAGANDA

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Premier. During the last election, this government reverted back to the old Tory ways of trying to convince people to vote for them through an array of promises. Yesterday (Interruptions) Stay tuned, it gets better. Yesterday, the Minister of Health confirmed this during Question Period where said a commitment to create long-term beds in the Valley was just election propaganda. My question to the Premier - I'll table that document - is, does the Premier agree with this minister that during campaigns, promises made are nothing more than election propaganda?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the issue in question is a very serious issue dealing with long-term care beds. There are many individuals in our province who are awaiting these beds. I can assure that member that the Valley, like all other parts of the province, will be treated fairly in a process when beds go out for proposal. I can assure that member and all Nova Scotians that that will be going out within the near future.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier, not only did the Minister of Health admit on the floor of this Legislature that the campaign promise was nothing more than propaganda, he said in so many words that if a Tory had been elected, that promise would have been kept. My question to the Premier, does the Premier agree with the minister's belief that voters should be threatened during a campaign, that if they don't vote his way then promises won't be kept?

THE PREMIER: Well, first of all, Mr. Speaker, I disagree with what the member is suggesting the minister said. What I will say is that the minister and the department are very committed to seeing those beds go out for requests for proposals, and we will see those beds. The government has made a commitment, and the government will keep its commitments.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Now the Premier disagrees with Hansard. Mr. Speaker, on a related matter and involving the same kind of situation, the failed candidate in Cape Breton South, Scott Boyd, who is now the latest occupant in the patronage appointments in the Cabinet Office in Sydney; that member has caught the spirit of giving during an election campaign. That member went to a senior citizens' club

[Page 1460]

in Point Edward and announced a $15 million grant from the Province of Nova Scotia to put a new roof on the pensioners club in Point Edward, and it was approved by you, Mr. Premier, according to the pensioners of that club.

Mr. Speaker, following that announcement I received a call from the president of the pensioners club in Point Edward who told me that an agreement had been reached by Mr. Boyd during the election campaign with his senior citizens. Now, I called the department involved and they said that there's no such agreement and no agreement to pay $15,000 for a roof for the pensioners of Point Edward.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is simply this, was Scott Boyd telling the truth? Did you tell him, Mr. Premier, that you were going to give him $15,000 for that roof, or was that more election propaganda?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, $15,000, $15 million, now I know maybe he was the Minister of Finance during the last Liberal Government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC.: PORK PRODUCERS - FUNDING

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I regret to have to get up to ask a question for support for the hog industry. The reason I have to do that is because of the failure of this government to have any long-term vision to take care of agriculture in this province. It used to be once upon a time that the hog industry would be in difficulty, but then there would be good times and bad times, there would be this bit of a roller coaster, but they've flatlined on bad for some years with no help. Due to these consecutive bad years, the CAIS Program isn't going to work for them, and there is supposed to be a working group that's looking at long-term solutions, and I think maybe some people from the minister's department are involved in that. It's scheduled to make recommendations, hopefully, in March, and when or if those recommendations would be acted on remains to be seen.

So what we do know is that if there is no short-term funding provided for these family operations, they're going to be gone, Mr. Speaker, and they're going to be gone soon. So my question to the minister is, is the minister willing to provide short-time transitional funding to pork producers until a long-term solution can be provided?

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. The member is quite correct, the hog industry and, in fact, many of our agriculture commodities in the Province of Nova Scotia are going through some very challenging times. There are concerns relative to pricing, there are concerns relative to production and processing, especially in the hog sector. Yes, this government and the Department of Agriculture have put together a committee of industry and agriculture to

[Page 1461]

try to assist the hog industry, and, in fact, other sectors in working from where they are today to get to a long-term strategy. We firmly believe that you can't keep throwing money at different sectors in the province - yes, to help them out in the short term. We want to work with that commodity to put in place something that will be long term and something that will be viable, feasible and sustainable.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think the hog producers would agree with the minister that you can't keep doing that. They don't want you to keep doing that. They want a long-term strategy, but they're not even going to be around to enjoy a long-term strategy unless they get some short-term help, and I mean right away. This support is needed to allow producers to maintain their farms in the interim, until that long-term solution is found. I'll table a copy of a letter from Dennis Boudreau that was sent to all government caucus members, dated October 23rd. Since the minister would have already seen this letter, I ask him, what is your response to Dennis Boudreau and all other hog producers in Nova Scotia?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I know the honourable member had an opportunity just this week, as did I, to attend a meeting in his constituency, where the Halifax-Hants East Federation of Agriculture held their AGM. We were made very well aware of the challenges that the agriculture community is facing, but more specifically, the member is referencing the hog sector and pork industry. There's no doubt in this minister's mind that we have to look at some short-term funding to help the pork industry get to some sort of long-term strategy, but I have to be responsible to all taxpayers in this province, and this government must be responsible. Any help and assistance must be based on that long-term strategy. The pork industry in Nova Scotia is doing a lot of good work, but the committee that we have established is working towards those goals and those objectives.

We're working very hard on behalf of the hog industry in this province. I want to remind all members in this Legislature - friendly, mind you - that the farmers feed us all. They feed us all. As a proud product of a dairy farm in the Musquodoboit Valley, I can tell you that I am very concerned, and this government is very concerned about agriculture.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, that and a $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons. Usually the government ministers will allow a little time between flip-flops, but that minister can do it all in one answer. Since 1999, I've listened to that member, who is now a minister, talk about his desire to be at the Cabinet Table. He wanted to be a minister, and anybody in this House would have known that. Well, now he's there, and he's supposed to be the voice for agriculture in this province. My question is, after seven years of talking the talk, Mr. Minister, are you going to finally walk the walk and provide some help for Nova Scotia hog producers, yes or no?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, that member's unusually exercised here today. I do know - look, it is a serious issue, and the member is very sincere. I'm not going to go

[Page 1462]

there at all. I can tell you this, that under the leadership of Premier Rodney MacDonald, this government made a separate Department of Agriculture and put a minister in place to dedicate themselves to the concerns in the industry. I attended several meetings with the Pork Nova Scotia folks. Just last Friday night, the Maritime Conference was held down at the Westin. We know the challenges, this government knows the challenges, but we are not simply going to throw money at a problem without having some conditions in place, I can tell that member that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

AGRIC.: HOG INDUSTRY - STRATEGY

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. Pork Nova Scotia has taken the initiative, as the member knows, they have put in front of him a short-term strategy to deal with the hog industry in Nova Scotia. He knows that it is in front of him, no more planning needs to take place. So my question to the minister is, when are you prepared to deal with the short-term strategy that the hog producers have put in front of you?

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question and again, I want to point out that this government has, and will continue to, assist sector groups. We want to help them develop strategies, we want to help them put in place a long-term plan that will greatly assist the pork industry here in Nova Scotia, there is no doubt about that.

[1:45 p.m.]

I should remind that member, this government has put in $10 million over the last four years to help the hog industry in Nova Scotia - over $10 million. Do you know what? There are still pricing challenges, there still are processing challenges, there still are production challenges. We recognize that but we're working with the hog industry and I hope that in time, in the very short future, we will be able to assist. What we do is provide responsible government.

MR. MCNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Members on this side of the House are well aware because we're the ones who forced you to invest that money. The problem with it, quite frankly, Mr. Minister, is the industry is asking for a lifesaving line, not an anchor. What you're doing is putting an anchor around their neck.

They put a long-term strategy plan in front of you to deal with the short-term issue they faced. What they're looking for from you, from this government, is leadership. When will you deal with this issue and put in place the strategy that is in front of you?

[Page 1463]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, this government is working with the hog sector, that very important industry to agriculture in the Province of Nova Scotia. But I have to point out again - and it is not true for just the hog industry, although the honourable member is speaking about the hog industry - we believe there has to be major and fundamental change in the pork sector and we are working towards that with the hog industry in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. MCNEIL: The industry has been telling you now for a year that there has to be a fundamental change in the industry. They put the plan in front of you to make that change. What they require from you is some financial assistance.

Mr. Speaker, there are 450 jobs at the Larsen plants in Berwick, which are in jeopardy. As we sit and wait, this industry will not be around, Mr. Minister, if we don't deal with this issue now. So my question is, will you commit now to deal with this issue immediately and implement that short-term strategy with long-term solutions in place?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I guess you're permitted to repeat yourself in the Legislature; this government, this minister, the Department of Agriculture, is working diligently with the hog industry in the Province of Nova Scotia and will continue to work with the hog industry in Nova Scotia. We have to be responsible not only to the hog sector, not only to the cattle sector, not only to the dairy sector, not only to the blueberry growers, not only to the mink producers, we have to be responsible to all Nova Scotia taxpayers.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

NAT. RES.: WOODLOT OWNERS - QUARANTINE ZONE

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is preparing to expand the quarantine zone for the brown spruce long-horned beetle. This is going to have a direct impact on the areas that will now be included. The larger zone is reported to include Halifax County, the southeast corner of Hants County and the southwest corner of Colchester County.

My question is, what is this government intending to do to help woodlot owners in the proposed new quarantine zone?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the member opposite for the question, it is certainly a pertinent question. I am very proud of the work done by my predecessor in this department, working with the affected woodlot owners, and of course we'll continue to work with them. As the member pointed out, this is a decision that is going to be made by a federal agency, the Canadian Food

[Page 1464]

Inspection Agency, and we continue to work with the woodlot owners in anticipation of their decisions.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, containing the beetle appears to be a difficult task. The measures taken in the past seem to have failed. The province carried out an aid program for those inside the previous quarantine zone and must have taken part in monitoring. My question is, what did this government know about the spread of the beetle and when did they know it?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, of course the actual control and the establishment of the quarantine zone is the responsibility of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. We continue to work with them, as best we can, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Woodlot Owners Association.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is clearly a provincial role here. We all know how the woodlot owners in the current quarantine zone have suffered. A program was created to help these woodlot owners, but people like Bill Casavechia, an 88-year-old veteran in Cole Harbour, are still waiting. My question for the minister is, how much money is left in the program and when can people like Bill Casavechia expect to be helped?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member makes reference to the program that was put in place by my predecessor in the department. The harvesting of the infected woodlot, within the quarantine zone, is driven, of course, by the demand for chips. Neenah Paper is the primary market for them and because of the slowdown in the pulp and paper industry over the last year, it has somewhat diminished the activity in that area, but of course with the reopening of Stora Enso, the demand for chips is increasing again and we look forward to more work being done within the quarantine zone.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: CHRONIC PAIN - DEFINITION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. It has been three years now since the Supreme Court threw out the existing legislation on chronic pain. But since then, Nova Scotia Workers' Compensation Board has done nothing to mitigate the circumstances for chronic pain clients. Thousands of people in our province are sitting on waiting lists, waiting for decisions that will help them pay for the treatment and will help them with their financial suffering. My question for the minister is, why have you not found a definition of chronic pain that meets the needs of injured workers in this province?

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, the Workers' Compensation Board, as the honourable member would know, is working diligently in response to the Supreme Court

[Page 1465]

decision, looking at who's entitled to chronic pain compensation. They've hired extra staff to look into this and they're on track with the time line they set out for themselves.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Workers' Compensation Board has divided those who suffer with chronic pain into two groups, those who were injured before the Hayden court decision and those injured afterwards. Each group is being treated differently by the government. Those who were injured before the Hayden case received less compensation than those injured since that date. I want to ask the minister if he would explain why his government hasn't developed a policy that will ensure that all chronic pain sufferers are treated fairly and receive wage-loss replacements?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, the Workers' Compensation Board has looked at the pre- and post-Hayden groups, and concluded that no further adjustment is necessary in that regard, but there may be further adjustments made with the new Act group. They're looking at that presently.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd just like to point out that it hasn't been the Workmen's Compensation Board for some time now, since there are lots of women who are working in our labour force.

The Workers' Compensation Board is still discriminating against pre-Charter chronic pain claims. The regulations state that pre-Charter injuries should be compensated; the Workers' Compensation Board policy says the opposite. The board of the Workers' Compensation program say they needed a year to deal with this issue - well the year is almost up and nothing has been done. My final question for the minister is this: Why have you allowed people to suffer chronic pain and financial hardship for so long?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I know that the Workmen's Compensation Board is looking at their policy - Workers' Compensation Board is looking at the policy right now. The Workers' Compensation Board has a new governance structure that has been put in place, and in that governance structure there are stakeholders who make decisions for employers and for employees. They're making that decision, and doing a good job of it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

PREM.: GAS REGULATION - FAILURE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, yesterday we were given the final numbers regarding the number of retailers who have signed on to gas regulation in our province, and those who haven't. As suspected all along, the vast majority of retailers in Nova Scotia overwhelmingly opted out of gas regulation - only 55 per cent of the

[Page 1466]

independents and only 32 per cent of the total amount of retailers thought gas regulation would be good for their business. This Premier brought in gas regulation for two reasons: one was to save retailers, and one was to provide stability. We certainly haven't seen stability, and 68 per cent of retailers have said no to regulation. My question to the Premier is, when will you admit that gas regulation has been a failure in the Province of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Leader of the Liberal Party, as we have said very clearly, we will be doing a review on gas regulation. We put gas regulation in place for the issue of stability for consumers, and I believe it has certainly done its job in that regard. We look forward to the review.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, not only are the actual retailers deciding to opt out of the regulated market, but we can now also put a dollar figure on how much regulation has cost residents of our province. A recent Gardner Pinfold and MJ Ervin government-commissioned study said regulation would cost consumers $10 to $20 million more each year. This system has been a complete failure in this province and yet the Premier refuses to admit that they made a bad public policy decision. For my question, again, Mr. Premier, the people of this province, both consumers and retailers, clearly don't want regulation, therefore will you commit to them today that it will be removed immediately?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again, the government has made a commitment to do a review, to take a look at all of the pertinent information, for all Nova Scotians to see, and to take a look at the issue of stability, to take a look at the issue of prices to consumers and the impact there, and also to see the impact on our retailers. Now, I don't see anything wrong with that. I think it's the responsible thing to do, and I find it difficult to believe that the Liberal Party would have a problem with doing an appropriate, independent review. If they do, that is something they'll have to answer to, but I believe it is the responsible thing to do.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we're the Party that's forcing a review after six months, but we were hoping now that all of the evidence is in that the Premier would have been able to show leadership and make a decision on this without having to cost taxpayers another review when the facts clearly show that regulation has not met the objectives that had been set out, with the support of the NDP. The Premier put the taxpayers of this province on the hook for far too long. They are, admittedly, forcing consumers to pay for the administration of regulation to pay for higher gas prices and to pay for the lack of investment in the years to come if regulation continues.

Mr. Speaker, retailers are collectively saying no to regulation, and some are actually being cut off their supply of petroleum products, as we pointed out last week. With the recent cut in the motive fuel tax in New Brunswick, gas prices under regulation are remaining higher in Nova Scotia than in our competing province. Therefore, my final

[Page 1467]

supplementary is, when will the Premier provide this House with the details of the upcoming review of gas regulation in our province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member that his Party and all Parties in this Legislature put forward the bill with regard to regulation, so obviously he was in support of regulation on that day, and changed his mind now.

[2:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TPW: ROAD STUDY - RURAL PLAN

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. We all know the 100-Series Highways and secondary roads are the arteries that keep our economy moving. On November 7th, two days ago, the Canadian Automobile Association released a study called Roads and Highways: Critical to Canada's Competitiveness. The study points out that bad roads have a direct, negative impact on the economies of our rural communities. In Nova Scotia, we are facing a $4 billion deficit in our highway and bridge infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, to the minister, when can Nova Scotians, especially those of us in rural communities, expect a plan to deal with this issue?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the member providing me with an opportunity to provide a synopsis of our activities on highways this year. We invested over $200 million on the roads of this province this year. As a matter of fact, there's so much work being done that we have members rising in their place complaining about the congestion created by the construction. I've not had any complaints from this side of the House. We've had an extremely ambitious program on highways. It's our intention to fulfill the commitment made by the government in the election campaign of paving over 500 kilometres per year. We're well on the road to meeting that commitment. So we'll have 2,000 kilometres of pavement before the year has elapsed. Thank you.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the minister there is no congestion in Pictou County from road construction. We need a whole lot more.

I've said our infrastructure is in a deep, deep deficit, and it's having a negative impact on our communities. If we look at New Brunswick, the success they've had in obtaining federal monies, why has Nova Scotia been so unsuccessful in obtaining our fair share of federal dollars?

[Page 1468]

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 77.

Bill No. 77 - Atlantic Baptist Churches Convention Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 77.

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

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 85.

Bill No. 85 - An Act Respecting the Transfer of Assets and Liabilities of the Nova Scotia Freemasons' Home to The Masonic Foundation of Nova Scotia.

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise in my place and say a few words about this bill. Just in terms of explanation for members of this House, there are some people in the House, I think four or five members are actually Masons, they would understand it. If you aren't, it's not something - and including the Clerk is a Mason as well.

[Page 1469]

Mr. Speaker, some number of years ago lodges provided old age homes for their members, their wives or their widows. For example, you have one that operates in Pictou today, which the honourable member for Pictou West would certainly be well aware of, the Oddfellows' Home which, in its time, was probably the best nursing home in this province, in terms of its structure. So the Masons were no different. They had built a home for their members, their spouses and widows, down in Windsor.

Unfortunately, with the passage of time, they had about 67 residents there and in about 1992 the fire marshal, in his wisdom, came along and said the building is not up to snuff, it's going to cost $6 million to repair it. With that the Masonic Lodge made the decision to shut the building down and transfer the residents to other facilities in the region. Right now there is one person left of the 60-odd people who were in the residence at that time; 20 of them, their fees were being paid by the Masonic Lodge. So if you were a member of the Masons and you couldn't afford the care, then the Lodge itself picked it up. So there were 26 people who were sponsored by the Masonic Lodge.

When it was torn down, in 1998, the land was sold. Right now there's one person still being sponsored by the Masons and it's a widow of one of the Masons who was there and they are being sponsored, are being paid for, or were being paid for I guess I should say, in one of the local homes.

Mr. Speaker, what this bill is asking is that the assets of the Masonic Lodge home can now be transferred to the charitable arm of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, which is the Masonic Foundation, so it's just straightforward, there are still some assets from the Masonic Lodge home and they want to transfer them into the charitable branch of the Grand Lodge, so it's a good news bill. With that I will move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The question has been called. The motion before the House is for second reading on Bill No. 85. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West on an introduction.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to introduce this afternoon a few family members from Pictou County. I should mention my good wife first, in the back row, in the west gallery in the red, Marilyn, and then also my brother, Jim, and his wife, Brenda, and their daughter, Amelia. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction.

[Page 1470]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Merci beaucoup, M. le Président. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would like to draw the attention of the House to a visitor, Mr. Arnold LeBlanc, who happens to be the Deputy Warden for the Municipality of Clare. I would ask him to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 88.

Bill No. 88 - Richmond Stora Enso Taxation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's a pleasure for me to rise in my place and move second reading of Bill No. 88, the Richmond Stora Enso Taxation Act. Most members of the House, as along with most Nova Scotians, would be well aware that this bill is as a result of a tax agreement that was reached between the Municipality of Richmond and Stora Enso, a paper mill in Richmond County located in the Point Tupper Industrial Park.

Mr. Speaker, you'll recall that Stora Enso shut down its operations, expressing concern over three major items of its operation, one being the need for a new labour agreement, the second being a need for a new deal with Nova Scotia Power in light of the fact that they are the utility's largest consumer, and as well a new municipal property tax agreement with the Municipality of Richmond.

Mr. Speaker, as you know by now, an agreement was reached. I want to take this opportunity, on behalf of all members of the House and certainly as the member for Richmond, to thank the staff who worked hard from both the municipality and Stora Enso to be able to reach this agreement. I believe there was some assistance from the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, as well, in being able to reach this agreement. I also want to thank the 10 councillors of Richmond County who were very supportive of trying to address the concerns raised by Stora, Stora being the largest municipal property taxpayer in Richmond County, and the fact that this deal was unanimously approved by all the councillors in Richmond County, and therefore they have asked that this bill be brought forward to be made into law.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, the Stora mill is back up in operation. One of the mills is already operating and producing high-quality paper. The newsprint mill will be coming on-line shortly. This agreement sets out a 10-year rate as to what Stora will pay in municipal taxes. It also has some guarantees that Stora will keep both mills operating and certain levels of employment. Therefore, I think it's a good deal for the municipality and, more importantly, it's a good deal for the Province of Nova Scotia, which as a

[Page 1471]

whole benefits greatly from having Stora Enso operating, not only in Richmond but operating here in our province.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I want to commend our new warden, John Boudreau, for his strong support of this legislation. He has certainly been there to answer any concerns that I have had and it has been a pleasure to work with him on bringing this bill forward and, as well, I recognize Deputy Warden Shirley McNamara who has been a very strong supporter, along with all of council.

I've spoken to the government on this legislation and I've also spoken to the Leader of the NDP and the House Leader of the NDP. I can inform them that Warden John Boudreau will be available if there are any concerns that they have with the legislation, and it's his intention to be here for the Private and Local Bills Committee to answer any concerns either members have or that any member of the public has.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Government House Leader for calling this legislation. I look forward to any comments that any of my colleagues might have regarding Bill No. 88 and, with that, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 88. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[2:13 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[2:16 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[Page 1472]

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

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

Bill No. 28 - New Minas Water Commission Act.

Bill No. 29 - An Act to Incorporate the Temple Sons of Israel, Sydney.

Bill No. 41 - Kingston Food Bank Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each with amendment.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15.

Bill No. 15 - Municipal Government Act.

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members on the opposite side of the House who took the time to offer some comments on this bill. With that, I move second reading of Bill No. 15, the Municipal Government Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 15. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1473]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 67.

Bill No. 67 - Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I move this bill be read for a second time, and I would like to speak in favour of Bill No. 67, amendments to the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act.

Three amendments we are proposing in response to what we've heard from industry through various consultations over the past two years - sector councils, industry associations, trades councils, all had a hand in developing these amendments. I'm confident each one of these amendments is a positive addition to the bill. Each of them will contribute to an effective and relevant system that meets the requirements of industry and ensures the protection of Nova Scotia's consumers.

I would like to briefly highlight each of the amendments in turn. The first amendment makes provision within the bill for a certificate of proficiency. It's the government's responsibility to respond to the needs of its citizens while upholding education and training standards to protect public safety. The certificate of proficiency amendment does all of those things. It allows us to offer an alternative approach to recognizing those who have extensive practical trade experience but may have barriers that prevent them from successfully passing the written interprovincial exam. It will allow people who have demonstrated they can meet industry standards through a demonstration of proficiency to continue working legally in the trade without compromising safety.

The need for this alternative path to certification is particularly apparent when certification in a designated trade becomes compulsory. In these circumstances they are often long-term trade practitioners who may not have the ability to write and pass the exam. Barriers to passing the exam may have to do with literacy, language or learning. That does not mean that the tradesperson is not qualified or capable of practicing in their trade and meeting industry standards. A certificate of proficiency will encompass the whole scope of the trade.

What is being assessed, whether through the existing certificate of a qualification exam or a certificate of proficiency assessment, is the same. The only difference will be how it is measured. Tradespeople who qualified to apply for a certificate of proficiency will be required to demonstrate the exact same level of skill and capacity, but that demonstration may take the form of oral or practical testing, rather than a written exam.

I would like to assure you, Mr. Speaker, the members opposite, and industry, that this option will be used in a limited way and eligibility criteria will be established. It will

[Page 1474]

not in any way negatively impact the standards of quality and safety. The bill is designed to protect.

The second amendment I would like to speak to relates to the ability of government to regulate subtrades. We are proposing an amendment that will clarify that the bill applies fully to existing and future subtrades that may emerge within the 55 designated trades we have. This is a minor change; this amendment is not about opening our doors to more subtrades, it is about ensuring we have the authority to regulate existing and emerging subtrades and that we can offer appropriate training and certification.

It is important, Mr. Speaker, that government does not identify subtrades. The current practice is for industry to make an application to the provincial Apprenticeship Board for a subtrade to be recognized as such, and the board then conducts extensive consultation with industry. The third amendment makes provision for officially recognizing that important role played by lifelong learning in ensuring a high level of skilled tradespeople in Nova Scotia.

Currently, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is an active member of the interprovincial Red Seal Program. The red seal is an endorsement affixed to the provincial certificate of qualification. It enables tradespeople to work across Canada without restriction. The red seal endorsement is the only endorsement we currently recognize. We want to offer additional endorsements like business competencies, for example, to encourage lifelong learning among skilled tradespeople. We want to ensure they can access learning opportunities that will help them manage new technologies, trade skills and other changes in their working environments - this will also help them establish the skilled trades as a career path.

Mr. Speaker, in order to ensure that the implementation of all three of these amendments is carried out in a comprehensive and meaningful way, my department has struck an industry committee. The committee will identify relevant parameters and criteria to these changes. It will also help to form the development of regulations that will form part of the general regulations attendant to the Act.

The members of this committee would include: Colin Campbell from United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America; Graham Conrad from the Nova Scotia Automotive Sector Council; Heather Cruickshanks from Merit Contractors Association; Steve Graves from Mainland Nova Scotia Building and Construction Trades Council; Carol MacCulloch from the Construction Association of Nova Scotia; and David Thomson from Irving Shipbuilding. In addition, industry stakeholders have been invited to contribute to the process by having discussions with members of the implementation committee.

[Page 1475]

We are confident, Mr. Speaker, that these changes will benefit Nova Scotians and I encourage all members of the House to support this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to rain on the minister's parade because I've heard from various members of the Trades Council who are not particularly enamoured with a couple of issues around Bill No. 67. I think it's important that we get these things on the record because, when we read the minister's press release and we attended the press conference, there was going to be all kinds of consultation with the stakeholders - one of those classics where it's going to be win/win and we'll all go forward together.

Unfortunately, there are members of the Trades Council who have some very serious concerns with a certificate of proficiency as compared to a certificate of qualification, and I'm obliged to bring some of these concerns forward because I think it should be very clearly put that one of the key stakeholders - I hate that term incidentally - but one of the key people who wants input on this, yes, here it is, Mr. Speaker, he used to be a student of mine. His name is Cordell Cole. He's a resident of Terence Bay and Cordell Cole, speaking on behalf of the electrical workers in this province, is hugely concerned with a certificate of certification as opposed to a certificate of qualification.

This concern will be highlighted by a couple of other matters that will be brought to the attention of the House over the next few moments, because we're responding to industry and we should show flexibility, but the key thing in the midst of this is we have to make sure that the people who receive that red seal and go to other parts of this country continue to be received in Fort McMurray, because there are many Nova Scotians going there, they continue to be received in other parts of this country or this continent because when they have a certificate of qualification that says "approved by the Nova Scotia Department of Labour or the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Program through the Department of Education", that they can be guaranteed that these people are qualified and that these people know how to do their job.

There's a standard there that has to be maintained and there are people on the Trades Council who are concerned, and I know that when this bill goes through to the Law Amendments Committee, there will be people who will be making these presentations, they'll be asking why is this being allowed to happen?

In particular, Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a letter to the minister's attention, actually it's entitled to me as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, but I would like to table this letter. It comes from Mark Cleary. He entitles it, dear sir, changes to the Apprenticeship Act. If the Pages could provide a copy of this to the minister, it would be appropriate.

[Page 1476]

Mr. Cleary points out that he is a journeyman electrician and he recently read in the local newspaper changes proposed to the above-noted Act. It's my understanding - and I'm tabling that now, so I would like to comment from it directly, if I may, Mr. Speaker. It's my understanding that the Act requires a person to be registered as an apprentice or as a journeyman to work in the trade. If these changes, as proposed in the Act, take place, it seems to me that persons who are currently working illegally will be rewarded.

It's a key point that Mr. Cleary brings forward. I spoke to Mr. Cleary at length on the telephone as a follow-up to this letter. Mr. Cleary is currently out of the province, but he wanted to make sure that on the record, the minister and the department is aware that this is a concern that he, as an electrician, has. I know there are other members of the construction industry who are also concerned about this legislation as, in their opinion, it will reduce the standard of work produced.

In fact, I'm under the impression the industry asked to be left out of this particular piece of legislation, but that wasn't the case. The construction industry prefers that before 1995, when a tradesperson did his exam and over 70 per cent got the red seal, and 60 per cent to 70 per cent got a provincial licence. This was changed, the system is open to abuse, there's no doubt, from sectors that aren't interested in policing qualifications properly, and these proposed changes would make the system even more open to abuse.

Mr. Speaker, this information and this advice is given to me as the Education Critic for the NDP. It's unfortunate - I'm receiving this information. My question on this - of course it's not Question Period - but my point that will be brought through to the Department of Education is, have you been listening to the people in these trades, because they're coming to me and saying they have not been listened to.

I heard the minister say during the press conference that they were encouraging flexibility and that certain people in certain trades were having difficulty with written tests. I want to use the example of the electrician trade. The electrician trade requires a certain level of literacy. There's no way around it. It is a dangerous, very difficult job. If we are going to allow a certificate of proficiency to now be awarded by the Director of Apprenticeship based on criteria that sounds good from a distance, that a committee is going to review, well, the people in the industry have concerns.

What the Trades Council wants is this stepped process. It's very clear, having spoken to a number of these young men, they want it very clearly put on the record. You write the exam. If you don't pass - and that happens - if you don't pass, then you get the proper tutoring from the Department of Education, the union, the Trades Council involved. You write the exam again. If you don't pass, there is an option that you can do some of the questions orally to see whether this is a literacy problem and whether this

[Page 1477]

exam is a hindrance to allow you to receive your certificate of qualification. That's the way the system should be allowed to continue.

It should not be, as the rumour has it, that we're lowering the standards, that we are, after all, in need of certain trades, as the Trades Council will certainly admit, but if we're going to allow the Director of Apprenticeship, with certain discretionary powers, to decide who receives a certificate of proficiency, that is just not acceptable in the opinion of the men - and they're all men, and I'm sure there are women electricians or other trades - but it is the men I have heard from who brought this concern forward.

[2:30 p.m.]

Practical trade experience must be noted. That is not the issue here, that is not the issue at all. Practicality and working experience is a wonderful teacher but in certain trades there must be a level of literacy around which there can be no excuses. These will be some of the concerns that will be brought forward when we go to Law Amendments Committee because we go to the press conference every year, everything is fine, everybody has been consulted, and I am thinking, that is not what I just heard, as people are calling me on my cell and making sure that I am aware of this and of that.

Now I know the minister is sticking to the text at that particular time, has been told by people and her staff that everything is fine. It is not, there are standards, there are concerns and the discretionary power of the Director of Apprenticeship allowing for a Certificate of Proficiency, as opposed to a Certificate of Qualification, is really a concern from people in the field.

When we have young men and young women travelling to other parts of this country, other parts of this continent, and they receive that Certificate of Qualification, the expression is, it is as good as gold, it is as good as the red seal which they receive. Now we are going to say this particular tradesperson couldn't qualify for a Certificate of Qualification. Instead, he or she will have a Certificate of Proficiency. Now that is a question that has come to mind with the Trades Council, that is the question when it comes to the Apprenticeship Program that is going to be brought to the members of the Law Amendments Committee. It is a concern, a concern that I hope members of the Department of Education and the apprenticeship people involved are aware that this isn't all going to be smooth sailing here. There are concerns. The concerns are particularly that the work is done in a safe manner and that the people, when you're getting a job, are themselves not going to do any damage to themselves or to the business they are working for.

Employers can say they need, for example, more electricians but we are not saying - and the Apprenticeship Program is a valuable one - we are not saying let's lower the standards so that we can have more of that particular trade. We are saying bring these

[Page 1478]

people up to the standard, follow the advice of the Trades Council, making sure that they are going to go through the step process.

Failing an exam is not the end of the world. Mr. Speaker, we've been through those particular things before in our other lives, where you are being testing. An apprenticeship program is one of real quality because of the strict regulations around it, so that when somebody fails the apprenticeship written test, other options must be put in place. It must not be a substitute situation because you've worked in that particular trade for so many years, well, we aren't going to worry about this particular test; in lieu of that you'll receive a different certificate, a Certificate of Proficiency.

There is one certificate that should work and that is called the Certification of Qualification, whatever the particular trade is. I know there has been some pressure from employers on this particular topic but I'm concerned about the fact that the discretionary powers of the Director of the Apprenticeship Program just gives too much power to that office, in my opinion.

I am interested in the comments of the minister as she made them today, particularly with the formation of this committee. I know many of those people who are on that committee, a huge committee if you notice it. There are people on that committee - Carol MacCulloch, Steve Graves, who want the opportunity to make sure they are being listened to on this issue. But that is sort of like the horse is out of the barn, if I can use that expression. Was Steve Graves consulted as part of this process prior to this piece of legislation? Was Carol MacCulloch part of this process, part of the consultation before this particular bill was brought forward?

You know, after the minister left the Red Room that day and after the media left, I went back in to pick up my notes and I was witness to a very heated conversation between a number of people who were there attending and that heated conversation was with a member of the minister's staff. Those are the people who have not been consulted.

Mr. Graves, Ms. MacCulloch were sitting there saying to this particular member of the Department of Education, we disagree, we want this to be listened to. I am sure that the tone came down a little bit when they realized that they were being observed by an MLA, of course an official member of the Opposition is an MLA, but it was an interesting dynamic to see it that way. The cameras are gone, the microphones are gone, but here are two - and here is this word again - very important stakeholders who are having huge issues with a bill that has just been made public and going to be brought into this Chamber, two very important people who want input on this and they have not been consulted. So when we say, well, they have been consulted and listened to, that's just not the case. Witness the exchange in the Red Room or the information that I have received from various people in the Trades Council who have concerns about these issues.

[Page 1479]

So this is an important piece of legislation, but if we're going to do it, let's do it right. If we're going to have this Apprenticeship Act changed, we have to make sure that it's not hit and miss, that we aren't applying band-aids, but that we're doing it in the right way. There is no hurry, as far as I'm concerned and as far as members of the Trades Council who I hear from - and I haven't heard from them all, Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear on that. There is no rush, let's make sure this gets done correctly because if it doesn't get done correctly, we have a number of concerns; we have the safety of the men and women working in these particular trades, we have the quality of the work, but more importantly we have the reputation of Nova Scotia workers who have that Certification of Qualification.

Why are they being recruited so heavily to go to Alberta? Why are they being recruited in certain situations to go to massive projects in the United States? They are getting these requests because they know that when you get that particular certificate in this province, through the Apprenticeship Program, it's a quality certificate. I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, this will be a concern as this piece of legislation goes through here, goes over to our historic Law Amendments Committee, and I encourage members present to make sure that they come and listen to what will happen at the Law Amendments Committee.

I know that the House business continues, but I know that members of the government, particularly new members of the government, are going to listen to what is being said by some member of a trade who is coming to the Law Amendments Committee from their constituency. They are obliged at that time, I hope - I hope their House Leader allows them to go over and watch the Law Amendments Committee in place, in fact take the chair of one of the people who are sitting there on the committee and ask for clarification as a member of their constituency comes forward with concerns about this Apprenticeship Act.

There could be people who would come forward in favour of it, but I would hope that they would come and listen to what's going to happen as this proceeds to the Law Amendments Committee. It's a big concern, it's a concern that I'm going to continue to bring to the attention of this House, to the Committee on Law Amendment, it's a concern for our reputation when it comes to our Apprenticeship Act, it's a concern for the safety of those involved and for the quality of work.

With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my place. I encourage other members to take part in this debate, because it's an issue of huge importance as we look at these changes to the Apprenticeship Act. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I agree completely with the observations made by my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect. I wish to add

[Page 1480]

only a couple of small points. The first is that we should turn our minds to the full range of designated trades that are likely to be affected. I've consulted the Web site of the Department of Education where they set out the apprenticeship programs, the particulars of the apprenticeship programs. There they list the trades that are likely to be affected by this legislation.

I think we have to consider very carefully what we're doing in light of this very extensive list of designated trades. Now I'm going to read some of the trades so that we get an appreciation of what it is that's being suggested to us. One is automotive service technician, another is boilermaker, another is bricklayer, another is cabinetmaker, carpenter, concrete finisher, construction, electrician, cook, electric motor system tech, electronics technician, farm equipment mechanic, floor covering installer - you can see I'm only up to the F's, and I have to say I skipped a couple of the A's as we were starting out - gas fitter, heavy duty equipment technician, industrial electrician, industrial instrument mechanic, millwright - which is also called an industrial mechanic - an ironworker, locksmith, machinist. Then we get to two that I think are of particular interest, a mine electrician and a mine mechanic.

There are others. It goes on. It includes plumber, it includes power-line technician, it includes refrigeration and AC mechanic, it includes a roofer, it includes a stationary engineer. Now the reason I took a minute to read some - I didn't read all - of these trades into the record is because if there is a legitimate concern that we may be asked to consent to legislation that would reduce the standards that would apply to the qualifications of the people who take up these trades, we have to ask yourself, what is the practical consequence of this?

My colleague brought our attention to the fact that, in essence, what's being suggested to us is that practical on-the-job learning could substitute for the education as demonstrated by the ability to pass an exam. I have to say that I have great respect for on-the-job training. It seems to me that a lot of the apprenticeship program, of course, is built around a combination of classroom learning and on-the-job training. Of course, a huge amount of learning will go on at the work site. That's entirely appropriate, and people can learn an enormous amount about what it is that they're expected to do on the job.

But if we're saying that if at a particular moment in time, given the state of knowledge in a particular trade - on-the-job learning is an adequate substitute for the ability to write an exam - is that always the case as trades evolve? Knowledge in trades will evolve for mechanics of all kinds, for electricians, for plumbers. They're expected to learn as time goes on. The technology in the trade will change. Virtually no equipment comes now without written instructions as to what it's all about, how to install it, how to maintain it, what are the safety features.

[Page 1481]

If someone becomes certified but they don't have the literacy skills to keep themselves abreast of changes, then we have a problem. It may be that at the time they achieved their certification, they may well understand to an appropriate level what it is they're doing, but what happens when the equipment and technology changes? What happens if a slightly new standard comes along, and what happens, especially, if there's a safety aspect to that?

[2:45 p.m.]

Are we being invited to put these workers in a position where there might be some extra element of danger to them, introduced into the workplace? I wouldn't want to consent to that. Are we being invited to give our approval to legislation that would lead to a situation in which equipment might be improperly installed because the people who have or would have, under this new scheme, the trade certification, weren't able to read the instructions? Now that's one of the consequences, and there's a wide range of trades that we're being asked to turn our minds to.

If we've misunderstood this, I'd appreciate hearing from the minister or from anyone who wants to come forward at the Law Amendments Committee to explain differently. That would be fine; I'd be happy to hear it. But so far, so far as we can tell, the situation is exactly as outlined by my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, with this addendum of mine, which makes it slightly worse than he outlined.

Here's my second point. The second point is that, I think, we in this Chamber ought to turn our minds to what this bill represents along with others that essentially invite us to think about transnational standards. Why is it that this bill is coming forward? Part of what it is that's involved is the question of labour mobility. Now, I'm concerned that as standards are set in different provinces, and as there is an invitation for provinces to acknowledge the standards that prevail elsewhere in the country, that there not go along with that a tendency to water down the standards.

This bill, I think, has to be seen at least in part in that context and we have several bills, or government initiatives, in front of us that tend towards the idea of harmonization of what goes on around the nation. Sunday shopping is one example, but we don't have legislation in front of us now to deal with that. Bill No. 5 that has to do with how we manage universities that might be private universities is perhaps another example. Bill No. 75, the Securities Act, is another example, I think. Now, I know we're not debating Bill No. 75 today, but I think it's important that when we think about Bill No. 67 that's in front of us, we think about something that made this quite explicit, that appeared in Bill No. 75.

I'll read into the record a portion of the explanatory note from Bill No. 75. Here's what it says. "This Bill makes changes to the Securities Act necessary to ensure that the Province meets its commitments under the Provincial-Territorial Memorandum of

[Page 1482]

Understanding Regarding Securities Regulation signed by the Province in March 2005. That agreement calls for the provinces and territories to develop highly harmonized securities laws and a passport system of securities regulation."

Now, it goes on, but essentially what we're being told is that we're being invited to pass a system that would allow people who are in the securities business to move around amongst the different jurisdictions in Canada. This issue of labour mobility is an interesting one and I'm not saying that the answers are obvious. What I am worried about is any move that might harmonize at a low level. I'm also worried, of course, about the consequences of this kind of agreement, it's called a memorandum of understanding, when adopted by Cabinet Ministers with similar portfolios in different provinces of Canada.

I'm worried about them if, as often will happen, what they can agree to is something at the lowest possible level. If that becomes, then, the harmonized law, where does that leave us with legitimate provincial jurisdiction to exercise in order to raise standards? Are we going to be able to raise standards on environmental matters or will we have to harmonize to the lowest level that the ministers were capable of agreeing to? When it comes to workplace health and safety, will we be able to raise standards or will we have to have standards that represent a harmonization to lower standards? When it comes to education, will we be able to raise standards or are we being asked to harmonize at a low level that ministers in 10 provinces and three territories were able to agree to?

A decade ago, the provinces all agreed to something known as the Agreement on Internal Trade. There were lots of exemptions from it. It wasn't law. It was, to use the term used in the drafters' notes in Bill No. 75, a memorandum of understanding. But the idea was to try to harmonize trade rules and now there are lots of initiatives to try to harmonize trade rules as they apply to labour mobility. What does that mean for regulation of professions? What does that mean, in this case, for regulation of trades?

I have to say, I'm a little worried that what we're being asked to do here is to move in a direction that would tend to lower standards. If this is in response to an understanding amongst ministers in similar portfolios, then I think we should be told this. Even if it isn't, is one of the consequences of this going to be that if we end up with lower standards here, for someone who ends up with their certificate, are they then even going to be able to automatically move around the country to other jurisdictions? Maybe that's their lookout. Maybe that's going to be the lookout of the other provinces. But it doesn't make me comfortable.

When I see something that suggests there is something about the lowering of standards, I don't feel comfortable doing that. I want to hear that we're raising standards and I want to see it in the legislation. It just doesn't seem to be there, so like my

[Page 1483]

colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, I'm left with a lot of hesitations and, I think, a lot of unanswered questions.

If the minister can convince us that this is not correct, if the minister can convince us there is a different thrust to the bill and show us exactly how it would work, either through her own statements or through evidence when we get to the Law Amendments Committee, believe me, we would be happy to hear that. At the moment, we've put on record our concerns and we look to having them answered as we go through the process. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I, too, want to take a few minutes to speak to Bill No. 67 and ask the minister, perhaps as this bill proceeds, to provide some greater clarity in terms of what the intention of this bill is. I listened to what the minister had to say on second reading. I wasn't at the press conference, so I didn't have the benefit of that particular occasion, but in the minister's remarks, I did not hear the minister say specifically what the rationale for the changes are and where the impetus for these changes is coming from.

I think that would be very helpful to those of us who have an interest in this, and also a responsibility in terms of actively participating in debates in this Chamber on changes to legislation. I sit here and I think, is this a bill about protecting consumers? Is this a bill that consumer organizations and groups are looking for with respect to the position that consumer groups find themselves in when they're dealing with the product that results from building trades, either in a commercial sense, in an industrial sense, in people's neighbourhoods or whatever?

So this is a question I have. Is this a bill where the impetus, in fact, comes from the workers' organizations - workers' organizations, in fact, their journeymen, apprentices, and tradespeople have had difficulty meeting the current requirements of the trade to get a licence or certified - or is this bill being asked for by employer and industry groups who have questions around, perhaps, labour market supply, in particular trades where there may be shortages or whatever?

It's not clear to me what the impetus for this bill actually is. I think if I knew that, it would be much more possible to think through the implications for the various groups, because I think we're all touched by members of the building trades in ways that the public often has no idea whatsoever, the extent to which men and women in this province are members of these extremely important trades. We live in a society that really privileges, I think, professional groups, and there's so much attention given to lawyers and doctors and many teachers and lots of the professions. We really forget sometimes that the backbone of our economy and, really, of the things that make it possible for professional groups to do their work often rests on the building trade.

[Page 1484]

This piece of legislation is really important. It will affect a very significant group of people, of workers in our community. So the rationale for these changes and the origins of the changes, who's asking for them, why are they asking for them, what problem does it seek to address, and how will it address that, and what are the implications, is a really important piece of information to have.

Previous colleagues have spoken about their concern that these particular amendments - and they're only small, the bill is a very small bill, that the provision for a certificate of proficiency, based on the demonstration of practical skills meeting requirements and standards but an inability to write a written exam, is really what's being sought here. I wonder, as well, if the minister would be able to speak to what the rationale is for having a written exam in the first place. If we're going to say that generally this is what's required, but it's not going to be required in some cases, then why do we have a written exam at all? Why is licensing not then based on demonstrating practical skills and proficiency, why is that not the standard generally? Why do we have a written exam at all?

I have some concerns about the changes that are being proposed here and what's implied by these changes. We, I think, have an obligation to the people of Nova Scotia, the public, to ensure that the qualifications of people who are working in all kinds of trades and doing very important work, that they do meet a body of knowledge; a practical application of that knowledge; a real understanding of the particular area in which they're working. Of course, this needs to be demonstrated in certain ways. Generally speaking, having some form of examination is probably an established mechanism both in this province and elsewhere.

Again, I'm not saying that this is a bill that I can't support, but it certainly is a bill that I have some concerns about and I need greater clarity and more information from the minister with respect to what is being proposed here. I think, at this stage, those are the points that I did want to raise. I look forward to hearing from other speakers, and perhaps the minister could offer greater clarity before we move this bill on to the Law Amendments Committee process.

[3:00 p.m.]

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to rise to say a few words on this bill today. When I looked at this bill - and I'm just wondering if it's a regular housekeeping bill - but I wonder if the changes to this legislation open up the system for more abuse, abuse from sectors, you know, in the industry they're policing the proper qualifications. You and I drive quite a way to get to this Legislature each and every week. If somebody is working on my automobile fixing my brakes, I would want to know, as I am driving here, that person is qualified to be fixing my brakes.

[Page 1485]

Mr. Speaker, I think that some of this has to be done in a sense that the building trades, the unions- I think those are the ones in the past, before 1995, who used to have apprenticeship programs for their members and a lot of these courses were taught within their union halls. You know, the red seal - as we heard my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, speak about - the red seal was given to those who made above a 70 per cent mark and they could go inter-provincial and travel to British Columbia. How many Cape Bretoners with the red seal are in Fort McMurray right now working? How many are not getting jobs in the union, or whatever else, because they made below the 70 per cent?

When you made below 70 per cent back in the day, as my son would say, that meant you had a provincial ticket. It meant that you were only qualified to work within the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. Again that brings me back - I wonder if it's all around the dropout rate? I'm not quite sure if the dropout rate with high school students in Halifax is around 20 per cent, anywhere between 15 per cent to 20 per cent, or that is the dropout rate in Cape Breton - young people not completing their Grade 12 or not finishing high school and going off to community colleges or going off to this here. I wonder if the literacy rate - when I look at this and I look at the bill - you know, if you don't pass the bill, well, maybe you can have an oral exam. If you don't pass that, well, you can have a video exam. I'm not quite sure where this is actually going but writing the exam, I think, is the most important thing for us, do you know what I mean? You know, would they get tutoring from the electrical union?

I have a little electrical union in my riding, IBEW, Local 1835 I think, if I remember, on Bay Street. I should know, I played darts there for many years. It's a nice little organization. They have members - I think there are probably 300 or 400 people on the books right now waiting for work. Some are in Alberta. Some are looking for work all across the Province of Nova Scotia. They were asking me just recently about expanding their union hall, because they have some extra land in back between Bay Street and Webster Street, and putting on an extra piece so they can do some courses. They questioned me and asked my office if there was any kind of funding out there so they could put on courses for their union members. I didn't know of any and I've researched and I can't find if there are any provincial dollars out there for a local union to put on apprenticeships.

So, you know, not only an apprentice program - there are many steps in an apprentice program, whether you're a diesel mechanic and you took a diesel course out at the College of Cape Breton. You have to go out and do your first block, your second block, your third block. It takes many years to become a good qualified, certified, diesel mechanic and I know that first-hand as my nephew, Darren, is in Alberta right now working in the tar sands. He goes out for six weeks and comes home for two, knowing he has to be away from home, but he has the qualifications. He went through that system and has the qualifications to do that. He spent four years getting his diesel mechanic licence.

[Page 1486]

I think of a young fellow who used to come to the youth centre when I was there. He turned out to be an electrician. He now lives in Halifax. He bought a home pretty close to the West End Mall down here and has worked very hard to become a full-fledged electrician. My nephew, Joseph, is a Microsoft Internet technician. These guys are all certified. They've all worked hard, Mr. Speaker. I just think about, you know, the literacy in schools today, the high school dropout rate. I wonder if this is just a way to make the system easier for these young people. Would they be qualified? I wonder if when people are out there in society, will this come back to haunt us in the future, you know, if something happened to somebody because, say, in the industry - you have an industry of steel plant or coal mines - if you gave somebody a paper as a millwright, although he didn't have a red seal as a millwright or as a welder, you know, today's millwrights are quite different than it was when the steel plant was in operation, you had a welder, you had a pipefitter, you had a rigger. Today it is an industrial mechanic, which is a millwright. So all of these trades are rolled into one in the heavy industry around the province here, Mr. Speaker, and elsewhere. All these men or all these people went through this and they went through the system of writing exams, getting over 70 per cent in a mark, or getting 60 to 70 per cent to practice within that mill.

I know that when the steel plant shut down there were a lot of guys who were electricians, but they were electricians in the steel plant. They couldn't practice their trade outside because they weren't certified. They spent 35 years doing electrical work at Sydney Steel but they couldn't go outside of that industry.

So Bill No. 67, I worry about the certification of young people or people who are going to be out doing the job. Maybe we will hear from the minister and she can explain to me and maybe help me understand why they want to give so many different chances to people. I understand that in society today you want to see things work, you want to see people employed, but is this the way about going at people not having the proper qualifications and the proper education to deal with the issues that are out there in the industry today.

We are always hearing in the news today that industry is short, we are going to be short carpenters, we are going to be short bricklayers. Anybody in the housing industry - right now Fort McMurray is just booming and they're not short of anything out there. I would like to hear from the local Trades Council and find out how the Trades Council feels about this. Maybe my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, can speak to his colleagues and the building trades to find out how they feel.

I just have a strong feeling that I think that some of these courses should be done within the building trades themselves, within the piping trade, a pipefitter or a plumber, you know what I mean. I just wonder why we're down - it seems to me, in a sense, that we're going to be having people who are going out on the job who are going to have less certification than other people who have been on the job for years. I am just wondering, is this a way of filling the void of all our out-migration of young people? All our

[Page 1487]

tradespeople are away working in Alberta and we don't have the proper tradespeople here now, and this is a good way of filling that void, by getting these people, who may be qualified, or less qualified, to work in their trades.

We have to be proactive around the education, Mr. Speaker. I bring myself back to being proactive to make sure that these young people who are coming out of college today and graduate today are coming out. I think a very positive step in Cape Breton is Memorial Composite High School and, actually, the member for Cape Breton North can speak about that, on a composite school and how good they are in providing young people, young people who we are talking about today getting into the workforce, in the culinary aspect of it, into the mechanics part of it, the electrical part of it. That is probably one of the best schools where I've known a lot of young people who have gone and taken trades and have gone on to successful careers.

Expand the community colleges. I would love to see an expansion of the Marconi Campus in Sydney. I would love to see that be a place, if this is going to take place. Maybe we'll have an expansion of the Marconi Campus and we can offer more trades out there, Mr. Speaker. I know Dave MacLean would be quite happy if there was an expansion coming, and they could actually help these young people in Cape Breton get certified.

In my father's day they went right out of high school - I guess not out of high school, probably right out of elementary school, at the age of 13, to go to the steel plant or the coal mines. As my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect said, maybe the minister could give us some clarification around Bill No. 67 and what is the underlying reason for this bill or the underlying issue? I look at it and I am just worried about, are we going to be qualifying young people today who are not going to have the skills or the tools to perform their job in industry? Are they giving up on education itself? They're just throwing their hands up and saying look, we can't educate this young fellow by the name of Gordie, you know, we've had enough of him and he has to go. I'm glad my teachers didn't give up on me back in my day, I'll tell you that for sure, and I do have a lot of good things to say about that.

Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister can clarify some of this bill to some of the members in the House. I don't know if I am going to vote against this bill, or what's going to happen. I'm interested in hearing more from the minister and, possibly, when it goes to the Law Amendments Committee maybe we'll have somebody within the industry coming in, and they can clarify their position on how they feel about this bill. It will be nice to hear from people who are working in the industry, to have them come in here to the Red Room and tell us that this is how they feel about this.

How do the Cape Breton building trades feel? How does the IBEW feel? How do the pipefitters, how the carpenters and joiners unions feel? How do they all feel about this bill? Is this smoke and mirrors? Again, we go back to education and literacy, adult

[Page 1488]

literacy. Bill No. 67, Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act. This has always been a contentious issue. I remember getting a call from a Mr. Harvey Kiley about a young fellow he was trying to get into the building trades, actually his son, into the pipefitters union, and the problems that he was having. He was a pipefitter.

I remember years ago, at one time, if you were a bricklayer, your son was a bricklayer. If your father was a pipefitter, you were a pipefitter. If your father was a coal miner (Interruptions) Yes, that's right, too. The president of the Strait area campus, the Nova Scotia Community College campus, his father was the president of the local Cape Breton union for the pipefitters.

AN HON. MEMBER: A charter member.

MR. GOSSE: Yes, a charter member, Mr. Lewis from Manse Street in Whitney Pier. He was a teacher at what they call the old vocational school that was closed many years ago, on Prince Street. It is now the French school. I'm just wondering, I've heard the list of names who are going to be policing this certificate program, I heard them earlier when a minister spoke, and I didn't recognize any names that I thought I would know within the Cape Breton building trades. Maybe my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre can tell me some of the people, if he recognized some of the names. Are they qualified to be judging these people for apprenticeship and trade qualification?

Proficiency. I don't know, that word seems a little different to me, proficiency. I wonder, proficiency, I always thought expertise when working in the field, being a millwright, a pipefitter, a welder. I have a friend of mine who went to the vocational school years ago, and now he's a welding inspector in Ontario, been working there for many years, worked on the Skydome roof and some other projects like that, and does interesting jobs, and inspection of wells. He sends me some pictures sometimes from downtown Toronto, looking down on the CN Tower and looking down on the Bluejays home ballfield. Quite interesting. He was one of those guys, Dave graduated from the vocational school, but he did all the training. He did MIG welding, he did all of those things, acetylene welding and all those things. He is, today, a very qualified welding inspector.

I just worry about the industry. I worry about what's going to happen. Are we going to water down the people who are going in the industry today? Are they going to be qualified enough for them to do a good job, whether it's building a home, fixing your car, those types of things? Are they going to be qualified enough? When I do my car inspection, are my tie rod ends going to be okay? Anything like that. I worry about those things.

I wonder if you need a certificate - the trades, there are so many things out there, but proficiency, to qualify somebody to work, I'm just a little bit confused. The safety issue, if somebody does a weld on a stage and the stage collapses, are we going to have

[Page 1489]

the Department of Environment and Labour investigating an accident because somebody wasn't qualified to read the documents, or somebody couldn't read the documents, and there was nobody on the job, like my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, who could read things to you to help you to learn?

Those things, Mr. Speaker, are important. I just wonder. If somebody can't read a blueprint and they put something, a trough or a piece of rebar in the wrong place, will that make a difference and put somebody's life in jeopardy? If they have a red seal, they're more than qualified, if they have a 60 per cent to 70 per cent, they have a provincial card which will enable them to work anywhere in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, when you have a red seal you can come here from the Province of Quebec and work, but we can't go there to work. That red seal is no good in that province. Are we going to have improperly qualified people working at the trades in the Province of Nova Scotia? I don't know if we are, I can't say for sure if we are. I know many good young people out there who are hardworking people. Would they be able to read blueprints? Will they be able to read notes to make sure that everything, you know, staging - is it the coming down of the trades? Is that what this bill is all about?

[3:15 p.m.]

You know, they're not going to have local trades being taught within the local union halls by qualified master bakers or master mechanics or master welders, or people like that teaching these young people. I worry about that, like I said, unqualified people, not properly trained people, to do such important jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I'm waiting to hear back from the Law Amendments Committee, from the trade union, the trade council, to find out what their feeling is. I'd like to sit down and listen to their input, find out what their input is and find out if they're in agreement with this bill. Are they satisfied these proposed changes would make the system better or make the system work? It will be an interesting day and I'll be watching closely to see, when this bill comes before the Law Amendments Committee, who comes up before this bill to speak. Hopefully a lot of people from Cape Breton will be here and people in the trades from all over the Province of Nova Scotia to just give us, the people who are sitting here in the Legislature, how they actually feel, the people who actually work in the field, the people who do these jobs, the people who hand out the apprenticeships and the qualifications.

I look forward to the day in the Law Amendments Committee when these people come here, and I'll be watching and learning from them and hearing of any concerns they have with Bill No. 67. Hopefully, maybe, the minister can clarify if this is a window- dressing bill or what this bill is - I'm not sure at this present time. I'll be looking forward to this bill in the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

[Page 1490]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley on an introduction.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to welcome, in the west gallery of the Chamber today, Norman Lawrence from Dartmouth. Norm is the Vice-President of Marketing and Customer Service for Heritage Gas. I would ask Norm to rise and receive a warm welcome from my colleagues. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: I just wanted to rise and make a few comments on this bill. I have some mixed feelings about this - I'm a former employer who employed tradespeople and saw the difficulty we had in getting qualified tradespeople in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is even more difficult in other provinces - I can recall some stories about how electricians were hired in different provinces where they didn't have electricians and basically you showed up and were asked if you had a screwdriver and, yes, you could go to work because there was no one to do the work. Of course they had tradesmen checking the work to make sure everything was done properly.

That's not the way to do business; it certainly isn't. In my area I have a lot of people who have been working in trades since they were very, very young and, for whatever reason, they've never managed to get trade qualifications for the job they do. I hope the intention of the bill is to have an accurate testing system, because I think that's very, very important - although it may be different for every person. Some people may not have very good literacy skills, but are excellent tradespeople in the particular trade they have, and I can think of several examples of that in my area.

There has to be other ways to test them. There was a friend, in a particular trade, who came to me a long time ago and said he was qualified in the U.S. and had been since he was very, very young - I'm in the union, I'm a union worker and have been in Nova Scotia, working here, for 35 years. The Department of Labour came to me the other day and said I'm going to have to quit my job and they're going to have to fire me because I don't have a certification in the trade. I asked, isn't your U.S. certification good? He said no. Isn't your work experience good? He said no, it doesn't count for anything.

So the gentleman didn't want to do a written test, and I didn't ask why. After about a year of fighting with the Department of Labour, they finally decided they would do a practical test. Knowing full well the practical test would be a breeze for him, he did the practical test and, when he was done, the examiner said that it was an awful waste of time for both of them because he did a better job than anyone the examiner had ever seen - and they gave him his provincial papers, which was all he wanted.

If this program can allow that sort of thing to happen, this will be a very positive step for Nova Scotians. I've got a lot of people in my area who are making just above

[Page 1491]

minimum wage - highly skilled tradespeople who just cannot write the exams and do the work. They can do practical tests to do the work to prove that they are proficient, they can get letters from their employers and indicate that they can do what level of work they can work at, they can do everything you need to do to ensure that person is totally qualified, and I think that's very important.

Now let me tell you what difference that will make. If you look at somebody who is working, say, for $10 an hour, has a family and works seasonally, without papers, and they get the work they can get, they can barely survive. That means that their wife has to go to work as well, which is not a problem ever, but it means that the family suffers from the things that most people in Nova Scotia want to have in their lives and do in their lives, such as a good education for their children.

Give that person a qualification in the trade that they are totally qualified to do, all of a sudden they make $25 or $30 an hour, work almost all year-round and have the benefits of the union, or an employer who will help them because they are a very valuable employee to them and, all of a sudden, the problem that family had with too low an income is gone. They are now in the community, supporting the community more, supporting their family more, and it opens doors that they couldn't imagine before that. So that's what we really need to have happen. I understand hopefully this is what this bill is going to do.

Now the question comes in with qualifications. Now qualifications are very, very important in these trades. Number one, if you're not qualified, your employer won't keep you very long. He'll soon terminate your position and ensure that you don't work for him anymore. That really is the major test in these situations. I know in my own business, we ran a complete quality assurance system and we quickly could find out who could do the work and who couldn't. We had a lot of people working there; some people were tradespeople, some were apprentices and some were neither, but they did a very good job and we paid them according to their ability.

I think this bill has some real possibilities. This has to be done, of course, with the trades training people. I have an issue with the trades training that's going on in this province now, which is outside of this issue. I think it's inadequate at the schools and the schools are not training people as well as they should. Probably some of the people you have working in the trades with no papers and who have been doing it for 20 years are better qualified than even some of the people teaching the courses now, when it comes to actually doing the work, and that's what matters. But that's a discussion for another day.

I think this is a good idea, I'm anxious to see what the minister is going to say. I'm anxious to see what's going to come forward in the Law Amendments Committee and any amendments that may be put forward. If we can get some good people, hard-working people who are qualified, with qualifications so they can work in the trade and

[Page 1492]

make the top rate in the trade and join the trade unions, which is very important, if they wish to do so, and make sure they can make a living for their family and work in security for a change, families that maybe have not had the income they could possibly get if they were working in that situation. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words on this bill because, you know, the idea of being able to get your red seal is extremely important and the real reason you see a lot of long-time people who have worked in the trades without the red seal, why we've see the rush to that is probably more evident when you look west to the Athabasca Tar Sands, and you realize that's where so many of our people have gone. That's what we're really doing, we're allowing these to get what's commonly referred to as the interprovincial ticket, and that's what we're looking forward to here.

I think that as with any piece of legislation, it has good aspects and it has bad aspects. The good aspect, I think - I know friends of mine this past winter, one guy I know he is 58, 59 years old, has worked literally throughout North America but was not red sealed and basically was told, if you want to keep going back where the work is, which is Alberta, you need to be red sealed and with your interprovincial ticket. This is a guy back in the early 1960s, and it was not uncommon, he left school early, pursued the apprenticeship part of the trade and worked and basically was, for all intents and purposes, self-taught, but nonetheless moved forward in the trade.

Mr. Speaker, one gentleman I'm speaking off, he's the type of guy, right now he's out in the tar sands and the job they were on, there were over 170 plumbers and pipefitters on that job. It's down to two and he's one of the guys who is still on that job. He's what's referred to as a name hire. Now, in that, and a name hire is in a lot of collective agreements in the building trades that the contractor goes out and says, look, I need so many people from the union hall today and of that there's a percentage that the employer can hand-pick and say for every 10 employees, he's allowed to do a name hire and it would take that employee out of natural rotation. That person could be number 10, or could be number 20, number 50 on the books, but through the name hire he can move up to number one if that's what the employer wants.

We see a lot of that and it's good because it's recognizing people's ability and that's why the employers and the trade unions have bargained that into effect. So you're not just getting what the union hall sends you and there's a balance there.

That works well for us all, Mr. Speaker. What we also see though now with people trying to get red sealed, and this is where I suppose I agree in part with this legislation. This one chap I was just speaking about, he has been out of the school system almost 40 years, more than 40 years actually and, you know, it's pretty hard to get in and, you know, he could plumb any house in this province, but to get that lifted off the

[Page 1493]

page is an entirely different thing. He's intimidated by that although he did, last winter, every Monday and Wednesday he left Lingan, drove to Port Hawkesbury, took the course, and in late April wrote the course and got 90-some in it, so to his credit, but it was very taxing on this guy. His whole home life was disrupted. I mean the guy was just a bundle of nerves for about six months because he knew he could do it, but he was definitely afraid that, you know, a tick of a pencil and he would lose his ability to have an interprovincial ticket.

So that's an aspect, I think, when we look at that good go-forward stuff, but we have to make sure that's tempered properly though with the fact that we don't decide on a whim and this is what this kind of opens up a bit on someone's abilities. Oh, yeah, well, you know, I know this guy, he's not a bad fellow, let's give him his ticket. So we want to make sure that what's in there is that there are criteria there and that the type of test they have to take is one that's substantive, because nobody wants to work next to somebody who is not properly trained for no other reason than the safety perspective.

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, mentioned that. I mean if you're doing scaffolding, you want to make sure that the person who's doing scaffolding is certified in the trade. I guess that's where I kind of disagree and worry about this bill, too, because I'm afraid that without proper standards, what you're going to do is a dumbing down of the trades and that's not the way to do it. It's not to say to people, the dumbing out of the trades.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member I know has no mal intent here but when he starts talking about tradespeople as being dummied down, I've got a big problem with that.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. CORBETT: Confused. (Interruption) What I mean is the overall application of the trade not being there. I didn't talk about a tradesperson being dumb. Mr. Speaker, I have been around tradespeople all my life. I have represented tradespeople from a union perspective and unless, you now, that member - I assume he heard me wrong. When we're talking about dumbing down of the trades, it's simple. What it is, it's taking the overall, we'll say the trade of carpentry, and saying instead of having us all certified as carpenters, what you'll do is you'll take pockets. It's a term that's used in industry all the time. What they'll do is they'll take it and you'll become a framer or you'll become

[Page 1494]

a roofer, or a cement sacker, those type of things. That's what's called dumbing down of the trades, Mr. Speaker.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, again. I can't believe what the honourable member is saying. I cannot believe that he says that a gentleman who does roofing work, who is a professional at what he does is a dummy because (Interruptions) That's what he said, that's what he said, because he said you dummy down the trades and people do pockets of things in the industry. I can tell you, I worked in the industry, and these people are hardworking people, and you might want to talk about the unions and everything else, and I have a great deal of respect for the unions and the training they do and they work they do to make Nova Scotia a stronger place, but you cannot talk about people who work in any trade as being dummied down. That's an insult to the people, the people of Nova Scotia and the people who work in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: That's certainly not a point of order. I understand the member has a difference with the honourable member.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, yet again, I would never, ever knowingly say a disparaging remark about any worker in any trade or any industry in this province.

We're worried that that's what's going to happen here. That's what we'll see about - it's about standards, is right, Mr. Speaker. This is what we want, to see this bill go forward and we want to see it go into the Law Amendments Committee and be really thought out, make sure that everybody is protected here, whether it's the worker or it's the resident who's getting some work done, that these people are all qualified.

Mr. Speaker, that's what we looking forward to going forward. I think, in essence, we agree with doing something different around red seal or interprovincial ticket, these are good things but they have to be tempered with the proper legislation and the proper rules.

I thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker.

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

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to hear the comments from my colleagues. I'm pleased to know that you and I and this government share concerns about quality and about safety in the workplace. The intent of this bill is not to diminish

[Page 1495]

either one of those. In fact, the intent of this bill is to address a couple of situations that were shared by members opposite, specific situations, people these members know. These are people, and there are a limited number of people, workers out in our workforce, who, for whatever reason, have not yet been certified, and who may never get certified if they have to go through a written examination. The proficiency qualification will allow them to be assessed, perhaps with a combination of theory and practice, but it will be a different form of assessment because it will be allowed to be administered and they will be allowed to take that proficiency test without the challenges of language or literacy or whatever may have prevented them from already writing for their certification.

It is a limited number of people, but it will allow that limited number to become qualified with a proficiency certificate and to continue to be engaged in their trade in a meaningful way and a way that pays them for the work they do. I think we need to understand that that is the target population, and that the criteria that they have to meet will in no way jeopardize their qualifications or standards or safety in this province.

I would be pleased to provide any additional information as to the rationale behind it, but I would like to say that the rationale is driven by our interest in providing those workers with an opportunity to get their certification. I look forward to comments and debate at the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 67. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 84.

Bill No. 84 - Wind Turbine Facilities Municipal Taxation Act.

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to stand this afternoon and speak on this legislation because the Province of Nova Scotia and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities both philosophically endorse renewable green energy and have agreed to make a joint effort to support a new industry.

[Page 1496]

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, based on a 2005 Canadian Wind Energy Association report, Nova Scotia did not have a competitive municipal tax regime for wind farms when compared to other Canadian jurisdictions. For example, based on the traditional assessment which is the times tax rate model, the largest wind farm in the province in Pubnico Point, which you would probably be somewhat familiar with, coming from that section of the province, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, was initially facing a potential municipal tax bill of over $400,000.

To make a long story short, the assessment associated with that taxation level was appealed and the result was that the taxes were reduced to less than $100,000 annually. I think it's key that at this point we recognize the very important role the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities has played in the creation of this legislation.

It's legislation that has been put together in consultation with the UNSM, legislation that has been brought to the House at the request of the UNSM, and legislation which has the full endorsement of the UNSM.

In an effort to resolve the situation and avoid a conflict that might have resulted in ongoing court proceedings, the UNSM took the lead in approaching the province and asking the staff at Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations for help. This was, indeed, a very significant move by the UNSM which normally adheres to the principle that assessment times taxation is the proper method for determining municipal tax bills.

I think the UNSM deserves some credit for being flexible when it comes to municipal taxation of the wind energy in this province. I applaud the UNSM because they considered it appropriate to support this fledgling industry at the onset.

At the UNSM's request, our government, through Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, started to bring together major industry to work with the Department of Energy, the UNSM and other stakeholders to reach a consensus on municipal taxation for wind farms. A series of meetings was facilitated by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. We brought together the major producers such as Pubnico Point wind farms, members of the Renewable Energy Industry Association of Nova Scotia, members of the UNSM's renewable energy committee and the Department of Energy.

In September 2006, those meetings resulted in a consensus that is represented in the proposed legislation, an Act Respecting the Municipal Taxation of Wind Turbine Facilities. This legislation is a hybrid, no question. It's a compromise, but it's a compromise that recognizes the fact that municipal units prefer to set taxes based on the assessment of the property multiplied by the local mil rate, or tax rate.

The legislation taxes lands and buildings according to the traditional method. The taxes collected will reflect local municipal tax rates. But, the legislation also recognizes

[Page 1497]

the fact that we didn't have an appropriate method for assessing or taxing wind-generation turbines. That's really nobody's fault, except the fact that the industries are new and nobody really knew how to deal with them. That's why our hybrid model also establishes a fixed rate of taxation for a wind turbine generator that is uniform across the province based on its name plate capacity or, in other words, it's potential to generate electricity.

Mr. Speaker, we are lucky to have people in Nova Scotia who are serving as pioneers of this new industry. They are signing contracts, purchasing land and constructing wind farms. These companies are on the leading edge. They have already signed power purchase agreements with Nova Scotia Power, agreements that last 10, 15 or even 20 years. This legislation recognizes the value of predictability when it comes to planning and operating a business. That is why, as I had previously mentioned, we had come up with a model of taxation that is a hybrid, a model that gives both sides the certainty of knowing what their revenues and their expenses will be.

This legislation is fair to municipal units. It is fair to members of the industry that already have facilities in operation and, more importantly, it is fair to Nova Scotians who deserve cleaner air, a cleaner environment and all of the benefits that flow from clean, green, renewable energy. That is why the Province of Nova Scotia, through the Department of Energy, will provide $1,000 per megawatt subsidy for those with signed agreements for the duration of the contract, up to 20 years. Our government has put its money where its mouth is, we put up $2 million.

Nova Scotia Power Incorporated is also covered under the legislation. They have two prototypes that have been in production for years and they are not subject to the legislation. In the event that they build a wind turbine facility on land they currently own, it will continue to be subject to the legislation. However, if Nova Scotia Power Incorporated buys new land for a wind generation facility, they will fall under this regulation. If Nova Scotia Power erects any new wind turbines, no matter where they are, they will still be taxed under this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important point for the industry and for the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. This bill establishes a level playing field for this new industry, a level playing field that applies to all the players in the industry who provide commercial power to the grid.

Now I want to point out, Mr. Speaker, that this legislation does not cover facilities whose capacity is less than 100 kilowatts. So if you have a small wind turbine on a farm or if you are reducing your personal energy use by having a small turbine, you have nothing to worry about. In the past, small turbines of 100 kilowatts or less have not drawn additional taxation.

[Page 1498]

This legislation maintains that status quo. So what that means, Mr. Speaker, is if you have one of these very small wind power facilities or generators on your farm, it is not subject to taxation. So I would ask the members of this House to seriously consider expediting the passage of this bill. I know the UNSM has met with the caucus representatives to ask for their support. This legislation is worthy of all-Party support because the proposed legislation brings Nova Scotia's tax treatment of wind farms in line with other jurisdictions. In fact, it brings Nova Scotia into the lowest 25 per cent in the country. It represents a consensus supported by the majority. The industry paid a little bit more than it liked. The UNSM accepted a little bit less than they originally wanted, but the two parties agree, rather than let the lawyers fight it out in court, it made more sense to reach an agreement and, in that way, there would be no big winners and no big losers.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is an important first step in encouraging wind energy in Nova Scotia in a manner that is fair to municipalities. I ask the members of this House to support this legislation because the only losers from not passing this legislation will be Nova Scotians who are expecting us to all work together for a cleaner, greener province.

With those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I would move second reading of Bill No. 84.

[3:45 p.m.]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have to echo some of the words the minister said in bringing this bill forward. It is with a great deal of gratitude for the work of the UNSM on this bill - I think everybody should acknowledge that - they were certainly able to put aside some traditional differences they may have with levels of government around assessment and taxation, and saw this bill as a good idea. So I think I'd like to join in with the minister in agreeing that it was due in great part to their understanding.

I think the minister will see some people get up and speak on this bill - but I don't think you'll see any great difference of opinion on this bill - and by and large will be supportive of this bill. Bills like this - the problem doesn't really lie in how we deal with the taxation, it's a matter of how fast we're getting to a greener Nova Scotia, which we'll disagree with the basics of this.

It goes back to the basics of how we tax some utilities. It has been an ongoing struggle for years, of how Nova Scotia Power itself has been taxed, and certain areas, not the least of which is CBRM with the amount of taxation money they say they lose

[Page 1499]

because of how the tax regime around their property tax is working. There's one of the problems. That's why I think we've come up with this type of scheme.

Mr. Speaker, the fact that we are here debating this is good, it's a go-forward type of bill, I would say. But I have to say, in essence, the government itself - and I mentioned it earlier this week in speaking on another bill, that it's one of those bills that does something but it doesn't go right to the core of what's going on. We have a green energy policy that just doesn't move far enough. We see Quebec and Ontario have taken charge with some of their wind energy and some of their producers have been able to get and use the federal, what's called the WHPPE program, and that's fading now, in March 2007. Because we didn't have the proper go-ahead mechanism, some of our producers will be missing out on that. This is causing problems for those people. I think that had we been there earlier to support them on this, we would see more green energy here.

The electricity marketplace group study, I think EMGC, is sitting there; it's a document that has been put forward by experts, but yet the government has put it over to Conserve Nova Scotia, and really, it's kind of idling there. We should be moving forward on that. If we're going to pat ourselves on the back about a go-forward in our green energy, well, that's a prime place to start. We do have enough wind energy and tidal energy to come forward, Mr. Speaker, to allow us to get ourselves off our traditional carbon-based fuels and allow us a cleaner Nova Scotia.

The profits that Nova Scotia Power are making today are, by and large, on the back of the environment of this province. I guess that's one of the reasons I would be in support of this bill, too, because although it's not the big step I would like to see us take, it's edging towards it and it certainly gives a mechanism to allow us to do that. We've really seen nothing around the EMGC and a go-forward.

The amount of pollution we see and pollutants in the air - we were talking, and I forget what the amount of money was the other week, talking about a bagging plant, a bag house at Trenton for that project. We see that the precipitators at Lingan Generating Station are now stalled. It's really kind of like a wonky thing to see. When you drive up Lingan Road, you see this humongous two stacks from Nova Scotia Power, and we know about its polluting capacity, but right next to those two stacks are two huge wind turbines. And if you want to see a juxtaposition of where we're at with technologies, it's right there. Those turbines are owned by Cape Breton Power and they're on-line, they're producing, and those are good. (Interruption) Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources on an introduction.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for allowing me the opportunity to make an introduction. I would like to introduce in the gallery opposite to members of the House somebody who's well-known here in Nova Scotia, the

[Page 1500]

immediate past president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, Richard Cotton. Richie is here today to see the proceedings. (Applause)

I also would like to introduce somebody else familiar to the members in the House. Sitting beside Richie is the Honourable Carolyn Bolivar-Getson. (Laughter) Carolyn is here in the House today to take part in the proceedings and let us all welcome both members. (Applause)

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

MR. CORBETT: I guess that introduction walks the fine line of naming somebody in the House, I guess. But I do welcome the visitors to the gallery, both elected and non-elected.

Mr. Speaker, we really have to move forward at a greater pace than what we are when it comes to renewables because when you see - before I sat down there - the fact of what's happening at Lingan and delaying putting precipitators on those stacks, it's a real concern. It's a very near and dear concern to me because I live just down the road from it, but on the other side of it too is the fact that it's the overall community that it has affected and what it does for our province.

You know, I don't think it's a very good headline. I think earlier today the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage in a resolution talked about where Cape Breton was as a destination as an island and where it stands for tourism. I don't think this helps our overall image when we see it as being one of the largest polluters. So I don't think we need that type, we need more good news items like the minister talked about today as opposed to items such as we're one of the largest polluters.

With that in mind, Mr. Speaker, in essence, we support this bill. I think it's one that, again, I think we have to thank our colleagues in UNSM for maybe, as I said earlier, putting aside some traditional differences and moving forward to get this done. I know nobody at any government level really wants to let anybody else cut a hedge in on their taxes or, you know, their ability to collect them, but these folks were big enough to do that and that's really grateful. So, hopefully, this bill goes forward and we will, in earnest, work towards a greener Nova Scotia.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased today to rise to say a few words about Bill No. 84, the Wind Turbine Facilities Municipal Taxation Act. One thing is good about this bill - I'll start with that - and that is that we know the UNSM has sat down and earnestly looked at the issue of taxation and has come to a compromise with some of the industry participants, and perhaps the largest industry participant.

[Page 1501]

So I think that needs to be recognized and, you know, I'm glad to see them talking and not in the courts, which is where they had been, and where they will probably go again if there is not some sort of certainty around this. The mechanisms that they've chosen and the way that the government has brought forward this bill, introducing some new ways to tax property essentially, which is the basis of municipal taxation - a property-based assessment of the value of the land and the buildings and then multiplying it by the rate set by the council and you come up with how much property tax you should pay.

They have now introduced in this bill a whole new concept. It's a new model and it was referenced in the bill briefing when the president of the UNSM spoke about this. Basically, what they've done now is say that we have a formula that will include in it the production capacity of these wind farms and taxation will be based on their production capacity. The way it is being said is based on a per kilowatt hour on the nameplate of the equipment, the maximum output that that equipment can produce is what will be the basis for the taxation. That introduces a lot of issues around other industries and perhaps precedents that could be set. So for that reason, I feel that today, on second reading, there are just a few of these points that I would like to raise that to me are red flags and that perhaps call for some amendment as we move through the process.

I agree that we need some certainty and predictability around municipal tax. My question is just whether or not it's right to change the whole basis of the tax. In the time that I've sat here as MLA and been a participant in the Legislature, I have had a number of occasions to see HRM or the UNSM come and criticize the government for changing the basis of taxation. One was the issue around the Imperial Oil site in Eastern Passage, and the government intervened to lower tax in that case. The HRM and the UNSM criticized it, saying that was basically toying and making special exceptions for the basis of all property tax, which is the major source of revenue for any municipality.

So I feel there is an inconsistency here that we would now embrace a brand new kind of taxation for wind power and set a precedent across this province. I think, as well, we need to look at what is really the goal here in Nova Scotia; the goal is to increase green energy and to increase wind power. In order to do that, we need to tear down the barriers and the obstacles that have been identified, and they are many. Municipal tax was one, but there are other obstacles as well that face expansion of green power and wind power in this province. What we really want to do is see those barriers taken down. That is a primary concern that I have, Mr. Speaker, how can we become a really green province? To suggest that we have big players and that we are well on our way to having any kind of large green industry or energy is really quite foolish because we're nowhere near it.

At present, in Nova Scotia, we produce roughly in total about 100 megawatts of renewable wind energy every year. That's not a lot. It is enough to power quite a few homes, I think we said about - I'm not sure how many homes it is but it is significant in

[Page 1502]

some ways but it is only a drop in the bucket. We have talked about Nova Scotia Power, which has the monopoly on power in this province, and they are one of the world's or one of the country's largest polluters. We want to see them be perhaps encouraged - I won't say pushed - but encouraged to do more, encouraged to open up and embrace other forms of energy. I think they will, but they also need a little bit of encouragement from our government because we're just nowhere on the map of being a province that is a leader in green energy.

I think Nova Scotians have an appetite and a will and a desire for their legislators and their leaders - civic leader, provincial and federal - to do more and to put us on the map in this regard. I think they want to see more action. This is a very small barrier that we are working on right here, which is the municipal taxation.

Now, as the minister said, we had been at the very high end of municipal taxation, in fact off the scale, Mr. Speaker, in terms of our comparison with other provinces. This agreement, as it has been worked out, will bring us down, and we are told that it's going to bring us into the lowest quarter. Perhaps we'll be in the lowest 25 per cent, compared to other provinces, for municipal taxation, so that's better. But when the minister talks about a win-win situation, my concern is that it may be a win for the current participants in this industry, it may be a win for Nova Scotia Power, it may be a win for the municipalities that are, of course, looking for more revenue when anything goes on in their area. But is it a win for green energy and is it a win for the people of Nova Scotia?

[4:00 p.m.]

That's where I question this whole scheme, the word that was used most recently by the previous speaker. I don't think that this new model of taxation is really in the best interests of Nova Scotians. It certainly isn't going to do a lot to propel us into the future as green energy winners because we're setting up a two-tier system, really. We're saying is, we're setting up a two tier system and I appreciate your waiting for me to get myself organized.

I believe it's wrong to have two levels of taxation for people engaged in the same industry. What we'll have under this system is those who are currently involved in the industry or have a contract with Nova Scotia Power will get one preferential rate. I suggest it's a subsidy because the government has committed to pay $1,000 per megawatt hour per capacity of everyone of those existing contracts with Nova Scotia Power. They will go for 15 to 20 years, I think the longest are 20 years.

That will give, basically, a benefit to those who are currently engaged or have a contract with Nova Scotia Power, but how is that opening up our industry to expand beyond this current level that I said is already just a small step? We're only producing 100 megawatt hours at present, 100 megawatts of renewable wind energy each year. So,

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really, we're not creating an environment or setting up a regulatory system that's going to encourage new entrants.

What we should be doing is coming up with incentives. We should be coming up with ways to encourage newcomers because there is a big up front cost and there are a lot of uncertainties, as the minister has pointed out. He pointed out the uncertainty that the original participants had in entering this business. The only one he mentioned was because of the municipal tax, which was an unknown because this was a new industry.

What I'd like to suggest as well is, there are a lot of other variables that anybody who's about to undertake this sort of business would have to look at. Each site the companies go to, they have to measure the wind capacity in different locations and different properties. That's one of the unknowns, because there are some places that are obviously better than others. That is actually an advantage for the people who are currently in the industry because they know what kind of capacity they will get from their various sites. Therefore, they have less risk as they add capacity to those sites. I just question whether the municipal tax uncertainty was perhaps one of the larger ones. There are a lot of other risks that a newcomer takes as they enter this business.

Essentially then, my concerns are that it discriminates against newcomers, new entrants to this business, who want to make a huge investment and try to expand the green energy that we have in Nova Scotia. Secondly, that we're introducing a new model or formula for municipal taxation, which doesn't exist for any other industry. I think that is really a concerning precedent, if I was another type of industry I might be concerned about that.

There's more information I'd like to get - I'd like to know what municipal services do these wind farms actually use? I mean, they don't need garbage disposal, they don't probably need to have their roads plowed right to their door everyday. They're not really a big cost to any municipality. If they come and set up lots of these windmills, they're not going to be using very many municipal services. I question, really, who's really winning in this situation? I think the municipalities, obviously, see it as a new way to raise money.

But, I wonder if they're being fair as well. In the grander scheme of where we should be going in this province, it's cutting down on our pollution, having cleaner air, healthier people and relying less on coal fired energy and more on green sources of energy.

So, those are my main things. It's the two-tier level of taxation, it's the fact we're setting a precedent with a new kind of formula and that we're discouraging new entrants to the industry. Those are my concerns, but I certainly, at this point, am anxious to see this go to the Law Amendments and to hear directly from stakeholders and we'll see where we go from there. With that being said, I thank you very much.

[Page 1504]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, we find ourselves involved in a debate that's informed and focused. More importantly, the speakers so far have agreed that what we're discussing is how to transform one important sector of the Nova Scotia economy, the energy sector, onto a more sustainable basis.

Let me start by expressing my gratitude to the honourable minister. My gratitude is for the clarity of his statement. I think it was a model of the kind of ministerial statement at second reading that we should expect. It was comprehensive, it explained the bill, it explained the origins of the bill, it engaged with the policy issues, it helped members focus their attention on what it is that was being presented to them. I hope we see many more such speeches at second reading from ministers.

That said, I think we have to understand that this bill is also a bill that is basically just about implementing a deal. Now that's not an inconsiderable fact. It's a reasonable accomplishment, it's something that is clearly desired by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. They seem to have arrived at this deal with the blessing of the relevant department and with the participation of the immediately affected generators of wind energy.

Now that's fine so far as it goes, but I certainly find myself agreeing with those other speakers who have identified the difficulty here as being one that we have to ask ourselves whether, really, we're engaged in a measure that is ultimately going to drive us in any aggressive way towards transformation of this sector. We have to wonder whether the municipal tax situation has really been the barrier. We're almost left with the suggestion that it has been, that somehow the municipal taxes for wind farms, existing or proposed, have been what it is that has kept us from moving ahead in any aggressive way towards transformation, towards renewables as the basis for our electricity. I have to say that isn't the case. It just plain is not the case.

What have been the most potent problems have been the existence of a monopoly utility, and there has also been the absence of a framework of government policy on energy that positively encourages transformation towards renewables in the electricity sector. Compared with those two factors, I would say that the tax situation is of relatively minor importance. It's not that the question doesn't have to be addressed; of course it has to be addressed. As other members have said, we know there's a long history of complications when it comes to working out what should be the tax regime for our electricity generators.

The question I would ask the minister to think about is what precedent are we setting for all other generators of electricity by sustainable means in the future? I wonder if the minister has thought about what will happen when we're looking at other forms of renewable energy. What about tidal? What about wave? What about solar? What

[Page 1505]

happens when we reach the stage when a large proportion, perhaps someday all, of our electricity is generated by renewables? Is the minister proposing to be subsidizing the municipal tax obligations of these various facilities to the tune of $1,000 per kilowatt? I beg your pardon, the minister has corrected me, as he's corrected one of the other speakers - megawatt, of course it's megawatt.

The point is, this is going to be expensive, and it's going to be expensive if, as this bill invites us, we already have in place a deal for some of the generators in which the promise is that it goes on for 15 and 20 years, as I'm sure we're going to find that each of those other entities is going to come along and ask for similar treatment. Now let me just, as a brief aside, Mr. Speaker, point out what might have struck some members as an anomaly. They may say to themselves, well, wait a minute, if we have wind and wave generation facilities, they're not going to be paying municipal taxes, they're going to be out there in the Bay of Fundy, they're going to be out there in the water, and municipal tax implications just plain won't arise. But you know what? That's not so obvious.

The minister will know that there is research going on in the Department of Energy right now on the question of legal jurisdiction over the Bay of Fundy. Who has legal jurisdiction over the Bay of Fundy? Actually, there does seem to be - and I have to say this was a surprise to me when I read of it and learned of it not so long ago - some implication that there may actually be provincial jurisdiction between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick over the Bay of Fundy. If that happens, if that's the case, then municipalities that are adjacent to the waters may begin to think, again, and very intensively and in a focused way, about where exactly their municipal boundaries go. We already know it's possible for some municipalities to tax some water lots. There may be a point of entree there.

So, although these legal questions are not resolved, they're out there. I urge the minister to think about this. Even if it turns out that there is no municipal jurisdiction over, say, the Bay of Fundy, there are going to be onshore facilities. So the issue is going to arise. If the way in which the formula is arrived at has to do with the generating capacity of the facilities, then, indeed, similar questions are going to arise in the future for quite a number of facilities.

So that's the problem about precedent value, and the question of how it is that this might play out. What this leads me to is the conclusion that this issue will be back in front of the floor of this Legislature at some point in the not too distant future. I hope that what happens is that the framework is put in place in a comprehensive way, rather than, as this is, after the fact when the parties have actually started to argue and appeal and take each other to court. It's always much more desirable to anticipate potential clashes and to decide as much as possible, without being in the midst of an active dispute, what the policy ought to be.

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Recognizing these points, I still want to go back to the main problem with energy, particularly electricity policy in Nova Scotia. It isn't the tax situation, it isn't the municipal tax situation. It does have to do with whether government is going to wholeheartedly embrace a policy that says to us, let us move enthusiastically, wholeheartedly, aggressively towards a sustainable basis for the energy sector. So far, I don't see it. So far, this continues to be one of the major problems of our time, and one of the major avoidances by this government.

We can't continue to let month after month and year after year go by without beginning to engage with this problem, without moving much more quickly to engage with these problems. They won't go away. We will never be in a position to say, we didn't know what the consequences of our inaction were. We knew. We always knew. The information has been in front of us. If we continue to hesitate, if the government in particular continues to hesitate, we're left wondering what it's waiting for. Is it waiting for better scientific information, better scientific evidence? Are the government still doubters on the science of global climate change? If so, they ought to say so, and we could have a scientific debate. If they're not doubters about the science, then why don't they tell us what they're worried about? Are they worried about how to deal with the existing electrical monopoly? That's a fair point, but we ought to debate that.

[4:15 p.m.]

The government should put out a research paper, bring forward a bill, start round table discussions, open up the issues - but become engaged. If it's not the position of the monopoly electrical utility, if it's not financial market issues, perhaps it has to do with the fate, the ultimate fate, of the existing generating stations.

I can understand that. That's a serious policy question; that's something that should be debated here on the floor of this Legislature, and undoubtedly will be at some point. But the debate has to start, the government has to get the ball rolling here. If they don't, what will ultimately happen is that in other jurisdictions, the transformation will take place. In other jurisdictions, the technology will be developed. In other jurisdictions, the economic models will be developed. In other jurisdictions, steps will be taken, and are being taken, that will have implications here. We will be, not as we're sometimes described, price takers - in this case we will be policy takers.

Everyone else will have moved ahead beyond us and at some point we'll be left to say, okay, whatever has been done in Ontario, in Vermont, in California, we will at last - the last in North America perhaps - finally do it ourselves. That is a policy mistake. We don't have to be put in that position, but we're putting ourselves in that position by failing to move quickly.

There will also be economic consequences - let's be clear - because if we are policy takers, what that will mean is that the technology will be developed somewhere

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else and we'll be buyers of it. We'll be buying our electricity from somewhere else - someone else will be manufacturing the solar panels, the wind turbines, the wave and wind generating machines. Someone else will be doing that. We'll be buying that technology and the dollars will be going out of our province. The scientific expertise will not be developed here - it will be developed somewhere else and we'll just pay for it. That is not a happy legacy.

So I put this to the minister not just on the basis of a question of dealing with the atmosphere or dealing with global climate change, I put to him if he can't identify with those concerns, on the basis of the future economics of our province, surely, surely his government can identify with that. Surely his government can understand that if you don't get ahead of the wave, it's just going to come crashing over you.

There is an inevitability in the transformation. One of the good things about having been schooled, as I have been and others of us here have been, for decades in the environmental movement is that we know the transformation to a sustainable basis is going to occur - it's not a question of whether it's going to occur, it's going to occur. It'll occur in agriculture and in mining, and in fishing, and in forestry, and in how we organize our communities - be they cities or towns - and it'll happen in energy. It's not a question of whether it's going to happen - it's going to happen.

What we've been saying is we should make it happen at a much more rapid pace and be in control of it and drive that agenda, move along with it, move it aggressively so that it doesn't swamp us. If we're lucky, as a result of our inaction, it will swamp us economically. If we're unlucky, it'll swamp us physically, literally, through rising sea levels, through the poisoning of our life support systems, and through other disasters we perhaps have not yet managed to figure out.

But, it will happen. Transformation will occur. The issue is whether we do it in a timely and organized and anticipatory fashion - and so far there is very little evidence that this government is thinking along those lines. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise for a few minutes to speak on Bill No. 84. It's a bill of compromise, it's a bill, I think, of the businesses being walked into a corner, and the minister already said a tax bill of $400,000 a year is totally, to say the least, outrageous. I can understand why a company would go to court to see if they could get this resolved.

Now, when you look at this as setting precedent in the ways municipalities can tax people, as some of my colleagues have already said, that is a dangerous new precedent, as well. As a former councillor, I can appreciate the municipalities wanting to get the maximum revenue they can for the municipalities to do the projects that their

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citizens request and require, and good levels of services. However, I think the whole point on this bill has been missed. If you're going to run a successful province, a province that's going to prosper and grow and keep people employed and be a healthy province, we're going to have to, eventually - and there's been no real drive from this government - move forward to renewable energy.

If you're going to set a business up in an area, there's several things you look for, and a couple of those things are, number one, low taxes. This is definitely not a low tax situation, either from the municipality or the province. The province's taxes, from what I understand on wind turbines, is very high. Low cost of energy to work with - hopefully the wind generation system will be more stable and give you low cost, you're not tied into the world energy costs that are beyond our control in Nova Scotia. Also, a healthy place to live. So it makes a lot of sense to put in renewable energy, such as windmills, solar panels, and the list goes on, anything that can be done, done safely, and environmentally safely.

Now if you look at this bill, I think we have some major problems with the context of it. You just go and you look at - for instance in the bill, the municipalities are soon going to take over assessments. So, in one of the sections of the bill, it determines that the percentage received by each municipality and the director's decision is final. There's not even an appeal process for taxation. That probably will be challenged in court, and should be. If it passes here, hopefully it will be amended and taken out of there.

When you really look at the need in this province for low-cost energy and clean energy, we have Nova Scotia Power, one of the worst polluters in North America, and here we are trying to promote things like wind turbines and other renewable energy, and you have the cost of the municipality taxes way too high. That's only one small part of it. When you're putting a business plan together to run an operation, you have to look at your capital costs, your ongoing costs, your maintenance costs, and the list goes on and on; you factor all those things in. So you take a half a per cent here and a half a per cent there on your total cost and, all of a sudden, you have a situation that you just cannot make any money. If you don't make any money at the proposition, all of a sudden it's not worthwhile going into renewable energy.

I think we have to promote renewable energy, and I believe there are some countries in the world that are already way ahead of us and have a substantial amount of renewable energy, and their economies are reflecting that. It has lower cost, so people are moving there to set businesses up and to work and do things. This, I don't believe, is doing anything at all to help that situation. I think that the municipalities do deserve to get some taxes out of this, although even the service the municipality has to provide, if you look at service given for the tax rate that you pay, the municipality is not going to have to provide very many services for these facilities once they're set up.

[Page 1509]

Once you get these things in place, it's very little cost to the municipality to maintain them. They don't need sidewalks, they don't need curbs, they might need a washroom on site that would be used seldom. If you look through the bill here, even if your turbine isn't working, if it's under a major repair or a maintenance agreement, it should be noted that they still have to pay tax on it. So you may have your system torn down for a couple of years, doing a major repair for something catastrophic that happens to the generators, and you still pay the taxes on it, and that's not acceptable. Then at the time, when the business needs a break to make sure they can get the repairs done, which could be very, very expensive, they're still paying property taxes on this. It just doesn't make any sense. The only time it's not being taxed is to tear the thing down and that's an expensive proposition. So nobody's going to tear it down to repair it and then put it back up again, once these things are in place, because they are very expensive to install.

So I think this bill has to be really carefully reviewed. My colleagues in the NDP and my colleague from our Party, have made very good representations on this and we've got to move towards renewable energy in this province. We are giving our natural gas away and we don't have enough resources here to do it. We've got coal here that we have to stop using unless we put in place the proper scrubbing and safety equipment, which isn't in place.

We've got to move towards renewable energy so we can get people to work in this province, so we can stop the outflow of young people to Ontario, Alberta, and all the other places they go for better paying jobs, places that have lower energy costs, and think a little bit more forward than we do. I think it's time that we start doing this stuff and we do it in a way that we're aggressively doing it. We aggressively go after green power. We go after windmills, we go after solar energy and all the other things that are possible in this province.

A recent report from the David Suzuki Foundation says we are one of the best places in North America for windmills. It's an incredible statement and it also goes on to say we're missing the boat. No wonder we're missing the boat. If you tax things to death, both provincially and municipally, all of a sudden you get a situation that nobody possibly wants to invest in. These are huge investments up front for a long time and then, on the other hand, they're throttled because they can't sell the product at the end at a price that could possibly generate enough revenue to pay for them. So if you invest several million dollars in a program, you're held down at the top end on what you can charge for your product and on the bottom end you've got taxes that are killing you. So very soon you get into an untenable situation and you can't operate any more.

The idea of this is to make energy less expensive than it has been in the past. Now we're at the mercy of Nova Scotia Power for what our rates are and until we get renewable energy, and energy in the system that is long-term stable in cost, and that's what these things can do. The municipality would have been a lot smarter if they had gone to the wind- generating people and said, look, the most valuable thing you've got

[Page 1510]

is the energy you're generating. Give us a deal on the energy so we can run our sewer plants with it, our street lights, or whatever the municipality wanted, get a long-term fixed price on low cost energy, and they would do more for their constituents than anything else they could do; because no matter what they do, if they keep the price on these things, they can charge and the tax is high on it, it's never going to put the price of electricity down. Until we get the price of electricity down and can do something to ensure and encourage people to do things and invest in Nova Scotia, our economy is not going to grow. The more we invest in renewable energy, the better off we're going to be.

So I think that we've got to really aggressively look at this. We've got to look at all forms of energy that can ensure in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years time, our energy costs in this province are among the lowest in the country, if not the lowest in the world. Until that happens, the economy here is not going to grow, it's that simple. It's a whole lot cheaper to set a business up in the U.S. than it is in Nova Scotia. It's even cheaper to set a business up in China or one of these other countries that have low cost labour, low cost energy, and all the other things that make business attractive.

I don't want to see that happen in Nova Scotia. I want to see the economy here, I want to see my children and my grandchildren stay in Nova Scotia and make it positive here. I'm sure everyone in this room has the same feeling. Unless we take aggressive steps to make these things happen, it will not happen. You'll see them move away, as many of my friends' families have done, they've moved away and some of my friends have moved, too, because they can go to a place that is more prosperous and work harder and really help the economy of their province.

So I would encourage the government to seriously reconsider this bill, look for serious amendments in it that will indeed help make our energy more friendly, cleaner, make our citizens happier. We've got a health care system that financially is out of control and until we start making our air cleaner, which the turbines will do and renewable energy potentially can do, we're not going to cure that problem. That's not an easy short fix. It could be generations before that problem really shows itself in reduced cost in health care, but these are the things we've got to work towards. I can't see this bill doing any of that, absolutely none of it. It makes it very difficult for the businesses to operate, it makes it very difficult to do anything with the health care because there are not going to be enough of these built to generate enough power to really make a difference. With the people who are already in place, they have a deal in place that the taxpayers are going to subsidize provincially to help the municipalities. I have no problem with the province helping the municipalities at any time but let's do it in a different way. Let's not do it on the backs of renewable energy that should be low-cost, not high-cost.

[4:30 p.m.]

[Page 1511]

So when you put all those things together, I think this bill is sort of a last-ditch attempt by the industry to say well, we went to court and we got away with a $400,000 tax bill that we just couldn't live with, down to something that is a little bit better and now we had better sign on to something here so at least we know what we are up against so that when we do our financial planning for now and in the future, we know what we have to be. I can guarantee you that it will probably stop some of the people in the industry from moving forward with these projects that we need in place now - not in 50 years time, not in 100 years time, we need them now.

This is not happening, they are not setting the environment up to do this and I think it is a shame that that is happening to our province and to the people who are coming after us and it is a step backwards. We need to move forward on these things, we need to move forward on them now. Thank you.

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

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the minister for moving this bill forward to second reading today. I think it is a clear signal to the renewable energy industry that it certainly is a boost to get that industry moving forward and this is welcome news. I know that many in the industry have been pushing for a better taxation regime around wind farms and wind turbines and this is a start to move that forward. So again my congratulations to the minister for bringing this forward.

I know from sitting on the Planning Advisory Committee in my own riding of Queens, for a number of years when we were discussing planning and zoning around wind development in our particular county, it wasn't an easy effort. It wasn't easy to come up with a definition for a wind turbine. It is certainly a different type of industry, certainly a turbine is not similar to our cell phone towers across the province. It is not considered a building necessarily because there is only one trap door in the back of a wind turbine, so coming up with a definition we had to be very clear on what our definition of a wind turbine would look like.

Of course, talking about planning and zoning for turbines was also an interesting task because the site preparation that takes place prior to a wind turbine being erected. It takes a lot of planning, a lot of thought. The wind industry can't just go in to one particular site and say, this is where we're putting up our turbine and we're ready to go the next day. It does take extensive planning, finding the right site. Some site locations are not located close to the grid and so consideration needs to be made for putting roads into some of the particular sites, so there is a lot of that preparation.

When we walk through our own planning and zoning around wind turbines and wind farms, we gave all of those things a lot of consideration. As we move forward, and this is a big step, it certainly is, it is encouraging for the wind industry and I am pleased that so many partners were around that table discussing this tax regime for wind energy.

[Page 1512]

There are so many other challenges facing us in the renewable energy industry and as we move forward, we really need to be, as I said the other day, we need to be aggressively moving forward. Land use and planning is going to be a challenge for a lot of municipalities that haven't already considered what planning and zoning will look like for their counties, should wind move ahead in different parts of the province. Of course some communities will have challenges where folks feel wind turbines don't fit within their community. Kind of the "not in my backyard" syndrome. But I think most consumers are becoming very educated and know the benefits out there with this green, clean power.

Venture capital is a huge issue for the wind industry. It's an expensive start up, for sure. I mentioned just preparation for sites and the cost related to getting sites prepped for a wind turbine. If the industry is looking at a firm, it's a lot more of site prep and site planning, sometimes taking a few years to get that initiative completed, doing all that site work.

Of course, the first thing too is making sure that you have a location that has a good wind regime and so usually a test turbine will go up and sit on a site for a year or so to record the data of the wind regime in that particular area and that costs a lot of money for this business to do that. A test turbine or a data recorder is also a costly venture for start up. Then, some in the industry find their particular test site isn't the best site after all and so again they're starting from scratch and looking for that best site.

Once a good site is located, the costs increase. You have to put in that foundation and the cost of a turbine can really be prohibitive for a lot of people just starting in the industry. Small turbines can run in excess of $2 million, we'll say, for a small turbine. Then there's the queue - the queuing up for a turbine. Unless the company moving forward with wind development has large capital at hand, in order to get their name up on the queue because they have cash on hand, some producers are actually waiting in line for one turbine up to two years. That's a major challenge.

I think we, as representatives for our communities and voices for these types of issues, should really be hopeful that our renewable energy strategy is comprehensive enough that we're looking at all these types of issues - one of them being venture capital. I think what we need to do is be progressive, be very progressive in helping this industry out as much as possible.

One suggestion that I would like to make to this government is the idea of the economic development capacity for renewable energy in our communities. If we look at even decentralizing the way we deliver power. Currently we have all our power transmission lines run basically in one direction. The 5,200 kilometres of transmission lines that I spoke of the other day basically run from Sydney, Truro and Halifax. Those are the heavier duty lines that are all running towards Halifax, which is the largest consumer of energy. Then the smaller gridlines run throughout the rest of the province

[Page 1513]

and the transmission lines designed the way they are designed and the way they're running, don't have the capacity for a real good wind regime to deliver renewable energy.

So, we really need to start talking about what the upgrades to these transmission lines look like. Nova Scotia Power has ownership of those transmission lines, but we need to be talking about the when. When are we going to be seeing these transmission lines upgraded? That's going to be a big concern for this fledgling wind industry so I think we do need to be talking about that and certainly government should be showing leadership in that discussion.

We need to know what government's responsibility is, in terms of those transmission lines. I think those discussions are probably happening somewhere but we need to hear more of those discussions and encourage government to move those discussions forward.

Other problems that the wind industry will face, of course, is the lack of the government's commitment to move forward on all the recommendations as laid out in the document, the Electricity Marketplace Governance Report. The industry has been waiting for a number of years now for that report to be fully adopted. The government did make a commitment in-house to adopt all of the recommendations in that report. Until all of those recommendations are adopted, then it remains a barrier for the wind industry to move along. So we really need to move on that and I would encourage the government to do so and stand up to its commitment.

I want to go back to talking about economic development in communities and especially in rural Nova Scotia, there is so much potential in rural Nova Scotia to really support an industry such as the wind industry. I would encourage all the departments - the Department of Economic Development, the Department of Environment and Labour and certainly the Department of Energy to be working very closely on the economic development that can potentially create a number of jobs in rural Nova Scotia and really help this industry move along.

[4:45 p.m.]

I want to go back to my words around the queuing up for the wind industry and in some cases they are waiting two years for a turbine. We have the potential here in this province to really look at some of the production around the wind turbines. I really firmly believe that it would assist not only in the ability for our many skilled tradespeople to really develop their trades here rather than taking their skills out West but we do have the ability to create that industry.

We should be manufacturing every widget and gidget that is part of a wind turbine. We have the ability to get into the manufacturing of widgets and gidgets for the

[Page 1514]

tidal energy that will hopefully come on-line over the next couple of years. So I think we need to be progressive and look at the economic ability of this new industry and what that can do for rural Nova Scotia. I understand that in some countries, such as Germany and Denmark, the production of turbines can create upwards to, I think there are 45,000 people working in Germany in the wind industry alone. That is a lot of people. I think the manufacturing of one turbine can actually create 11 jobs, I believe, and I may have to go back and look at some of my notes, if anybody would like me to confirm that at any point in time.

We do have the potential here before us to not only move this renewable industry forward, but to look at the economic ability to really sustain some of our rural communities.

I want to talk a bit about sustainability. Certainly the costs up front for a wind producer, it is a lot of money up front but after the turbine is completely paid for, then profits start to happen for that wind industry producer. Certainly that's not a bad thing, I mean we would like to see any person getting involved in any particular business, we like to encourage some profit. I think there is potential for community ownership of some of this resource. I think the wind being that type of resource, that we are not digging it out of the ground, we are not mining for it, we are not drilling for it but it just kind of flows overhead all the time and really that type of resource really belongs to all of us. So I would encourage not only economic sustainability that this industry has the potential for, but also the power for community ownership of their own resources, which brings me back to some of those recommendations.

Recommendation 51 in that EMGC report clearly lays out some framework for renewable energy producers or IPPs to sell directly to consumers. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, here in my place, we really need to be giving Nova Scotia Power a signal and some healthy green clean competition. Sustainable economic development is one reason we need to be aggressively moving forward, and of course clean, green power is something that we all recognize as something that we have to be accountable for, we have to take responsibility for. With that, we really need to aggressively move some of these initiatives forward and remove some of the barriers that will keep us behind the times, as one of my colleagues mentioned earlier. We are behind now in our progression within the renewable energy field. Other countries and other communities across this country are moving forward aggressively in their renewable energy strategies, and we have the potential here to do that as well.

Again, I'd like to say congratulations to the minister, because this is a welcome step in the right direction, and certainly for those in the industry, a most welcome step. I would encourage the minister and the various ministers around the different departments to really get busy and come up with that comprehensive, detailed renewable energy strategy that will further enable this new industry to move forward. We only have 28 turbines here in Nova Scotia; that's not a lot. So many of those turbines are still the

[Page 1515]

test turbines, and it's unclear whether some of those sites will actually develop into bigger wind farm sites. We need to be looking at in-the-fence production of our wind resources. We have many industries that could benefit from that.

So, I support this bill, and I look forward to it moving to the Law Amendments Committee at some point in time at a future date. Again, please take some of my comments seriously. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague, and I want to take a few minutes to add a few further comments. There's an old song that goes, "the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind". I think it was Bob Dylan who sang that. It has a lot of truth in the relevancy of this bill and the potential for wind power here in Nova Scotia.

This bill generally is good, I think, but it has a few things I'll mention as I go along that maybe have some room for improvement. Overall, I'm glad to see it. I'm glad that the government has brought it forward, because I know it has been a real stumbling block to creating more wind turbines, to creating more green energy and more renewable energy here in our province. I'm going to touch on a couple of local wind turbine projects that are in Pictou County, where I come from, that have had some stumbling blocks but nonetheless, there are some good things going on.

I want to touch first of all on the bill itself, and on the taxation structure that is proposed. I think it's a compromise that certainly has been worked out by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. So full credit, certainly to Ken Simpson, Executive Director of UNSM, and to the past president and present executive with that organization, who have worked with the municipalities and worked with the provincial government to come up with a solution here that is feasible and that works for Nova Scotians. Basically the structure of taxation that was there really wasn't fair. It really didn't work for anybody who was interested in setting up a wind turbine or trying to have a business that was competitive. If all their profit went out in property tax, then they're not likely going to continue very long in the industry.

Now, just as an example, I understand in the bill, the new system, property will be assessed on their land and their buildings at the regular rate. I know in Pictou County that's at 79 cents per $100, a very reasonable rate, and it will allow a wind turbine business to be taxed on those structures but not on their machinery. So that's certainly where the most value is, is in the multi-million dollars of machinery that they import or bring in mostly from Europe where those items are manufactured. In many ways it's hoped that in time those wind turbine parts and machinery pieces will be manufactured here in Canada and let's hope right here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 1516]

The proposal is that wind businesses that are already operating will pay $4,500 per year per megawatt and for new wind farms coming online, they would pay $5,500 per year per megawatt. Then the province - again this is the proposal in the bill - would pay $1,000 per megawatt to municipalities up to a maximum of $100,000. So that's the proposed tax structure and it's going to be much better than what we have right now.

Mr. Speaker, I want to mention that the system that's in place right now, we're just not competitive. We're just not being fair to the individuals or the entrepreneurs who want to set up a wind farm and, just as an example, here in Nova Scotia, if somebody were to own a 20-megawatt farm, under the present structure they would pay somewhere around close to $700,000 annual tax on a 20-megawatt farm. It actually can run from $505,000 to $803,000 but the average would be pretty close to $700,000 per year. In the Province of Alberta they pay a little less than $500,000. In Saskatchewan, they pay about $330,000 on the same 20-megawatt wind farm. In Manitoba it would be around $314,000 but, here's the big kicker, in the Province of Ontario, somewhere around $42,000 a year is all they're paying at the present time for a 20-megawatt wind farm. So we were nowhere competitive to what was needed to allow for entrepreneurs who want to set up a wind farm and who expect a reasonable profit. So this new legislation will change that and will allow some incentives to individuals, cooperatives and companies that want to get started with a wind farm, and it's going to be much more competitive.

I mentioned a couple of wind projects that are in Pictou County. I've had the pleasure of working with the River John Action Society in that area. A group there, a subcommittee of that project, was trying its best to get a wind energy project set up in the Cape John community pasture. They have worked with government and with community members to try to see what was possible. That group has sort of, I guess, morphed into more conservation measures and other measures in wind energy education. There's another group of private individuals who have sort of picked up the ball there and are proceeding with a wind farm in that area. It's actually going to be called the Wind Energy Nova Scotia Cooperative. Norris Bushell is the primary mover of that project in that area and they're moving forward with an 800-kilowatt project at this time and it will be somewhere in the Cape John area. So this taxation model that's being proposed in this bill should help them as it will help others.

There's also a second wind project I'll mention in Pictou County. It's in the Fitzpatrick Mountain area near Scotsburn. It's actually part of the group, RESL, that have a number of wind turbines around the province. There's one there in operation at this time on Fitzpatrick Mountain.

Again, it's good to see green energy, to see wind power being produced locally. A gentleman by the name of Reuben Burge, is the Pictonian who's working to promote that project in conjunction with RESL. The only difficulty with that is for some of the neighbours there, they find that it's just a little bit too close to their home property and to their house, and there are concerns there around noise. We certainly know this is not

[Page 1517]

the first wind turbine where there's been some difficulties with noise being produced from the machinery. In fact, I think it's in Pubnico where there's a 33 megawatt project down there, I think. There's certainly some noise from time to time. It's audible at times, and at other times you can't hear it. It's sort of that inaudible - just sort of a thumping noise that is bothering people. It's actually called infrasound, and that infrasound is sort of pressure fluctuations at frequencies lower than the human ear can hear. That is causing some problems, especially in foggy weather, where I'm told it's more prevalent or more of problem than in good weather.

Coming back to this Fitzpatrick Mountain project, while it's great to see it and everybody I know is in favour of green energy, there are some problems there around noise, around site line visibility, and I guess the neighbours are especially worried about their property values. If it's perceived or if it's a real concern, will that affect their real estate value in time? Will people want to buy their property if they put it up for sale knowing that it's in a neighbourhood where there's other noise or site difficulties with their properties? That's a concern, whether it's in Pubnico, whether it's in Pictou County, wherever it might be in the province, people do have questions around some of those issues that could affect their property values.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to move on for a minute to talk about the bill again. I understand there are some exceptions in the bill for Nova Scotia Power, that the tax structure will not necessarily apply to them, or they're exempt from a number of these items that I previously mentioned. As we know, Nova Scotia Power pays a much lower rate than the actual taxation at the present time. They actually pay a grant in lieu of taxes. For some municipalities, that's a real problem, and I'm thinking in particular of the Town of Trenton. For years it's been asking for government to review the grant in lieu of taxes structure that is there.

They only get a very small portion of the actual tax. I guess that's why the Town of Trenton would have the highest commercial rate - the property rates in the province, and certainly very high residential rates also. There's something just not right with that tax structure in that a very large industry that's in the town can get away with not paying their fair share of taxes. It hurts the municipality, it hurts all the residents of that area who, in reality, are making up the tax that someone else is not paying. So that's a problem in that situation.

[5:00 p.m.]

The issue I might have in trying to promote renewable energy and trying to be fair to everybody, is that the rate at the present time that power producers receive who come on line - they have to sell it to Nova Scotia Power- the rate is at a kilowatt hour tariff of 6.5 cents. In other provinces, they're paid much more than that if they produce electricity from a wind turbine or solar energy or biodiesel plant or whatever, they're getting a much more competitive rate than 6.5 cents. In fact, in some provinces, I think

[Page 1518]

it's up around 12.5 cents. I'm not saying it needs to be that high, but it has to be fair to the producer and also fair to all of us as consumers.

Under the present system for renewable energy, there's a quota system in that when somebody wants to set up a wind turbine as an independent power producer, then they have to sell it on the grid to Nova Scotia Power - they have no choice. Like the Pubnico set-up now, they have 31 megawatts of power being produced and that is sold back to the system at a locked-in price.

There is another system that is available to many areas of the world that seems to be working quite well, and it might be one that our government here should consider. It is what they call a Standard Offer Contract, or an SOC - I think it has some other names that it is commonly referred to, such things as energy feed-in tariffs or minimum price standard or fixed-price system. Other municipalities in Canada, especially in Ontario, are using that system, and the State of California has Standard Offer Contracts. In fact, in Europe, 84 per cent of renewable energy is coming from this type of arrangement called a Standard Offer Contract.

It allows small producers, it allows farmers, it allows co-ops of various sizes to, really, be guaranteed a price and they know they can go online and if they build it they are going to be able to sell it, but they're not at the mercy, I guess, of the middleman such as Nova Scotia Power. Generally, they can sell directly onto the grid and it doesn't matter if they are producing it from wind or from solar or from tidal. Maybe it is a farmer who has a lot of corn and he is growing a crop and he can get permission to go ahead with a Standard Offer Contract and he knows he is going to be guaranteed a certain price at the end of the day.

So it allows for a guaranteed fair price for the producer, but also balancing it out with a fair price for the consumer. I think it is something that seems to be working in other parts of Canada, other parts of North America, and certainly in countries like Spain and France and Belgium - many of the European countries are into this system of power production, so I would ask perhaps the minister might be able to consider looking at that system as an alternative to what is being proposed here today.

To sum up, Mr. Speaker, I do think that this Bill No. 84 does have a lot of merit. It is sort of a compromise; several groups have come together here to look at a better taxation system, a fairer taxation system that will allow more green energy to be produced in this province. I would ask that the minister and the department might consider some other alternatives around Nova Scotia Power and Standard Offer Contracts as alternatives. So with those few words, I will take my seat, and I look forward to what other members have to say.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 1519]

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am very pleased to stand and support this bill - I think it is a good one. I always like to accentuate the positive, so I would like to begin by paying a compliment, to commend the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and also the Minister of Energy on this issue. I think they are, in fact, shining a little light on the darkness that usually exists on the other side of the House on most issues.

I am very, very pleased that the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities worked on this bill. This gives me some comfort, real comfort, much, much more comfort than if the government had worked on it alone. Having served on two municipal councils, the Municipality of the County of Pictou and also the Municipality of the District of East Hants and having attended the annual meetings of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities for about a dozen years, I have confidence in its leadership. Being an MLA since just June 13th, I don't have the same confidence in a lot of the issues that have been put forward so far by this government.

Anyhow, having said that, anything that leads us to the government's modest goal of 20 per cent clean power, I think is good. I do believe this goal at some point should be moved upward to 50 per cent. I think we need a long-term energy plan and I hope that does come forward. This bill is doubly good from the fact it allows for long-term planning by investors and also allows for taxation for municipalities. I think we are moving in the right direction with this limited bill.

However, in saying that, I think we have to look at Nova Scotia Power Inc., and the monopoly it has in this province. We have to encourage Nova Scotia Power Inc., to come up with agreements that provide for fair returns to those involved in generating power other than itself. I believe that Nova Scotia Power Inc., has to move over a bit and make room and welcome other entities in power generation. I think it has to do that because if it doesn't it will be pushed over and I believe there is the opportunity for Nova Scotia Power Inc., to do something positive at this time.

I'm really excited about more power being generated by wind, but I'm also very elated about some new developments in tidal power. Some new designs, turbines, that are placed at great depths with protections for marine mammals and fish and all kinds of other incorporations into the actual design structure to make these very clean and efficient ways of producing energy for Nova Scotia.

It's my understanding that a prototype would cost about $10 million for a tidal system. I firmly believe we have to look at encouraging that kind of investment and encouraging it in a very orderly and immediate fashion. I look at the $45 million that has been proposed to do an overhaul of the stack at Trenton Works. There is something in the order of $30 million that has been allocated for a bag system to collect the particulate matter that is currently going out in fly ash form. Actually, the area of greatest concern

[Page 1520]

is in the Hillside area, which is part of my riding in Pictou East - Hillside and surrounding area.

Just a while back, at a meeting with Nova Scotia Power Inc., I was told that a system would cost something in the order of $22 million. So, we're now looking at $30 million being allocated and another $15 million for other changes in the structure there, for various refurbishings that are being considered.

So I'm pleased something is being done about the fly ash situation, but I'm also wondering if maybe the life of stack number five, generating station number five could, in fact, be extended but not to the number of years that is being looked at, and perhaps we look at an expenditure of perhaps something in the order of two-thirds, say, of the $45 million that has been earmarked for that and that the corporation use some of the monies that they are looking at to go toward clean energy.

So I asked to be added to the list somewhat at the last minute, after it had been prepared, but I did want to go on record with a few remarks. In conclusion, again, I give support to Bill No. 84. I congratulate the two ministers and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, and I also suggest to Nova Scotia Power Inc. to get ready to share generating capabilities and to work aggressively for both profit but also for the general good of Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members on the opposite side of the House. A number of the comments made about the need to have greener energy and more of it in this province is clearly a priority of this government. This bill helps move that agenda forward. There's no question, the early pioneers in wind farming here in Nova Scotia, to be economically competitive, the arrangement that was reached with the UNSM, the agreement between the UNSM and the producers is a good one and is going to promote that.

We had a visitor in the gallery this afternoon, the former president of the UNSM, who was very instrumental in pushing that. I think all members know that. It's interesting, too, although I was somewhat surprised by some of the comments from the member for Halifax Clayton Park, because her colleague - I believe the next bill that will be called in this House is going to be the bill about the agreement between the Municipality and County of Richmond and Stora Enso, to kind of reach an agreement on a reasonable tax structure that would satisfy both parties. So, we'll see how the Leader of the Liberal Party, when he makes comments about that bill, what he has to say.

[Page 1521]

My colleague, the Minister of Energy, of course, he and his department share responsibility for this legislation, and I think I'm moving it forward on behalf of him as well as my own department. I was interested in the comments of the member for Halifax Chebucto, again, and it's not only wind farming that we're going to have to take a look at. The member for Pictou East talked about tidal power - sorry, the member for Queens, I guess, was talking about tidal power.

[5:15 p.m.]

I've had people in the energy industry talking to me and saying, we have a Halifax Harbour out there, and a massive heat exchanger would do great things. You could harness the energy of the water in the harbour; it's not moving, it's literally the heat that's in that water. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I agree with all of those. Government would agree with all of those who say we have to broaden our horizon. The fossil fuel energy is something, it's a thing of the past. It's not a thing of the past yet, but it will be a thing of the past. We all have to recognize that, whether it's solar or wind or tidal or whatever it happens to be. As a government and as a province, we have to prepare and we have to set conditions so that the entrepreneurs, the creators who get into this thing, it becomes viable for them.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to close now and say I look forward to the comments when this bill gets to the Law Amendments Committee. I say clearly that the UNSM is a very strong supporter of it, and it was compromise, there's no question about that. Both sides, both parties in this issue had to give a little bit, but the end result, I believe, is better for all Nova Scotians and will make a difference in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I will now take my place and ask you to call the vote on second reading of Bill No. 84.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 84. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 5.

Bill No. 5 - Degree Granting Act.

[Page 1522]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to speak on Bill No. 5, an Act to Amend Chapter 123 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Degree Granting Act.

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the minister, her comments, as we entered into the debate on second reading on this bill. I listened with great interest to my colleague, the member for Halifax Citadel, as well as the member for Annapolis from the Liberal caucus. I have to say that as I listened to those three speakers that I got three very different understandings of what this bill was designed to do, and therein I think lies a bit of a problem with this bill.

There seems to be some confusion with respect to what this bill is really driving at, and I don't know that I can add any clarity to it, but I sure can raise some of the questions that need to be, I think, answered and sorted out.

Mr. Speaker, our post-secondary institutions, our universities and our community college are surely some of our most valuable assets, among our strongest assets in this province, and I kind of liked the minister referring to Nova Scotia as Canada's education province. I like to think, I think as many Nova Scotians do, that the fact that we have such great educational institutions is definitely one of the real attractive things about our province and is of great benefit to those of us who hail from this province and those who come here seeking educational opportunities and who often stay and continue to make significant contributions to our province.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, I was a little puzzled, really, in the opening statements from the minister. I know the minister has said in various places at various times different things about the number of educational institutions that we currently have in the Province of Nova Scotia, and if I'm given to understand appropriately, or properly, correctly, what the minister has said, I understand that she has mused, prior to this Legislature coming back in session, earlier in the Fall, that perhaps we have too many educational institutions, post-secondary institutions in the Province of Nova Scotia, and that she would be consulting and thinking about whether or not there was a need for rationalization and a reduction in the number of great post-secondary institutions that we currently enjoy.

Suddenly, Mr. Speaker, we have before us a piece of legislation that appears the minister and her department and government are now contemplating adding to the number of degree-granting institutions in the province. So I don't know, I may not have it right what the minister was driving at some time ago, back earlier in the Fall - but there seems to be a bit of a disconnect here in terms of looking at adding additional degree-granting capacity into the province, at the same time talking about the need, perhaps, for greater efficiency and rationalization in our existing educational institutions.

[Page 1523]

At this stage, Mr. Speaker, I would like to be very clear, on the record, that the rationalization of our existing educational institutions is not really something that I would support and I don't mind associating myself with a number of really excellent educational facilities in the province. I had the privilege of doing my undergraduate degree at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish and every year, I have to say, when the Maclean's report comes out on universities, I'm always very pleased to see the Maritime universities doing so well and I'm always particularly pleased to see my old alma mater in Antigonish leading the pack.

That's not to say, Mr. Speaker, that I don't take some enjoyment in seeing how well some of the other schools in our province do. Acadia, certainly, is an outstanding educational facility, as is Saint Mary's and, indeed, I still hold a position at Dalhousie University. At least, for the time being, I'm still a faculty member at that university, although I am on leave, but I do keep my hand in the day-to-day teaching of at least one course, one elective, each year.

I know that when the minister spoke, she talked about how much education is changing and how the Degree Granting Act has not been seriously overhauled or reviewed in some time. I would say that I would concur with that, it certainly is the case that this is an important piece of legislation that does need some updating and certainly, to keep pace with the realities that are changing so rapidly and, in a way, I think this is a very big challenge and I'm not even sure that legislation is capable of capturing all of the changes that are happening.

One of the things that I have certainly noticed is the growth in what is called distance education. The technology now allows for students to register and do a program, a degree, and pretty much never set foot on the campus where that degree is being offered. I make reference to the social work degree; there is a social work program, a Master's in Social Work Degree offered at Dalhousie University and I think in the graduating class last year there was a young woman who walked across the stage who had come back from Kuwait to receive her degree during the convocation. She had studied entirely in Kuwait and was able to use computer technology and other forms of technology in order to complete her studies. So this certainly represents a significant change in the manner in which university, post-secondary education and indeed, many other programs are currently offered.

I spoke with her mother at that convocation and her mom told me that her daughter's husband was studying medicine. He was in Kuwait, but he was studying at the medical school program with, I think, Columbia University in New York. They had some sort of a partnership/relationship with a university in Kuwait.

This very much reflects the current context in which students are studying all over this province and, indeed, all over the country and elsewhere. It's a very, very fluid situation and there is a lot of discussion and debate in the field of post-secondary

[Page 1524]

education regarding where this will all end and whether the virtual classroom will eventually replace the actual classroom. You never can tell what will happen in the future.

This bill, of course, does not really address some of those really important changes. It's unclear to me, exactly, what the bill does do in terms of addressing the things that are required to facilitate a stronger education system for students in our province.

The bill doesn't do anything to make it easier for students, the affordability of university and community college education or to remove those barriers that we are all very familiar with. As somebody who teaches in that system, I know that it has become harder and harder for students to maintain the quality of their studies when they are trying to hold down one or more part-time jobs. In some cases, trying to hold onto a full-time job and study, sometimes full-time as well. Something has to give and quite often, it's the quality of the learning that is impacted.

I know my colleagues who teach, not only at Dalhousie but at other universities, are very concerned about the difficulties we have in developing very strong learners with the kinds of financial pressures many young people face when they're in those programs.

The minister, in bringing forward this legislation, talked at some length about the fact there are no private universities in Nova Scotia today and that this legislation sets out the mechanisms for new entities to come forward, make application and have a structure they would follow to become established. As far as I can tell, the legislation enables the Cabinet to decide which private universities will set up shop and where and whether or not these new entities would be compatible with the existing, excellent institutions we currently have.

[5:30 p.m.]

I think we would all agree that it's very important to have clear procedures, a clear process, an open and a transparent process with regard to any additional capacity being built into the post-secondary education system.

The question I would have, Mr. Speaker, and I think the question that many of my colleagues here in the NDP caucus have, is whether or not it's wise to give the government - the Cabinet, specifically - the power to make those decisions, or whether those decisions more properly should rest in this Legislature, where there can be a much more open process, one where we get to debate the merits of what is being anticipated and the implications of what is being anticipated. In fact, we have that very, I think, important process called the Law Amendments Committee, where members of the public get to come forward and voice their concerns and make recommendations for how to strengthen what is being proposed.

[Page 1525]

I think I would feel a lot more comfortable with what the minister is attempting to do in this bill if there were provisions in this bill that, in fact, there was a statutory process for the granting of the ability to give degrees to a new institution, a new educational institution. Mr.[Deputy] Speaker, I don't have to tell you - I think you have a very distinguished period of public service in this Chamber with an emphasis on education, and you would very well know that the degree-granting institutions that we currently have in the Province of Nova Scotia grant degrees by virtue of Statutes that create those institutions in this Legislature, and that there is an arm's-length mechanism for allowing any of those universities, for reviewing any of those universities looking at introducing new programs, new degrees into their institutions.

I question, Mr. Speaker, whether or not the bill we have in front of us alters what has been a longstanding practice and an accepted practice and one that we have for a reason, and that reason essentially is to avoid any kind of political interference or pressure or the appearance of any kind of political interference or pressure into the arena of post-secondary educational institutions.

Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, I guess we don't have to go back that far to look at those few instances when governments have decided to tackle what they perceive to be a problem in the post-secondary institution sector, and I think about the elimination of Education departments in schools around the province as the particular incident that comes to mind first for me, and the kind of - and you would remember this, I think you would have been here, probably, when that decision was taken - the kind of turmoil that that probably caused for you, but I think more so the kind of turmoil that that caused in the educational community, and in fact still causes.

We see situations where the Province of Nova Scotia lacks the capacity to educate teachers today for our school system. We see many young people leaving the Province of Nova Scotia and going to Maine to take Education degrees there. We have had presentations in this caucus from very senior school board administrators, in fact from the Tri-County area who have indicated the difficulties they have in securing new teachers, new recruits into their system, and when we as a caucus asked, what is it that we could do, why has this occurred, the answer was, the elimination of departments of Education and that kind of rationalization that went on has come back now to do some real harm in some of the boards around the province.

This is not really, I think, the best way to have the development of degree granting programs done, done by government, done by Cabinet, done in a process where there may be other considerations going on, like cost-cutting, like trying to find a way to balance your budgets. The post-secondary educational institutions - there are many people who believe that these institutions are sort of the institutional settings of the elite, that they have excess capacity and that they spend wildly. I can tell you, having worked in one of these institutions, that we were very frugal and quite often I couldn't find chalk because of the cost-cutting measures, all of the things that we've seen in our school

[Page 1526]

boards, in terms of not having textbooks, not having enough paper for xeroxing, not having the resources to even have heat in our buildings sometimes, certainly exist in these institutions. So not every post-secondary institution and every setting within these educational facilities are flush and plush with lots of dollars.

So I think this is a fallacy, and I think government really meddles in the educational system directly in this way at their own peril. It's not the way to build Nova Scotia's reputation, I think, as the education province. I think we have to have the mechanisms of oversight and government, yes, government, really does have the role and should have the role for regulation, accountability, all of those kinds of things. But the granting of the licence, the charter, however it's going, whatever it's going to be called, to confer degrees in this province, should not be a power that is vested in the Cabinet to decide, but, in fact, it is properly a power that rests in this Legislature, that has rested in this Legislature for many years, since the origins of Dalhousie, I would submit, in all probability it would have been the first institution to have been established through an Act of this Legislature. Mr. Speaker, I see no compelling reason to change a practice that has been established and has seemed to have served us very well for all of these years.

I guess the final thoughts I have with respect to this piece of legislation are around the idea of consultation and the extent to which there was consultation by the department, by the minister, by the government prior to bringing this legislation forward.

I think that this legislation is significant; this legislation can result in new, degree granting institutions operating in our province. As I said, there are people who feel that we currently have a very strong number of degree granting institutions but perhaps we have sort of maxed ourselves out in that regard. So this seems, to me, to be a debate that is worth having. It is a debate that we need to hear from the stakeholders. What do the various players current provide post-secondary education feel about adding additional institutions of higher learning? How does our community college fit into this? What do the various degree granting institutions feel? The faculty associations, have they been consulted with respect to this legislation, and the student groups? Indeed, Mr. Speaker, the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. What do they feel about the addition of additional schools and even private schools?

One of the concerns I have about not only this piece of legislation but a number of bills that have been brought here is what appears to be a lack of consultation with players. I guess we will find out more when and if this bill proceeds to the Law Amendments Committee, Mr. Speaker, because that is an opportunity for people to come and talk about how they perceive the legislation, whether or not they support it, how they might change it or what have you but it also gives us an opportunity to really see the workings of the Department of Education and whether or not consultation was done prior.

[Page 1527]

I listened very carefully to the member for Annapolis when this bill was introduced. I have gone back and read what he had to say in Hansard. I did that because it seemed that his perception of this legislation was that this bill, in fact, was a bill that could prevent the establishment of a private university in the community of Annapolis Royal. I don't know if you heard the interview with the administrator of the Town of Annapolis Royal the other morning on CBC but just before 7:00 a.m. the administrator of the Town of Annapolis Royal was on the radio. She was talking about this college from Vermont, I believe, Vermont being a very interesting and beautiful part of the United States. They have just elected an Independent Socialist representative from Vermont, which is quite interesting. I believe Howard Dean is from Vermont. My colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto says that it was a senator who was interviewed. I heard him on As It Happens, I think last evening, Mr. Speaker. He is a very interesting individual.

So apparently this small college is looking to establish itself in the beautiful community of Annapolis Royal. The town clerk or administrator was saying that they initially are looking at having perhaps 25 students and maybe growing from there. It sounds as if they have really gone down the road quite far with respect to having this occur. I wonder if this legislation is here in front of us today simply to deal with that situation and whether or not that is the most appropriate way to have legislation come forward.

[5:45 p.m.]

Sometimes it's not good to make legislation on the basis of one case. You need to have a broader view of what it is you want your educational system to look like and how you would get there. Perhaps it is a piece of legislation in response to just this one situation and that might account for the confusion around whether this bill really is to put in place a system to facilitate the establishment of new and added degree granting capacity or to prevent it.

What I heard the member for Annapolis say in terms of how he perceived this bill, he saw it as an attempt by the department - or he was raising concerns that this legislation was an attempt by the government and the department- to prevent the community of Annapolis Royal from having this college from Vermont come to their area and set up a private school.

I continue to have questions about what this bill really is attempting to do and also how the minister is going about achieving what it is she says this bill is attempting to do. There is a contradiction in what seems to have been the minister's talking earlier that we already have perhaps too many degree-granting institutions - not that I agree with that point of view, I definitely don't. Certainly, I think there's a contradiction between the minister having said that and now bringing forward a bill that talks about adding more universities. I think the minister owes it to, not just members of this

[Page 1528]

Legislature, but to the good folks who work in our existing educational institutions and the people of the province, to clarify what it is that's on her mind.

Do we have too many degree granting institutions, or not enough? How can she reconcile the position she took not so long ago that she would be consulting and looking at this and then bringing forward a piece of legislation that contemplates adding more degree granting capacity. I find that very confusing. I'm sure other people find it confusing as well.

I think this needs to be articulated a little more clearly. I would appreciate hearing from the minister which it is or how you can reconcile those two seemingly contradictory positions. I also would like to have some clarification with respect to the consultations that occurred, how broadly was their consultation and what was the outcome of those consultations.

Also, I would really ask the minister to think seriously about the power this bill gives to the Cabinet to establish new degree granting programs rather than having that power here in the Legislature where it historically has been and where I would suggest it should remain.

So those are the three key points I would like to emphasize, Mr. Speaker, and with those remarks, I will now take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I see we're fast approaching the end of the time allocated for debate today for this bill so I'll move quickly to the bottom line here. I think the position that we've arrived at here is one of skepticism about the process that is being proposed and the focus is not so much skepticism about private universities per se, although we certainly have a strong element of that in our thinking, our focus is much more on skepticism about the process that's being proposed, and where we've ended up in our discussions is solidly behind a position that says that if any university wants to become established in Nova Scotia, it should come to the Legislature with a proposal. That proposal should be embodied in a bill. That bill should go through the public scrutiny process and if at the end there's approval, then so be it.

Now, this is a proposal that is meant to be responsive to the idea that is embodied in the bill, Bill No. 5, that the minister has brought forward. It also forces us to think about what happens if this bill does not go forward because, of course, there is an existing framework. The existing framework is one that does allow for some measure of the possibility of registration of institutions to grant degrees here. As I understand the minister, what she's proposing is that there be criteria, that the Cabinet adopt criteria, that there be a process of examination there, but our problem is precisely with that process. When we think about the existing framework, we're not satisfied with that

[Page 1529]

either. We say to the government that we should think seriously in this province about moving to a different system. There should be either a complete rewriting of the existing rules about this or the government should simply put on record the fact that it will not use the power that it has right now in order to approve degree granting institutions.

Now, I think this should be seen in a context as well of some worry about the history of the government's Party when it comes to universities. There are, of course, much more serious issues that we have to engage with, but I think we should start with that one because the history here has not necessarily been of the best even given that institutions here, degree granting institutions, exist by way of an Act of the Legislature, individual Acts that focus on each institution. These institutions, we tend to call them public institutions, are very reliant on public money.

Universities have tended to invent in recent years a different term for it. They've tended to say not that they're public institutions but that they are partially publicly funded, or publicly assisted institutions, I think is another phrase that they use. They're clearly indicating that they have some degree of independence and, indeed, universities do have a very great degree of independence as institutions. When we speak up for legislation, we're speaking up for the tradition that has prevailed in Nova Scotia and throughout the country when it comes to degree granting institutions.

My worry has in part to do with recent steps that have been taken in our province to show that the government is not necessarily entirely supportive of degree granting institutions. My colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, mentioned the recent musings of the minister about whether we have too many degree granting institutions in Nova Scotia. Well, this is not the first time that a Tory Government has asked itself that question, and has actually moved on that. I can remember in the summer of 1981, when Terry Donahoe was the Minister of Education, one day in August he announced that a small degree granting institution that existed in Nova Scotia at the time, that had a mandate to give graduate degrees only in education - and it was a tiny institution - he announced that the government was going to cut off funding to it the following month, actually the following week, so he said initially.

This small institution, with I think no more than six or seven faculty, supervised students and was authorized to grant graduate degrees, but exclusively in education. The minister, on the basis of a government decision, simply announced that no more money was coming and the institution was going to close. Now, I know about this. I spent the next six months negotiating severance for the faculty, the terms of closure for the institution, placing students, helping students get placements. Ultimately, the government's decision did go forward, but what was apparent was the high-handedness of this. It wasn't done with public process or input or with the scrutiny of this Legislature. The financial tool was used, and the dictate of the minister prevailed.

[Page 1530]

I see that perhaps we've come to the end of the time for today, Mr. Speaker. I certainly have more to say, so may I therefore move adjournment of debate for now on Bill No. 5.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 5.

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 Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn, to meet on the morrow at 9:00 a.m., to sit until 3:00 p.m. The order of business for tomorrow will be Public Bills for Second Reading and Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit tomorrow between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

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

The motion is carried.

[6:00 p.m.]

We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The Adjournment debate for this evening has been chosen earlier.

"Therefore be it resolved that this government release the Cape Breton public housing asbestos report."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

COM. SERV.: C.B. PUB. HOUSING ASBESTOS REPT. - RELEASE

[Page 1531]

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a very serious matter in my riding and all across the Province of Nova Scotia, asbestos in public housing. The minister, yesterday, tabled a report by Pinchin LeBlanc. I had a copy of that report earlier on. In that report, I'll note that there are some facts that - I've been trying to get the internal report done by Mr. Cyril LeBlanc and David Ryan, which is an internal report that was done and given to the Department of Environment and Labour. The Department of Environment and Labour have since finished their investigation, but one of the members who had done the investigation took seriously ill, had some heart problems and had to go to Toronto. So, I don't know when I'll receive the report on asbestos from the Department of Environment and Labour, but hopefully it will be in the near future.

The problem I have with that one, Mr. Speaker, is asbestos is a very serious carcinogenic material once ingested into the lungs. It causes numerous diseases - lung cancer, mesothelioma - many different illnesses are caused by this disease. The problem I have is that I'm not going to say anything about the integrity of the man who did the internal investigation, Mr. Cyril LeBlanc, but I know, myself, if I was to do something wrong as an MLA and I would have Mr. Dexter tell me to investigate myself for my wrongdoing.

Ultimately Mr. LeBlanc was in charge of housing at the time. He is no longer in charge now, he is the regional co-ordinator for Community Services for eastern Nova Scotia. The thing that goes on is that we have people who are still living in an environment and they go to bed every night and above their beds are: Caution, may cause cancer or lung problems. I don't think it is proper for anybody in today's society to have that hanging over them while they are living there with children, Mr. Speaker.

I'll note something in that report, that the men who are working there for the Island Housing Authority are still working there. Now nobody has ever been held accountable for them having this report. For six months they have had this report in their hands, a letter stating to them the possibility of vermiculite insulation in these units containing actinolite asbestos.

Now nobody has ever been held accountable. These families and these people were living in these units when they were putting in new chimneys, new roofs and this stuff poured all over them. I'll give you one example of Tracey MacNeil, a young lady, a single mother, four children, living in that unit. Her daughter's bedroom is downstairs. The daughter is downstairs and they're cutting holes through the unit and the stuff is pouring out all over the place. It is getting late so the mother tells the men to go home from work and she'll sweep it up. It is everywhere.

Mr. Speaker, they knew about the possibility of this vermiculite containing asbestos in October 2005 and it wasn't made public until I made it public on April 7, 2006. Nobody has ever been held accountable.

[Page 1532]

One thing about asbestos, Mr. Speaker, it takes many, many years to sit in your lungs before it causes medical problems, 10 to 15 years. In this report that the minister tabled yesterday, these procedures meet and for the most part exceed various provincial and federal standards for this type of work, talking about how wonderful a job they did sealing those units up. Again I bring back to the sticker, sealing the units up.

Mr. Speaker, nobody has been held accountable. Nobody in that department has been held accountable. It has been a year, in October of this year over a year. The problem with that report is that they did the test on these units and I'll tell you that 90 per cent of the tests were done on unoccupied units. Why didn't they do the tests when the asbestos was pouring all over the people living in there? Why didn't they do the tests when they had families living in there? They did the tests on these units unoccupied, nobody in there. So how could they get a good reading if there was asbestos?

Some of the tests came back with 1.6 per cent and that is above the standards for asbestos, yet nobody has been held accountable in that department, Mr. Speaker. I'll tell you what the minister said yesterday when she passed in the report, Pinchin LeBlanc: There is obviously a disproportionate amount of unoccupied units compared to occupied units. Had this been a concern to PLEL at the time of requesting a list of units, then we would have made our concerns known.

Even the company that did this report that that minister tabled yesterday has concerns about doing tests on unoccupied units.

I have a gentleman living in a senior's unit, lost 40 pounds; have contractors who worked on those facilities for years and years and have brought this to this department. Mike Gillis, suffering tremendously with lung problems. Nobody has been held accountable. He has done contract work for the housing for almost 20 years and over 14 years or so kept reporting to the housing and he gave a binder to the former minister and asked the minister to look into this. Mr. Speaker, I cannot wait for the day that the Department of Environment and Labour puts that report on that table over there so we all, as Members of the Legislative Assembly, can see what was done to those people, and the department knowing that they were living - they replaced 93 chimneys. They had to cut 93 holes and watch this stuff pour all over the place - 93 holes cut, poured all over the place. Now they are going to say, well, you know, like I had said maybe it is a class action lawsuit, maybe something can be done here but I mean the way asbestos works, it doesn't affect your health until many years down the road.

As a former coke ovens employee who worked in asbestos and knows, this asbestos has to be removed from public housing in the Province of Nova Scotia. But again I will say, and I will repeat myself, nobody has been held accountable in that department for exposing the workers, the people living in those units, to asbestos. Here we are today, in the year 2006 and have nobody accountable, nobody. Exposure, I mean

[Page 1533]

I can think of all the families - people have moved out of there in such numbers because they're afraid.

Yet, yesterday, the minister said that the legal department had said they cannot table that report, the legal department. I thought the people of Cape Breton Nova elected me to protect the health and safety of those people living in Cape Breton Nova, especially the people living in public housing and the people in that whole riding.

My job, as a legislator, is to protect the health and safety of the people I represent in this House. How can I do that when I cannot get a report to know what was in those units and what they were exposed to? How can I best represent the people in this legislature if I can't have a copy of that report so I can report to the people that were affected, affected by such a hazardous material, and I can't look at it? I have to go back to my riding and tell the people I represent that this government will not give me that report. How do I feel when I drive back home and I have to tell them I cannot get that report? I don't know who's going to be held accountable.

Those men that are still working there, working for the same coordinator that had that report, they're still working for him. They have to report to him. They have to report to the safety coordinator. There were interviews done - and I spoke to these people personally - some were interviewed from two to three hours by the Department of Environment and Labour. Yet, we don't have a copy of that.

We don't have the internal report. My concern is for the health and safety of the residents I represent in this Legislature. When I'm denied access to a report that would help me better understand what happened to them and what put those people at risk - that's what my job is to do when I'm an elected official, it is to tell those people. They keep asking me, when is anyone going to be held accountable? Nobody's been held accountable in that department for such a hazardous material being poured all over them - children.

Again, I go back to Tracey MacNeil. I brought this case to the minister's attention, the doctor wants her out of there. She is a single mother, with four kids, a doctor wants her out of there, you know, wants her out of there. But yet, the housing department says if she puts in for a transfer, her new rent will be based on 25 per cent of her salary. This is a woman who's not on community services, this is a woman who works very hard, volunteers at the school breakfast program, coaches the elementary school basketball team and works full time and works lots of overtime. Her kids were exposed, she wants out of there and she can't leave because she'll have to pay 25 per cent of her salary. She wouldn't be able to clothe her kids for the winter. Now we're going to put somebody back on the system because of this?

I find it very difficult, as a member of the Legislative Assembly, to be denied access to a report that's done, completed and I cannot tell my residents who I represent,

[Page 1534]

that I am not allowed to have that report. I am not allowed to have that report, it's very disappointing as a member of this Legislative Assembly. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise to say a few remarks about this particular issue. I want to thank my friend and colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, for bringing this, once again, to the attention of the Legislature. He's been working very hard on this issue because he knows and I know there are many, many problems connected with the units of the Cape Breton Regional Housing Authority in our area.

When I say there are a number of problems, the asbestos problem is only one of the problems they're having down there. They're having a great deal of problem with the units themselves, with substandard conditions in some of them and a slowness to put these units back into adequate working order and livable conditions, I guess, are the words.

You know what? The problem we have with the vast number of people who need good, clean, affordable housing, is the units aren't there. The units aren't there because I don't think there's a will, on behalf of this government, to ensure there are a number of adequate units, units that are free of asbestos, by the way, and units that would be used by the many, many people. I know my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, answers the same number of calls I do - or probably even more - about people looking to get into adequate housing and, at the same time, protecting their safety while they're in that housing.

There doesn't seem to be any interest. I, first of all, don't blame the people who work in the housing business in Cape Breton. The Cape Breton Housing Authority is trying to do its best, I think, with limited amounts of money at its disposal, because I don't think the government considers the provision of affordable housing for people who are low income, and single mothers with children who are desperately trying to find places to live. Now they have the additional problem that if they take a unit in some of the units that the member for Cape Breton Nova describes, then they have to be concerned about their safety and the safety of their children in these units. So it's not only a situation where they're having difficulty getting a unit in the first place.

Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? The housing authority has a system now where they put everybody on a list. If you're down on the list, you have to wait your turn no matter what your circumstances are, and I think there's something fundamentally wrong with that. Nothing is an emergency with them anymore. Nothing is an emergency anymore.

[Page 1535]

It almost seems that the mission statement from this government and its Community Services Department, whom I've had much to say about in the past when I was Community Services Critic and Housing Services Critic, and continue to be frustrated at the way that department has gone from a caring institution, in the past, with social workers running that department to a bean-counter operation that prides itself on saving money on the backs of low-income people in this province.

I think that's tragic, Mr. Speaker, because, right now, this department gave a huge bonus to its deputy minister last year for running a tight ship - rather she should have received a bonus if she could come to this Legislature, through her minister, and tell the people of Nova Scotia that the people are getting adequate housing in Nova Scotia, they're getting adequate amounts of money to live on, and that single mothers and their children are being adequately looked after and not forced into slum housing units.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, the slum housing units in my area are proliferating. They are growing and growing because, guess what, those businessmen, those entrepreneurs know that the units of housing in our area are becoming less and less. The empty units we have are not being fixed up in an expeditious manner so people can get in them. Rather they're saying, if you don't like our housing, go down the street and get a slum housing unit, and here's the problem there. Community Services has a limit on the amount of money they'll pay for rent.

Guess what, again, Mr. Speaker? The slum landlords know what that limit is and they charge $20 or $30 over the limit so the person not only has to pay the maximum amount of money for a substandard unit because they're afraid, some of them, to go into the units that my colleague talked about, but in addition to that they have to dig into their food allowance or their supplementary allowance to pay additional rent in these substandard units. So it's not fair.

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that they don't have an advocate. These people do not have an advocate except for the MLAs in the area, or people who are genuinely concerned about their plight. They can't access any government programs on their own. My colleague knows that, and every other person who deals with people who are encountering Community Services know that, that they just cannot access government programs.

The Community Services Office down in Sydney now is like a fortress. You can't get in there. You can't see any workers. I have no problem with the regional administrator of that department down there except that he does not have a degree in social work. I've always maintained that people who run the Department of Community Services should be social workers, not accountants, not lawyers, like they have here in head office in the Department of Community Services, but social workers. Dr. Fred MacKinnon, if he was alive today would probably drop dead if he knew what was going

[Page 1536]

on in the Department of Community Services today, that people cannot access the programs, they cannot get adequate housing and adequate allowances in order to live.

[6:15 p.m.]

Now, on top of all that, the topic that we're dealing with tonight has them afraid - the ones who are living in there - to say anything about it, afraid to leave because they might not get another unit, and the government is not forthcoming with the answers as to whether or not they're at risk. I think after saying all of the problems that are connected with the people accessing public programs in Community Services and Housing, they still have to worry about if they do get a unit, whether or not they and their children are going to be safe.

The biggest problem that we face in my constituency, and in the constituency of the member for Cape Breton Nova and a lot of the other constituencies around ours that we're familiar with, is dealing with people who need adequate housing, dealing with single mothers on limited incomes who are trying to improve their lot in life, and they're getting no assistance from the Department of Community Services. They're not given any indication that things are going to get better and the waiting lists are growing. I understand today there are 600 on the waiting list, between seniors and people who need affordable housing for their families, and that list is growing, and the units they do have are falling in disrepair.

They're having problems, they're not fixing them up, and, as my colleague said, the answers are not coming from this government. Do you know why, Mr. Speaker? This government does not consider the problem. If you listen to the minister in Question Period, time and time again, answering questions on Community Services, there are no problems. In her mind, there are no problems. That minister will stand in her place and say that they are looking after the people of this province. Well, I can tell you, they are not looking after the people of this province.

People are hurting out there. They're becoming a forgotten group. The unemployment situation in Cape Breton is improving, it's improving right across Nova Scotia, but it's not improving for this group of people. It's not improving for those on fixed incomes who have to depend on community services. Just because the employment numbers drop a couple of points, nobody should be beating their collective chests over there about the fact that everything is all right in Community Services. It isn't. Those people are hurting. We see it, and we hear it, and we live it every day. Most of the calls that I get in my constituency are connected to mothers, with dependent children, looking for housing, looking for adequate monies throughout the month to try to get to the next payday, the next cheque from Community Services. They are literally afraid to death of two things, one, they're not going to be able to provide adequate support for their children, and, if they are lucky enough to get a house or a unit of public housing through

[Page 1537]

the authority, they have to concern themselves with whether or not it's going to be safe. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and to my honourable colleagues across the floor, thank you for the opportunity to speak today on this very important topic, this resolution. Every day the Department of Community Services and the Housing team provide a whole range of housing supports and services. These are programs that help meet the diverse needs of lower income households. We help Nova Scotia families maintain and acquire or rent safe and adequate affordable housing.

Through the housing authorities, we administer more than 20,000 units of social - including public, housing, co-operative housing, non-profit housing, seniors homes and rent supplement units. This includes more than 12,000 rental housing units for families, for seniors, and the rent is based on household income, making homes that are safe and affordable, available for low-income Nova Scotians, and that's something we've done for some time.

This government is very proud of its outstanding work, of the staff in the seven regional housing authorities and housing services offices and throughout Nova Scotia, not just in Cape Breton, all over the Province of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, the honourable members of this House will remember that the discovery of insulation containing asbestos in public housing by the Cape Breton Regional Housing Authority came as a surprise to the Department of Community Services and to this government. You'll also recall that this government acted immediately when this issue first came to light. The Department of Community Services set out to find out exactly what happened. This is why the internal report was requested by the department.

We take the health and the safety of our public housing residents very seriously, Mr. Speaker. I can assure you and the honourable member across that this report was requested with the health and safety of our tenants in mind. We shared the preliminary results of the internal report on May 12, 2006. The preliminary findings identified the following: there seemed to be a lack of understanding of the potential seriousness of the test results, and it appeared that there was a breakdown in communication. People up the line who should have known about this lab report were not informed. This is why we consulted with national and internal environmental experts who have the knowledge and the expertise to provide us with direction and this is why we consulted with the Regional Medical Officer of Health. This is why we shared information from Health Canada and met with the residents, so they could be assured that the Department of Community Services was working with these experts to ensure their homes are safe and secure.

The government hired international environmental consultants Pinchin LeBlanc Environmental Limited. Pinchin LeBlanc released the first part of their report in July

[Page 1538]

2006. That report confirmed that the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority handling the vermiculite insulation exceeded provincial and federal standards. The international experts, the authorities on handling asbestos, have confirmed in their report that the housing authority exceeded provincial and federal standards in the handling. The procedures and materials used for containing the vermiculite, containing the insulation.

Yesterday the Minister of Community Services rose in this House to table a letter from Anne Roberts, the Regional Medical Officer of Health. Mr. Speaker, I would like to read that letter. It reads, "As the Regional Medical Officer for Health for environmental health issues, I want to reiterate that the risk of exposure to vermiculite containing asbestos is extremely low as long as the asbestos is not disturbed." As long as it is not disturbed. "For asbestos to present a problem to people it must be disturbed so that the tiny fibres are released into the air. My review of the Cape Breton Housing Authority's air monitoring test results of the Terraces in Ashby and Whitney Pier areas of Sydney indicate that no fibers were detected in the air. Today the Minister of Community Services has been asked to release . . ."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member would entertain a question at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. PORTER: Certainly.

MR. GOSSE: Well, I would like to ask the member, in his statement that he just said, when they were repairing the roofs and the chimneys and the insulation was pouring out of the holes they were cutting in the roofs, does the member or does the Department of Community Services feel that these residents were exposed?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. PORTER: Thank you for the question. I will take that question back to the minister and she will take the time, I'm sure, to determine that, Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, and get back to you on that.

Continuing on, Mr. Speaker. Today the Minister of Community Services has been asked to release an internal review by the department about vermiculite insulation that contains asbestos in Cape Breton. The Minister of Community Services has said in the House before that, to release this report at this time would be premature. The investigation of the Department of Environment and Labour continues. The Department of Community Services has been advised that this report should not be released while

[Page 1539]

an official investigation continues by another government department that has the power to lay charges.

Furthermore, the Department of Community Services has been advised by Justice lawyers that we must also consider the legal rights of certain individuals who would be identified in this report. We have to ensure that legal rights are not compromised before the conclusion of the formal investigation, Mr. Speaker.

At this point, just to summarize, environmental experts have said that the housing authority took the appropriate steps to address asbestos in public housing. Environmental experts have said that the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority's air monitoring test results indicated that no fibres were detected in the air. Health experts have said that so long as the asbestos is not disturbed, it doesn't pose a health risk.

Mr. Speaker, I know that across this province there are many housing units. My mother actually moved into one recently and she quite enjoys living in this facility. One of the honourable members this evening spoke about the rundown condition - I guess maybe both spoke about the condition of these. What I found, at least in the area that I come from, in the Hants area, in the Valley area of Nova Scotia, the facilities are in quite good shape, and if there are problems they fill out the appropriate paperwork for maintenance and they are managed relatively quickly, actually.

The people who live in these facilities certainly enjoy living in them, there's no question about that. There's great camaraderie, card games, bingos, et cetera, bus trips, entertainment. You never hear them complaining too much about the facilities in general, the only thing they mention is it's not the same as living in their homes that they had been in for many years - but they are quite happy to be there, they enjoy the people who are there, they enjoy having the ability to live in a place, to have the heat and the lights and everything all in one, to be looked after, whether they're on community services or otherwise, or paying their own way. You don't hear people complaining about the facilities where I come from.

I know this isn't just about Cape Breton, and we continue to focus on the issue in Cape Breton. This is not just about the people in Cape Breton, this is about the people in Nova Scotia, and it's important to remember.

Mr. Speaker, speaking with people, again I just want to reiterate that the people, not just in the Valley either, throughout, it doesn't matter where I've been, and I've worked in health care for 17 years, and I've been in many of these facilities, whether it's the Kendall Heights units or the Centennial Apartments or whether they're units in other parts of this province, whether they be in Halifax or they be in Yarmouth or wherever they may be. A lot of these places are in very good shape, even though they are aged, they've been looked after and maintained well.

[Page 1540]

I just want to say in closing, the Department of Community Services and this government take seriously the safety and well-being of the people in Nova Scotia. If there are issues, they will be taken under advisement, they will be looked at seriously, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank all the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's late debate.

The motion for adjournment has been made.

The House stands adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:28 p.m.]

[Page 1541]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 813

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Finance)

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

Whereas the Third Annual Lunenburg County Business Excellence Awards were awarded on October 30, 2006; and

Whereas the Lunenburg County Business Excellence Awards are presented by Lighthouse Publishing Limited to Lunenburg County businesses in recognition of their achievements and contribution to the local economy; and

Whereas Eric, Wanda, and Jason Martell, owners of Inside-Out Cleaning Services Inc., located at Blockhouse, Nova Scotia, have been awarded the 2006 Small Business of the Year Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Eric, Wanda, and Jason Martell of Inside-Out Cleaning Services Inc. on receiving the Lunenburg County Business Excellence Award in the small business category.

RESOLUTION NO. 814

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Finance)

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

Whereas the Third Annual Lunenburg County Business Excellence Awards were awarded on October 30, 2006; and

Whereas the Lunenburg County Business Excellence Awards are presented by Lighthouse Publishing Limited to Lunenburg County businesses in recognition of their achievements and contribution to the local economy; and

Whereas Arol and Marilyn Wentzell, owners of Wentzell's Bottle Recycling, located in New Germany, Nova Scotia, have been awarded the 2006 Entrepreneurial Achievement Award;

[Page 1542]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Arol and Marilyn Wentzell of Wentzell's Bottle Recycling on receiving the Lunenburg County Business Excellence Entrepreneurial Award.

RESOLUTION NO. 815

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Finance)

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

Whereas the Third Annual Lunenburg County Business Excellence Awards were awarded on October 30, 2006; and

Whereas the Lunenburg County Business Excellence Awards are presented by Lighthouse Publishing Limited to Lunenburg County businesses in recognition of their achievements and contribution to the local economy; and

Whereas EADS Composites Atlantic, located in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, have been awarded the 2006 Innovation Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate EADS Composites Atlantic on receiving the Lunenburg County Business Excellence Innovation Award.

RESOLUTION NO. 816

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas Windsor's Aisha Kirumira, representing the Piziquid Aquatic Club, participated in the 2006 Canadian Sprint Canoeing Championships in late August in Regina, Saskatchewan; and

Whereas Aisha participated in the Midget Women's K-4 1000, the Juvenile Women's K-2 200, the Junior Women's K-2 200, the Junior Women's K-4 500, and Open Women's K-4 200 metre races; and

Whereas Aisha went to the nationals with three club members, Melissa Lunn, Lesley Anderson, and Erin Beazley, to compete at the week-long national event;

[Page 1543]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the tremendous endurance shown by Ms. Aisha Kirumira and wish her continued success with all of her future athletic endeavours and educational pursuits.

RESOLUTION NO. 817

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas Windsor's Erin Beazley, representing the Piziquid Aquatic Club, participated in the 2006 Canadian Sprint Canoeing Championships in late August in Regina, Saskatchewan; and

Whereas Erin participated in the Midget Women's K-1 6000, the Midget K-2 Women's 1000, the Midget Women's K-4 1000, the Juvenile Women's K-2 200, the Junior Women's K-2 500, the Junior Women's K-4 500, and Open Women's K-4 200 metre races; and

Whereas Erin participated with three other club members, Melissa Lunn, Lesley Anderson, and Aisha Kirumira at the week-long national event;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the tremendous athletic accomplishments shown by Ms. Erin Beazley and wish her nothing but continued success with all of her future athletic endeavours and educational studies.

RESOLUTION NO. 818

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas Gypsum Mines, Hants County native, Melissa Lunn, was one of four female athletes to represent the Piziquid Aquatic Club at the 2006 Canadian Sprint Canoeing Championships in late August in Regina, Saskatchewan; and

Whereas Melissa participated in the Midget Women's K-2 and K-4 1000, the Juvenile Women's K-2 200, the Junior Women's K-2 and K-4 500, and Open Women's K-4 200 metre races; and

[Page 1544]

Whereas Melissa participated in the nationals in Regina with three Piziquid club members, Aisha Kirumira, Lesley Anderson, and Erin Beazley to compete at the week-long national event;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the outstanding athletic talent demonstrated by Melissa Lunn and wish her continued success with all of her future athletic endeavours and educational studies.

RESOLUTION NO. 819

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 the 2005-06 school year marked the retirement of teachers Margie Lamb, Cheryl Murphy, Vicky Parker, and education assistant Marie Sanford; and

Whereas Somerset and District Elementary School held an open house to thank these educators for the service they have provided; and

Whereas with a combined 110 years of service, Margie, Cheryl, Vicky, and Marie have touched the lives of many students throughout their careers and will certainly be missed by students and staff;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House wish Margie Lamb, Cheryl Murphy, Vicky Parker, and Marie Sanford an enjoyable retirement and best of luck in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 820

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas students, parents and staff of the Tantallon Elementary School spent hours planting flowers around the school grounds; and

Whereas over the summer the plants were dug out of the ground, destroying hundreds of dollars worth of plants and countless hours of work; and

[Page 1545]

Whereas after a story about the plants appeared on the front page of The Masthead News, Vice-Principal Patricia Tupper started to receive phone calls with donations of plants and money to replace and extend the landscaping;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank everyone who made donations to help beautify the grounds and the students and staff who replanted the flowers to grow for seasons to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 821

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas it is that time of the year to start thinking about the holiday season and Christmas trees; and

Whereas in my hometown of New Ross, and all across Lunenburg County, many people are starting the "treeing season" ; and

Whereas Lunenburg County is the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their best wishes to the producers and exporters for another successful, hearty and safe season.

RESOLUTION NO. 822

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas 12-year-old Stuart Whidden of Brookside recently returned from Lyons, France, where he played for Atlantic Canada in the Danone Nations Cup; and

Whereas Stuart was the only person out of 6,000 boys and girls from across Canada who was selected to represent the Maritime Provinces; and

Whereas Canada finished 21st overall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Stuart for this tremendous achievement and wish him all the best in the years to come.

[Page 1546]

RESOLUTION NO. 823

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas on June 25, 2006, members of the oldest Methodist Church in Nova Scotia celebrated their anniversary; and

Whereas the William Black United Church started out as a Methodist Church in 1821; and

Whereas in 1925 it became part of the United Church of Canada, which was formed through the union of Methodist Congregationalists and Presbyterians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the members of the William Black United Church on celebrating its 185th Anniversary, and wish them all the best in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 824

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas Forest Heights Community School is located in Chester Grant; and

Whereas Gary Pico, Erin Gore, Greg Jollymore, and Bryan Mitchell are four talented and dedicated teachers from Forest Heights Community School who, between them, have an accumulative 132 years of teaching experience; and

Whereas these four teachers have decided to retire and will be greatly missed;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish these four teachers much success in their retirement, and thanks for all their years of dedication to their communities.

RESOLUTION NO. 825

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

[Page 1547]

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

Whereas our harbours and fishers are vital to the economic well-being of the whole province; and

Whereas Lunenburg, Queens, and Shelburne Counties are at the heart of one of the most important commercial fisheries in Canada; and

Whereas with a new government in Ottawa the local fight by fishers in southern Nova Scotia for harbour improvements has finally paid off with an announcement made on July 13, 2006, by the local Member of Parliament, Gerald Keddy, to invest $1.3 million for repairs and improvements at seven fishing harbours in Lunenburg, Queens, and Shelburne Counties;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the fishers in Lunenburg, Queens, and Shelburne Counties on receiving a successful conclusion, and Gerald Keddy and his government for their commitment to the fishing industry in South West Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 826

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the Tantallon Tigers is a well- respected team in the Hammonds Plains and Area Mosquito Recreational League; and

Whereas both the Hammonds Plains Jays and the Tantallon Tigers reached the finals with a 3-0 record; and

Whereas the Tigers swept the Jays 14-8 to capture the championship tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Tantallon Tigers on bringing the championship back to Chester-St. Margaret's and wish them success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 827

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

[Page 1548]

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

Whereas on July 14, 2006, Shoreham Village held a barbecue to celebrate and show their appreciation to the dedicated and talented volunteers that make Shoreham Village such a great place; and

Whereas volunteer coordinator, Ann Keith, says that there are more than 100 regulars who routinely make time to visit with and entertain Shoreham's seniors; and

Whereas the volunteers range in age from their 20s to their 80s;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the many volunteers who make Shoreham Village a warm and welcoming home to all residents and visitors alike.

RESOLUTION NO. 828

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the only person surprised that Carmon Schwartz received the title of Citizen of the Year was the winner himself; and

Whereas Mr. Schwartz's history of service to the community is vast, as is his involvement with numerous organizations; and

Whereas Carol Boutilier, President of the Hubbards Lions Club, said that she could not think of anyone more deserving of the award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Carmon Schwartz for receiving the Citizen of the Year Award and wish him good health and happiness in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 829

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

[Page 1549]

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

Whereas the third Lunenburg County Business Excellence Awards were on October 30th at Oak Island Resort and Spa; and

Whereas the Export Achievement Award recognizes a Lunenburg County company that has achieved success through development of new or existing export markets; and

Whereas Dwight Sanders of H.C. Sanders and Sons, earned the nomination for Export Achievement Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dwight Sanders on his well-deserved nomination and wish him all the best in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 830

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas Ms. Armstrong's Grade 3/4 class from Gold River Elementary School is learning about politics and government; and

Whereas the best place to start is right here in the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas earlier today I had the opportunity to host Ms. Armstrong's class here at the Legislature;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Ms. Armstrong's Grade 3/4 class much success in all their future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 831

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

[Page 1550]

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

Whereas St. Margaret's Bay Sailing Club wrapped up their successful Annual Regatta on July 16, 2006; and

Whereas there were more than 175 participants and 153 boats that participated in two days of racing; and

Whereas this regatta helped to provide a tune-up for the much larger North America Laser Championships held a short time later at the club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the St. Margaret's Bay Sailing Club for hosting two great sailing events and wish them good sailing and strong winds in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 832

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the New Ross Masters soccer team is made up of 20 players over the age of 35; and

Whereas the team won the provincial championship for two years running; and

Whereas this year, the New Ross team won the right to represent Nova Scotia in national level play, which was held between October 6th and October 8th on Prince Edward Island;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the team on another great season and wish them continued success in the years of competition to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 833

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

[Page 1551]

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

Whereas 6 years ago, the first Girls Night Out was held in Hubbards as a fundraiser for the local area; and

Whereas now there are 250 women who gather for this event each year; and

Whereas over the past 6 years, more than $20,000 has been raised in support of local initiatives in the Hubbards area;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the organizing committee on a job well done, and the Girls Night Out continues to be a huge success.

RESOLUTION NO. 834

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas three St. Margaret's Bay girls represented Nova Scotia and HRM at the 2006 International Children Games in Thailand on August 23rd; and

Whereas Jenna Currie, Samantha Kohut, and Shannon Chapman are among 20 athletes to attend the games from HRM; and

Whereas this is the third year that the Halifax Regional Municipality has sent young athletes to the games;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these young athletes on such great accomplishments and wish them good luck in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 835

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

[Page 1552]

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

Whereas on August 15, 2006, the Big Bike for Stroke rolled again around Tantallon; and

Whereas this big bike, being 30 feet in length and weighing approximately 2,000 pounds, was pedalled by 30 riders, mostly from Curves in Tantallon; and

Whereas last year, over 50,000 riders in communities from across Canada raised $6.6 million for heart disease;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all the riders of the Tantallon leg on this very important fundraiser.