The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 07-9

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Alfie MacLeod

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

Available on INTERNET at http://www.gov.n s.ca/legislature/HOUSE_BUSINESS/hansard.html


Second Session

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2007

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TIR: Thompson Rd. (Waterville) - Road Restoration,
Mr. L. Glavine 739
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 610, Versteeg, Willy - N.S. Fed. of Agric.: Pres. - Best Wishes,
Hon. B. Taylor 740
Vote - Affirmative 740
Res. 611, Cape Chignecto Prov. Park: Parks Can. Award - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Morse 741
Vote - Affirmative 741
Res. 612, Dal. - Million Dollar Invention Club: First Members - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 741
Vote - Affirmative 742
Res. 613, Bonang, Dr. Lisa: Family Physician of Yr. - Congrats.,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 742
Vote - Affirmative 743
Res. 614, Cheticamp Ground Search & Rescue Team - Anniv. (35th),
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 743
Vote - Affirmative 744
Res. 615, Conserv. N.S./Cdn. Oil Heat Assoc.: Nat. Res. (Can.) Award -
Congrats, Hon. R. Hurlburt 744
Vote - Affirmative 744
Res. 616, Com. Serv. - Disabled Persons: Contribution - Acknowledge,
Hon. J. Streatch 744
Vote - Affirmative 745
Res. 617, Nat. Res. - Conservation Groups: Work - Recognize,
Hon. D. Morse 745
Vote - Affirmative 746
Res. 618, Nordland, Peter - N.S. 55+ Games: Vol. Efforts - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 746
Vote - Affirmative 747
Res. 619, Macdonald, Johna, et al: ExploraVision Awards - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 747
Vote - Affirmative 747
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 63, Oil Refineries and L.N.G. Plants Municipal Taxation Act,
Hon. J. Muir 748
No. 64, Public Prosecutions Act, Mr. D. Dexter 748
No. 65, Revenue Act, Mr. S. McNeil 748
No. 66, Auditor General Act, Mr. G. Steele 748
No. 67, Gasoline Price Watchdog Act, Mr. S. McNeil 748
No. 68, Road Improvements Act, Ms. V. Conrad 748
No. 69, Forests Act, Mr. L. Glavine 748
No. 70, Wildlife Act, Mr. L. Glavine 748^
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 620, Team Hfx. Firefighters: Nat'l. Firefighters Championships -
Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 749
Vote - Affirmative 749
Res. 621, Christmas Seals Campaign: Donations - Encourage,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 750
Vote - Affirmative 750
Res. 622, Hoegg, Madam Justice Lois - NL Supreme Court: Appt. - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Dunn 750
Vote - Affirmative 751
Res. 623, The Voice (2007) - Youth in Care Proj.: Participants - Congrats.,
Ms. J. Massey 751
Vote - Affirmative 752
Res. 624, Penny, Jean - Fundraising: Efforts - Recognize,
Mr. M. Samson 752
Vote - Affirmative 752
Res. 625, St. Clair, Jim: Anna Hamilton Award - Congrats.,
Mr K. Bain 753
Vote - Affirmative 753
Res. 626, Pictou Vol. FD/Pictou Town: Fire Truck Purchase - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Parker 754
Vote - Affirmative 754
Res. 627, Defenders Motorcycle Club: Charitable Efforts - Recognize,
Mr. K. Colwell 754
Vote - Affirmative 755
Res. 628, Currie, Kaitlin: Trampoline & Tumbling Championships - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 755
Vote - Affirmative 756
Res. 629, Health: Paramedics/Health Professionals - Thank,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 756
Vote - Affirmative 757
Res. 630, Clarke, Justin Nicholas: Lt.-Gov.'s Award - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 757
Vote - Affirmative 757
Res. 631, Trenton - Anglican Commun.: Church Loss - Condolences,
Mr. P. Dunn 757
Vote - Affirmative 758
Res. 632, Contact East Conf. - Co-Chair/Members/Organizing Comm.:
Efforts - Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 758
Vote - Affirmative 759
Res. 633, Ryl. N.S. Int'l. Tattoo - Tourism Ind.: Importance - Recognize,
Mr. H. Theriault 759
Vote - Affirmative 760
Res. 634, MacLean, Pauline - Pres. Coun. of N.S. Archives: Leadership -
Applaud, Mr. K. Bain 760
Vote - Affirmative 760
Res. 635, House Concerts: Vision/Generosity - Congrats.,
Ms. M. Raymond 760
Vote - Affirmative 761
Res. 636, Status of Women - Domestic Violence: Elimination - Leg./Progs.
Introduce, Ms. D. Whalen 761
Res. 637, Minas Basin Pulp & Paper: Manufacturing Awards - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 762
Vote - Affirmative 763
Res. 638, Acad. Affs. - Speaker's Office: Acadian Flags - Allotment,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 763
Vote - Affirmative 763
Res. 639, Le Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse - Anniv. (70th),
Mr. W. Gaudet 763
Vote - Affirmative 764
Res. 640, Somebeachsomewhere/Owners: Horse Racing Hist. - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 765
Vote - Affirmative 765
Res. 641, Brannen, Cailey - Locks of Love Prog.: Donation - Congrats.,
Mr. S. Belliveau 765
Vote - Affirmative 766
Res. 642, Risley, Robert - Restaurant Ind.: Achievements - Recognize,
Mr. K. Colwell 766
Vote - Affirmative 767
Res. 643, Aucoin McKim, Ann: Health Advocacy Award, Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 767
Vote - Affirmative 767
Res. 644, Friends of McNabs Island Soc. - Nat. Environ.: Preservation -
Thank, Ms. B. Kent 768
Vote - Affirmative 768
Res. 645, Hike for Health - Organizers: Leadership/Work - Recognize,
Mr. M. Samson 768
Vote - Affirmative 769
Res. 646, Ross, Norman: Tennis Accomplishments - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 769
Vote - Affirmative 770
Res. 647, Trinity United Church - Anniv. (100th),
Mr. G. Gosse 770
Vote - Affirmative 770
Res. 648, Youthscape: Value - Recognize, Mr. L. Glavine 771
Vote - Affirmative 771
Res. 649, Valley Hospice Fdn./Anna. Valley Health - Fundraisers:
Participants - Recognize, Hon. M. Parent 772
Vote - Affirmative 772
Res. 650, Dennis, Graham: Accomplishments - Recognize,
Mr. S. McNeil 772
Vote - Affirmative 773
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 52, Justice - Bill C-25: Gov't. (Can.) - Amendment Urge,
Mr. D. Dexter 773
No. 53, Health: Private Hosp. - Stance, Mr. S. McNeil 775
No. 54, Health Care: Resources - Utilization, Mr. D. Dexter 776
No. 55, Health - Hosp. Beds: Provision - Details, Mr. D. Dexter 777
No. 56, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Relations - Gas Regulation:
Continuation - Explain, Mr. S. McNeil 779
No. 57, Health - Mental Health Patients: Nursing Home Admissions -
Explain, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 780
No. 58, Health: CMHA Meeting - Attendees, Ms. J. Massey 781
No. 59, Fish. & Aquaculture - Ground Fishery: Int'l. Forum -
Details, Mr. H. Theriault 782
No. 60, TIR - C.B. & Cent. N.S. Railway: Right-of-Way
Fees - Details, Mr. G. Gosse 783
No. 61, Environ. & Lbr. - HRM Violence: Discussion Paper -
Status, Mr. K. Colwell 785
No. 62, Health - Brass Hill: Proposed Seniors Home - Status,
Mr. S. Belliveau 786
No. 63, Com. Serv.: Visual Smoke Detectors - Funding,
Ms. M. More 787
No. 64, Nat. Res. - Clear-Cutting: Mgt. Plan - Details,
Mr. L. Glavine 788
No. 65, Com. Serv.: Univ. Attendance: Social Policies - Change,
Mr. T. Zinck 790
No. 66, Energy: Renewable Energy Goals: Legislation - Introduce,
Mr. F. Corbett 791
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
Bill No. 27, Hospitals Act
Hon. C. d'Entremont 792
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 792
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 793
Hon. C. d'Entremont 793
Vote - Affirmative 793
Bill No. 31, Medical Act
Hon. C. d'Entremont 793
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 794
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 795
Hon. C. d'Entremont 795
Vote - Affirmative 795
Bill No. 52, Credit Union Act
Hon. A. MacIsaac 796
Mr. G. Steele 796
Ms. D. Whalen 797
Hon. A. MacIsaac 798
Vote - Affirmative 799
Bill No. 55, Public Service Superannuation Act
Hon. A. MacIsaac 799
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 799
Ms. D. Whalen 800
Hon. A. MacIsaac 801
Vote - Affirmative 802
Bill No. 39, Rental Property Conversion Act
Hon. J. Muir 802
Mr. G. Gosse 803
Ms. D. Whalen 803
Hon. J. Muir 805
Vote - Affirmative 805
Bill No. 41, Municipal Government Act
Hon. J. Muir 805
Ms. B. Kent 806
Ms. D. Whalen 808
Mr. K. Colwell 810
Hon. J. Muir 818
Vote - Affirmative 818
Bill No. 43, Municipal Elections Act
Hon. J. Muir 818
Ms. B. Kent 819
Ms. D. Whalen 820
Mr. G. Steele 823
Mr. K. Colwell 826
Mr. P. Paris 826
Hon. J. Muir 827
Vote - Affirmative 828
Bill No. 45, Companies Act
Hon. J. Muir 828
Ms. B. Kent 830
Mr. D. Whalen 830
Hon. J. Muir 832
Vote - Affirmative 832
Bill No. 49, Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 833
Mr. G. Gosse 834
Mr. L. Glavine 835
Hon. D. Morse 836
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 836
Vote - Affirmative 836
ADJOURNMENT:^
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health: ER Closures - Address,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 837
Hon. C. d'Entremont 840
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 843
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Dec.5th at 2:00 p.m. 846
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 651, Health: Wait Times Reduction Strategy - Commitment Encourage,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 847
Res. 652, Soldiers Mem. Hosp. - Transitional Unit: Health Providers -
Thank, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 847
Res. 653, Fitzgerald, Neil - Nat.'l. Men's Basketball Championship:
Representation - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 848
Res. 654, Jamieson, Darlene: Frances Fish Award, Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 848
Res. 655, Resource Opportunities Ctr.: Innovation Award - Celebrating
Communities Conf., Mr. W. Estabrooks 849
Res. 656, Goreham, Jody - Woods Hbr. FD: Serv. (20 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Mr. S. Belliveau 849
Res. 657, Davis, Gerald "Bear" - Mar. Motorsports Hall of Fame: Induction -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 850
Res. 658, Cloney, Gene: PSC Serv. (35 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 850
Res. 659, Clarke, Gary: Hockey Nova Scotia - Award,
Hon. M. Scott 851
Res. 660, Christie, Don: Excellence in Teaching Award,
Hon. M. Scott 851
Res. 661, Chapman, Wendy - Oxford FD Auxiliary: Serv (15 yrs.) -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 852
Res. 662, Chapman, Joe - Firefighter of Yr.: Oxford FD - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 852
Res. 663, Crowley, Marshall: NSCC Prov. Welding Comp. - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 853
Res. 664, Corrections Services Can. - Serv. (10 Yr. Pin): Recipients -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 853
Res. 665, Corrections Services Can. - Long Serv. Award (15 yrs.):
Recipients - Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 854
Res. 666, Corrections Services Can. - Long Serv. Award (25 yrs.):
Recipients - Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 854
Res. 667, Corrections Services Can. - Long Serv. Award (25 yrs.):
Recipients - Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 855
Res. 668, Corrections Services Can. - Exemplary Serv. Medal:
Recipients - Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 855
Res. 669, Corrections Services Can.: Retirees - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 856
Res. 670, Black, Howard: Correction Services Can. Exemplary Service Bar -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 856
Res. 671, MacLeod, Foster - Corrections Services Can.: Long Serv. Award
(35 yrs.) - Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 857
Res. 672, Midnight Basketball Prog. - Dist. Nine Citizens Assoc./Vols.:
Efforts - Recognize, Mr. T. Zinck 857
Res. 673, Cdn. Prog. Club. (Hfx.-Cornwallis) - Women of Excellence Awards
(Communications & Pub. Affs.): Recipients - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 858
Res. 674, Cdn. Prog. Club (Hfx.-Cornwallis) - Women of Excellence Awards
(Arts & Culture): Recipients - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 858
Res. 675, Cdn. Prog. Club (Hfx.-Cornwallis) - Women of Excellence Awards
(Educ. & Research): Recipients - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 859
Res. 676, Cdn. Prog. Club (Hfx.-Cornwallis) - Women of Excellence Awards
(Entrepreneur/Innovator): Recipients - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 859
Res. 677, Cdn. Prog. Club (Hfx.-Cornwallis) - Women of Excellence Awards
(Health, Sport & Wellness): Recipients - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 860
Res. 678, Cdn. Prog. Club (Hfx.-Cornwallis) - Women of Excellence Awards
(Management & the Professions): Recipients - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 860

[Page 739]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2007

Sixtieth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Alfie MacLeod

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There has been a draw for the late debate tonight and the successful MLA was the member for Richmond:

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government immediately address widespread emergency room closures occurring in several hospitals throughout our province.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to enter a petition with the operative clause:

". . . petitioning for road restoration on Thompson Road, Waterville. This road is in very poor condition resulting in damage to cars, property and the risk of personal injury, for which the home owner can be held responsible for."

There are 84 names on this petition and I have affixed my own.

[Page 740]

739

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 610

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

Whereas since 1895, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture has represented the interests of Nova Scotia's agricultural community; and

Whereas the federation's members account for over 95 per cent of all agricultural production in Nova Scotia and represent 13 county and regional federations, 24 recognized agricultural commodity groups, and brings together over 2,000 individual farm businesses representing all aspects of primary agriculture in the province; and

Whereas this past weekend, producers and people involved with the agriculture industry met at the annual meeting of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture to discuss and plan for the future;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Willy Versteeg, the new President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, all the best in his new position.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 741]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 611

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

Whereas Cape Chignecto Provincial Park received one of the highest honours of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada by being named recipient of the Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award during an awards ceremony in Victoria, British Columbia, on November 5th; and

Whereas Cape Chignecto Provincial Park is the Department of Natural Resources' only back-country camping park; and

Whereas this park is operated by the Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association through its Cape Chignecto Park Management Board;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association and its Cape Chignecto Park Management Board for setting an outstanding example in, and winning national recognition for, its work promoting sustainable tourism.

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 612

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

[Page 742]

Whereas Dalhousie University is a world-class institution for learning and research; and

Whereas Dalhousie has instituted a Million Dollar Invention Club, whose members have earned the university $1 million in royalties from their work; and

Whereas the first members of the club have invented a promising new drug designed to provide long-term relief from chronic pain;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dr. Jana Sawynok, Allison Reid, and Dr. Mike Esser for their innovation and dedication.

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. 613

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 October 8th to October 13th was recognized as Family Doctor Week in Canada and in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Family Doctor Week highlights the vital role family doctors play in the delivery of primary health care, serving patients in health clinics, hospitals, community settings, nursing homes, and in patients' homes; and

Whereas Dr. Lisa Bonang was awarded the distinction of being named Family Physician of the Year 2007-2008 by the Nova Scotia College of Family Physicians for the exceptional level of service and her dedication to the profession, her community, and to Nova Scotia;

[Page 743]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in recognizing the valuable contribution of family doctors to health care in Nova Scotia, and congratulate Dr. Lisa Bonang on her well-deserved honour.

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 Emergency Management.

RESOLUTION NO. 614

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 Nova Scotia is extremely fortunate to have more than 1,000 volunteer ground search and rescue personnel on 24 teams; and

Whereas the Cheticamp Ground Search and Rescue team recently celebrated 35 years of dedicated service to local communities; and

Whereas three team members - Roger Larade, Patrick LeBlanc and Leo LeFort - were each recognized for their 35 years of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the Cheticamp team, and in particular their longest-serving members, for their valuable contribution to public safety.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 744]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister responsible for Conserve Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 615

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

Whereas Conserve Nova Scotia's efforts in promoting energy efficiency has earned the agency a 2007 ENERGY STAR Market Transformation Award from Natural Resources Canada; and

Whereas Conserve Nova Scotia partnered with the Canadian Oil Heat Association on the award-winning Retire Your Furnace program, which offered Nova Scotians rebates on energy efficient oil heating appliances; and

Whereas the program helped more than 3,500 Nova Scotians reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and cut their home heating costs by up to 35 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Conserve Nova Scotia and the Canadian Oil Heat Association for earning the province's national recognition for helping Nova Scotians make energy efficiency a part of their lives.

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 Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 616

[Page 745]

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

Whereas December 3rd was the International Day of Disabled Persons with this year's theme, Decent Work for People with Disabilities; and

Whereas the day promoted an understanding of disability issues and mobilizes support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities; and

Whereas an important component of inclusion is the possibility for persons with disabilities to participate in the labour market to their full potential and this government has delivered labour market programs, including career counselling, campus-based supports, addiction treatments and mental health services, for persons with disabilities for many years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the contribution of persons with disabilities within the Province of Nova Scotia and encourage employers to look to this untapped resource when looking for dedicated, professional workers, and open up more opportunities for people with disabilities in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

[12:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 617

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

Whereas the vast majority of this province of ours is held by private landowners; and

[Page 746]

Whereas groups like Mahone Islands Conservation Association, Nova Scotia Nature Trust, Ducks Unlimited and the local chapter of Nature Conservancy of Canada continue to partner with government and private landowners to develop easements, land donations and conservation agreements; and

Whereas the efforts of conservation groups such as these help Nova Scotians do their part to ensure the preservation and conservation of the landscape, wildlife habitat and active lifestyles that we cherish;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and encourage the good work of conservation groups like MICA, Nova Scotia Nature Trust, Ducks Unlimited and the Nature Conservancy of Canada in helping the province reach its 12 per cent goal of protected spaces by the year 2015.

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 Seniors.

RESOLUTION NO. 618

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 the Nova Scotia 55+ Games Society contributes greatly to keeping older adults active and involved by offering participants of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy friendly games and friendship with others from across the province; and

Whereas research consistently demonstrates that a person's quality of life improves with physical fitness, regardless of age, and hundreds of physically active adults aged 55 and over underscored this fact at the second Nova Scotia 55+ Games held in June of this year in Truro; and

[Page 747]

Whereas Games President Peter Nordland put in considerable effort with his team of dedicated volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and salute the volunteer efforts of Peter Nordland of the Nova Scotia 55+ Games Society and the respective committee members who contributed considerable time, energy and leadership to the successful organizing of the 55+ Games.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 619

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

Whereas the ExploraVision Awards is an international program designed to encourage students to combine their imagination with their knowledge of science and technology; and

Whereas Nova Scotia students have shown once again that they have bright, young minds and the initiative to see their projects through to completion; and

Whereas Johna MacDonald, Athena MacDonald-Jenkins, Madison McMullin and Samantha West, a team of Grade 5 students at Joseph Giles Elementary School in Dartmouth, competed in the ExploraVision Award program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to these award-winning students and their teacher, Nicole Wall.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 748]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 63 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2004. The Oil Refineries and L.N.G. Plants Municipal Taxation Act. (Hon. James Muir)

Bill No. 64 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 21 of the Acts of 1990. The Public Prosecutions Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 65 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 17 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Revenue Act. (Mr. Stephen McNeil)

Bill No. 66 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 28 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Auditor General Act, to Establish a Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Prosperity. (Mr. Graham Steele)

Bill No. 67 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Price of Motor Vehicle Fuel and the Appointment of a Gasoline Price Watchdog. (Mr. Stephen McNeil)

Bill No. 68 - Entitled an Act to Set Criteria for Prioritizing Road Improvement Projects. (Ms. Vicki Conrad)

Bill No. 69 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 179 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Forests Act, Respecting Watercourses. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

Bill No. 70 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 504 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Wildlife Act. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

[Page 749]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is my pleasure to introduce to members of the House, in the west gallery, members of the Regional Fire Service here in Halifax. The members who are with us today in the gallery - and I'm going to read their names, and I would just mention to the House to begin with that these are all competitors at the recent Scott Firefit National Firefighters Championships that were held here in Halifax. I believe that they have just returned from the world championships in Nevada. They are: Julie Read; Andrea Speranza, Liane Tessier, Joe Barbati, Jeff Clarke, Andrew Foote, Cyril Fraser, Rob Hebb, Richard Hynes, Adam MacNeil, Bruce Mosher, Michael Sears, and Joe Triff. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, as you would know, I've been introducing resolutions with respect to the accomplishments of various of these individuals at the National Firefighters Championships, but I would like to particularly draw attention to the fact that, recently, Cyril Fraser ranked second in the over 50 category in the world championships; that Liane Tessier and Sherry Brown ranked third in the Women's Tandem World Competition, and Joe Triff and Mike Sears set a world record in the NXG2 Men's Tandem at the national awards, so a special accomplishment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 620

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

Whereas firefighting is a challenging profession, demanding a high level of commitment to training and fitness; and

Whereas from August 30th to September 2nd, Halifax Regional Fire hosted the 2007 Scott Firefit National Championships at Bishops Landing in Halifax where 300 of the fittest firefighters from across Canada competed for top honours; and

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality firefighters demonstrated the highest level of fitness, competition and training by placing first to win gold medals in many categories;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Team Halifax firefighters for their outstanding performances in competitions at the Scott Firefit National Firefighters Championships held this Fall in Halifax. A bit of a tongue-twister, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 750]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 621

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

Whereas for over 100 years, the Canadian Lung Association has been dedicated to its mission of promoting and improving lung health for all Canadians; and

Whereas the Lung Association depends on donations from the public to support lung health research, education, prevention and advocacy; and

Whereas Christmas Seals is the Lung Association's largest fundraiser and has been a tradition since 1908;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly encourage all to donate and help support the Christmas Seals Campaign, which benefits thousands of Canadians and provides funding for this much-needed organization.

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.

[12:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

[Page 751]

RESOLUTION NO. 622

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 Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court has recently added a Pictonian to its bench; and

Whereas Madam Justice Lois R. Hoegg was sworn into the Trial Division of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in June of this year; and

Whereas this appointment is the latest in a series of career accolades that spans nearly three decades;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations and best of luck to Madam Justice Lois Hoegg of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court on her recent appointment.

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. 623

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 May 16, 2007, I had the pleasure to attend the launch of the 2007 issue of The Voice; and

Whereas this is the 7th year for the Youth in Care Newsletter project where youth can share their experiences and voice their opinions; and

[Page 752]

Whereas this year the participation in the newsletter project was almost doubled;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate all those who took part in the creation of the 2007 issue of The Voice and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 624

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

Whereas each Fall, many Nova Scotians give their time freely for the Terry Fox Foundation; and

Whereas Jean Penny of St. Peter's has been a passionate supporter and fundraiser for cancer research, raising money each year from residents in St. Peter's and surrounding communities; and

Whereas this year Jean has helped raise an impressive $2,261 for the Terry Fox Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognize the dedication shown by Jean Penny in her fundraising efforts and commend her for another successful year of supporting cancer research through the Terry Fox Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 753]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 625

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

Whereas long-time Highland Village Museum volunteer, a former board member and noted Cape Breton historian Jim St. Clair was named the winner of the 2007 Anna Hamilton Award at the Council of Nova Scotia Archives annual conference last Spring; and

Whereas Mr. St. Clair was named the 2007 winner for Outstanding Voluntary Service to the Nova Scotian Archival Community; and

Whereas Jim has a life-long interest in genealogy and family history and has also researched numerous immigrant families of Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly commend Jim St. Clair for being awarded the 2007 Anna Hamilton Award and wish him continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 754]

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery, I would like to introduce to the House of Assembly today Mike Gilles, who is the chair of the Political Lobbying Committee for the NSGEU and with him is Nicole McKim, Nancy Boudreau, Camilla Wells, Leo LeFort, Gina Boyd, James MacCormack, Heather Tucker, Cathy Pemberton, Delton McDonald and Michelle Killam. They're here today to observe the proceedings of the House and, of course, to lobby members with respect to legislation that's before the House. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 626

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

Whereas the Pictou Volunteer Fire Department recently held an open house to show off its brand new acquisition, a new pumper fire truck for the community; and

Whereas this new pumper truck, built in Centreville, New Brunswick, has a sterling chassis from MetalFab, costing $225,000 and features a conventional cab fit for five firefighters and can pump firefighting foam in addition to water; and

Whereas this new truck number 7 allows the fire department to meet its mutual aid commitments and is funded by a unique arrangement by the firefighters, town council and the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Pictou Volunteer Fire Department, the Town of Pictou and its residents on purchasing this new pumper fire truck and wish them safety and 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.

[Page 755]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 627

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

Whereas the Defenders Motorcycle Club is an organization comprised of individuals who share the common love of riding motorcycles; and

Whereas all members of the Defenders have served or defended our country in some respect, such as the Canadian Military or its allies, the Canadian Coast Guard, or the RCMP; and

Whereas the Defenders are active in their communities, having raised $75,000 over the years for their charity of choice, the CHAMP Program that is offered through the War Amps Organization;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize the charitable efforts of the Defenders Motorcycle Club and wish them well in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 628

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

[Page 756]

Whereas Kaitlin Currie, daughter of Sterling and Shelly Currie of College Road in Windsor, recently completed an outstanding year in competitive trampoline and tumbling gymnastics; and

Whereas Kaitlin Currie competed at the Eastern Canadian Trampoline and Tumbling Championships, winning a bronze medal for the third place Nova Scotia team, while also notching a gold medal in Provincial C-12 Trampoline competition and placing fourth in Provincial C-Under 12 Trampoline; and

Whereas Kaitlin is a member of the Rainbow Riders competitive gymnastics club in Greenwood, Kings County;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate and applaud this wonderfully gifted athlete and young lady, Kaitlin Currie, for her jumping and rolling efforts and wish her many more tumbles ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 629

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

Whereas paramedics in Nova Scotia are among the highest trained emergency responders in the country; and

Whereas the men and women who work as paramedics in Nova Scotia provide excellent and timely care under very difficult circumstances; and

Whereas these paramedics are the first line of care and they make the difference between a good or tragic outcome when Nova Scotians are ill or injured;

[Page 757]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank the paramedics of Nova Scotia and all health care professionals who demonstrate their care for Nova Scotians every day.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 630

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

Whereas Lieutenant Governor's Awards are presented to one female and one male student at each school who have excelled in their studies and shown great leadership and service to the community and school; and

Whereas Justin Nicholas Clarke, a Grade 11 student from West Kings District High School, has received the male student Lieutenant Governor's Award; and

Whereas Justin is extremely active in both school committees and athletic teams, as well as volunteering for a variety of community organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Justin Nicholas Clarke on receiving the Lieutenant Governor's Award, and wish him continued success in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 758]

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. 631

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

Whereas earlier this year the community of Trenton lost one of its most cherished landmarks; and

Whereas St. Augustine's Anglican Church held its last service and closed its doors for good on May 27th, with many sad members in attendance; and

Whereas local parishioners reflected fondly on the years that were spent at the church since its inception in 1949, and the Reverend Peter Armstrong reminded the community "the church is the people" and that "things can't always stay the same.";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their condolences and best wishes to Trenton's Anglican community on the recent loss of their church and send hope the community can find a new home for worship.

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. 632

[Page 759]

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 2007 Contact East Conference was recently held in Queens County, which provided a weekend of music, theatre and dance; and

Whereas Liverpool welcomed hundreds of artists, presenters and buyers at the bi-annual event which included public performances and workshops; and

Whereas a very dedicated group of volunteers worked very hard to provide Queens County residents with over 45 performances at three different venues;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize co-chair Chris Ball and all members of the Contact East Conference organizing committee on their efforts of organizing and providing a fantastic weekend of music, theatre and dance during the 2007 Contact East Conference hosted in Queens County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 633

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

Whereas each year the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo takes place in the early weeks of July; and

Whereas the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo attracts visitors from far and wide, giving a much-needed boost to the tourism industry of our province; and

[Page 760]

Whereas in September of this year, the American Bus Association announced that the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo had been designated as one of the top internationally known events for 2008, and is listed as part of the American Bus Association's Top 100 Events in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize the importance of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo to our tourism industry, and thank the American Bus Association for their encouraging endorsement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 634

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

Whereas the Council of Nova Scotia Archives is a professional association for archives and archivists advocating the importance of archives, preservation of Nova Scotia's documented heritage and public accessibility to records through member associations; and

Whereas the 2007 President of the Council of Nova Scotia Archives is Pauline MacLean, Highland Village Museum's genealogist, archivist and collections manager; and

Whereas Pauline was elected to her position at the council's annual conference held in Halifax in May;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the leadership demonstrated so aptly by Pauline MacLean and the leadership she is exemplifying in her role as president in 2007.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 761]

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 Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 635

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

Whereas house concerts have a long tradition spanning almost all cultures and periods of history, bringing the pleasures of music into a home to be shared; and

Whereas the very private Cove House concert series at a not-to-be-disclosed address in Herring Cove is partway through its inaugural season; and

Whereas the series has opened with performances by Scott MacMillan, Mike MacNeil, John Chiasson, Gerald Beaton and others, allowing a privileged audience to enjoy small scale performances by fine musicians in an intimate venue;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate House Concerts on their vision and generosity which leads them to bring the pleasures of music into their own home in the Halifax Atlantic area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 762]

[12:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 636

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

Whereas according to the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, between 1991 and 2006, 84 women have been the victims of homicide in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the government has a role to play in the coordination of information and in raising awareness on women's issues, particularly violence against women; and

Whereas as long as women continue to be abused and murdered at the hands of their partner, the government has a responsibility to ensure the proper policies and supports are in place;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly acknowledge the so-called new Progressive Conservative Government has not done enough to protect women and should act decisively to introduce legislation and programs to eliminate domestic violence in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 637

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

[Page 763]

Whereas Minas Basin Pulp and Paper in Hantsport was presented this year with a Progressive Manufacturing 50 Award for outstanding results in using sophisticated technology in the recovery of heat; and

Whereas the Minas Basin heat recovery solution presently employed at the facility earned the company significant recognition in a league of 50 other North American companies, outdistancing hundreds of other companies seeking to be placed in the Select 50; and

Whereas the Editor in Chief of Managing Automation, based in New York City, recognized Minas Basin Pulp and Power in a number of categories, including being able to exemplify the best in manufacturing and managing the relationships needed to succeed;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs recognize this company founded in 1927 by the late Roy A. Jodrey, and for becoming a self-sustaining Nova Scotia green industry.

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. 638

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

Whereas the Acadians of our province have made and continue to make a valuable contribution to Nova Scotia; and

Whereas as MLAs we are often asked by residents to provide them with the Acadian flag; and

Whereas each year the Speaker's Office provides MLAs with a supply of Nova Scotia flags;

[Page 764]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly request the Minister of Acadian Affairs to work with the Speaker's Office to include an appropriate annual allotment of Acadian flags to all members of this House.

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. 639

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: M. le Président, à une date ultérieure, je demanderai l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que depuis soixante-dix ans, les Acadiens de Clare et d'ailleurs ont la possibilité de lire un journal francophone chaque semaine; et

Attendu que ce journal reflète toujours la vie quotidienne, la culture et le patrimoine de ses lecteurs; et

Attendu que cet hebdomadaire intitulé Le Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse a été primé par une association nationale de journaux hebdomadaires;

Par conséquent, il est résolu que les membres de cette assemblée se joignent à moi pour féliciter le conseil d'administration et le personnel dans le cadre du 70e anniversaire du Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse et leur souhaiter un succès continu.

M. le président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débat.

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

Whereas for 70 years the Acadians of Clare and elsewhere have had the opportunity to read a French newspaper every week; and

[Page 765]

Whereas this newspaper still reflects the everyday life of its readers and their culture and heritage; and

Whereas this weekly newspaper named Le Courrier de le Nouvelle-Écosse has been awarded recognition by a national weekly newspaper association;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating the board of directors and staff on the 70th Anniversary of Le Courrier de le Nouvelle-Écosse and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 640

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

Whereas Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Schooner Stables of Truro, paced the mile in 1:49:3 last September to become the fastest two-year-old pacing colt in the history of harness racing; and

Whereas Schooner Stables principals Brent McGrath, Garry Pye, Jamie Bagnell, Stu Wrath, Reg Pettipas, and Pam Dean became the first Maritime owners to win a $1 million race when Somebeachsomewhere won the metro pace in its record setting pace; and

Whereas Somebeachsomewhere earned $812,592 in his freshman year with a perfect record of six wins in six starts and is expected to do even better as a three-year-old;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Somebeachsomewhere owners, Brent McGrath, Garry Pye, Jamie Bagnell, Stu Rath, Reg Pettipas, Pam Dean, and trainer Jean Louis Arsenault and driver Paul MacDonell, a Cape

[Page 766]

Bretoner, for making sport and harness racing history, and wish the colt and Schooner Stables continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 641

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

Whereas Cailey Brannen, a former resident of Barrington, Shelburne County, donated her hair to the Locks of Love program in Florida, a program to benefit children living with cancer; and

Whereas Caily Brannen, being the age of seven, watched a television program about cancer and wanted to help; and

Whereas on September 24, 2007, Cailey's hair, which reached 21 inches in length, was cut with Cailey donating 12 inches of hair to the Locks of Love program;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly thank Cailey Brannen for her unselfish gift of hair to the Locks of Love program in Florida to help children living with cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 767]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 642

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

Whereas the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia is an organization which represents the interests of owners, operators and employees of restaurants; and

Whereas recently, the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia presented Robert Risley, president and founder of RCR Hospitality, with the Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his contribution and service to the restaurant industry of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas as a recipient of this prestigious award, Robert Risley is also inducted into Nova Scotia's Restaurant Hall of Fame;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly recognize Robert Risley's achievement in the restaurant industry and wish him well and many more years of success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 643

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

[Page 768]

Whereas the Health Advocacy Award is presented to registered nurses who have demonstrated excellence in the application of the Standards for Nursing Practice and their Code of Ethics; and

Whereas these registered nurses must also have made outstanding contributions to preserve, protect, or improve the health, safety and well-being of a group of individuals or a significant segment of the population; and

Whereas Ann Aucoin McKim has excelled in her role as the palliative care consult nurse with the Colchester East Hants Health Authority;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ann Aucoin McKim on receiving the 2007 Health Advocacy Award from the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia for her contribution to the health of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver - if anybody could hear it, 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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 644

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

Whereas McNabs Island, named a provincial park in 2002, has significant historical value to the community of Eastern Passage where, from 1870 to 1930, McNabs Island was a popular recreational destination for the people of Halifax and Dartmouth for picnics, dinner, dancing, sports and, in later years, amusement rides; and

Whereas McNabs Island is the largest island in the Halifax Harbour, an historical site, a natural asset to the municipality and the province, and hosts 10,000 visitors each year; and

[Page 769]

Whereas the Friends of McNabs Island Society champion the betterment of the island and hold a cleanup each year to preserve the natural environment of the island;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank and commend the Friends of McNabs Island Society for their dedication to preserving the natural environment, beauty and rich history of McNabs Island.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 645

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

Whereas many Nova Scotians continue to suffer from kidney disease and rely upon the support of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Nova Scotia Branch; and

Whereas residents of Isle Madame decided to replace the March door-to-door campaign with a Hike for Health on November 10th to raise money for the Kidney Foundation; and

Whereas event organizers, Viola Boudreau, Shirley Martell, Eleanor Burgess and Rhonda LeBlanc joined volunteers and participants in walking around the community of Arichat, helping raise over $2,500 for the Kidney Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognize the leadership and hard work of the organizers of the Hike for Health and congratulate all the participants in raising over $2,500 for the Kidney Foundation, Nova Scotia Branch.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 770]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 646

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

Whereas on September 1, 2007, Norman Ross was inducted in the Nova Scotia Tennis Hall of Fame following the final day of play at the Dexter Subaru Nova Scotia Open Tennis Championship at the Waegwoltic Tennis Club in Halifax; and

Whereas the 51-year-old Sydney Mines resident has had a long and illustrious career in the sport; and

Whereas Norman has won a number of championships, he is still quite active in the sport, entering a number of tournaments each season;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending congratulations to Norman Ross on his accomplishments 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 Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 771]

RESOLUTION NO. 647

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

Whereas 1907 marks the year the cornerstone of Trinity United Church was laid; and

Whereas the history of this parish dates back to the 1900s, formed by the union of three congregations - St. James with the Mission Church, St. Mark's Presbyterian and Victoria Methodist; and

Whereas the present structure is the second church to be erected on the site with the first being destroyed by fire July 29, 2006;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the congregation of the Trinity United Church on their 100 years of dedication and commitment 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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 648

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

Whereas Youthscape is a new national youth engagement initiative focused on shaping the physical and social structures of Halifax Regional Municipality to become more youth inclusive; and

Whereas this program encourages the community to not look at kids as adults-in-waiting or as future leaders, but as important members of the community right now; and

[Page 772]

Whereas Sabrina Poirier is the more than capable coordinator of Youthscape in HRM and leads an active team of very committed young individuals;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the value of projects such as Youthscape and wish Sabrina and her colleagues the very best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, may I make an introduction before my resolution?

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. PARENT: In the gallery opposite, we have a new person who is working with the provincial government from Australia, working in my department, and I needed to say that with the Immigration Minister sitting beside me. I would ask Danielle Kuhn to rise and be welcomed by the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 649

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 Valley Hospice Foundation and Annapolis Valley Health are committed to a partnership to build an eight-bed hospice in the Annapolis Valley Health District that will be physically linked to the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville to provide better end-of-life care in all settings for palliative care patients; and

[Page 773]

Whereas six years ago Lorraine Johnson hosted the first local Voices for Hospice event at her studio in Port Williams to fundraise for this hospice; and

Whereas Dale Sanford, development coordinator for the Valley Hospice Foundation, is involved in the traditional fundraiser which includes a celebration in voice and music performed by highly skilled entertainers in the age range from 12 to 91;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the outstanding commitment to their community and dedication of this worthwhile project that all those individuals and group participants involved continue to provide in support of the Valley Hospice.

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. 650

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 Chronicle-Herald is the largest independently owned newspaper in Canada, a feat that publisher Graham Dennis has played a defining role in; and

Whereas Graham Dennis has served as The Chronicle-Herald's publisher for almost 54 years, leading the paper to be named one of the top 100 employers in Canada by Mclean's Magazine; and

Whereas Graham Dennis has been given the Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Atlantic Lifetime Achievement Award, an award recognizing his accomplishments with The Chronicle-Herald;

[Page 774]

Therefore be it resolved the members of this House of Assembly recognize the accomplishments of Graham Dennis and thank him for keeping The Chronicle-Herald newspaper in Nova Scotia hands for all these years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: It is 1:03 p.m. We will go until 2:03 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

JUSTICE - BILL C-25: GOV'T. (CAN.) - AMENDMENT URGE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question this afternoon will be for the Minister of Justice. Last week, this House unanimously endorsed my resolution calling upon the House of Commons to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act to follow the recommendations of the Nunn Commission and to make protection of the public a primary goal of the Act. Yesterday, the Deputy Chief of Police for the Halifax Regional Municipality made a similar appeal. In fact, he went even further, arguing that the Youth Criminal Justice Act amendments put forward by the federal Conservative Government in Bill No. C-25 are, and I quote from media reports, "carefully crafted to do nothing about stopping the release of potentially dangerous young offenders before trial". So my question to the Minister of Justice is this, will the minister listen to the members of this House, as well as the Deputy Chief of Police for HRM, and urge the federal Conservative Government to amend the badly flawed Bill No. C-25?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, while I recognize that the federal New Democrats are against anything to do with pro-justice and dealing with being tough on crime, what I can say to the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition is, what I do know is jurisdictions across this country representative of Conservative, Liberal and NDP

[Page 775]

Governments have supported this bill going to the House of Commons. We're looking forward to this bill coming forward because it is a positive next step and will provide our judiciary with another tool to be tough on crime in this province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, maybe this Minister of Justice will speak to the former Minister of Justice because I was at the news conference when the federal minister congratulated the federal NDP for the role that they played with respect to the legislation in Ottawa. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, the Nunn Commission report was released exactly one year ago tomorrow. The Minister of Justice at that time made a production out of personally delivering the report to the federal Minister of Justice. There have been several trips back and forth since then and even a recent guest appearance in Nova Scotia by the federal Justice Minister to sell Bill No. C-25. All that has come of this activity is a federal bill that at best implements only a fraction of Justice Nunn's recommendations and, at worst, to quote Deputy Chief MacNeil again, "C-25 is carefully crafted to do nothing." So my question for the Minister of Justice is, what will the minister do to impress upon his Conservative colleagues in Ottawa that Mr. Justice Nunn has done the necessary review and that now is the time for action?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, that's exactly what this government has done, is taken action and worked very positively and proactively with regards to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Again, while I can respect the opinions of someone in the policing services, the amendment here is also to include enunciation and deterrent as well as pre-trial detention and that is something that a judge will take into consideration, not a member of a police force.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Nunn Commission report called on Parliament to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act to ensure that protection of public safety is paramount in the Act. This House has agreed with the Nunn Commission on this vital issue. Opposition Parties in the House of Commons have called for amendments to Bill No. C-25 to better protect public safety as recommended by Justice Nunn.

The Conservative Government in Ottawa has had a year to consider those recommendations and, Mr. Speaker, again, now is the time for action. So my question to the Minister of Justice is this: Will he tell his federal counterparts that Bill No. C-25 must be amended to include all of the Nunn Commission's recommendations on the protection of public safety?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I guess the honourable member hasn't recognized the fact that the Government of Canada is committed to a full review of the Youth Criminal Justice Act in 2008 and further to Nova Scotia's request to do that. What we're doing is important next steps with regards to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. My question is, is the Opposition now against the amendments before the Parliament of Canada?

[Page 776]

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

HEALTH: PRIVATE HOSP. - STANCE

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Premier. Health care in this province is consuming 46 per cent of our province's annual program spending. The overall cost of health care has been steadily increasing for years and additional spending is needed. This level of spending is simply not sustainable.

In the Premier's own Throne Speech, he voiced his sudden appreciation for public-private partnerships and indicated it would be a necessary tool toward making our province competitive. So my question for the Premier, is he considering introducing a private hospital in Nova Scotia?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the government's position has not changed. We, in fact, stand for a publicly funded system here in our province. We respect the Canada Health Act, and we will continue to do as such.

MR. MCNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our office has obtained a memo written by a group of individuals, including several orthopaedic surgeons and also the former and current head of general surgery. Mr. Speaker, I will table that memo.

This memo outlines the concerns of this group about the sustainability and inefficiencies of the present public system and indicates that this is an opportunity to explore alternative delivery systems.

I will also table a concept document which accompanied that memo, that goes into further details of the proposal to bring a private form of health care to Nova Scotia, comparing this proposed facility to the Mayo Clinic. So my question to the Premier, is the Premier considering a Mayo Clinic-type of private health care facility as a possible solution to our crisis in the health care system in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as we have stated very clearly, we believe - and I've said this time and time again - we believe in a publicly funded system. Anything that we do in our health care system to provide better health care for the patients who go through our facilities will be deemed in their best interests.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure that honourable member and all honourable members that the province's intentions in moving forward is to ensure that we put the patients first, that we partner - yes, from time to time of course we partner with the private sector, long-term care is one of those examples. I believe those types of partnerships are worth it. The other example is EHS ambulances, one of the best ambulance systems in the world.

[Page 777]

MR. MCNEIL: It has also come to our attention that this memo and concept document was presented to the Premier by representatives of the authors of this document last December. Now we are hearing from the Premier, he has a new-found interest in discussing a public-private partnership in all sectors including health care. So my question for the Premier, are you committed to a private hospital in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have already indicated my stand with respect to this. We listen to the Opposition today, who would like to spend on everything and cut things like the gas tax, which would cost this province $70 million a year. It is that crew over there that would like to cut and slash the health care system no differently than they did in the 1990's.

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

HEALTH CARE: RESOURCES - UTILIZATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question will be for the Premier as well. Last week, the Minister of Health claimed that the government was doing all that it could to make hospital beds available for Nova Scotians. The Minister of Health said, and I quote, "Mr. Speaker, this government is fully aware of the issues in the health care system, which is why we are fixing them, but the resources of this government are not being fully utilized."

My question for the Premier is, can the Premier explain what he is doing to ensure that all the health care resources are being used to their full capacity?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the department and the minister and our district health authorities work on a daily basis to ensure that our patients are getting the full benefit of the dollars that we are spending. If there are cases where that is not the point, if that is not happening, we are open to - I am sure the next question probably leads into that. If the honourable member has a suggestion, we are more than willing to take a look at that, as I am sure his next question will allude to.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Premier is prescient today because he has forgotten about the valuable resources located just across the harbour. The situation at the Dartmouth General Hospital is so serious that the staff must post signs to notify others of surgery delays and cancelled operations because there are no beds - and I would like to table one of those signs. Mr. Speaker. My question for the Premier is this: Why won't this government open the beds that are desperately needed for Nova Scotians awaiting surgery?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, over 800 beds are already announced by the province and are being moved forward upon. A new ER coming here to Capital Health; new MRIs; bone density machines; investments in technology, which is moving our health care system

[Page 778]

forward and making a difference for patients from one end of this province to the other; and partnerships with the federal government with respect to cancer.

The health authorities in this province are doing a tremendous job on behalf of the patients in this province. We're very proud of the work that they do; we're very proud of the doctors and nurses, the lab techs and all those who work on a daily basis to serve their patients. Mr. Speaker, we'll continue to take steps to make our health care system even better for those who need it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's that government that actually reduced the number of long-term care beds in this province over the first eight years they were in government. There are 70 empty hospital beds in Dartmouth, yet the health minister allows surgeries to be cancelled on short notice.

Dr. Wylie Verge, a 78-year-old physician in Dartmouth was so concerned that he wrote the Minister of Health complaining that an entire floor of the Dartmouth General was going unused while surgeries are being cancelled because of a lack of beds - and I will table that letter as well. My question to the Premier is this: When will his government acknowledge it has lost control of wait times while trying to score political points instead of managing the health care system?

[1:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, here we have an Opposition Party that likes to talk the talk but they've never been willing to walk the walk because they've never been willing and anything they put forward to actually talk about what are the costs to the system and to the people of our province. We will continue to ensure that the people of our province get the very best possible health care that they deserve to have, but we will not try to have some sort of a hidden agenda like the other side and not tell them the true costs of delivering such a system.

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

HEALTH - HOSP. BEDS: PROVISION - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier didn't have any problem with our agenda when he tried to run on it in the last election. (Applause)

My question, though, is going to be for the Minister of Health. The minister must know his government has denied access to hundreds of hospital beds that are needed for surgery and other acute care. At the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, which serves the minister's constituency, staff are told to use the television lounge, waiting rooms and hallways for patients who are admitted to receive immediate care, despite the fact that every bed is full.

[Page 779]

My question for the Minister of Health is this: Why has this minister decided this province will not provide enough beds for the women and men who need immediate hospital care?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite does bring up a good point when it comes to the utilization of hospitals. I know the district health authorities are working their best to make sure they're using every bit of their facilities in their areas. We do have an issue when it comes to alternate levels of care and trying to find places to put our seniors into homes and places where they deserve to be. Mr. Speaker, I know that through our Continuing Care Strategy that we will be making a difference.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health does know about hallway medicine, and he knows that waiting until the year 2010 is not an answer to someone whose parents, whose wife, whose husband, or child, is sick enough to require admission to a hospital, but apparently not sick enough to merit an actual hospital bed. Many of us have seen how the hospitals assign numbers to the places in the hallway where patients with no room are placed - on view to anyone going up and down the hall.

My question for the minister is this: When will the minister give the issue of hallway medicine the attention and leadership needed to clear the Progressive Conservative bottlenecks in health care?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, over the last number of months, if not the last couple of years, we have enabled our district health authorities to come up with solutions in order to speed up the flow of patients through the hospital, making sure that beds are available for those who need them the most. We have made millions of dollars available to those district health authorities and we feel we are making a difference.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister must know how demoralizing it is for doctors and nurses and other health care workers when they see patients treated with such disrespect with hallway medicine, patients parked in the hallway, parked in television lounges, and that starts to be normal. It is even more demoralizing for those in health care to feel that no one at the top ever does anything to make a difference. So my question to the minister is, will the minister tell Nova Scotians why shorter wait times and an end to this routine hallway medicine are not the government's top priorities in health care?

MR. D'ENTREMENT: Mr. Speaker, apparently the member opposite has not been listening to the five priorities of this government. One of them is to fix wait times, to take wait times on, making sure that we have beds available, making sure that we have services available for all Nova Scotians. What the member opposite is truly suggesting is that we turn patients away at the door, making sure that they cannot get into our system. We are here for all Nova Scotians. We will continue to be. Mr. Speaker, I want to table a comment from the member opposite in his reply to the Speech from the Throne: "I truly believe that Nova Scotia has the best health care system in Canada." (Applause)

[Page 780]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party. (Interruptions) Order, please.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. RELATIONS - GAS REGULATION:

CONTINUATION - EXPLAIN

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members opposite for the warm welcome. My question is to the Premier. The Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and the Premier have stated on several occasions that the main reason for gasoline price regulation was to protect rural stations from closing. Well, we waited a year and the findings are in. Unfortunately, stations are closing. From October 2006 to October 2007, there have been only 12 openings in Nova Scotia while there have been at least 26 closures during the same period. So my question to the Premier is, why are you still forcing Nova Scotians to pay over $10 million for a failed plan?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, my honourable colleague is out talking to the media and such, is in here and talking about taking off gas tax which would cost this province $70 million a year. Perhaps he would like to clarify for those on this side of the House, and I'm sure the Official Opposition, where do they plan on finding that $70 million? Are they going to cut the highway budget in our province? Because this side won't do that. Are they going to cut the health care budget? This side won't do that. Where are they going to get, perhaps this new Pharmacare Program, which they were silent on during the last election.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I think the Premier and I may have that debate on a later day. Gas regulation does not provide the protection this Premier promised and now Nova Scotians are on the hook for at least $10 million. P.E.I. has been regulated for several years and they are experiencing the same rate of station closures as Nova Scotia. Regulation does not protect against out-migration or a stalled economy. The Premier promised protection to rural communities but there hasn't been any. So my question to the Premier is, what do you say to those communities that have lost their rural gas station?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again, what the Liberal Party would like to do and the Leader of the Liberal Party would like to do here is to see more closures of rural stations, because that's what he is suggesting. In addition to that, he would like to take $70 million a year out of our highways. That is roughly about 280 kilometres of paving a year not happening on our highways. This side of the House made a commitment to the people of our province for 2,000 kilometres of highways over four years and in the last two years we have accomplished the goal of going over 1,000 kilometres of paving for the people of our province and we will reach our target of 2,000 kilometres. (Applause)

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, perhaps if the Premier stopped acting like a socialist and believed that government can control everything and work on the economy, which has been trailing every other province in this country, we would have (Interruptions)

[Page 781]

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party has the floor.

MR. MCNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Regulation has been bad public policy from day one and a year later is confirming that fact. Nova Scotians paid millions more, stations continued to close and we have the same amount of price changes as we would in a competitive market. The Premier and the minister have tried to justify keeping regulations in the Spring and they continue to do so now. When will the Premier admit he was wrong and that the NDP-Conservative plan has been taking millions out of the pockets of Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: This side of the House, Mr. Speaker, the Official Opposition calls me right wing, the Liberals call me socialist. I'm right in the middle, you couldn't ask for anything better. (Applause)

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

HEALTH - MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS: NURSING HOME

ADMISSIONS - EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Health. Front-line staff in nursing homes are deeply concerned about a growing trend in the emission of discharged mental health patients into nursing homes. When such a transfer takes place, staff are not fully informed about the history or behavioural issues of the new residents. The first clue that something is wrong is after an incident occurs against a staff member or even worse, another resident. My question to the Minister of Health is, why are mental health patients being transferred to the nursing homes without a complete file for staff administration, to ensure the protection of not only the workers, but also the other residents of that long-term care facility?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member opposite for bringing this issue forward, one that I can't give him an answer on today because I would have to look at it a little more directly. If he could provide me with a little more information, I would be more than happy to address this issue.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): We'll be more than happy to keep the minister informed on health care issues here in the province, Mr. Speaker. Workers describe physical and sexual abuse of elderly and vulnerable residents by seniors with violent behaviours. Nursing homes must track such events in an incident report, but when my office tried to obtain these documents through freedom of information, the department staff stated that they do not collect this information. Front-line workers know there is a growing problem, but nobody in the Department of Health wants to know just how bad the situation is. I'd like to ask the Minister of Health, when will this government start doing its due diligence in monitoring violent incidents in nursing homes, Mr. Speaker, in our province?

[Page 782]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I know that over the last number of months we have been tracking that quite closely, making sure that we protect, of course, the patients, the residents who are in our long-term care facilities and making sure that they have a mechanism in which to report wrong-doing. At the same time, we also have to protect the privacy and the information of people who are in our homes as well. Mr. Speaker, we have to find a balance between protection of privacy and, of course, the protection of our health care workers.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that nursing homes are not appropriate settings for residents with violent behaviour, but this government has cut too many mental health beds and nursing homes are all they have. So my question to the Minister of Health is, why has this government done nothing to provide appropriate care settings for seniors with mental illnesses and violent behaviours?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am a tad not understanding what the member opposite is really talking about. Is he really talking about the institutionalization of people with mental illnesses? That is something that we do not want to dwell on. At the same time, these individuals are moving on in their lives and do require the help and the services of a long-term care facility and we will make sure that they are placed appropriately within our health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: CMHA MEETING - ATTENDEES

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In 2006, the Progressive Conservatives promised to work with expert organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association, as well as district health authorities, to improve access to mental health assessment and treatment. Yet this August, CMHA, along with several other mental health advocates and consumers, gathered at a well-publicized meeting to discuss challenges in delivering mental health services. Will the minister please tell this Assembly why no one from the Department of Health or anyone from the government caucus attended that meeting?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the meeting that she is talking about and, really, I would have to go back to staff to find out why they weren't there. I don't know.

MS. MASSEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, Sheila Morrison was there. She described problems at the Abbie Lane mental health facility where her daughter was getting the best possible care from overworked nurses. She finally kicked up such a fuss about the poor working conditions there that her daughter was transferred to the acute care facility in

[Page 783]

Dartmouth. My question to the minister is, what is this government doing to help the patients and staff who are currently at the Abbie Lane?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, two things are going on there that I'm very proud to speak of. I had the opportunity to visit the Abbie Lane last Wednesday and speak with staff about their future plans for that facility. We have allowed the Capital District Health Authority to move forward on plans for renovation. It's not necessarily an issue - as the member opposite alludes to - an issue of staffing, it is an issue of a facility that was really not constructed to take care of these individuals. We will look at renovation plans that will better serve the individuals who are in that facility, as well as the health care staff who are there.

[1:30 p.m.]

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, an underfunded and overburdened mental health system affects everything from hospitals to community services, and although one in five Nova Scotians will access mental health services in their lifetime, Nova Scotia spends only about 3.61 per cent of its health budget on mental health, compared to national standards of 5 per cent to 11 per cent. When will this government release an account of the amount of money that is spent on mental health in Nova Scotia?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, this government produces a budget every year. It produces an accounting of all dollars that are spent within the system. I would suggest that the member opposite visit the Legislature during the budget that would happen in the Spring.

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

FISH. & AQUACULTURE - GROUND FISHERY:

INT'L. FORUM - DETAILS

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I'm going fishing. My question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. In November, an international forum took place in Halifax to discuss the growing problem of a declining groundfishery in Atlantic Canada. This forum had representatives from all over the world, including Scotland, Norway, and the United States to talk about this important issue. However, there was no mention of it in the media and little is known about the discussions and presentations, themselves. So my question to the minister is, did you attend this forum, and can you tell us the details of what took place there?

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for the question. No, I did not attend that forum, although some people on my staff did. So I will get an update on that and I will see that the honourable member gets it.

[Page 784]

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, the groundfishery and related industries have been part of Nova Scotia's history and soon will be a thing of the past. Earlier this year, the Resources Committee listened to a presentation by Dr. Boris Worm, who stated that the collapse of the groundfishery is coming in 2048. At this recent fishery science forum, representatives from the industry are saying that the fishery will collapse in two years if action is not taken today. My question is, are you prepared to work with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and try to stop this predicted collapse within two years?

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again, thank you to the member opposite for that question. The issue with seals and the groundfishery is a serious one. It's an issue - the question has been brought forward to our provincial-federal meetings with DFO. We'll continue to bring that issue forward and try to get the problem resolved. Thank you.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a presentation that was done at the forum by the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association. I advise all members of this House to read this presentation and especially our Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I think it will open a lot of eyes here in Nova Scotia if that's done. In it there's a full explanation of what this industry believes is going on to cause the complete collapse of the fishery in this province within two years. My final question is, will the minister make sure this document is placed in the hands of the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and arrange a meeting with him immediately to discuss this collapse that's going to happen?

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I did view that letter that came from the seafood packers association this morning. Staff is now analyzing that letter and definitely, I will bring that forward to the federal minister. Maybe another problem we have is, as everyone knows, we have a quota of 10,000 seals that was issued probably four years ago, three years ago. Where they're located is Sable Island and Hay Island, both of those areas are in a protected wilderness area, so if we get agreement from all Parties in this House, maybe we can do something about that and go to Hay Island and be able get our quota of 10,000 seals. (Applause)

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

TIR - C.B. & CENT. N.S. RAILWAY:

RIGHT-OF-WAY FEES - DETAILS

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. People with driveways and properties along the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway, now owned by Rail America, have been paying right-of-way fees to cross the rail bed with driveways. The traditional fee has been around $50 a year for driveway access. This year some residents have received bills of $500, a tough increase for anyone to include in their budget. My question through you, Mr. Speaker, is, what discussions have taken place with the company to end this railroad robbery?

[Page 785]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the honourable member for the question. Yes, the member is absolutely right, Rail America has increased these fees. In fact, some of them have gone from $25 or $50 up to $500 for crossings only and as well, those ones where they have dwellings or buildings on those properties, Rail America has decided now they're going to charge by the square foot. I can tell you this province, with regard to regulations, we deal with issues only around safety when it comes to railways. In answer to the honourable member's question, we have made contact with Rail America and I'm meeting with them today.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very glad the minister will be meeting with them today. Another group affected by increases along the rail corridor are families who lease land from the company, for some decades now. This year some residents have been hit hard with bills that are as high as 30 times more than last year. One man's bill has gone from $300 to $8,970. This increase is worrisome for those affected because if they cannot pay, they've been told they may actually be evicted. My question to the minister is, in light of the fact this government has a $2 million annual stake in this railway, will this government contact the company on behalf of these residents and work on this matter?

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, one thing I do want to say, what the company has told us this morning is that, yes, they have told individuals, for example, crossings of $500. But, for individuals who come forward with regard to hardship cases, they've reduced that to $200. But, I've heard the member's concerns today and I will commit to ensuring those concerns are brought forward. I do want to say, the member for Victoria-The Lakes has met with me and also called me with regard to this issue on the weekend, yesterday and again today. I made a commitment to him, on his behalf and his residents, that I would bring the issue forward. As a result of that, we are meeting with Rail America today.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, this government has an obligation to help those affected by these increases. This company has taken over this railroad and is putting hardships on at least 75 families at this time. My final question to the minister, what assistance can these families anticipate coming from this government to help them in dealing with this company's overtures?

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I just want to remind the House that this is a private company we're dealing with and no different than if it were CNR, but I can promise the House and the honourable member that I will bring forward the issues that he brings to this House today on behalf of the residents and do everything we can to ensure Rail America understands the implications of what they decide to do here.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

[Page 786]

ENVIRON. & LBR. - HRM VIOLENCE: DISCUSSION PAPER -

STATUS

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. In August, the minister announced that a discussion paper would be commissioned surrounding the growing concern of violence in HRM and its effect on employees working late nights in isolation. My question is, what is the status of this discussion paper and what details can you provide to the House today?

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, we instituted, in this province, regulations that would protect people who work in situations where they're exposed to violence in high risk situations. We put that into legislation and then the regulations followed. The timelines for that were that by October 1st, those companies and firms that were affected were to do a risk assessment on the possibility of violence towards their employees, isolate and figure out what the risks were, and then bring in their full plan by April 1st of this year. So they're in the process of doing that.

To help some of the companies with some sort of template, we offered to the high risks ones - taxicab drivers, gas station attendants and convenience stores - a template that they could follow if they didn't want to do the risk assessment themselves and some of them may be choosing that option rather than doing their own risk assessment.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, in recent months we've seen a rash of violent crime around the province, particularly here in HRM. Employees are required to work late night shifts on their own and are often at high risk of being victims of robbery and in some cases much worse. These workers are looking for some form of action from the government to protect them. My question is, what is your government's plan to protect late night workers?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, they have to do a risk assessment by October 1st. They have done that. Then they have to come up with a plan to deal with those risks by April 1st of the coming year and they're in the process of doing that. In addition, we did offer this template for those very, very high risk occupations so that they could use the template to help them come up with their regulations to minimize violence and protect their workers and they're working at it right now.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, British Columbia has implemented what is commonly known as the Grant's law, which requires gas stations in B.C. to have mandatory prepaid systems in operation at night. This is just one step taken to aid late night workers. We've seen and heard unspeakable acts of violence committed against late night workers and the public wants the government to lead and take action. Is your government prepared to put necessary cautions in place to ensure that the physical safety of late night workers is protected, and protected now, and not wait until next April?

[Page 787]

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, we have a process in place. It's important that the regulations not simply be regulations that are put on a book and never adhered to, but we have compliance. So that's why we have worked slowly, methodically but firmly towards educating, towards assessing risks, and towards helping those particular industries and companies assess the risk and protect their workers, and that is ongoing.

I want to thank the honourable member for giving me the opportunity to boast about what this province has done to protect workers in workplace violence, because I will be speaking at the Labour Ministers' Conference in Quebec City and I will be leading discussion on this, because the Province of Nova Scotia is one of the leaders in workplace violence safety.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

HEALTH - BRASS HILL: PROPOSED SENIORS HOME -

STATUS

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Earlier this year, the minister was interviewed on a radio call-in show in the southwestern part of this province. He stated that the people of Barrington could expect to see the earth move on Brass Hill in the Fall of 2007. Well, I drove by Brass Hill just the other day and it looks just the same as it always has - and there are about two weeks left of this Fall. My question to the Minister of Health: How can he explain his comments made this summer to the seniors in my community waiting for a bed?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. When I answered that question, we had given all final approvals to the building committee and to the board at that home in Brass Hill, in the Barrington area. I would expect his question would be better asked to the building committee of why they are not underway yet.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, it sounds like a hand-off to me. In this House of Assembly, July 4, 2006, the minister stated in Hansard: ". . . I am committing that as soon as we can get a budget done and we can get the tender documents down, that we will be announcing that as soon as we can." At a meeting in the community, residents have been told that there will not be a nursing home expansion at Bayside anytime before 2010. My question to the minister is simple: What changed?

[1:45 p.m.]

[Page 788]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, we are dedicated to Bayside; we are dedicated for the 40 beds at Bayside. All approvals have been done through my department. It's sitting in the building committee's hands and I look forward to working with them for the 40 beds that will be in Brass Hill.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, the people of Shelburne County read Hansard; the people of Shelburne Country listen to the radio - I suggest the minister should listen to the question. Residents got the impression from this minister that Bayside was different and it could happen faster because it was approved ahead of the current process to build new nursing homes. My question to the minister: Why did he give confusing information on the date, knowing how sensitive people in this community are after 30 years of delays in getting this nursing home.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as I said in a previous answer, all work, as far as we are concerned, all approvals have been done through the Department of Health, it is sitting in the hands of the board and, of course, the building committee. I want to thank them for their work up to now. I know they are working on designs and those kinds of things to make sure that we are ready for that tender process. The unfortunate part - it is taking a little longer than I would have anticipated, but I hope that as soon as possible that the beds will be available at Bayside for the people of western Shelburne County.

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

COM. SERV.: VISUAL SMOKE DETECTORS - FUNDING

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. I will table a news article from October 4th of this year - the headline reads "Deaf man's death in fire worries advocate", and the story outlines the tragic death of Donald Marshall of New Glasgow. Mr. Marshall was deaf and he could not afford the approximately $400 cost of a visual smoke detector for his apartment. My question to the Minister of Community Services: Why doesn't her government have a program to help deaf Nova Scotians purchase these devices if they live on low incomes?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable colleague for bringing this very unfortunate, sensitive issue to the floor. Certainly the department, through its division of Services for Persons with Disabilities, does provide funding to clients who are in need of assistance. We regularly, routinely, review those programs and we endeavor to provide the best possible resources we can to all Nova Scotians.

MS. MORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are approximately 55,000 people in Nova Scotia with some form of hearing impairment and 6,000 of these residents are deaf. The Deafness Advocacy Association of Nova Scotia and other groups have been working on this issue for several years. The disability pensions do not allow extras like these devices. So

[Page 789]

Mr. Marshall's case is not isolated, by any means, and there are many other similar stories across this province. My question to the minister, why is her department so willing to place the responsibility for purchasing this on the shoulders of deaf Nova Scotians or local charities?

MS. STREATCH: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and again to my honourable colleague across the way, all Nova Scotians are sensitive to the very unique nature of the situation that my honourable colleague raised. I know that different fire departments, through very aggressive fundraising programs in the communities, step forward and offer assistance, when they are able to.

I know there are many community advocacy groups that we work with. We're pleased to work with them, Mr. Speaker, and of course we will continue to work with them to ensure that all partnerships that are able to be formed, to ensure that safety and security for all Nova Scotians are available.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, people who are hearing impaired or deaf deserve to have the same protection from risk of fire that other Nova Scotians can choose. A usual device for those who are not hard of hearing costs perhaps up to $50. These cost $400 and many of our deaf and hearing impaired Nova Scotians are on very low incomes, barely sufficient to cover their shelter, clothing and medical expenses. It shouldn't be up to charities and fire departments to fill this gap. I ask the minister, why won't she commit to working with fire departments and the Deafness Advocacy Association to help those in need to purchase visual smoke detectors?

MS. STREATCH: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank my honourable colleague for allowing me to rise. Certainly I indicate to all Nova Scotians we are very pleased to partner across the province. The department has initiated a pilot project in six senior's apartment buildings to install the latest fire alarm system technology. I believe, if I am pronouncing it correctly, piezo buzzers offer the latest technology in fire alarms. They are intended to be installed in the individual's apartment, to ensure that the safety and security of Nova Scotians who are hearing impaired have that technology. We will review, once we finish the pilot project, to determine if this is to be done province-wide, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

NAT. RES. - CLEAR CUTTING: MGT. PLAN - DETAILS

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Since 1992, Nova Scotia's forests have been clear-cut at an average of 500 square kilometres per year. That is a considerable amount for a province of our size and it shows no signs of decreasing when the Progressive Conservative Government allows

[Page 790]

companies, such as Wagner Forest Management, to work in Nova Scotia as a clear-cut and run operation - and I will table an aerial view showing that devastation. This company is not investing in the province's natural resources. We clearly see that government is not fulfilling its environmental goals and it is not a practical and sustainable forest practice. My question to the minister, what is your government's plan to ensure that clear-cutting practices are kept at a manageable level in Nova Scotia?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Well thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member opposite for the question. It is an important subject and it is a subject that was addressed by this government. In fact, before being elected as MLA, I used to wonder about the sustainability of the forests and since we brought in our forestry strategy and the Forestry Sustainability Regulations where woodlot owners or the registered buyers that buy from the private woodlot owners have to pay into a silviculture fund. Since that time, the amount of fibre production in this province has grown dramatically and the forestry sector is sustainable, as a result of the work of this government.t.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, we are still seeing clear-cutting practices in protected areas - Chignecto Game Sanctuary and Liscombe Wilderness Areas are just two of examples of protected areas being destroyed by clear-cutting. I will also table an October view of an area in Liscombe. This government has touted its record on the environment and advertised the great work it's done in creating new protected areas. My question to the minister, can we expect newly announced protected areas such as Blue Mountain-Birch Lakes Wilderness Area and the Blandford Nature Reserve to be clear-cut as well?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is right. The Minister of Natural Resources, under the leadership of the Premier, has done a great job in protecting more protected wilderness areas in this province. In fact, the amount of protection is unprecedented and it's very clear that one of the things you cannot do in a protected wilderness area, as opposed to a game sanctuary, is you're not allowed to cut the forest.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, this Progressive Conservative Government states that it is working diligently to reach the national goal of 12 per cent protected areas, yet we see game sanctuaries being clear-cut. Now we are aware that a game sanctuary is not a tree sanctuary, but logic dictates that it will be difficult for wildlife to sustain itself on tree stumps and tire marks. My question to the minister is, what action has your government taken to protect the forest within game sanctuaries?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for allowing me to get up and talk about the broad range of protections that we put in place as a government. In fact, he's right, game sanctuaries are there to protect fauna, protected wilderness areas are there to protect flora. We are doing both under the sustainable Act that was introduced by the Minister of Environment in the Spring and passed unanimously by this House. We are

[Page 791]

committed to protecting 12 per cent of the provincial land mass in this province by 2015 and we are making great strides to accomplish that goal.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COM. SERV.: UNIV. ATTENDANCE: SOCIAL POLICIES -

CHANGE

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. I'd like to table a response from the Department of Community Services to a Freedom of Information request on the number of participants in the Career Seek program. It says, "There are two individuals currently attending post-secondary education programs and eligible for continued support through Career Seek." My question to the minister is, when will she admit that the pilot project was a wasted effort and simply change social assistance policies to allow clients to attend university?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable colleague for the opportunity to rise today and speak about something that's extremely important to me. As an educator, I firmly believe in the value of an education. We have many tools in our toolbox, through the Department of Community Services, to assist Nova Scotians who are in need of our assistance. One of the tools my honourable colleague raises today is the Career Seek program. I was extremely pleased to introduce that program last year. The uptake has not been what we had anticipated. For that reason, this government decided to review the program, to look at some of the suggestions that were offered by community members, members of FemJEPP, members of the student organizations. We've made those changes, we've indicated those changes to staff and we'll be moving forward with those changes for January, 2008.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, this is the minister who stood in this House and complimented herself on allowing 50 people - 50 individuals - to obtain an education. All we've had in the last year were two people. That's shameful. The program doesn't allow the pursuit of second degrees such as education, law or social work. Other criteria make it next to impossible to qualify for the program. If a caseworker says no, the application goes no further without any appeal. The program is ineffective, designed to stop most students before they start. If the minister really wants students to get their post-secondary education, she needs to change the ESIA Act. My question to the minister is, when will she finally admit Career Seek program was set up to fail?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier in response to the question, certainly the uptake was not what we had anticipated, but I don't want to diminish the fact that those two individuals who are enrolled in the program are very much pleased that the program has been there for them.

[Page 792]

We recognize that perhaps 1 per cent of our clientele in ESIA would take advantage of this program. That 1 per cent is extremely important to this government. For those reasons, Mr. Speaker, we've made the changes. I would be pleased to share those changes with my honourable colleague after Question Period, because I am sure if you would sit me down, it would take me far too long to go over the changes that we've made. However, I will indicate one or two of them. Certainly we have looked at the issue that my honourable colleague raised, in particular about the idea of one degree. We recognize that there will be times when we will need to evaluate that, and we've allowed for that change to take place.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, I think what we have here is another failed program and a reaction by this government to put a band-aid on a situation that they created that never should have taken place. Mr. Speaker, if she increases uptake to 500 per cent, only 10 students would benefit from this program. The minister knows that two-thirds of participants in other education programs have either ended or reduced their reliance on social assistance. So my question for the minister, when will she stop tinkering with bad programs and just change the bad policy that her government created?

[2:00 p.m.]

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, the members on this side of the House recognize that success is extremely important to all Nova Scotians. It is for that reason that we have a menu of programs available. One of those programs is Career Seek. We on this side of the House believe that those individuals who seek that opportunity should be able to have that opportunity. That's the reason why we went out, we found out what were the obstacles, what were the challenges with the program that we created and put in place to improve the lives of many of those clients who came to us seeking that program. Many members on the opposite side of the House asked me repeatedly to put such a program in place. We did, Mr. Speaker. When we realized that the program wasn't working, we made those necessary changes and we have changed it to ensure that it will work in the future.

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

ENERGY: RENEWABLE ENERGY GOALS:

LEGISLATION - INTRODUCE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the new Minister of Energy. According to Nova Scotia Power, just 12 per cent of the electricity in this province is from renewable sources. This number doesn't even come close to meeting the targets in the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, so we're all agreed that a lot more renewables need to come on stream. So I want to ask this minister what legislation is he going to bring forward to ensure Nova Scotia meets its renewable energy goals?

[Page 793]

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I am shocked that I do not have time to reply to the question. If that member had gotten to his feet early in Question Period, I would have had the hour to reply.

Mr. Speaker, our Premier and our Leader has a vision and a plan for this province. We have set aggressive targets for this province for climate change. Nova Scotia Power is working with this government, but our Premier has set the tone where this province will be in the future. Our five priorities - and environment is number one, and climate change is a priority with this government. We've set aggressive targets, and we will live to those targets.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, they've set goals that are not attainable. They work against private people, they are against private wind, they do everything (Interruption) to harm it. This province has no vision, that Leader has no vision.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

The time for Oral Question Period has elapsed.

MR. HURLBURT: Let's do it tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 27.

Bill No. 27 - Hospitals Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, this one is definitely going to be a short one. It's my pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill No. 27 which is An Act to Amend Chapter 208 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Hospitals Act. Simply put, this does correct a drafting error that was in the Hospitals Act. It clarifies the procedures that hospitals must follow in obtaining consent for the release of patient records. So with that, I will move second reading of Bill No. 27.

[Page 794]

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I, too, have a few brief words on this piece of legislation. From my understanding of the bill briefing by the minister's staff, really this piece is more of a housekeeping agenda piece. We don't have a true issue right now with this and will support this going on to the Law Amendments Committee to hear from any of those interest groups that may have an opinion on the change of wording in this bill under the Hospitals Act. So with that, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I'll be brief as well. My honourable colleague from the NDP has been as brief as I've ever heard him anyway in my time here, but the Hospitals Act is administrative in nature and we know that district health authorities are supportive of this change. It's nice to see the supporting organizations, who they are, and where the changes are coming from. We appreciate that and we, too, will look forward to hearing more as this moves on to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will now recognize the honourable Minister of Health to close debate on Bill No. 27.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 27.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The question has been called. 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. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 31.

Bill No. 31 - Medical Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, this one will take me a little bit longer. It gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak on the Act to Amend Chapter 10 of the Acts of 1995-96, the Medical Act. Under this bill investigative and disciplinary materials used in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, disciplinary proceedings cannot

[Page 795]

be produced in civil court proceedings. This privilege is standard in many jurisdictions and colleges governing health professions across Canada. It also exists in Nova Scotia under the new Registered Nurses Act, the Licensed Practical Nurses Act, and the Respiratory Therapists Act.

Mr. Speaker, it is to systematically improve our health care system and best meet the needs of Nova Scotians. The college must have the power to honestly and openly address complaints and disciplinary issues. Physicians, complainants and others feel that they are unable to speak in confidence to their college. The information they share will remain between the college and the physician. This bill will maintain a separation between college proceedings and civil proceedings. The college proceedings are intended to regulate the profession and protect the public interest. The purpose of civil proceedings is different. Specific methods for the discovery of evidence exists with that process. Standards for evidence and testimony in each of these proceedings are very different.

Mr. Speaker, this bill will ensure the deposition and provides private information to the college during its disciplinary process. We're confident that it will be used for the intended purpose. With that, I look forward to comments from the members opposite and I move second reading of Bill No. 31.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to stand to speak for a few minutes on the Medical Act and the changes we will see with this legislation. It's my understanding that, as the minister stated, this is involved in many different aspects or different Acts that are currently on the books, not only here in the province but throughout the country. I think it shows the confidence that governments have with the structure that we have that oversees especially our health professions.

The minister knows that I have stood several times over the last number of years to discuss the importance of self-regulating bodies to oversee health professions, especially here in Nova Scotia and we have just had a few pieces of legislation go through that process. That's why it is important that we need to have the confidence and the public needs to have confidence that these regulatory bodies have a layer of protection, not only for their own members but most importantly for the consumers, or those who are assisted by that profession, especially in health care. It's extremely important that there is an avenue and that there is a forum that complaints need to be heard in. I think it's important that we ensure that those complaints are dealt with, not in a secretive way but in a protection way to not only protect those who are making those complaints, but those that the complaints are dealing with, maybe a physician or a health care worker.

The minister mentioned that this change is in current legislation around the Registered Nurses Act, the Respiratory Act and I believe there is another one. (Interruption)

[Page 796]

The LPN Act. It is my understanding, from talking with his staff that that line, or those regulations, aren't enforced yet and that hopefully in the near future all those Acts will ensure that this change, for the Medical Act, will take place with those other pieces of legislation.

As I said before, I do have the confidence with the regulatory body. Those who sit on the regulatory bodies in this province, they will uphold the intent of this change, Mr. Speaker, to the best of their abilities. We have, with the makeup of many of our regulatory bodies or colleges throughout the province, lay people, people who are working in the industry or in that profession, to keep an eye on the rights of not only the provider but the consumer in cases of complaints.

So we will support this going through the process to the Law Amendments Committee and I look forward to hearing individuals or organizations in their discussions on this change in that process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I, again, echo most of the comments, if not all of the comments that have been made by my colleague from the New Democratic Party. This recommendation did come from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, recommending the changes to the Medical Act. I think we have to show the respect to those regulatory bodies that are there and, again, the people who serve on them. It's an acceptable change. If the disciplinary information is irrelevant then, for instance, a judge can rule whether the testimony is irrelevant. We don't need a law for that.

We have to make sure, and as we always do, we have to make particularly sure here that we are protecting a patient's rights. That is the big question here. Another question is whether or not it is important to know if disciplinary hearings, for instance, if a patient is suing his doctor for malpractice or negligence and not going through the college's disciplinary process. Those are just a couple of the questions that we have but we certainly look forward to hearing more, Mr. Speaker, from the presenters who will be before the Law Amendments Committee but for now we will support this going on further to that stage.

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

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the members opposite for their comments and their support of this piece of legislation. It does create some more clarity among the different groups or the different colleges and makes sure that we have an equal set of competencies going there, also to make sure that we have the right tools and similar tools going across this system. The utmost piece, and the most important piece, is making sure that we protect the confidentiality and the rights of the patient.

[Page 797]

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 31.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 31. 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. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 52.

Bill No. 52 - Credit Union Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read a second time. I'm very pleased to present these amendments in Bill No. 52. The Nova Scotia Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation is a great service organization, providing comprehensive insurance programs for Nova Scotians.

What the amendments to the Credit Union Act will do is remove the restrictions for board members of CUDIC. The amendments are consistent with practices in several other provinces and will allow for more individuals, with proper qualifications and experience, to serve on the CUDIC board. It's important that we have the best qualified people looking after Nova Scotians' hard-earned money and these amendments will achieve that objective. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, a few brief remarks on what is really a minor amendment to the Credit Union Act. As is common here in this House, the acting minister, on second reading, explains what the bill does. What he doesn't say is why, why is this change necessary? The provision that is being amended is designed to protect the system against conflicts of interest. It is designed to ensure there is a separation between the time when somebody is an officer or director of a credit union and the time they sit on the board of the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation. Having a two year separation is designed to put some distance between files in which they were actively working when they were at the credit union and their time at the Deposit Insurance Corporation, which in some sense, is a supervisory body over the operation of credit unions.

[2:15 p.m.]

[Page 798]

What the government is doing is eliminating that distance and saying that somebody on December 1st could be working for a credit union and on December 2nd could be on the board of the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation supervising files on which they were working the day before.

Maybe that's a good thing and maybe it's necessary, but the government won't or can't explain why. It seems to me very likely that they have a particular individual in mind, there's somebody they want to be able to serve on the Deposit Insurance Corporation Board, but would not be permitted by this provision. It doesn't sound to me like the kind of provision where somebody would just look at it one day and say, gosh, in case this ever happens sometime in the future, we better take care of this. It seems to me they have somebody very particular in mind.

On second reading, approval in principle, we're not going to stand in the way, but it would be really helpful for us, for the House, for Hansard, if the ministers who bring forward this kind of bill could go beyond saying what the bill does - we can all read that, we can all see that - to say why it is necessary and why this is an improvement over the existing legislation. Thank you.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to say a few words today about this Bill No. 52, which is an amendment to the Credit Union Act. I would have to concur with the previous speaker, the Finance Critic from the Official Opposition. I believe this looks like a very specific amendment that appears to be clearing the way for someone to serve on the Deposit Insurance Board. It makes you wonder just why we're making such a small change to the Act at this time. Again, I'd like to know more what the compelling reason is for it.

I have the opportunity to sit as a member of the Human Resources Committee and that's a committee that, over the years, has looked at how we can increase the number of people who serve on boards and commissions and in official capacities on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia. To suggest that we don't have a large pool of qualified, principled, intelligent Nova Scotians who can learn and contribute by being members of boards is an insult, really, to the people of Nova Scotia.

What we see in the boards and commissions is that people stop applying because they are not selected. They are highly qualified people who give it their best and submit all their paperwork and never hear back, thank you very much. What we do on a lot of those boards is we recycle the same people through, again and again. I know that other members of the House would concur with me that it happens all too often. I think it's really important that we leave the playing field as wide open as possible, to allow more Nova Scotians to

[Page 799]

participate in all of these functions that are so important to the management and governance of our province.

So this change that the explanatory note gives us, essentially saying that it would allow that separation of two years that is currently required between sitting on the Nova Scotia Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation and being active in the Credit Union Central of Nova Scotia, I think in some ways is paving the way for somebody to move more quickly into that position on the Deposit Insurance Corporation and I'm not sure that it's entirely justified, Mr. Speaker.

Again, this is in principle only, so I'm anxious to hear more from perhaps the people involved. Maybe the government will have more to say about it as we go forward. It seems to me that in some ways we're just trying to speed up and allow people to continue to recycle through and serve in multiple capacities when we're not opening the door to others to play the role that they should.

We should always be welcoming new people to be involved in those capacities, and younger people who might otherwise not have the experience, rather than staying within a very small, insular pool. So I would like to be sure that's not something we're encouraging here. Again, it would help a lot if we had the compelling reason why this should be coming before us at this time and why the business of the House should be diverted to look at this issue at this time, that would be very helpful.

Again, preventing conflicts of interest is of great importance to all of us and if the original Act was designed to do just that, to make sure that there are checks and balances in this system and a separation of duties for people who are serving, and those principles should be kept paramount in our minds as we go forward. With that, this is second reading and I'm quite happy to sit and see if something comes forward at the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you very much.

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

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank the honourable members for their comments and certainly the issues that they raise are issues that one would naturally want to consider. We're bringing the legislation forward, first of all, at the request of the credit union movement within this province.

Mr. Speaker, there is another side to the issue that the honourable member has referenced, and that is having the capacity to bring the experience of people who have been involved in the credit union movement to the Deposit Insurance Corporation so that there is a person or persons there who have that experience.

[Page 800]

Sometimes in dealing with a gap of two years, people who are naturally active in things decide to move on to other things that they are interested in and the credit union movement feel that they are losing the ability to keep these people on side.

Now certainly if the Board of CUDIC were populated with all of these people, I would certainly share the concerns of members opposite. To the best of my knowledge there are no specific individuals spoken to me about and certainly the government doesn't have any person or persons that they are interested in bringing forward with respect to this. We're doing so at the request of the credit union movement and their desire is to ensure that they do not lose opportunities to have experienced individuals serving on the CUDIC Board.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the concerns expressed by the honourable members opposite, but I think on balance the CUDIC Board would be well served with people of that experience, assuming, of course, that it's not totally populated with those individuals. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister has moved second reading on Bill No. 52.

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 Law Amendments.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 55.

Bill No. 55 - Public Service Superannuation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read a second time. These amendments are largely administrative and they really bring the legislation up to date, ensuring fairness for all public servants within the plan, and make our plan more consistent with other related plans. The legislation now better defines, through these amendments, the term "spouse" which among other things better recognizes common-law unions and gives credit for years lived common-law prior to and continuing directly to marriage.

It also allows plan members to designate a beneficiary, Mr. Speaker, which will give peace of mind to members of the plan. The amendments have no effect on members'

[Page 801]

contributions to the pension plan or to the benefits derived from the plan. The amendments contained in the bill are indeed administrative, but they will help ensure a better future of our public servants and their families, and I'm very pleased to bring this legislation to the House.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to take an opportunity to just speak very briefly on Bill No. 55. As we know, pension legislation is generally very complex legislation. This particular bill is with respect to the pension plan for the Public Service here in Nova Scotia and, as the minister has said, primarily the changes that are being contemplated in this bill are administrative in nature; for example, bringing the definition of spouse in line with same-sex marriage and other pieces of legislation, both at a federal level in terms of the Canada Pension Plan, and legislation elsewhere in our province.

There again are one or two changes being contemplated here that we haven't had an opportunity to really learn the reason for the changes beyond changes that are quite apparent, so we'll be looking for some discussion hopefully in the Law Amendments Committee process when people come in front of us who have a direct interest in the Public Service Superannuation Plan to provide us with a little more insight into the implications for some of these changes. But, Mr. Speaker, in principle we certainly support the measures that are taken in Bill No. 55 and we're very happy to see it go forward through second reading to the Law Amendments Committee.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say a few words on behalf of our caucus on Bill No. 55 with proposed changes to the Public Service Superannuation Act. Going through the changes - it's not a short bill - these changes are fairly numerous, but I think many of them are simply updating and modernizing some of the components of this Act. It is, of course, a very lengthy and complex area, as pension benefits are, particularly the change around the definition of spouse is very important with our new legislation in place in Canada recognizing same-sex marriage and also providing proper protection to common-law spouses who, you know, have often spent years together and should have the same rights and recognition as spouses who are deemed to be married in the more traditional sense. So I think that's very important as well.

I notice, Mr. Speaker, that Clause 3 is clarifying some entitlements to purchase pensionable service for prior years where either the funds have been withdrawn or there had been no contributions made. I think that's very important. I do agree with the previous speaker who mentioned that there are details in this bill that we have not been apprised of and I think it's important, as members of the Opposition, that we have the opportunity to be briefed by departmental staff when there are a number of changes.

[Page 802]

I will commend the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, because on the municipal relations side they always come to visit and explain what changes are being proposed even when they are housekeeping changes, and that takes away a lot of the uncertainty. It removes a lot of the question marks that we might have otherwise and, in fact, allows legislation to move much more smoothly in this House. In this particular bill, I haven't had any opportunity to be briefed, so it is of some concern to me that there may be aspects here that we will only learn about at the Law Amendments Committee or only through our own digging. So that's simply a suggestion for the future as government bills come forward. It certainly is a great assurance to members of the Opposition if they have the opportunity to speak directly to some of the changes before they are even presented here on the floor.

But in speaking about the opportunity to purchase pensionable time for prior years' service, I think that's very important, particularly as a women's issue, Mr. Speaker, because very often women have time where they have not received a pension, but they might be eligible to purchase that time later on when they are back in the workforce, or if they have taken periods of time off work but they are still considered to be employees. I'm not sure if this will cover that directly, but it's an issue that needs to be raised, and I think we need to do all we can in our legislation to facilitate women participating fully in the workplace and preparing for their retirement years when that's often hindered by the fact that they take time off to look after not only children, but often to look after elderly parents as well.

So I'm hoping that there will be more in the bill that might, as well, be of assistance to women and anybody, in fact, whose careers are interrupted with caregiving, because that has been a major concern for women's groups for many years, that women retire without the proper pensions and often retire in poverty. That's something that all of us should be aware of because they work hard through their years and perhaps simply don't have the number of years that they've been paying into pensions.

We feel that in many ways the bill does recognize that we have caught up with the times and redefined so many of the definitions that we need, whether it be what defines an employee and so on.

[2:30 p.m.]

So overall, Mr. Speaker, I am satisfied that these are changes that are required and, in fact, modernize our Act, but I would like to be better apprised of some of the details, and I hope we will hear more about it at the Law Amendments Committee.

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

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

[Page 803]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank the honourable members for their comments. I am cognizant of their comments with respect to prior knowledge of the bill and its contents, and I'm not hiding behind the fact that I'm in an acting capacity, but I will ensure that members do have an opportunity to be briefed on the legislation, even prior to it going to the Law Amendments Committee. So I will try to make those arrangements for you in the next day or so.

So, Mr. Speaker, with that, I'm very pleased to see that the bill seems to - the indications are that it will proceed to the next stage of the legislative process. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 55. 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. 39, the Rental Property Conversion Act.

Bill No. 39 - Rental Property Conversion Act.

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Good afternoon. Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I stand before the members of the House to bring forward the amendments to the Rental Property Conversion Act, Bill No. 39. In the early 1980s, the concept of condominiums entered the real estate market. At that time, many landlords considered converting their rental units into the new format of condos. Indeed, then the Rental Property Conversion Act was created to prevent tenants from being suddenly displaced from their living arrangements with very few options.

The amendments give tenants the right to remain for an extended 12-month period, following notification from a landlord of a proposed conversion. There are three or four conversions per year in Nova Scotia but sometimes a single conversion can affect 30 or 40 units. If, as the result of a conversion, there were 30 or 40 families looking for housing in a specific neighbourhood at the same time, it would probably create some very practical difficulties and this bill will prevent that from happening. Through consultations with landlords and feedback from the real estate community, several amendments were developed to first clarify what information must be filed by a landlord looking to convert his or her

[Page 804]

property and, second, specify the notification requirements and clarify that the 12-month extension begins on the proposed date of the conversion.

Mr. Speaker, these amendments are not meant to restrict or prohibit the conversion of rental properties. They're meant to provide tenants with enough time to find adequate housing. What this amendment does is it creates certainty. No longer will tenants or landlords be uncertain as to when the 12-month notice period starts and stops. These amendments also apply to mobile home parks. When these landlords seek to close a mobile home park, once again, the tenants are entitled to a 12-month notification of closures.

You will remember, perhaps, that we did go through that here a couple of years ago in Nova Scotia. These amendments will help make the Act clearer and easier to follow for the landlords in the province and they do so without weakening any protection in place for tenants. With those few comments, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 39, the Rental Property Conversion Act.

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, it's also a pleasure to rise on Bill No. 39, the Rental Property Conversion Act. I'm glad that my colleague across the way had mentioned about not hurting people who are living in those mobile homes, the residents who are living in those, or residents who are living in properties that are going to be converted into condominiums. It gives them a little bit of assurance that they won't be thrown out. It's a bill that's probably long overdue since the 1980s, but it also clarifies the Act and it clarifies the regulations. In that way, as my colleague across the way had mentioned, you won't have a whole neighbourhood of people looking for rental agreements or being put out on such a short notice, but a 12-month period from the date of property conversion is a good thing. It gives people time to relocate, especially people with families and other people who are in that neighbourhood, who would actually have to relocate because of the proposed conversion.

Mr. Speaker, I, too, am looking forward to moving this bill forward to second reading and going forward to the Law Amendments Committee.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, there seems to be a whole series of bills that relate to my critic area this afternoon. I wanted to speak a little bit on this bill about the conversion, the Rental Property Conversion Act, Bill No. 39. My riding of Clayton Park has a significant number of condominiums, both townhouses and multi-unit buildings, and at the same time they've been growing by leaps and bounds. The Condominium Act was actually changed a number of years ago in relation to one condominium in our area that was changed

[Page 805]

from being a condominium back to being a rental unit. It created a great deal of, I think, precedent-setting information, at that time.

Mr. Speaker, it's an area that requires a lot of control and I know the minister is aware of other problems existing in the condominium world today in Nova Scotia, issues that relate to the quality of buildings, to large bills coming back to new owners of brand new condominium buildings, because we don't have some of the controls and some of the protections in place that would help people as they buy into the condominium concept and buy brand new buildings, where within one year or at a certain point when 50 per cent or more of the units have been sold, they become managed and governed by a board, rather than by the original builder, and then the board becomes responsible for any major difficulties.

So it is an area that I think is actually unfolding in Nova Scotia, showing us that there are protections needed and that we need to address legislation. The bill before us addresses one small aspect of that and through a different Act, not through the Condominium Act but through the Rental Property Conversion Act. I understand that landlords will sometimes see a need or an opportunity to convert their buildings from rental into condominium. Especially, as I say, today, where the whole concept of condominium ownership is becoming more prevalent and Nova Scotians are becoming more comfortable with the idea of that form of ownership, that certainly has been happening, even with older buildings.

A short while ago - maybe it was about three or four years ago actually - in Clayton Park, I had a building that was being converted from rental to condominium units and I had many calls from residents at that time. What the building had done was change all their leases to go month by month, as they became due, and people who were staying on were exposed to a lot of noise, a lot of disruption, with work going on all day long and into the night on improvements to the building before it was going to be sold as condominium units. There was really no protection there, in terms of them staying in their units. They had only a month to month lease, which put them under stress about, as the minister has said, about trying to find alternate locations to live in a fairly short period of time, and particularly if they didn't like the noise they had to pretty much put up with it until they could relocate.

I do think that it might be good to put in there something around the conversion that would consider the disruption that comes because when you're converting a building it is generally a building that has been occupied for some period of time. It is going to require improvements in order to be sold at market price. I think there are and could be expected, a lot of disruptions during that period of time. That might be something that people who are renting, and spokespeople or stakeholders who are representing renters, might have something to say about, in terms of protecting them during that period of time when there is noise and disruption and significant impacts on their lives, if they are living in a building that's being converted.

[Page 806]

At the same time, I really applaud the idea of giving them a 12-month stay, as a renter, during the period after the conversion has taken place because that allows those tenants the security of tenure which is missing in a lot of instances in our Residential Tenancies Act as well. The security of tenure is not there that should be and that advocates for the poor recommend, Mr. Speaker. They would like to see greater control and greater assurance that people won't be evicted for spurious reasons and that they will be given the security of a home when they're not breaking any rules and when they're paying their rent on a regular basis and so on. This will allow that for those people who have the misfortune of being in a building that is going to be converted.

At the same time, I think it is really important to say that owners have the right to make the best use of their properties, to make the decision to convert - that's a business decision - and we understand that people who own multi-unit buildings and condominiums or want to convert to condominiums, have that right as a business owner to make that decision. So our job here in the Legislature would be to provide the greatest protection we can for the people who are renting units in those buildings as they go through that transitional period.

So the notification to the director of Residential Tenancies is important. I'd be interested to know just what level of information is being required. Clause 3 of the changes adds that this will be regulation-making power to prescribe a form of statutory declaration. I guess that means that through this Clause 3 change, the director of Residential Tenancies will determine what the form looks like and what will be asked. It would be interesting to know what exactly the owners would have to provide to make that conversion. Again, that is just more out of curiosity to see where we are going with that, because we do prefer to know the detail rather than to leave it to regulation as a general rule.

The protection to the tenant is there. I believe that we should be extending security of tenure to more people in this province and this certainly gives a little bit of that security to those who are caught in this very specific instance. I hope we will be seeing more changes that will be improving lives for people who are tenants in this province.

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 opposite for their helpful observations, interventions and I look forward to this bill returning from the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 39. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

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The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 41, the Municipal Government Act.

Bill No. 41 - Municipal Government Act.

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise before the House to bring amendments forward to the Municipal Government Act, Bill No. 41. The MGA is the provincial legislation that lays out the framework used by municipalities to govern their citizens. As requested by the Halifax Regional Municipality, the province put these changes, or proposed changes, providing it with the authority to allocate supplementary education funding where the municipality believes it will make the most impact. These amendments will allow an agreement, reached between the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Halifax Regional School Board, to take effect. I want to reiterate, at this point, that this amendment is being proposed because of an agreement with the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Halifax Regional School Board.

We are also amending the Act to give municipalities the authority to assign more accurate civic addresses to parks and recreational areas. Just to clarify that, Mr. Speaker, is that although some municipalities did take it upon themselves to assign civic addresses to vacant lots or parks, there were a number that have not and the reason that some didn't is, quite frankly, it wasn't part of the MGA. So the amendment to this Act does really give them the authority to assign accurate civic addresses to park and recreational areas or perhaps just other property.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the present legislation states that civic addresses can be assigned only to structures and therefore these amendments allow municipalities to assign the addresses to other venues where they are needed that don't have structures on them. What this will do, obviously, it's in the interest of public safety, among other things, to ensure that first responders have the information they need if they are dispatched to a property where their services are needed and where there is no structure.

[Page 808]

Mr. Speaker, these amendments are the direct result of consultations with municipalities, stakeholder groups and other provincial departments. The amendments being proposed to the Municipal Government Act are a clear example of the positive steps we can take to strengthen local government and build a stronger Nova Scotia for now and for the future.

Mr. Speaker, with those comments, I now move second reading of Bill No. 41, the Municipal Government Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MS. BECKY KENT: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill No. 41 and to certainly thank the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations for bringing this forward, an Act to amend the Municipal Government Act. There are two important pieces to this and I think that certainly the provision for civic numbers to be allocated to vacant lots, sports fields, trail heads - I can think of a number of situations within the riding of Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage that this is particularly relevant. At first blush, some might think this is a rather trivial situation, but it really isn't. It is certainly in the interest of public safety.

For instance, in Eastern Passage, there is an area called the Eastern Passage Commons. It houses three baseball fields, three soccer fields, a large field area for a community fair that is hosted every year, pathways, playgrounds, all in and around the same area and it can get quite confusing. At a particular evening last year, with a health fair being hosted at one of the community schools, a significant fire happened in this area and having civic addresses attached to these lands certainly would make it much easier for our EMO, our first responders, to appropriately respond.

The trails and trail heads in the riding - no doubt across the province - they have parking areas where, you know we're all out there being active and we have the unfortunate situation of coming back to our cars potentially having been vandalized or even in your own health situation, fatigue, and you are in need of help, and there really needs to be civic addresses attached to these.

Equally important in this bill is the collection of supplementary funding - this is certainly a contentious issue. For my colleagues in the Chamber who have had the same background as myself on municipal council here in HRM it is an ongoing and divisive issue, supplementary funding in and of itself. I had the pleasure of being part of a working group that allowed councillors, MLAs, Halifax Regional School Board and HRM staff in administration to work together to come up with some solutions, perhaps recommendations, that would address the issues in and around supplementary funding.

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The message came out loud and clear, Mr. Speaker. I think this is potentially a band-aid for now. People are willing to pay supplementary funding for now. It was a clear message, loud and clear, at that working group that provincial education funding falls short here in the Halifax Regional School Board. This is a band-aid and I'd like to think for another day the debate can go on and solutions can go on to raising the provincial education funding to the level it should be, but for now I think this bill sends a message as well to the Halifax Regional School Board and HRM in addressing the collaborative approach to this issue. It is a message loud and clear that we appreciate the work they're doing and they've come up with a solution and this is in a way of supporting it, the necessary steps to do that.

Families in the Halifax Regional School Board and HRM, they want equal access to the education that is out there. They're willing to pay for it through supplementary funding again for now, if they have to. This bill certainly allows the school board to utilize the money right across the board, in all jurisdictions within that board. It's a positive move for the students in our schools, and ultimately that is the goal.

We have no objection to that - certainly my understanding is the French school board and UNSM are all in favour of this as well, in that for now we look forward to moving this to the Law Amendments Committee, can support it, and I look forward to discussions at a later date, again, to bring the provincial education funding to the appropriate amounts for the Halifax Regional School Board. Thank you.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise and speak about Bill No. 41, which is an Act to amend the Municipal Government Act. As was mentioned, the MGA sets out all of the powers and extent of governance for our municipalities, so any change to them is important. It was good to hear that, in this particular case, UNSM is fine with the changes that are recommended, so we're on side there.

These changes, particularly the supplementary funding changes, are unique to HRM. I think it's important to talk a little bit around that to begin with because this has been an area of concern, really, from the time of amalgamation in HRM of more than 10 years ago. There was a historic difference in the funding for education within the municipal units that were brought together - Halifax had the highest level of extra supplementary funding, it was an amount raised from the tax base to go to Halifax schools. At the time there were 38 Halifax schools that received a significant amount of money in addition so that they could have far better programs in arts and music, and even French education and a number of other areas that were supplemented as a result of that funding.

Dartmouth, as well, had a commitment to that, but the areas of Bedford and the old County of Halifax did not provide very much in the way of extra funding to the schools and,

[Page 810]

as a result, the new HRM council came together with some real disparities among them in terms of what programs were offered and how that was funded through the tax base.

I also had the opportunity to sit on a committee. I'm not sure if it was the same one as the honourable member who just spoke, but I sat there when I was Education Critic a couple of years ago, along with the member for Timberlea-Prospect, who represented the NDP on that committee, and it included members of the school board. It did not include a member of the government; although they were invited to sit on the committee, they refused.

The point of the committee had been to try to hammer out a solution that would be long term, that would allow the school board to provide the best level of education they possibly could to all schools across the entire HRM, because the old legislation, as well, required that any money raised in a particular one of the old four municipal units had to be spent in those four units. So if the money was raised from the significantly bigger tax base of Halifax, it couldn't be spent on a school that would be outside of the old boundaries of Halifax.

You can only imagine how difficult it was for the school board, and remains to this day, for them to maintain, essentially, four sets of books about money raised in each of the four areas through either supplementary funding or area rates, and how they could spend it and keep it within those geographic boundaries. It really has tied their hands in terms of providing the best level of special programs and enhanced programs to all of the students in HRM because, really, they could provide music and art that would have served students from both the old county, for example, and Halifax.

Even in the high school in my area, Halifax West High School, served students from the Brookside area, which is the former county, and they are mixed with students from Halifax, and the school is in Halifax. It created difficulties when those two school communities were being blended. Luckily the people who sat on the steering committee there, from the community, were able to work all that out so that there is no disparity, but you can see that it creates legal problems.

The fact is that this bill before us now has found a way to come to a decision, which was not easily reached, I'm sure, where both the HRM Council and the school board have come to an agreement on what can be done. That is really a very momentous moment for us because this has been an annual cause of great concern; every single year it arises at budget time at HRM and it does split the councillors by geographic area and has been a cause of a lot of disputes. So I think it's much better that they have come to an agreement, I think it's appropriate that the province move forward to endorse it so that they have the legal power to do what they would like to do.

One thing that I was assured of, was that the existing programs for art and music are not going to be dismantled in the old City of Halifax and, Mr. Speaker, it's difficult for me

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to take off my hat, as a resident of Halifax, because I don't want to see the few programs that we have that are outstanding in this province dismantled. I think that's a step backward for everyone, and we should be setting the bar high so that across the province, when we have good programs and we've tested them and we know they work well in schools, we should be trying to replicate them and extend them to every corner of the province. We should, at all costs, resist the temptation to remove programs and bring us down to a lowest common denominator.

I was told that the agreement they have reached will respect the programs that are currently in place, and I think that's important, and that they've also made an effort to even out the tax rates that will be charged, because I know this is going to mean an increase in the taxes for some corners of HRM because they have, up to this point, not paid that additional funding towards education. So the HRM has arranged that this will be evened out over a four-year period. I think that's important, too, that it not be done in one fell swoop, because it would create some real hardship for our homeowners and property taxpayers. I think we want to guard against that as well, Mr. Speaker.

As I say, I think it's an important thing that we've finally come to a point where we can support the HRM and the HRSB in a decision they've made. Now the school board will be allowed to spend the dollars where they see the best benefit and the greatest need can be addressed. That is very important. If we expect the school board to operate efficiently and effectively, they have to have that kind of control, and it was really a regressive and almost nonsensical system before, where you had to ensure that programs were kept within what is now an obsolete geographic distinction. So I'm glad that we've taken that out and are allowed to move forward and support this bill as it goes forward.

In the case of the civic addressing, I think that, again, is a very smart thing to be doing. If our primary concern in even introducing a lot more standardization in civic addressing - and here in the HRM we've be doing a lot of street name changes as well to ensure that our emergency responders know where it is they're headed. Again because of amalgamation, we had a lot of streets that were duplicated within the region and that meant that sometimes our first responders were heading to the wrong location and to try to respond to that, there has been again another very big initiative in HRM which has been to rename streets.

As you can appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that creates its own set of circumstances when people have a real affinity for the name of the street they've lived on for a generation or an attachment to that name. It has been a little bit of disruption to decide what new name should go in place and how we can move forward but people understand that it's being done so that safety comes first. I find that even though people may resist it, they do understand the reason and are all for it. Again because accidents can occur in any corner of the municipality, it's not always at a civic address that you can report. Therefore, it's very important that we allow citizens to know where they are precisely.

[Page 812]

Another interesting thing is that when you call 911, you might have a call answered in another part of the province entirely. The person who takes your call might be in Cape Breton at the time that you pick up the phone. They would have no knowledge of which corner you're at when you try to describe how, you know, so many blocks from a certain location. It would be unknown to them and that means a lot can be lost in translation as they call that emergency on to someone else. So I think that having a number clearly takes away that kind of confusion and nowadays with our civic addressing and the GIS information that's available, we can ensure that there won't be mistakes made and that people will be assisted as fast as possible from whichever of the emergency responders are needed.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to this bill going to the Law Amendments Committee and to hear from others if there are any issues that we have not yet considered.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to raise and have some discussion on this bill in second reading. I've got some serious problems with the area rates that have been levied on parts of the county without public consultation, both through the supplementary funding and for other issues within Halifax Regional Municipality.

Well, supplementary funding, I was on council and I can remember all the councillors at the time, praising the school board for all the money they spent so wisely. I wasn't so optimistic. So I asked them to come in, asked council to get permission to bring the school board in, and get a detailed accounting of where they spent the money. Well, lo and behold, they didn't spend the money, number one, where they were supposed to, didn't spend it on what they were supposed to spend it on. It really didn't go towards the program, as my honourable colleague just mentioned, for some music and other programs that were really important. So after the council discovered that after several years of applauding the school boards for doing such a wonderful job, to find out really they didn't do a very good job at all, after that some accountability was brought in place which was very positive.

The concern I have with this, as has been said by the member from the Opposition Party, is that there is a real discussion about this in the communities. This bill and what the regional municipality has done, even though if it's levied in over four years, it's still going to be a huge tax increase for the rural part of HRM and Bedford. This is a huge tax increase. It's not a minor tax increase. This is a huge tax increase and this was done by a committee, which is fair enough and they have the right and ability to do that where it's already existing on the books, but without public consultation, without going to the public and saying what does that mean to you. What does that mean to you - the taxpayer who is going to have to pay this bill, which is already taxed at some of the highest in the province in the Halifax Regional

[Page 813]

Municipality. In the rural areas there's continuing discussion about the lack of services for the level of taxes you pay.

It was always, my former colleagues on council used to say, well, it's all the assessment, that we pay a higher assessment in Halifax and Clayton Park than you do on the Eastern Shore. Well, I've got the assessment numbers for the last few years. I don't have them with me today but I will table them in the future. It shows that the assessments are just as high in district three as they are in most parts of the municipality, if not higher. So, indeed, that argument doesn't hold water and, unfortunately, I didn't have those documents at this time. So if you look at that and you look at the huge assessment increases - we have seen assessment increases in rural areas of 200 per cent, 300 per cent and 400 per cent. Now if somebody is retired, even if they have a good income, and you get a huge increase in your assessment like that, that means a huge increase in your property taxes.

To give you an idea of how big that is, when I was on council, the Halifax Regional Council had a total budget of about $450 million. Two years ago, the senior management for HRM came into our caucus and gave us a briefing and they were getting very close to $700 million, no tax increases, but huge assessment increases. So who is paying for that? The people who have had their homes for a long time; some new homes, but not that many new homes; and some new businesses, but not many new businesses - in comparison to how the tax has gone up, this is a huge tax increase. Then you add the supplementary funding onto the program and you get another huge tax increase.

They are getting to the point that - although HRM has all the services that anyone would want, to want to live here, they have hospitals and a good school system and it's really important to have the best possible education we can for our children. It is getting to the point that people can't afford to keep their houses anymore because of the taxes. If you couple the tax costs with increases in fuel, insurance and maintenance on buildings, it gets very difficult. So that's the problem I have with this whole issue.

The thing I have the biggest problem with is public consultation. Now this is a huge increase and you set a committee up in the municipality to look at this, and that's fair enough, but at least they should have gone out for public consultation. They didn't do that. I can tell you, if they would have come to my area, they would have been met with some very angry people in that regard and not people who don't want to see children have the best possible education. That's not the thing. Indeed, we want to see our children have absolutely the best education, but the responsibility lays with the government. The government should provide proper funding so all these things can be put in place. We are the only part of the province that has supplementary funding, that I'm aware of, so that the school programs can be done the way they should be done, and even then I don't think they have enough funding.

We have excellent teachers, we have parents who help in our schools and do all the things we should be doing, but if the province would come up with the funding - the

[Page 814]

province, I believe, is committed to doing some of this funding. Does that mean that if the province is going to come up with the funding, the shortfall in funding for education, that indeed we are going to eliminate this supplementary funding to schools because they will be able to provide the programs that they are supposed to be starting and mandated under the provincial mandate for providing education. Here the property tax owners are paying for this.

So I have real serious problems with that and I want to really see some amendments in this bill. The other thing I would want to see, based on what I have seen in the past when on regional council, this bill should also indicate that a detailed, public report should be provided by the Halifax Regional School Board, showing where every single penny of this supplementary funding was spent in every school, every year, to regional council. So they can review this and say, yes, it was a good investment, because before they were supposed to be spending on sports enhancement programs, music programs, all things that would enrich the lives of our children, they were spending on carpets, building maintenance, all kinds of things, and I hope that's eliminated.

It would be nice to know for sure, as a taxpayer and as an elected representative, that indeed those monies are being spent properly. So that's an amendment I am going to try to put forward when we come back for amendments on this bill. It is simply public accountability. I don't have much confidence in the school board that they will spend the money properly, based on their past history.

Now, I know the schools themselves, when they finally get that little bit of money they get, to work on the programs, they use it very wisely. The trouble is they have, oftentimes, difficulty accessing that money. So I think that would put a lot of accountability into the system and provide the regional council and taxpayers comfort to know that the money is being spent where it's supposed to be spent. I think that's important and this bill doesn't talk anything about accountability.

The other thing I would like to see in this bill, is if they are going to increase the area rate on anything in the regional municipality, it should have to go to public consultation, not just be decided by the councillors and council of the day. Now I'm going to give you a horrible example of how this has gone wrong. In my riding, there is a street called O'Connell Drive. (Interruption) Yes, it is all paved now and I'm going to have a discussion about that right here and now because it goes to area rates and how important this is. Everyone in this place who works in HRM should listen very, very carefully because this actually did happen.

What happened was - and I really appreciate the concern shown by the former Minister of Transportation and Public Works who took the concern of the community at heart and decided he would - they had a special program to pave from the No. 7 highway up to O'Connell Drive Elementary School. A road that is owned by the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 815]

Unfortunately, the road should have been paved when the school was built - we were in government at the time - but we didn't realize that there would be so many people attracted to that P3 school, which actually did happen. (Interruptions) People moved into the communities to go to this very special school - and it is a very special school. What happened was, the road became impassable in the winter time. You couldn't get through it, it was closed because it was beat up so bad from the big school buses, the people who went back and forth dropping their kids off, the teachers - it was horrendous.

Again, I want to thank the minister for making a program available to do that, at no cost to the residents because it was a provincial road. That's all fine, everything worked well. It took a long time to talk him into it, but he finally realized how important it was. And, it was important, it was very important to the residents on the street and to the children that went to the school and to the parents and teachers. It was the proper thing to do.

But then comes along the local councillor and he decides (Interruptions) maybe you could mention his name afterwards, but the local councillor, Mr. Hendsbee, decided that he is going to get the rest of the road paved. Guess what? Under the rules in HRM - they're very clear - you have to petition to get the rest of the road paved. Lo and behold, he goes to council and somehow or other, he convinces the rest of council to support his overriding the ability to go forward and get the people to approve this thing. Just do it anyway on a 50/50 cost sharing plan with the province - that the province had put forward.

Now, there are two or three problems with that. Number one, I believe it's against your rights as a taxpayer that a councillor can overrule what the community wants. I think that's the most outrageous thing that could possibly be done in this country. We're a democracy and we should be treated like a democracy.

The other issue is, there are 60 or 70 roads in the Halifax Regional Municipality on a wait list to get the roads paved that have properly been petitioned and properly approved by the residents and desperately want their roads paved. Guess what? The longer they wait, the higher the cost goes for the road paving. So, you get a frontage charge - the province pays half the cost of the paving under the program, you get a frontage charge for so many dollars per foot for the paving and then the province picks up half the cost, you pick up the other half and it goes on a local improvement charge which you can pay immediately or you can pay over a 10 year period, with interest on it for the municipality.

It's a pretty good system, but the system is there and there was a priority list. Well, the upper part of O'Connell Drive was not on the priority list, it was never petitioned, nor did the residents want it paved. They didn't want it paved because the road was in perfect condition, a gravel road, past the school once the school was fixed. Again, I want to thank the minister again for getting that first part paved. The residents are very, very happy with it.

[Page 816]

Now, the situation gets worse, it gets absolutely worse and this is really happening today. It's unbelievable. So, at the great wisdom of the local councillor, he comes along and he decides, I'm going to put a local improvement charge on the whole road - on the whole road, not just on the part that the municipality owned, but the part that the province paid for 100 per cent. I think the logic behind that - if there's any logic behind it, which I can't see - is the fact that he was trying to bail himself out because when he was a former MLA, he couldn't get the job done. I think that's what was happening.

It's too bad, it's too bad he couldn't get it done, but anyway, he didn't and we have a wiser minister maybe than we had at that time. I don't who the minister was but anyway, it goes to show you that the people on a provincially-owned road can be asked to pay for a local improvement charge for a section of road they don't even live on, they have no participation in a public process to see if this can be done, nothing, and bang, the municipality figures they can charge them for this.

Now that means if I get my road paved in front of my house, that the province owns, totally owns, always will own probably until the municipality takes all the roads over, that I'm going to have to pay a local improvement charge to get my road paved because the municipality needs some extra money? That's what this means.

When I was on council, the rules for area rates were changed. If you were going to put on a new area rate, you had to have public meetings, you had to talk to the people about it and give them the pros and cons. Then we came up with a ballot system that the property owners would fill out and mail in and say yes, we're in favour of this or no, we're not. Basically that put the local improvement charge, if it was something that the community was really interested in, very important to the community, they made the decision. As they should do, because if they're willing to pay extra for a service, they should definitely get the service, no question. This definitely was not followed in this case.

I've never seen anything like it, it's unbelievable what happened. If I was a person living on the roads that already had my road petitioned to have paved, and some of them on the waiting list for over 10 years, I'd be really angry about this, really angry. Probably the truth is they don't know about it, they do not know that this actually happened.

[3:15 p.m.]

Just coincidentally, this is going to municipal council tonight, I can tell you that the people in the community are irate, to say the least. This is the worst abuse of power that I've ever seen in this province, it's the worse thing I have ever, ever seen. The residents even came up with a petition after this was all done, because they were wondering how the road got paved. How did the road get paved? Nobody knew, but afterwards they were told, we'll have a public meeting about it. So they had the public meeting and they were told - and I was at the meeting - they were told by the local councillor, I decided this was the best thing to do.

[Page 817]

He has to pay nothing, the people on the street have to pay nothing and pretty well all the lots on that street are all occupied.

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The honourable member for Preston indicated that the worst abuse of power that he has ever experienced, I think he just communicated, was the paving of some citizen's road out in his riding in the Lake Echo area, and O'Connell Drive specifically. I wonder, was that member not in the House when his colleague, the former Minister of Transportation, Richie Mann, and the then federal minister, David Dingwall, swiped away $13 million from the Strategic Highway Improvement Program, to put a toll road up in the Cobequid Pass when, in fact, the citizens were not consulted in Cumberland and Colchester Counties. You talk about abuse of power, they literally - Mr. Speaker, you would remember - they swiped that money away from the Strategic Highway Improvement Program, millions and millions of dollars, and Nova Scotians, in fact, and especially the trucker industry, are still paying today.

I'm not sure if that member was in the House but I would like him to answer that question, was that not an abuse of power?

MR. SPEAKER: Well the honourable minister knows that this is not Oral Question Period, to begin with and it is not a point of order. Maybe it's a good point for the record. We will return to the honourable member for Preston. Continue.

MR. COLWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The honourable Minister of Agriculture is talking about abuse of power and how horrible this highway was at the Cobequid Pass. His Premier, just the other day, said they're going to P3 programs again, so they must figure it is a pretty good program now.

When I talk about the abuse of power I'm talking about the abuse of people's rights. In this case, people were supposed to be, it's a policy of the regional municipality to have public consultation prior to committing people to pay for services they had. This is individual people in an individual situation.

Now as I was starting to say, almost all the properties along O'Connell Drive are occupied by homes. Very, very few, if any, empty lots. Now it just so happens that the only one that would really benefit from this, except for the nice road that you would drive on, it is a beautiful road and there's no question about that, and it's nice to have a road paved- is the contractor who happens to be building off that road, which he has to build and has to build paved roads, which is a proper thing to do and it was done in the municipality some time ago.

So, you know, it raises all kinds of questions of what happened here. This is clearly an abuse of power. It's clearly a situation where the regional councillor has taken upon himself to overrule all of the rules of a municipal council, all the rules of fairness, and all the

[Page 818]

rules of democracy, to service something else. I don't know what that is, I wish I could find out what it was, but we can't find that out. At the end of the day, we end up with people with a bill that they don't want. People are on a very tight budget and again as I talked about the taxes increasing rapidly in HRM, now supplementary funding is going to be added to the tax bill, then a local improvement charge on your tax bill, you've got a serious problem on your hands when it comes to paying your tax bill and that's not right. It's not right.

If you decided that you wanted this work done, that's one issue, but when it's forced on you, forced on you, you didn't even know it was going to happen and then you get a bill in the mail and says you've got to pay it or else we'll sell your property to get the money back, and that's exactly what will happen, because I've seen it with other local improvement charges, you know, there's a serious problem here. So, I would want to see some amendments in this bill that would make it accountable and a transparent system for area rates.

This has got to happen because there must be other examples of this, I don't know any of them in the regional municipality. However, I do know that a lot of area rates that were added on just after amalgamation, by the same councillor, were not publicly advertised as they properly should have been. We ended up with a District 3 area rate, capital area rate, with a huge amount of money in it. We ended up with a fire rate, which we desperately needed. It was very, very high. We ended up with street lights. We paid twice as much for street lights in the rural area, with fewer street lights, than you did in downtown Halifax. It actually doubled under the area rate and the list goes on and on. Basically, the tax rate in District 3 was almost as high, if not higher, as downtown Halifax but not with services, and that's what we were faced with.

So I think that it's time we put a stop to this ability for council to go and arbitrarily apply charges to individuals' properties. If they go through the proper process, if people are willing to pay for the service, that is fine. There is no objection to that whatsoever and oftentimes people will come, or organizations will come, and say I want to do this and we need to do this for the betterment of our community. That is perfect and that's the way it's supposed to work. If everybody agrees, or the majority of people agree to it, it will make the community better, a better place to live, and people are willing to pay the price for that, and everybody wins. That is not the case here. It was not the case in supplementary funding. It was not brought back to the community and it was definitely not brought to the community to discuss it first.

Now, the community might have said, yes, we want supplementary funding in the rural areas and we want it to the maximum amount because our children deserve it, which I believe they do, but it's a decision the community should have made, the community itself should have made, because this is a huge tax increase. If it would have been a cent on $100 of assessment or something, it wouldn't have really mattered, but this is a big tax increase.

[Page 819]

So these are the things that I really want to see changed in this and I could go on about this for a long time, but I think I've made my points on it. I trust the minister understands where I'm coming from on this and that he'll be interested in some amendments on this that will make this process - I don't want to restrict the council in any way in its ability to do things, but what I want is accountability for the school board on the supplementary funding so they've got to report to council every year, and I want to see accountability from councillors and the regional council. If there's going to be an area rate levied, they have to go to the community and go through a process. I want to see it in the bill that they have to do it that way. Then if the community decides they want to do it and are willing to pay the costs, that's fine, but without that agreement of the community and input from the community, this should not happen and this tragedy won't happen to anyone else.

I've never heard of it before and I don't know how this is all going to be handled in the end, but my suggestion would be that if the regional council approve this, all this cost should be strictly 100 per cent of the regional council, come out of the general tax rate, and that's the end of it, because the people never asked for it, don't deserve to pay for it and they actually gained very little from this, when people peripherally to them potentially did gain a lot, because it was a lot easier to sell a property if the road all the way to it is paved. I am not saying that is what transpired, but I can tell you there are all kinds of rumors out there from the community about what happened. I don't know if they are true or not, but it just makes you wonder.

This abuse has of power has to stop. We have to be more transparent. We have to have public input and we have to ensure that if there is a system set up, like the priority list they had for the roads, those are not meddled with. Let people assign them first, as they are supposed to be, get on the list, get their properties and their roads paved. In some of these situations, these roads desperately need to be paved because they are in very, very, very bad condition and the only way to cure them was to upgrade the road and pave them.

As you go through this process, it's important that you have some kind of structure so if you are a taxpayer in the area, you know what to expect. You go into a situation that you know what to expect and know what you are going to have to pay. With those few words, I take my place and welcome the comments from the minister and hopefully they will entertain some amendments on this for accountability and transparency.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour on an introduction.

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery opposite, we want to welcome two young people who have been to the House for the first time, Hannah and Joey Taylor, along with their parents Britt and Michelle. We welcome them. Britt actually took me door-to-door in 1999 and helped me win my first campaign, so we are delighted to have him here. Let's have them stand and we will welcome them. (Applause)

[Page 820]

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 for their helpful interventions. I do see that the member for Preston has not changed much over the last three or four years in his position on taxation and supplemental funding and he articulated it very well. I'm not sure whether he and the critic are on the same page but, anyway, I will be happy to see this bill move to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 41. 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. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 43, the Municipal Elections Act.

Bill No. 43 - Municipal Elections Act.

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise before the House to bring forward amendments to the Municipal Elections Act, Bill No. 43.

Mr. Speaker, after each round of regular, municipal and school boards elections, there are recommendations made to government following consultations with municipal elections returning officers. Municipal returning officers, whose job it is to coordinate the elections and collection of votes, can obviously provide valuable feedback and it is through this feedback that the Municipal Elections Act is reviewed and refined.

During the review process that followed the 2004 municipal election, we consulted again with the municipal returning officers and listened to their concerns and it is those amendments, Mr. Speaker, the changes that they felt were needed to better conduct the municipal elections, that are being proposed. What they do is to make the Act easier to understand and its processes easier to follow.

[Page 821]

The changes being proposed are ones that give councils more flexibility by allowing more options during the process of public notification. They will align procedures with provincial and federal electoral practices by providing a common language and guidelines for similar processes. They further clarify the term electronic voting. They also define and clarify processes involving school board elections and they keep the legislation current.

Along with these amendments, we are also taking the opportunity to clarify and update some of the language in the Act. Strengthening local government is and will continue to be one of the primary focusses of the initiatives in my department. The amendments being proposed to the Municipal Elections Act represent another step in this process by improving, clarifying and streamlining election processes for Nova Scotians at the municipal level. Thank you and with those comments, I now move second reading of Bill No. 43, the Municipal Elections Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MS. BECKY KENT: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise and speak to Bill No. 43, Amendment to the Revised Statutes of the Municipal Elections Act. Again I want to thank the minister for bringing this forward. There are certainly many changes in this bill, many of which, the reality is, are housekeeping changes - antiquated processes, outdated processes, the simplification of some processes and better definitions and clarifications. They're all important. The Municipal Elections Act is complicated enough without the added burden of this outdated information and unclear definitions. I think many of these are positive moves.

This bill amends the Act to allow electronic voting. HRM has already moved in this direction and they'll be using this in the upcoming municipal election in the Fall of 2008. Certainly having just completed a recent election and with the riding of Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and voters having to again go back to the polls this month, December 15th, for the District of Woodside-Eastern Passage - the vacancy I left - voting is on their minds and voter turnout is a big issue. We need to provide every opportunity to our voters, to our citizens to come out to vote. We all know it's low and it's particularly relevant in this era, it's the era of an electronic age, we can't ignore that, it's time to move it forward.

Halifax Regional Municipality recognized that they're moving forward and this will help. It's recognized that the citizens still need their traditional versions of voting, it's not taking away any of that, but it's adding additional options. In a day when many people face mobility challenges, this provides them new opportunities.

One concern that needs to be discussed, one that was raised at council when I was a member, with electronic voting comes the need for safeguards. We all know the history of some I ask that we reflect on the history of some provincial Parties foray into electronic voting and the potential that exists for abuse. There needs to be safeguards for the prevention

[Page 822]

of fraud, misrepresentation, duplication of voting, illegal access potentially to voting information choices that people are making.

For instance, the collection of data on the Internet that otherwise might not be available is all an important part that needs to be incorporated into this move. As we move forward, again, I think the rights of voters, their choice to options, is the most important part of it. This legislation does, you know, we support the need for it to be updated, to move that forward, but I can't stress enough that those safeguards be put in place, that the Law Amendments Committee consider that as it moves forward, but for now we'll see this go forward and we support that. Thank you.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to speak on another bill before us today which is the bill to make amendments to the Municipal Elections Act. There are a number of things that I think are very interesting in these amendments and certainly recognition throughout of the need to modernize some of the methods that we use in government. This is the year where we're celebrating 250 years of democracy in Nova Scotia, and I can think of no better time than now for us to look at being a more modern democracy and utilizing the tools that are available to us through technology and simply being in better touch with our electorate, Mr. Speaker.

One of the things that I think is interesting is the move towards electronic voting. This was something asked for by the municipalities, as I understand it, and again in their hopes to engage more people in being active citizens and taking that very primary step of actually casting a vote in a basic election to elect their councillors and municipal officials, and I think that's very important.

Mr. Speaker, I would really be missing a golden opportunity if I didn't mention that here in the House of Assembly, we don't recognize on-line petitions. So we've done our very best to become more electronically active in terms of the business of government. You can pay your tickets on-line, you can register your car on-line, we do a lot of those things, but a citizen can't express their view in an on-line petition and have that be accepted here in the Legislature. In other words, it's not recognized as a democratic means of voicing your concerns.

Mr. Speaker, there are many, many petitions we've seen in the last number of years that have been advertised and have been on-line and people have been welcome to participate, not the least of which was the government's own on-line petition to have people sign it to protest the way that Nova Scotia was treated under the Atlantic Accord. The Premier started his own on-line petition urging Nova Scotians to cast their - or let the federal government know how they feel, by putting their name on that list of unhappy Nova Scotians who wanted to send a message to the federal government. Yet here in our own House of

[Page 823]

Assembly, we don't allow members to introduce an on-line petition. I think there's a certain element of confusion there, and the fact that we're willing to look here today at electronic voting to increase the participation rate that we have for Nova Scotians when it comes to elections is a step forward but I think it is also a time for government to reflect on the way that we do business. I know that the Progressive Conservative Government would be the one with the authority at this point in time to make those changes. So I hope that they will be considered, as well, as we go forward with this.

In my own riding of Halifax Clayton Park, Mr. Speaker, in the last provincial election we had the lowest turnout of any riding in the province, at 48 per cent of the people voting. I think it's a shame. I can tell you it was not related to the effort that the candidates put into that election, because not only did I work hard but so did the other candidates who were running for election in Halifax Clayton Park, and they were very active, I think everybody would agree. But the fact is that people are disengaged and often don't come out to vote, and it is important that we give them other ways to cast that vote. So I would very much support that introduction of electronic voting, and I hope we look at it provincially, as well, perhaps after it's tested in municipal elections.

One of the other changes in here which I thought also modernizes the methods that we're using is that the requirement to run two ads about election dates and times and locations has now been relaxed so that there's only one ad required. That is a recognition that the second advertising can be done somewhere other than in a newspaper - that newspapers are not the primary way that people get information in every case. I still read the newspapers and am getting my news that way, but other people are on-line or they're on Facebook or they're on who knows what next year will be invented to get in touch with people. So what this allows is for a municipality to consider whether or not they want to use flyers, which I've heard of one municipality using - a door-to-door notification in a smaller municipality. They could use a big civic sign that would advertise it, where people go by regularly and see that on a sign board. So they can choose how they wanted to use that second ad and perhaps save the municipality some money in so doing.

So I think that's an important change, just recognizing, again, that the requirement to advertise in a newspaper may be a little bit outdated. Mr. Speaker, I think it's important, again, that we consider in all methods how we can update the business of government. Not just to talk about democracy, not to just have a lot of hot air about how we engage people, but let's change the way we do business and the way we run elections so that people will actually sit up and take note and hopefully get involved and see that it's important.

A lot of the changes, Mr. Speaker, relate to changes that simply coordinate wording between the Act that governed school board elections and what is there for municipal elections. We have clarified some of the things for school boards for example - when they have a special election process to fill a vacancy, my understanding was that very often there is a need for clarification from the staff. Whether it be a school board or a municipality, if

[Page 824]

there is a little bit of uncertainty around wording, they like to have it clarified and they like to continually double check with staff at Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. That is not going to be necessary if the Act is clearly spelling out what is required.

So the staff who work there are continually updating and looking for those ways where they can make life a little bit easier for the units that are spread out across the province. That is what they have done in a number of instances here. Again, I was pleased to see that the clerk for the municipal elections - the returning officers - were engaged in this process, because they know very well the kind of small changes that were needed to clarify things and make sure that everything was being addressed that should be addressed in these Acts. There are always things that could just be tightened up a little bit and this is a very thorough going over of the Act, which I think is very important.

It provides some more flexibility around enumeration, Mr. Speaker, and that is an area of great concern in a riding like mine in Clayton Park and I know that for the municipality as well, when they hold municipal elections, it's hard to keep pace with the speed of development and the new units that have come on board. The same will be true, I am sure, in Bedford, where there has been a huge influx, or a huge growth in new buildings and many new people moving in. Between elections, we have hundreds of people, literally, who are not on the voters' list. If you don't do a door-to-door enumeration, you don't capture those people and, again, that's disenfranchising them. They are not on the list, they are not notified. They might arrive to vote and not be recognized.

So we need to do the enumeration and this actually allowed greater flexibility around the timing of doing that so that it could be done with a little bit more flexibility on the start dates and I think that is an important thing to do, to recognize that large or small municipalities have different needs. Again, I think we want to ensure that is done in the most efficient manner so that people are not left to, again, have another reason that they are not voting, because they find that when they arrive at the voting booth they have to have information that they didn't bring with them. That's what happens if they don't appear on the list. So those are very important points as well.

Most of the changes, as I say, are dealing with antiquated language, providing a need to just clarify things. Typographical errors have been changed and I think all of those things are very useful. They clarify things, for example, around whether or not oaths can be given to a candidate or whether an agent is required to take an oath, things like that. A candidate, it says, can no longer act as an agent on election day. That is probably a good thing just to, again, clarify the roles of the candidate and what is appropriate on election day. I think that those have come from specific instances where problems have been identified.

I notice that some of the wording has been done specifically to match with the provincial Elections Act so that there is, again, that coordination between the two and I think

[Page 825]

that, as well, creates more certainty for the people who are running the elections and involved in that.

Mr. Speaker, I think that overall, we see these as important changes. The modernization of our system is my biggest concern and I hope that we will be looking at adopting some more modern procedures for our provincial elections as well as supporting the municipalities in their aim to adopt electronic voting and different methods of notification of the election and so on. I think we need to do the same thing here.

I would also suggest that we need to look even further afield, Mr. Speaker, and in your capacity you would have the authority to do so, to look at online petitions, which could be used here in the Legislature and adopt it as another means of contacting and staying responsive to our citizenry. I look forward to this going to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to say a few words about what I take to be the most significant change in this bill and that is permitting, for the first time in Nova Scotia's history, electronic voting.

Now, Winston Churchill had some wonderful quotations about democracy, the most famous one being that democracy was the worst possible system except for all the others. One of his other quotations, a little lesser known, is that the best argument against democracy is to talk to the man in the street for five minutes, which I thought was a little unfair. But the other one, Mr. Speaker, that I quite like, I wanted to read to the House, "At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man walking into the little booth with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper. No amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point."

Now, Mr. Speaker, I wonder what Winston Churchill would say about the bill before us now, where he might talk about the little person hitting the little enter button on the little Mac, in their little room, in their little basement, because with this bill being passed, that's how people are going to be permitted to vote. It seems inevitable that we are going to get to electronic voting in one way or another in Nova Scotia. I just didn't expect it to come at us like this.

We have, right now, a Select Committee on Participation in the Democratic Process, which will be looking at things exactly like this, but that select committee hasn't even started its work really, never mind coming to this kind of recommendation. We have an Election Commission which hasn't dealt with the issue, we have a Chief Electoral Officer who hasn't dealt with the issue, and yet this really significant change in the way Nova Scotians vote just appears almost as an afterthought in a bill that's about a whole bunch of other things.

[Page 826]

[3:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, one of the failings of the existing system of marking the little x on the little piece of paper is that it's very difficult for people with physical or mobility challenges to actually get to the voting booth. Now, we have started to try to deal with that with a system of mail-in ballots, but that system is still in its infancy and I think, as we all experienced in the last provincial election, the system was too cumbersome and needs to be made easier for people to use. But, nevertheless, we are attempting to deal with the issue of people who can't actually get to the voting booth.

I don't think we should forget, Mr. Speaker, that there are some other important values as well. First of all, let me say that we don't have the slightest bit of evidence, there's not one shred of evidence, that electronic voting is actually going to increase the percentage of people who vote. There are plenty of jurisdictions around the world that permit electronic voting and their voting numbers are sliding downwards just like ours are. So if that's the reason to permit it, I would only say, let's see the evidence. Let's see the proof that this is actually supposed to accomplish what the government says it will, because I haven't seen the proof that this will have the slightest impact on participation.

Even if it does permit some people to vote who otherwise wouldn't, Mr. Speaker, it's worth reminding the House, there are other values involved in voting, such as the secrecy of the ballot and the integrity of the ballot. Whatever anybody says about our system of marking the little x on a little piece of paper, it works. It works well. It has worked for over 100 years. We all know that we will have the results of our elections within a couple of hours of the close of voting on election night. There is remarkably little in the way of controversy or difficulty with the counting of our ballots.

If you contrast that with some of the American jurisdictions which do their electronic voting, they have a tremendous amount of controversy. Let's leave aside the presidential election in the United States in the year 2000, which went all the way to the Supreme Court and left the nation not knowing for weeks who their president was going to be. That all centred, in case people forget, on a system of electronic or, more precisely, mechanical voting in the State of Florida and the way certain cards were punched or not punched. One might say that the fate in international affairs, the leadership of the most powerful country in the world, rested on a system of electronic voting that showed to be wanting when it was challenged.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, I'm not in any way against technology. In fact, I rather pride myself on keeping up with the latest developments in electronic technology and I have to say, because of that, I'm also aware of the severe flaws in the systems of electronic voting that are out there. This stuff is controversial, because now instead of - what happens now, Mr. Speaker, as you know, as I'm sure you've been at a vote count - I know that I've been to several vote counts, I've been to some judicial recounts and the member for Glace Bay

[Page 827]

remembers that well. The first time I ever met the member for Glace Bay was in the back of a courtroom in Sydney because in his first election in 1999 it went to a judicial recount. I went to the back of the courtroom and saw this friendly looking guy at the back of the courtroom and I said hello and anyway, that was the first time we ever met.

Of course the member for Glace Bay will remember how well that recount went. He went into that recount down five votes and after my efforts, on behalf of my Party, we came out of the recount with him ahead by five votes. Of course, Mr. Speaker, that election was voided in the end and he had to rerun it, but I have to say what a convincing victory when the election was rerun.

At any rate, Mr. Speaker, what happens now in Nova Scotia is you take the ballot box and the deputy returning officer opens it, dumps it out on the table, and then picks up the ballots one at a time and shows everybody what it says on the ballot. So if somebody hadn't made a proper mark you can argue about it but if there is a proper mark, as is the case 99 per cent of the time, then everybody just sees it and counts it up and there are no arguments whatsoever.

So now what do you do when you have electronic voting? There's nothing to dump on the table anymore. The deputy returning officers now have to be experts in software, security software and the software that ensures the integrity of the count. There is nothing for the scrutineers from the other Parties to see, except for the final tabulation and perhaps a readout generated by the software at which the software gives a report on how reliable it believes that it is. So we're into a very different world, Mr. Speaker, and despite what the government thinks, this stuff is controversial and there is no one accepted system in the United States that has been proven to be secure and beyond question - as opposed to our system of the little x and the little ballot, which has worked very well for over 100 years.

So, Mr. Speaker, I expected something a little different when electronic voting came to Nova Scotia than a provision buried in a bill that is about a whole bunch of other things to do with municipal elections and it says oh, by the way, any municipality can have an electronic vote if it wants to. That's it, that's all the bill says. It doesn't say what the rules are, what the criteria are for selecting or accepting software, it doesn't say what deputy returning officers are expected to know, what training they'll get. It just doesn't tell us anything, it doesn't reassure us that we will be assured of the secrecy and the integrity of the vote, it just doesn't tell us anything. It leaves it entirely up to our imagination.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to such a fundamental change in the way that we vote, I would have expected more information from the government about exactly how this is going to work. If anybody says to any member of this House, well, now that you've passed this into law, how is this going to work? The answer is that we have no idea, we don't have the slightest idea how this is going to work. Surely the people of Nova Scotia can expect better from the members of this House. Thank you.

[Page 828]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL; Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, would like to say a few words on this bill. I think it's a pretty progressive bill, I think the government has done a reasonably good job on putting this bill together. There are a lot of changes that need to be made in the bill and I think they've captured a lot of those changes.

There are a couple of amendments I'd like to see in the bill, which I won't discuss today but I'll bring forward at a later date. I, too, have some concern, I think we should go towards electronic voting. I do have some concerns about that, just the accountability with it, how do you do the things that my colleague had indicated. I had a recount in my first election in 2003 when I came back to the Legislature. It turned out very well, I got 10 extra votes and that was really good, but you actually tangibly had the ballots there and you could count them, you could see them, if anything was spoiled you saw that as well. The judgment was there for the judge and people before and it worked out very well. Whether it would have been myself who won or the other candidate who won, the system was fair, it was transparent and easily accountable, and I think that's important.

Computers are wonderful things, they are one of the best tools we have in our society today, and the systems used by them are fantastic as well. But there are some issues around that - how do you make sure that the actual person who was supposed to vote actually votes and it's not someone else? How do you know? In the past you heard stories about people going to graveyards and putting people's names on voters' lists, and all kinds of foolishness. That was years and years ago, of course - I assume that doesn't happen today. Electronically it's so easy to go into a computer and get into someone else's e-mails. It's a real easy thing to do - even with passwords, it's not very difficult at all.

So those are the sorts of issues that I have about this. I think in the long-term it's the way to go, but I think before that is really started to be utilized - I don't have any problem with it being set in legislation that it can be done, with the proviso probably under regulation that they have to prove there's a fair way to do this, an accountable way to do it, and to ensure that afterwards, if there needs to be a recount or a recheck of the process, to make sure there's a process to find out that the person who voted is actually the person who pushed the button and voiced their opinion regarding that candidate.

But that's really the only issue I have with this bill, except for a couple of amendments I would like to see as we go forward, so with that I'll sit down and listen to what the minister has to say regarding this bill, and I look forward to the discussion in the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

[Page 829]

MR. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, of all the speakers you've heard here today, I'll probably be the briefest of all of them. I just wanted to remind the House, and for those in the gallery who are listening and the people at home watching this, that I recall a little story that happened in the last municipal election with respect to a school board seat, in particular the African Nova Scotian school board representative in Queens.

What I recall is that election for that particular seat was declared invalid because it was determined by one individual who happens to live in Queens, who recognized some flaws in the current system. That individual got up and declared there was something wrong with this process, and the end result is that this citizen of Nova Scotia had to actually go to court, he filed a complaint with the judicial system and the court system declared he was correct - the election was flawed in Queens when it came to the election of the seat for the African Nova Scotian candidate.

So, knowing that, armed with information like that, if the current system has some flaws in it that raises a red flag for me - and I hope it raises a red flag for many Nova Scotians about electronic voting. If I can go and declare myself as eligible maybe to vote on a school board seat for the African Nova Scotian representative, and whoever is at that polling station can deem me as being eligible, I'm just wondering what safeguards are going to be in place to prevent a similar activity from occurring electronically.

I think I'm probably not as learned, when it comes to electronic conveniences, as most members in this House, but I think there have to be some guarantees that this method is foolproof, that it is actually going to work for the good of all Nova Scotians, and that there will be some safety mechanisms in place to ensure that the electronic voting is not only going to be legitimate, but those individuals who are casting their vote are legitimately eligible to cast their vote. I think I only referenced that election - the last municipal election - when this did occur and the proof is in the pudding, because there is an older gentleman in Liverpool who has a huge bill as a result of going through the judicial system to prove that he was right. When it came to voting in the Province of Nova Scotia, when he recognized the flaw, then we as MLAs, we as legislators, we as citizens of this province, we should be thanking him. We should be thanking him for pointing that out to us and we should be doing whatever we can to prevent and to eliminate this from occurring again. So I have some concerns when it comes to electronic voting and, again, I reference myself in particular to that last vote in the Municipality of Queens when it came to the school board representation.

MR. SPEAKER: If the 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 opposite for their thoughtful interventions and in relation to the member for Fall River-Waverley-Beaver Bank - he drew to the attention of the House a little problem that arose on the South Shore during

[Page 830]

a school board election. That was something that was considered by the group making these recommendations and hopefully that experience, as regrettable as it was, will never occur again. I think some of the changes in the Municipal Elections Act reflect that unfortunate situation.

[4:00 p.m.]

So, Mr. Speaker, these changes, the issue of electronic voting was the one that seemed to capture pretty well everybody's imagination, certainly that was the media question of the day that we did the bill briefing and I notice that the members who made their comments did talk about that. Clearly there are lessons to be learned from other jurisdictions but it is something that , the member for Halifax Clayton Park was talking about updating the provincial Elections Act and I did comment, when I was making remarks in the bill briefing, that I expected there will be corresponding changes the next time our provincial Election Act is reviewed.

I think she was making the point about electronic petitions. There was a Committee on Assembly Matters and things like that, I am sure that type of information and those concerns will be taking place in the future. Mr. Speaker, I am now pleased to take my place and see this bill move on to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 43. 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. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 45, the Companies Act.

Bill No. 45 - Companies Act.

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Good afternoon. Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I stand once again this afternoon before the members of the House to bring forward amendments to a bill which is under the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. This time it is amendments to the Companies Act.

[Page 831]

I want to begin by saying that amendments to this legislation will reduce the paperwork associated with businesses on an annual basis by about 30,000 hours. Not only the time but the dollar saving with that reduction in paperwork would be significant for businesses in this province, Mr. Speaker. The changes will simplify procedures for Nova Scotia companies without losing any of the protections for creditors and minority shareholders. These changes have been developed by staff of my department in full consultation with the able and generous assistance of experts in Nova Scotia company law.

The changes, Mr. Speaker, follow from many months of consultation with lawyers practicing in the field of corporate law and, in some respects, they follow practice in other provinces and in part they represent appropriate modifications to reflect Nova Scotia's unique situations.

The Companies Act, in Nova Scotia, has had significant competitive advantages over other jurisdictions in some fields, particularly respecting unlimited liability companies and these are very valuable under U.S. tax laws. However, Mr. Speaker, other jurisdictions are moving to acquire this business with similar processes. Alberta and British Columbia now allow for the formation of unlimited companies, so several of the proposed changes are intended to help Nova Scotia maintain its competitive advantage.

The proposed amendments are designed to simplify a number of procedures and they should help Nova Scotia retain its advantage as the jurisdiction for choice for companies that wish to continue to use our unlimited liability status. Mr. Speaker, most of the changes proposed are highly technical and, for that reason, of particular interest to specialists, rather than to the public at large or to the members of this House. So rather than detail each change, I am going to briefly note their main effect.

The changes contained in the bill include: (1) adding a simpler amalgamation process; (2) allowing simple conversion to an unlimited liability company; (3) allowing capital reduction by special resolution; (4) allowing companies that have been struck off the register to be reinstated on application to the registrar as opposed to the courts; (5) permitting companies to financially assist persons willing to buy shares in the company; (6) providing for changes in capital more simply; (7) removing the need for a confirmitory meeting for special resolutions; and (8) reducing required majority for special resolution from three-quarters to two-thirds, which is in line with many other provinces.

Mr. Speaker, these changes will improve the ability of companies to carry out reasonable business decisions with simpler and less expensive procedures. The intervention of the courts will be required less and protections for creditors and minority shareholders will continue to be in place. The changes to the Companies Act contribute to the province's goal of reducing the paperwork burden faced by businesses and we are doing that through our Better Regulation Initiative. These changes are a strong, forward step in reducing red tape requirements and improving Nova Scotia's reputation as a very good place in which to do

[Page 832]

business. Mr. Speaker, following those few comments, I will now move second reading of Bill No.45, the Companies Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MS. BECKY KENT: Mr. Speaker, my comments will be brief. I just wanted to offer a few on Bill No. 45, amending the Companies Act. I just want to reiterate, I guess, or iterate today, that this is not a new bill. This bill is a reintroduction of a bill that this government allowed to die on the order paper last year following the Premier's decision to end the session. It's a shame, really, that it died last year, because no doubt, there are many businesses out there that have faced the challenges, as noted by the minister, throughout this last year that really could have been avoided and often these kinds of burdens and challenges are what will make or break many of these small businesses in particular.

The government claims that about 30,000 hours of paperwork per year will be reduced by simplifying procedures for registering Nova Scotian companies while at the same time protecting creditors and minority stakeholders and, as a former small business owner, I certainly can agree with that. I am pleased to hear that the reduction of red tape is very much a challenge for many, and I could speak first-hand to that.

The amendments contribute to the province's goal of reducing the paperwork burden faced by businesses through the Better Regulation Initiative. These amendments, Mr. Speaker, were developed as a result of multi-year consultations with corporate law specialists and department officials. Our caucus was visited last Spring when this bill was first brought forward by the government and in its previous incarnation it was known as Bill No. 192. As we did then, the NDP support this bill in moving forward to the Law Amendments Committee.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure for me to address some of the changes that are proposed here for the Companies Act. Again, these are changes that have been proposed and come forward in close consultation with the legal community and I think that we need to acknowledge their input. Many hours were spent with the members of the Bar asking for their input and how the current law could be improved to streamline and make our legal firms more competitive in the work they do on behalf of their clients. I know that the members of the legal community are very anxious to see this pass. They have, as I believe, done their homework in terms of working closely with government and keeping the Opposition Parties well informed about the need for these changes. I very much appreciate the time that they've spent in doing that, not only on their own behalf but with the interest of keeping our province competitive and allowing us to continue to thrive in certain industries and business.

[Page 833]

One of the things mentioned was the unique aspect that we had enjoyed which was for the registering of unlimited companies here in the province. That was something that was a great source of business and income to our law firms as we were at one time the only province that was doing that work for many American companies that wanted to have a presence in Canada and Nova Scotia's Act allowed that to happen with the greatest, I guess, efficiency.

What we did do in the 2004 budget though, Mr. Speaker, was that the government greatly increased the fees for registering an unlimited company and that was the first blow to our competitiveness in that area. That increase in fees was exponential and came at a time when other provinces were looking at getting involved and allowing this same activity to take place in their provinces. The minister has mentioned today that both British Columbia and Alberta allows this same registering of unlimited companies that we had previously been the only place in Canada to go to.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The chatter is getting a little high.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. I feel that the beginning of the competitiveness being lost came with the increase in fees that certainly put a damper on that business for the legal community. Again though, it's important that our Act remain more modern. It's a fairly old Act dating back really from the early 1900s and it was time to make a lot of changes that the large legal community that we have in the province could very clearly see which changes were needed to streamline and make the processes more efficient. At the same time while we're doing that, I feel that it's really important that we continue the protection that existed previously for creditors and for minority shareholders. I was happy to hear the minister mention both of those stakeholders in this process because we don't want to see anybody left with less protection or certainty of protecting their assets as we go forward. Certainly when you're registering and dealing with the assets of companies, that is an important consideration.

There was a discussion paper that was developed around this consultation process and I understand that it was circulated throughout the legal community for their advice and their input. That certainly is a model for this government or any other government to follow in making these kind of substantial changes. Alleviating the burden of an awful lot of paperwork for these firms will not only save time and save a lot of money, it will also be passed back to the companies themselves. So the legal firms will be able to do the work more efficiently and, in turn, the companies they represent will be able to achieve their aims in a more efficient and a less costly manner. I think that that's important as well.

Maintaining our competitiveness is a key theme for all of the measures that we look at in the Liberal Party as we consider bills coming forward. We believe that it's most important that we keep competitive advantages for our businesses and do whatever is possible really to enhance the advantages we have naturally. When we have such an active

[Page 834]

and well-developed legal community, we have a lot of major firms and head offices of major legal firms here in this province and it is one of the sectors that is very, very strong and influential in our province. I think it's important we work with them to ensure that both the controls and checks and balances are in place, but also that we are modernizing and streamlining our methods of doing business so that we keep in touch with the best systems that are available and that we not allow ourselves to become out of date or antiquated.

I think the government has responded to those pleas and has done what it can to keep that competitive advantage, which was somewhat diminished by the high fees that were introduced, and I know that's been noted by others. However, it's important to say that's something government should be aware of, perhaps those fees could be changed again to give us a little bit of an advantage. In the meantime, I still know it's a good source of business for our legal firms and we want to continue to see that happen.

I look forward to this bill going forward, I'm sure we'll hear from the legal community, or their representatives, that they are pleased with these changes and again, I think our competition, our ability to compete, even in a global market, is very important to our province. I look forward to other methods and other bills that will help us remove barriers to doing business in Nova Scotia. Thank you very much.

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

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again I would like to thank those on the benches, the Opposition, for their helpful comments. This bill is a very technical one and, to be quite frank, it's best understood by lawyers, but I want to assure the members of the House, the legal people who deal with this say most of the changes are ones that will make it considerably better for these unlimited liability companies to come to Nova Scotia and do business. We were, as the member for Halifax Clayton Park said, losing some of our competitive advantage because there were other jurisdictions getting into the business.

[4:15 p.m.]

We did have a - I won't say a monopoly, but we certainly had the bulk of the business in Canada and we want to retain that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the bill moving to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 45. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 835]

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

The honourable Acting Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 49.

Bill No. 49 - Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to move second reading of Bill No. 49. The amendments to the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, introduced by this government, will have a positive impact on those who come to work for the government on a seasonal and casual basis.

Many of the seasonal workers provide care and protection for our forests, parks, wildlife and environment. They work in all corners of this province. Among them are enforcement officers, forest fire fighters and parks workers. Still other seasonal workers are front-line contributors to Nova Scotia's billion dollar tourism, culture and heritage industry. On a seasonal basis, we need interpreters in museums, travel counsellors in visitor information centres and site caretakers, just to mention a few.

Our amendments not only affect those who come to work for the tourism season. Another group of employees, casual workers, are hired throughout our government to assist in the delivery of important programs and services across this province. They are critical to our workforce and to our province, and I'm here today to talk about a bill that will improve the quality of the terms of employment.

Earlier this year, in March 2007, I met with a group of seasonal workers who talked to me about the employment history with government. Many of them have come back each season for many, many years. I appreciated their candor and was impressed by their loyalty, both to their work and to their communities.

At that time I made a commitment to have the Public Service Commission look into this matter. Not long after, the June 2007 Supreme Court of Canada decision on collective bargaining rights was announced. Following that decision we felt it was prudent to review how seasonal and casual workers are addressed under the current legislation. It was clear that we needed to make change and this Fall we worked with the union representing the Civil Service, the NSGEU, to discuss how the legislation could address the needs of the workers I had met with in the Spring and better align with the Supreme Court decision.

We focused on bargaining unit level work and found that through a collaborative approach with the union we reached mutual agreement on many fronts. We agreed to bring

[Page 836]

forward legislative changes that see seasonal and casual workers who do bargaining level work become Civil Service employees under the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act after working more than 10 weeks of employment. This is much sooner than the current legislation allows, which is six months for seasonal workers and 12 months for casual workers.

If passed, the amended legislation would mean that after working more than 10 weeks, these employees will become part of the bargaining unit, able to be represented by the NSGEU. They will receive bargaining unit wages, and after a certain length of employment they will become eligible for many employee benefits, like health and dental coverage, sick leave and vacation pay. These details have been negotiated with the union.

Mr. Speaker, this is a significant change in how we employ seasonal and casual workers. It will take time to identify each person and their current status in order to best bring them into the Civil Service. We are committed to train managers and human resource professionals as soon as we have the legislative mandate to do so. Much of the work currently underway will help us calculate the financial impact of the change. However, I believe that this investment is the right thing to do.

Mr. Speaker, this legislative change improves the working circumstances of hundreds of people who have worked with government for many years, many in rural Nova Scotia, and for those who come to work with us in the future. In our effort to become a preferred employee, we believe this bill is in line with the Supreme Court of Canada's decision and is in the best interests of Nova Scotians and the Civil Service. Mr. Speaker, with that, I move second reading of Bill No. 49.

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE; Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, rise on the occasion today to speak on Bill No. 49, amendments introduced to the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act.

Mr. Speaker, let's be perfectly honest here today and understand that this legislation is coming forward from a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in June concerning a British Columbia case. (Interruption) In March, the minister is saying - I say June 2007, the Supreme Court decision, and this is legislation that is long overdue.

If this government was proactive it would have been done a long time ago but, Mr. Speaker, it's getting done now - that's the most important thing, and realize that the working relationship that the NSGEU has worked very hard, their union members, and specifically Joan Jessome and Linda Power and Ian Johnson and those fellows working hard to finally get this bill forward.

[Page 837]

This is a bill about seasonal workers, casual workers, who do bargaining level work in the Civil Service. Under the bill, in more than 10 weeks they will become eligible to become a member, and I think that's a good thing. I think it's a good thing that there's actually a date in there that this bill will become effective on February 1st, with the implementation at a later date - I think that's good, I think that's a positive step. You have to realize that these were seasonal and casual employees who worked for government for many years and they're well deserving of this legislation, Mr. Speaker.

I remember here in this Legislature, last March or so, when all these casual and seasonal workers were here in the Legislature to bring their concerns forward to the minister. I, too, am glad that this is going forward, but I also would like to congratulate the union, the government, on a very proactive piece of legislation for casual workers.

Mr. Speaker, this bill, is in the best interests of the Province of Nova Scotia and the casual and seasonal workers. So I, too, am looking forward to this bill going from second reading to the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased that this bill has come before the Legislature. It's one that I became introduced to through casual and seasonal employees with the Department of Natural Resources in my area. In fact, it was probably the second year that I was in office that I had a delegation that came to my office to talk about the concerns that they had regarding their benefits, their compensation, and how they were viewed as government workers.

So this bill, the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, which will now embrace seasonal and casual workers, is a very positive development. While it did have a great deal of its impetus from B.C. where the Supreme Court made a decision that these workers did belong inside the collective bargaining process, one of the things that was really brought to my attention, through the Department of Natural Resources, was the fact that the value and the nature of the work carried out by these employees - many of them are front-line workers during our summer months, the firefighters, those who man the towers to look out for fires in our primary industry of forestry, and those who work the helicopter operations as assistants - all of these workers are highly skilled, highly trained, have a great deal of professional development behind them.

The thing that became very clear to me, as I met with the Minister of Natural Resources on this issue was, yes, they were highly regarded but they really weren't being compensated to the degree that they should be, and there's a tendency for some of these workers to be captured by other companies that could use their skills and employ them 12 months of the year. These are very dedicated employees who loved their jobs and didn't want

[Page 838]

to leave either Tourism, Culture and Heritage or Natural Resources but many of them were starting down that road.

So it is important that this piece of legislation will hold on to workers who have 10 years, 20 years, 30 years of professional work in their backgrounds. So I am very pleased to see that this bill now will be moving on to the Law Amendments Committee.

I do want to also want to reflect for just a moment on one of the things the minister brought forward, and that is that many of these jobs are in rural Nova Scotia, a part of the province where we can't afford to lose our jobs and our residents from these small communities. So those who look after our parks, our streams, our forests, game sanctuaries, and wilderness trails, these are very valuable positions. I know this is going to turn the tide for many of these workers to make a renewed commitment, and also I think it will be easier to attract workers into these seasonal jobs as a result of the opportunity to gain dental, medical, disability and pension benefits as they move along in their careers.

So I just want to say that this is a good piece of legislation. It will be interesting to see how the workers themselves react to this and how quickly benefits will indeed come their way. With those few remarks, I will take my place, Mr. Speaker.

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

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just very briefly I want to thank the Minister of Human Resources and the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission for her role in bringing this forward today. I was approached by many of the seasonal workers within the Department of Natural Resources. I very much value their services and, as the member for Kings West has just pointed out, this is a way of making sure that we not only can retain them but we can recruit new ones and they are a very important part of our department and I appreciate that she has brought this amendment forward today.

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

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my honourable colleagues in the Opposition for their comments on this bill and, yes, I am looking forward to this passing. With that, I move second reading of Bill No. 49.

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

[Page 839]

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Acting Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, this concludes the government business for today. Would you please call on the Liberal House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will sit from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and we will be calling a resolution that was presented today in the House and both House Leaders have been made aware of the resolution. It is on domestic violence. Also, Bill No. 35, the Education Act, tuition support.

I move that we do now adjourn to meet again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Order, please. We have now reached the moment of interruption. As I indicated earlier today, there was a draw for the debate on the adjournment motion. The draw was won by the honourable member for Richmond who wishes to debate the matter:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government immediately address widespread emergency room closures occurring in several hospitals throughout our province."

[4:30 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

[Page 840]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH: ER CLOSURES - ADDRESS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand and debate the resolution which was put forward by the member for Richmond concerning the widespread emergency room closures across this province. The member for Richmond knows full well about emergency room closures having undergone, in his own riding at the Strait Regional Hospital, a large amount of emergency room closures there as well. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Glace Bay has the floor.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, this is probably one of the most important debates that we could have at this time in this province because of the fact that I wish I was standing here for the first time, bringing this to the attention of the House, but it is not. It has been a very long time that this has been going on in this province and it is a problem which is growing as each day goes by in Nova Scotia.

To date, December 4th, as of December 4th, which of course as you know is today, emergency rooms in this province have been closed for 5,920.5 hours. Mr. Speaker, if you compare that to last year at the same time, at that time, the closures were totalling 3,497 hours. Let me give you some examples. In Digby, the emergency room there has been closed for over 1,400 hours this year. In North Cumberland, 620 hours; the Lillian Fraser Hospital 435 hours; in Cape Breton District Health Authority, the closures there have amounted to 2,818.5 hours. That accounts for almost half of all the closures in Nova Scotia. In Glace Bay, 818 hours; on the Northside, 894.5; and in New Waterford over 1,100 hours that the hospitals have closed.

Mr. Speaker, when asked about this on a frequent basis, the Minister of Health brags that there's a 98 per cent open rate for ERs in this province. That isn't good enough. That isn't good enough for this province. This government, by saying that, has not admitted that there is a problem in keeping ERs open. The Throne Speech Address itself - I'm sure the Minister of Health will get his time during this debate and I would love to hear it - addresses wait times and simply says that the government is working on keeping ERs open across the province. It brags about new ER facilities at the QE II, about the $17 million there, and that this will help reduce the wait time for emergency room service at that facility, but what about the facilities that cannot even open? What about the facilities where you're not sure if they're going to be open from one day to the next? What about those facilities, Mr. Speaker?

We have maintained and we have kept an ER closure calendar the last couple of years. It's available online, on our Web site, and I'll table it here. I'm going to refer to it in just a minute, but I'll table it here. If you look and flip through this, we've marked in a

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highlighted area the number of days that it has been closed. If you look through to June and July, don't get sick in this province during July and August, because the ERs in some facilities in Glace Bay and some communities in New Waterford, the Northside General, the ERs aren't closed just occasionally, the Ers are closed almost on a daily basis.

Mr. Speaker, you can look to, for instance, our member for Digby-Annapolis who has put up some good ideas about the ER closures there in Digby at the Digby General and doctors who are interested in covering shifts at the Digby General. That finally did get something done then, but you know, all of the things that we're attempting to do are just small bites out of a huge problem, but nothing is really working. You have to focus on the problem with ERs, which the government has turned- instead of focusing on those problems with emergency rooms and instead of focusing on problems in other aspects of health care in this province, the government has decided to turn its fury on health care providers and pick a fight with them over the right to strike, to distract everybody from the real problems.

Mr. Speaker, what we need to be doing in this province is attracting and recruiting doctors, nurses and lab technicians. We don't need to be picking a fight with them. We need to be attracting them to this province so they can help solve some of our problems. We in the Liberal caucus have suggested time and time again that there are several possible solutions. This is not done just to bash the government. There are solutions: educate and train more ER doctors; open more seats in medical schools; possible payment of tuition in return for service contracts; recruit doctors from other countries. There is an abundance of doctors who are graduating from the United Kingdom; recognize their credentials, fast-track their licensing if we have to. We introduced a bill to that effect and we're going to reintroduce it as well.

There's no reason, Mr. Speaker, why doctors from the United Kingdom need to be babysat for some 200 hours in the ER before receiving their practising privileges. They could be keeping our ERs open. We could be creating province-wide locum programs. There was a group of ER doctors who proposed that program two years ago and they were turned down. The doctors want to work. They're willing to put in an extra effort to help out where they're needed. They just need to know exactly what's going on. Let me give you an example. Musquodoboit Valley Hospital ER was closed for 11 days this summer and at least two emergency room doctors from the city were willing to go and keep that ER open, but they were not aware of the closure until after it happened.

Mr. Speaker, again, I'm suggesting possible solutions, the use of nurse practitioners and paramedics. That was put forward in Digby General and in Digby General, it was a pilot project to determine the feasibility there. So as I've mentioned, this is not something that has just come about. This is a problem that we've made the government aware of time after time after time; Health Minister, after Health Minister, after Health Minister, we've told them that there's a problem. We kept track of the problem for the last couple of years that this problem is building - what are we going to do about emergency room closures? Instead, again, as I

[Page 842]

mentioned, what we get is a government that instead of turning its attention to the real problem, decided to hide its head in the sand.

You can't deal with a problem, Mr. Speaker, until you admit that there is a problem; if you're not willing to admit there's a problem and a crisis, not a problem, a crisis in emergency room care in this province. You cannot deflect, you cannot say, well, look what we're doing in Halifax, by building a new $17 million facility, isn't that great for the rest of the province? It certainly is. Is that great for the emergency room in Glace Bay that's closed on a Saturday night and you have to go there? No, it's not great. Is that great for the emergency room that you go to, should it happen to be open, and you wait for six, nine, 10 hours to take your sick child in and get them treated because you can't take them anywhere else because they don't have a family doctor to go to in this province.

Those are real problems. The minister admits those are real problems. What we're proposing (Interruptions) well, the minister has never admitted - the only person on that side of the government who admitted there's a health care crisis was the Premier, and he's no longer there - that was John Hamm, the former Premier, I am saying. The current Premier won't admit anything. He doesn't even talk about ER closures. I don't even know if he cares about ER closures.

All I can say, Mr. Speaker, is that this is a crisis that we are not on top of in this province. It's a crisis that we've tried to warn the government about that it was coming. It's a crisis that we have proposed, as a responsible Opposition Party, it is a crisis that we have proposed solutions to, and we have told them that these are some of the things we should be doing in this province.

Mr. Speaker, what I'd like to hear the minister do right now is stand up and say some of those solutions we're going to act on right away, and we're going to fast-track this and we're going to take care of this crisis right now because it can no longer occur in this province. When someone in this province, when any Nova Scotian goes to an emergency room in any community, that emergency room should be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no other excuse, there is no reason the minister can put forward why they are not. With that, Mr. Speaker, I would thank you for your time and I will take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm very pleased to stand tonight and speak to temporary emergency room closures in some of Nova Scotia's 37 emergency rooms. There are 37 emergency rooms in this province.

First, I'd like to assure Nova Scotians and members opposite, as was alluded to by the member for Glace Bay, that Nova Scotia's ERs are open 98 per cent of the time - 98 per cent of the time. Fear mongering and manipulation of the facts do not serve Nova Scotians

[Page 843]

nor do they help find solutions. (Interruption) He can stand there and yell all he wants, but I can tell you, it doesn't help us find solutions and where we can sit there and find solutions. (Interruption)

There are some challenges in ERs. There are challenges in ERs, and I'd be the first person to admit the problems we are having with ERs. The member opposite says I didn't admit to it. Mr. Speaker, I can say that a number of times in questions in this House that I have admitted there's a problem with emergency rooms in certain parts of this province.

We are committed to our province and its people, and we are determined to find the solutions to keep emergency rooms across the province open full time, 100 per cent. That's why working hand in hand with communities, working hand in hand with district health authorities, health care professionals, that my government, our government, continues to take action.

We are tackling these challenges head on and we are doing so in a number of ways. Nova Scotians enjoy some of the best - the best - health human resource recruitment and retention numbers in the entire country. We have more physicians per 100,000 population than anywhere else in Canada. More Nova Scotians have a family physician than people in any other province.

I can tell you that the number of doctors that we have are increasing. Since January, alone, we've attracted 58 new doctors, and it's also good news that we're replacing many of those doctors who relocate and are gaining more. Even when you consider these numbers, we still have gained 34 new physicians since January, in the outflow and inflow of physicians. Sixteen of those physicians are practising in rural areas of our province. In addition, four new CAP, or international students, graduates will start practising in rural communities in the next 60 days. All told, since 2005, 23 international medical graduates have been mentored under CAP and are now working at full scope of their practice in our province.

Mr. Speaker, we have support of the districts and their efforts to recruit more doctors and they have experienced some phenomenal successes. The member for Glace Bay underlined Digby and Digby has faced some difficult challenges in the last year, but I'm very pleased to say that we will be able to offer 24/7 ER coverage early in the new year. We have also supported innovative models of care in Digby. This has led to plans to hire two new nurse practitioners for the area, so I don't know whose idea it was. If it was the member opposite's idea to hire new nurse practitioners, well then I will thank him for it but we are doing it. This government is making the difference in those districts.

There are areas that are also enjoying success. Pictou has recruited seven new doctors. New Waterford has also been successful. There is now a nurse practitioner in the community

[Page 844]

and more family doctors are on the way. The district has also organized a clinic for any patients in the need of a family doctor.

Now, Mr. Speaker, over 500 new nurses have relocated to Nova Scotia in the last five years, 86 per cent of our nursing program graduates are employed here and of those grads, 83 per cent have full-time jobs. Nationally, only 43 per cent of nurses have full-time employment, which we feel is a shame, so we are doubling that. By December, Nova Scotia will graduate 300 new nurses; 200 of them have been offered jobs here and right now more districts are continuing to make offers. So I hope that number will be much higher.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there are tremendous achievements that create health care advantages for Nova Scotians, but we are not content just to rest on that. Today, competition for health care providers is intense. Most jurisdictions in Canada, North America and beyond, are facing the very same challenges. Manitoba, Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, B.C., are all looking for solutions to their health-human resources challenges, and that's why we must continue to work aggressively to make Nova Scotia the destination of choice for all health care providers.

We know that the number one factor those health care providers consider when deciding where to practise is lifestyle, Mr. Speaker, and Nova Scotia has what they want in spades. It's not enough to rely on our natural advantages. We are creating the conditions needed to appeal to health care work providers and moreover, we're letting them know about it. We are improving Nova Scotia's health care technology and infrastructure. Our government has invested $90 million from the federal Medical Equipment Fund on new medical equipment. We have added six new MRIs, we have added a PET scanner, state-of -the-art 64-slice CAT scanners in most hospitals, and 12 lead defibrillators on all ambulances within our ambulance system across the province. We are incorporating technology systems like PAX, tele-health, electronic health record system, and these advances will help improve efficiency and patient care.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have made some tremendous investments in the last number of weeks. The Colchester Regional Hospital and Lillian Fraser Hospital are being replaced and improved. The Colchester Regional Hospital will be a brand new, state-of-the-art, $155 million hospital. The ER at the QE II is being expanded through a $17 million renovation project which will create more space, more clinical space, more capability to have different professionals working in the ER, to make sure that patient flow continues to move forward. We are ensuring that our health care professionals are competitively compensated. Our physicians are already doing well compared to doctors across the country.

We are also leading the country in unique ways to compensate them for the invaluable work that they do. In fact, Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of alternative

[Page 845]

payment plans among all provinces and we are working with educators and trainers to increase the number of health care providers that we are graduating. This year we added eight residency positions at Dalhousie, all of them had return-for-service agreements. We've introduced the Rural Nursing Program to prepare more nurses for careers in Nova Scotia's rural communities. We've developed and launched a new Web site and new marketing materials to help let health care providers everywhere know that Nova Scotia has a great deal to offer.

Recently, we took part in Opportunity Nova Scotia hiring fairs in five major cities in Ontario and in Alberta. The reasons that an ER may temporarily close are complex and multifaceted. The public should not be fooled by those who oversimplify that challenge. There are those that advise that we simply must find more doctors or we must pay them more. Compensation must be fair and competitive and it must be critical that it is sustainable. Likewise, although human resources play a role, the solution does not only rely in recruiting more doctors or nurses; other factors like scheduling, vacations, distribution of resources, models of care, changing expectations and lifestyle also come into play. Times have changed and so have the expectations of health care professionals. New graduates are attracted to larger centres and the face of medicine is changing. Often new, young doctors are interested in starting a family and adding ER work to an office practice in the community is not always conducive to a family lifestyle.

The way we operate Nova Scotia's emergency rooms must keep pace with the changing needs of Nova Scotians and the changing expectations of our highly valued doctors and nurses.

Today, Nova Scotia has 37 emergency rooms, as I mentioned, in communities big and small across the province. They offer 24-hour coverage 98 per cent of the time. Our neighbouring provinces have far fewer ERs and are permanently closing more. We're not going to go down that road. We continue to support our districts in their efforts to staff emergency rooms right across the province. In fact, we have expanded access to emergency care.

In 2005, nine rural hospitals began receiving additional funding to keep their ER's open 24 hours a day. We continue to look for and find effective solutions to keep all our ERs open and ensure that all Nova Scotians have access to the care that they need and they deserve. Mr. Speaker, our government is deeply committed to the health and well-being of our province all of its people. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I usually start any debate by saying how it is such a pleasure it is to rise and speak on an issue, but not this issue because we all know, here we are in late debate, at the end of the daily routine,

[Page 846]

discussing a matter which I think is probably one of the most important matters we should be discussing when we talk about health care here in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker.

Later on in this week, we'll be discussing what I think the priority of the government is, around the anti-strike legislation, Mr. Speaker. I think this debate should be taking place during the daily routines, during debate that we get the full attention of all members of this House and give the attention that it deserves.

We've talked many times over the last several years, Mr. Speaker, and this government - I'll have to be very clear - has been in power for eight years and we've seen wait times increase. We've seen an increase in ER closures throughout this province, and to see a Throne Speech that says they're going to start looking at this really doesn't hold a whole lot of weight in my mind and I think in that of many Nova Scotians.

We've known the Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital in Tatamagouche closed its Emergency Room for the 22nd time last week, Mr. Speaker. Three ERs in Cape Breton closed for a total of seven times in November. Pugwash Emergency Room closed seven times in October. Digby's ER closed twice in November; Shelburne's Roseway Hospital closed last week and New Waterford Hospital closes on a regular basis.

The Minister of Health has said that ER closures happen from time to time, but when they do happen it's a matter of life and death. We're not going to sugarcoat what happens when an emergency room is closed, Mr. Speaker. I know, and I don't know if the government realizes, the impact that emergency room closure has on not only the community but an individual and their families in the time of need. I know, as a paramedic, that time is of the essence when it comes to a medical emergency and I know that when you have some medical emergencies, like a heart attack, that you can't wait an extra 45 minutes to go to the next town, to go to the next ER that is open down the road.

One of the stories I heard was from a gentleman, Mr. Speaker, this summer when I attended the Digby rally around their concerns on health care and the Emergency Room closure was a gentleman who was suffering a heart attack showed up at the doorsteps of the Digby Emergency Room and it was closed. Could you imagine what he was going through, what his family was going through, when they realized the help that they needed wasn't there? There was a closed sign on the emergency room. So what this gentleman had to do, he had to rely on the professional emergency health services that we have here, the ambulance service that we have that the minister mentions many times that's the best in Canada, and I believe, myself, the best in North America. What that does to that system when an emergency room closes, it puts a strain on the emergency services that we see here in the province.

Mr. Speaker, I've talked about it in the past, what the paramedic role is when an emergency room closes. The government today relies on the ambulance service to provide

[Page 847]

care for a community when an emergency room closes. That puts an added pressure on not only the paramedics but the staffing level that Emergency Medical Care has to hopefully staff those additional emergency vehicles. The district health authorities, it adds a pressure to them because now with the agreement that we have, wherever that emergency room closes, that health authority will pay for the ambulance service that needs to be put on duty because of a closure. As I've mentioned, transportation to a hospital is most important especially in a medical emergency or for a critically ill patient. The most important place where these individuals need to arrive at is a tertiary care hospital which is the QE II here in Halifax. With the minister's statement that we have the best ambulance service in the country and that they're there to provide that service when the ER closes is great, but that puts a strain on that service itself.

Mr. Speaker, if that's the approach this government is going to take, then we need to see something from the Minister of Health that's going to go towards improving our ambulance service and ensuring that that transportation that I talked about occurs in a timely manner. Everybody should be aware of the golden hour. There's a golden hour for a reason. Anybody who is critically ill or has an injury has about an hour to receive the critical care that they need in an emergency room or in OR - they have one hour. Like the example I used a few minutes ago, this gentleman who was having a heart attack, arrived at the emergency room in Digby, had to call an ambulance and those paramedics took that gentleman to the Middleton Hospital. I think it was about a 45-minute time travel for that call. So if the government is going to rely on the paramedics of this province, the men and women who are ready at any time to provide emergency services, then he should be coming forward with enhancing that program.

Mr. Speaker, we have one air ambulance here in the province, we have one helicopter. For the province that we have and the distance we have, in my mind, I don't think that's enough. Is the minister ready to maybe look at the possibility of adding another aircraft? Now, the minister over on the other side is talking about a fixed wing but they rent that from Provincial Airways when usually the helicopter or the LifeFlight can't fly. We don't have a 24-hour committed fixed aircraft in the province. They use that when they don't have access to the other aircraft.

So there's an area that we're going to have to look at enhancing if we're going to continue on this track of relying on the paramedics of this province to give the services of an emergency room, Mr. Speaker. The other thing we need to do - and the government needs to recognize - is enhance the use of nurse practitioners. I've always called for and I think it's important, the use of nurse practitioners, we don't use them enough. We need to exploit nurse practitioners. We need to make sure that they're in every part of this province working and practising to their full potential, especially in emergency rooms.

One of the main problems we have, Mr. Speaker, around emergency room closures is the stress and the overworked health care workers in those facilities. The minister said we

[Page 848]

have doctors with busy practices who can't give that service to an emergency room to cover those hours. Part of it is because they realize that if they step foot in an emergency room, they're swamped. Well, why don't we have nurse practitioners in all our emergency rooms doing triage. I read a report recently that nurse practitioners could divert about 80 per cent of patients to go on to have to see a doctor. Nurse practitioners are highly trained individuals who can prescribe medication, can give advice on medical conditions, and can make those individuals not require to have to see a doctor. Those are steps we could take right now, immediately. The minister quoted a lot of figures on equipment that they built to try to address some of the problems we see in our hospitals and in our emergency rooms.

I know, for a fact, I have a beautiful facility out in Sackville. I have always advocated that the Cobequid Centre there has a great group of professionals who work there, but one of the criticisms I have is that here we have an emergency room that provides great service that closes down at 10 o'clock at night. There is an example of potentially taking some of the burden, some of the pressure off the surrounding areas, the surrounding emergency rooms, from Colchester Regional Hospital down to the Windsor Hospital, Mr. Speaker. Cobequid could play an important role there.

I know, for a fact, today, in that facility in Sackville, there is medical equipment worth over $300,000, state-of-the-art equipment that could start addressing some of the problems and wait times we see in colorectal screening, Mr. Speaker, that hasn't been used. It has been sitting in a box since January, $300,000 worth of equipment. What could we do with that kind of money? We could hire a heck of a lot more nurse practitioners in the province - not to say that we don't need that equipment. But if the government is committed to buying and purchasing that equipment, they should make sure that it's up and running as quickly as they can, not almost a year later. I don't even know if it's going to be used to the full potential come January and I know I will have a debate with the minister on a further occasion on that area.

The nurse practitioners are an important area that we need to concentrate on and the government needs to recognize that they can play an important role and not only them, other health care providers. There is a great example down in Digby where nurse practitioners and paramedics have worked together with an expanded scope of practice to deliver health care services to the people of that area, Mr. Speaker, and the reviews are great. The public, at first, didn't know if that was going to meet their needs, but it has. The reports have said that it is meeting their needs, that the requirements for emergency room visits have dropped and I think that's an area we need to exploit, just like we need to exploit nurse practitioners. We need to do that throughout the province.

[5:00 p.m.]

So I think if the government was genuine on improving emergency room closures in this province, then we would be debating it and we would be coming forward with solid

[Page 849]

solutions, Mr. Speaker. Not just in a Throne Speech, but solid solutions so that Nova Scotia can see there is a change and that the government is there to listen to their problems.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the adjournment debate has expired.

The House shall rise and sit again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 5:01 p.m.]

[Page 850]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 651

By: Mr. Manning MacDonald (Cape Breton South)

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

Whereas in December, 2005, Health Ministers from across the country met on patient wait time guarantees to develop wait time benchmarks; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has some of the highest wait times for many surgical procedures, such as knee replacement; and

Whereas the monies allocated to the province from the federal government in form of a Wait Times Reduction Fund is sitting idle in a government bank account while many Nova Scotians continue to suffer while waiting for medical procedures;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly encourage the Government of Nova Scotia to put the priorities of Nova Scotians first and commit to a real wait times reduction strategy.

RESOLUTION NO. 652

By: Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

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

Whereas our health care professionals across Nova Scotia deliver quality care under often- challenging circumstances; and

Whereas the staff of the transitional care unit at Soldiers Memorial Hospital work hard to provide seniors with a home-like environment; and

Whereas these hard -working staff take excellent care of not just the residents in their unit but the families who are coping with the very difficult conditions our elderly ill often face;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank the dedicated health providers of the transitional unit at Soldiers Memorial Hospital and all health professionals in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 851]

RESOLUTION NO. 653

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 National Men's Basketball Championships were held in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in August of this year; and

Whereas Neil Fitzgerald, a student at Lunenburg High School, was chosen to represent Nova Scotia at the National Men's Basketball Championship; and

Whereas Neil was the only player chosen to represent the province from the South Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Neil Fitzgerald on being chosen to represent Nova Scotia at the National Men's Basketball Championships, and wish him continued success in his basketball career.

RESOLUTION NO. 654

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas in 1918 Frances Fish became the first woman admitted to the Nova Scotia Bar, paving the way for future generations of women lawyers in our province; and

Whereas the 2007 Frances Fish Women Lawyers' Achievement Award was presented to Darlene Jamieson, Q.C., for the commitment she has made to improving women's equality in the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society; and

Whereas Ms. Jamieson is an active member of the National Association of Women in the Law - she has served as a mentor to many young women lawyers and has committed her time and expertise to many boards and commissions which serve to enhance the quality of life for women;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Darlene Jamieson, Q.C., on receipt of the Frances Fish Women Lawyers' Achievement Award for 2007 and wish her continued success in future endeavours.

[Page 852]

RESOLUTION NO. 655

By: Mr. William Estabrooks (Timberlea-Prospect)

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

Whereas the 2007 Celebrating Communities Conference was recently held at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Resource Opportunities Centre has provided valuable leadership in their communities, including workshops, newsletters and the development of a Web site;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Resource Opportunities Centre on their selection as the Women of the Year's Innovation in Community Development Award at the 2007 Celebrating Communities Conference.

RESOLUTION NO. 656

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Jody Goreham of Woods Harbour, Shelburne County, received an honorary award on March 10, 2007, for 20 years of service as deputy chief with the Woods Harbour Volunteer Fire Department; and

Whereas the awards were presented at the second annual Shelburne County Mutual Aid Supper, held at the Woods Harbour Fire Department, with a turkey supper hosted by the Woods Harbour Ladies Auxiliary; and

Whereas Councillor George El Jakl presented the award, on behalf of the Woods Harbour Fire Department, for 20 years of service as deputy chief;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Jody Goreham for his dedication of 20 years to the Woods Harbour Volunteer Fire Department and to his commitment to the community of Woods Harbour and his fellow firefighters.

[Page 853]

RESOLUTION NO. 657

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Gerald "Bear" Davis of Springhill has been inducted into the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame; and

Whereas Gerald Davis was inducted in the competitor category with a long list of accomplishments including Canadian Championship, several years holding the title of Maritime Champion, several Eastern Champion, and much more; and

Whereas Gerald got his start in motocross racing in 1970, and has not raced in a few years, but was eager to get back on the bike for a fun day of racing to support the community of motocross at the Fall Motocross race at River Glade Motorsport Park;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Gerald "Bear" Davis for being inducted into the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame and wish him all the best in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 658

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Gene Cloney of Oxford, Nova Scotia, was honoured on October 22, 2007, for his 35 years of dedicated service to the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Gene Cloney worked for the Department of Natural Resources based out of Oxford for 35 years; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia recognized their workers for their achievements made in support of business, objectives, high-quality client service and dedication to public service - recognizing the accomplishment of employees contributes to a supportive work environment and supports the attraction and retention of committed and engaged employees;

[Page 854]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Gene Cloney on his 35 years of service and wish him all the best in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 659

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Gary Clarke, a Halifax native and a 28-year resident of Springhill, was presented Hockey Nova Scotia's most-deserving official award at the 33rd annual HNS awards banquet in Halifax; and

Whereas for years, Gary Clarke has been key in developing young hockey officials in Cumberland County, and this provincial award certainly acknowledges it; and

Whereas Clarke, who has been officiating for about 20 years, started when he was about 16 years old before taking a break to coach his kids through minor hockey, and as his children grew older, he got back into the game as a referee because they wanted to start doing it as well - Clarke is also the Director of Education Services for the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and loves the change of pace that officiating brings him, saying it is about being part of a game that you love;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Gary Clarke on this prestigious and most-deserving award and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 660

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Don Christie, an Oxford Regional High School math teacher, has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities by being honoured with the 2007 Excellence in Teaching Award in May; and

Whereas Don Christie has taught all levels of math during his 30 years of teaching and is described as an excellent teacher who not only teaches the curriculum, but is innovative, supportive, inspiring and contributes a great deal to Oxford Regional High School students, the school and the community as a teacher, a volunteer and a coach; and

[Page 855]

Whereas Don Christie's school year begins in mid-Summer, spending hours in the classroom repairing desks and chalkboards, and by late Summer, he is still there getting soccer balls ready for the Fall and preparing for another year with new rosters of math students;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Don Christie on receiving this prestigious award and thank him for the tremendous job he has done with educating the children of this province.

RESOLUTION NO. 661

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Wendy Chapman of Oxford, Cumberland County, was one of several who were recognized for their dedicated service to the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department's Auxiliary by receiving service awards; and

Whereas on November 10th, friends, family, firefighters and auxiliary gathered together in Oxford to honour the years of service of those members who give so unselfishly of their time and efforts to help ensure the safety of their community and surrounding areas, and it was essential that the volunteer auxiliary be recognized for their service as they play such an important and crucial role in the success of any department; and

Whereas Wendy Chapman was recognized on that evening for 15 years of dedicated service to the Oxford Fire Department Auxiliary;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Wendy Chapman for her 15 years of dedicated service to the auxiliary, her community, and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 662

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Nova Scotians realize the dedication and hard work of their volunteer firefighters and were honoured to gather together to recognize their efforts; and

[Page 856]

Whereas on November 10th, friends, family and firefighters gathered together in Oxford to honour the years of service of those members who give so unselfishly of their time and efforts to help ensure the safety of their community and surrounding areas; and

Whereas Joe Chapman was recognized on that evening by his peers, and named Firefighter of the Year for the Oxford Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Joe Chapman on being chosen by his peers as Firefighter of the Year and for his years of dedicated service to his department, his community, and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 663

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Marshall Crowley of Streets Ridge, near Oxford, will represent Nova Scotia in the national welding competition in June 2008; and

Whereas Marshall is 21 and recently completed a two-year welding program from the Nova Scotia Community College, Akerley Campus, in Dartmouth; and

Whereas it was there that Marshall Crowley competed against 10 other NSCC students, winning the provincial welding competition which sent him to Saskatchewan to represent our province in the nationals;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Marshall Crowley on this outstanding achievement and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 664

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas friends, family, local dignitaries and staff of Corrections Services Canada gathered together on October 19, 2007, to honour those who have given many years of service to Corrections Services Canada, Springhill Institution; and

[Page 857]

Whereas these men and women were awarded their Corrections Services Canada 10-year pin and thanked for their years of service contributing towards safer communities; and

Whereas among those being honoured for receiving their 10-year pin are Maureen Asselstine, Shelley Carroll, Charles Crowe, Paul Dooley, Lisa Graham, Gerald Hines, Elsie Joyce, Derm King, George Manthorne, Sean McLeod, Thomas Rushton, Suzanne Somers, John Stewart and Marie-Helene Thibault;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the staff of Corrections Services Canada on their 10 years of service and wish them all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 665

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas friends, family, local dignitaries and staff of Corrections Services Canada gathered together on October 19, 2007, to honour those who have given many years of service to Corrections Services Canada, Springhill Institution; and

Whereas these men and women were awarded their Corrections Services Canada 15-year long service award and thanked for their years of service contributing towards safer communities; and

Whereas among those being honoured for receiving their 15-year long service award are Ann Belliveau, Anne Bourgeois, Shaun Rushton, Joe St. Croix and Drew Steeves;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the staff of Corrections Services Canada on their 15-year long service award and wish them all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 666

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

[Page 858]

Whereas friends, family, local dignitaries and staff of Corrections Services Canada gathered together on October 19, 2007, to honour those who have given many years of service to Corrections Services Canada, Springhill Institution; and

Whereas these men and women were awarded their Corrections Services Canada 25-year long service award and thanked for their years of service contributing towards safer communities; and

Whereas among those being honoured for receiving their 25-year long service award are Heather Black, Laurie Hicks, David Horsman, Daniel Jackson, Gary Rutherford and Eugene Williams;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the staff of Corrections Services Canada on their 25-year long service award and wish them all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 667

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas friends, family, local dignitaries and staff of Corrections Services Canada gathered together on October 19, 2007, to honour those who have given many years of service to Corrections Services Canada, Springhill Institution; and

Whereas these men and woman were awarded their Corrections Services Canada 25-year pin and thanked for their years of service contributing towards safer communities; and

Whereas among those being honoured for receiving their 25-year pin are Heather Black, Laurie Hicks, David Horsman, Daniel Jackson and Eugene Williams;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the staff of Corrections Services Canada on their 25 years of service and wish them all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 668

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

[Page 859]

Whereas friends, family, local dignitaries and staff of Corrections Services Canada gathered together on October 19, 2007, to honour those who have given many years of service to Corrections Services Canada, Springhill Institution; and

Whereas these men and woman were awarded for the years that they have given to Corrections Services Canada and thanked for their years of service contributing towards safer communities; and

Whereas being honoured for receiving their Exemplary Service Medal were Christina Carroll, April Findlay, Marlene Knowlton, Ed Muise and Sharon Tattersall;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the staff of Corrections Services Canada on receiving this Exemplary Service Medal and wish them all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 669

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas friends, family, local dignitaries and staff of Corrections Services Canada gathered together on October 19, 2007, to honour those who have given many years of service to Corrections Services Canada, Springhill Institution; and

Whereas these men and woman were awarded their Corrections Services Canada 10-year pin and thanked for their years of service contributing towards safer communities; and

Whereas being honoured on their retirement from Corrections Services Canada, Springhill Institution were Peter McEachern, Robert MacKay, Kenneth Ferguson, Gordon Milner, Johanne Snell, Rose Reid, Sharon Tattersall, Doreen Scott and Eugene Williams;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the staff of Corrections Services Canada on their retirement and wish them all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 670

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

[Page 860]

Whereas friends, family, local dignitaries and staff of Corrections Services Canada gathered together on October 19, 2007, to honour those who have given many years of service to Corrections Services Canada, Springhill Institution; and

Whereas these men and woman were honoured for the years that they have given to Corrections Services Canada and thanked for their years of service contributing towards safer communities; and

Whereas being honoured for receiving his Exemplary Service Bar was Howard Black;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Howard Black of Corrections Services Canada on receiving his Exemplary Service Bar and wish him all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 671

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas friends, family, local dignitaries and staff of Corrections Services Canada gathered together on October 19, 2007, to honour those who have given many years of service to Corrections Services Canada, Springhill Institution; and

Whereas these men and woman were awarded their Corrections Services Canada 35-year long service award and thanked for their years of service contributing towards safer communities; and

Whereas being honoured for receiving his 35-year long service award is Foster MacLeod;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Foster MacLeod of Corrections Services Canada on his 35-year long service award and wish him all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 672

By: Mr. Trevor Zinck (Dartmouth North)

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

[Page 861]

Whereas Midnight Basketball is a program that started in the United States and is now used in countries worldwide to assist in reducing crime rates among at risk youth; and

Whereas Midnight Basketball is a program that combines basketball, guest speakers and educational workshops designed to build character skills like teamwork and respect for oneself and the surrounding community; and

Whereas Brian LeBlanc, Dave Carter and Nellie Clyke of the District 9 Citizens Association felt the need to promote the Midnight Basketball program over the month of August, 2007, in the community of Dartmouth North with great success;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the efforts of the volunteers and the District 9 Citizens Association for running a successful Midnight Basketball program and encourage the District 9 Citizens Association with future programs.

RESOLUTION NO. 673

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas the Canadian Progress Club, Halifax Cornwallis, presents the Women of Excellence Awards to women who have an impact on their profession and community; and

Whereas these awards are given in the fields of arts and culture, communications and public affairs, education and research, entrepreneur/innovator, health, sport and wellness, management and the professions; and

Whereas this year's award recipients in the field of communications and public affairs were Donalee Moulton, Heather Tulk and Pernille Fischer Boulter;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the recipients of the Women of Excellence Award and wish them every success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 674

By: Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

[Page 862]

Whereas the Canadian Progress Club, Halifax Cornwallis, presents the Women of Excellence Awards to women who have an impact on their profession and community; and

Whereas these awards are given in the fields of arts and culture, communications and public affairs, education and research, entrepreneur/innovator, health, sport and wellness, management and the professions; and

Whereas this year's award recipients in the field of arts and culture were Susan Gibson Garvey, Donna Hiebert and Mary Jane Lamond;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the recipients of the Women of Excellence Award and wish them every success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 675

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas the Canadian Progress Club, Halifax Cornwallis, presents the Women of Excellence Awards to women who have an impact on their profession and community; and

Whereas these awards are given in the fields of arts and culture, communications and public affairs, education and research, entrepreneur/innovator, health, sport and wellness, management and the professions; and

Whereas this year's award recipients in the field of education and research are Delvina Bernard, Ingrid Sketris and Gita Sinha;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the recipients of the Women of Excellence Award and wish them every success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 676

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas the Canadian Progress Club, Halifax Cornwallis, presents the Women of Excellence Awards to women who have an impact on their profession and community; and

[Page 863]

Whereas these awards are given in the fields of arts and culture, communications and public affairs, education and research, entrepreneur/innovator, health, sport and wellness, management and the professions; and

Whereas this year's award recipient in the field of entrepreneur/innovator is Holly Bond, founder of Bulldog Interactive Fitness in Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the recipients of the Women of Excellence Award and wish them every success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 677

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas the Canadian Progress Club, Halifax Cornwallis, presents the Women of Excellence Awards to women who have an impact on their profession and community; and

Whereas these awards are given in the fields of arts and culture, communications and public affairs, education and research, entrepreneur/innovator, health, sport and wellness, management and the professions; and

Whereas this year's award recipients in the field of health, sport and wellness are Ann Dodge, Donna Pineo and Glenda Ann Carson;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the recipients of the Women of Excellence Award and wish them every success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 678

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas the Canadian Progress Club, Halifax Cornwallis, presents the Women of Excellence Awards to women who have an impact on their profession and community; and

[Page 864]

Whereas these awards are given in the fields of arts and culture, communications and public affairs, education and research, entrepreneur/innovator, health, sport and wellness, management and the professions; and

Whereas this year's award recipients in the field of management and the professions are Capt. Mary Cameron-Kelly, Chris Power and Valerie White;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the recipients of the Women of Excellence Award and wish them every success in the future.