The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 08-22

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://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Second Session

THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2008

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TIR: Patrice Rd. (St. Joseph to Corberrie) - Repave,
Mr. W. Gaudet 2415
TIR: Long Point Rd. (McNally Rd.to Harbourville) - Upgrade,
Mr. L. Glavine 2416
TIR: Westfield & Rosette Rds. - Repair,
Ms. V. Conrad 2416
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2217, Maritime Fire Chiefs Assoc.: Anl. Conf. (94th) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Parent 2417
Vote - Affirmative 2417
Res. 2218, Gaelic Awareness Mo. (05/08) - Recognize,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 2417
Vote - Affirmative 2418
Res. 2219, Conserve N.S.: Gov't. (N.S.) Employees - Rethink Prog.,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 2418
Vote - Affirmative 2419
Res. 2220, Musquodoboit Valley Ground Search & Rescue -
Anniv. (25th), Hon. D. Morse 2419
Vote - Affirmative 2420
Res. 2221, Battiste, Dr. Marie Ann - Nat'l. Aboriginal Achievement
Award, Hon. K. Casey 2420
Vote - Affirmative 2420
Res. 2222, Williams, Eugene: Death of - Tribute,
Hon. B. Barnet 2421
Vote - Affirmative 2421
Res. 2223, N.S. Coun. for the Family: Bd. of Directors/Staff -
Commend, Hon. J. Streatch 2421
Vote - Affirmative 2422
Res. 2224, TIR: Safety Serv. N.S. - Motorcycle Awareness,
Hon. M. Scott 2422
Vote - Affirmative 242
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 144, Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation Act,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 2423
No. 145, Homes for Special Care Act,
Mr. David A. Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2423
No. 146, Motor Vehicle Act, Hon. M. Scott 2423
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2225, McLellan, John Afton - Birthday (100th),
Mr. J. MacDonell 2423
Vote - Affirmative 2424
Res. 2226, Sydney Lions Club - Anniv. (60th),
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2424
Vote - Affirmative 2425
Res. 2227, Fahey, Leo - Stellarton/Pictou Co. Sport: Dedication -
Thank, Mr. P. Dunn 2425
Vote - Affirmative 2426
Res. 2228, Clean N.S. - Anniv. (20th), Ms. M. More 2426
Vote - Affirmative 2426
Res. 2229, States, Marvin - Preston: Serv. - Recognize,
Mr. K. Colwell 2427
Vote - Affirmative 2427
Res. 2230, North Nova Educ. Ctr: Guatemala Vol. Work -
Acknowledge, Mr. P. Dunn 2428
Vote - Affirmative 2428
Res. 2231, Pictou Co. Tourism Assoc. - Gala Awards: Recipients -
Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 2429
Vote - Affirmative 2429
Res. 2232, Hfx. Metro Ctr. - Anniv. (30th), Mr. W. Gaudet 2430
Vote - Affirmative 2430
Res. 2233, CORE Team - Mem. HS: Entrepreneurial Spirit - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 2430
Vote - Affirmative 2431
Res. 2234, McLeod, Allan: Blood Donation (800th) - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Paris 2431
Vote - Affirmative 2432
Res. 2235, Yetman, Betty & Roy: Ostomy Assoc. -
Assistance Recognize, Mr. L. Glavine 2432
Vote - Affirmative 2432
Res. 2236, Simm, Barry: Vol. of Wk. - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 2433
Vote - Affirmative 2433
Res. 2237, Reg. of Queens Mun.: Coat of Arms - Anniv. (10th),
Ms. V. Conrad 2433
Vote - Affirmative 2434
Res. 2238, Craig, Joan - Order of Can., Mr. S. McNeil 2434
Vote - Affirmative 2435
[GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION]:
Res. 2239, Yom Hashoah (05/01/08): Holocaust - Remembrance,
The Premier 2436
Vote - Affirmative 2436
[NOTICES OF MOTION]:
Res. 2240, Meerman, Keith: Wolfville Rep. Vol. - Acknowledge,
Hon. D. Morse 2436
Vote - Affirmative 2437
Res. 2241, Yom Hashoah: Atl. Jewish Coun./Holocaust Educ. Comm. -
Memorial Services, Mr. L. Preyra 2437
Vote - Affirmative 2438
Res. 2242, Lorde, Anton - NSSAF Outstanding Serv. Award,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2438
Vote - Affirmative 2439
Res. 2243, MacKay, Ron: Death of - Tribute, Hon. J. Muir 2439
Vote - Affirmative 2439
Res. 2244, De Molitor, David: Recreation N.S. Prize - Congrats.,
Mr. S. Belliveau 2440
Vote - Affirmative 2440
Res. 2245, West. Counties Reg. Library - Adopt-a-Book Campaign,
Mr. H. Theriault 2440
Vote - Affirmative 2441
Res. 2246, Anderson, Chris - Boston Marathon: Participation (20 Yrs.) -
Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 2441
Vote - Affirmative 2442
Res. 2247, Lynch, Francina: Duke of Edinburgh's Award - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2442
Vote - Affirmative 2442
Res. 2248, Gov. Gen. Awards: N.S. Recipients - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Samson 2442
Vote - Affirmative 2443
Res. 2249, Fredericks, Allan: Vol. Efforts - Recognize,
Hon. M. Parent 2443
Vote - Affirmative 2444
Res. 2250, East/West Kings Women's Institutes: Farm Safety Day -
Thank, Mr. L. Glavine 2444
Vote - Affirmative 2445
[INTRODUCTION OF BILLS]:
No. 147, Correctional Services and Police Act,
Mr. M. Samson 2445
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 198, Health: Nursing Home Deposit - Details,
Mr. D. Dexter 2445
No. 199, Gas Prices: Artificial Inflation - Explain,
Mr. S. McNeil 2446
No. 200, Agric.: Agric. Policy - Announcement (04/29/08),
Mr. D. Dexter 2448
No. 201, Prem. - Primary Health Care: Priority - Status,
Mr. D. Dexter 2449
No. 202, Prem. - Offshore Deal: Documents - Release,
Mr. S. McNeil 2450
No. 203, Health - ORs: Staffing - Difficulties,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2452
No. 204, Prem.: Commun. Dev. Trust - Stakeholders,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 2453
No. 205, Prem. Nova Scotia Power: URB Rate Hearing - Call,
Mr. S. MacNeil 2454
No. 206, Environ.: Enforcement & Compliance - Effectiveness,
Mr. G. Steele 2455
No. 207, Health - Collaborative Practices: Approval - Delay Explain,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2457
No. 208, Com. Serv. - Repair Progs.: Income Limits - Explain,
Mr. G. Gosse 2458
No. 209, Energy - Demand-Side Mgt. Prog.: Agency - Support,
Mr. H. Epstein 2459
No. 210, Environ. - FOIPOP Request: Response Delay - Explain,
Mr. K. Colwell 2461
No. 211, Com. Serv.: Summer Street Industries - Funding,
Mr. C. Parker 2462
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 1767, Estimates - Committee of the Whole House on Supply,
Hon. M. Baker 2464
Mr. G. Steele 2464
Ms. D. Whalen 2474
Referred 2492
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2492
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2497
Hon. B. Barnet 2500
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 4:07 P.M. 2502
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 2502
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Econ. Dev. - Digby-Saint John Ferry: Significance - Recognize,
Mr. H. Theriault 2503
Hon. A. MacIsaac 2506
Ms. V. Conrad 2508^
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M. 2510
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:58 P.M. 2511
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., May 2nd at 8:00 a.m. 2511
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2251, Connors, Jim, et al: Avastin Supporters - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 2512
Res. 2252, Pictou Acad.: Anniv. (2016) - Countdown Celebrations,
Hon. K. Casey 2512
Res. 2253, NSLC: Cheers to Change Prog. - Applaud,
Mr. K. Colwell 2513
Mr. K. Colwell

[Page 2415]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2008

Sixtieth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Alfie MacLeod

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The draw for the late debate tonight has taken place. It was submitted by the member for Digby-Annapolis:

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government recognize the significance of the ferry service between Digby, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick, and its importance to the economy and prosperity of Nova Scotia.

We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by over 800 residents. The operative clause reads:

"We the residents of Concession, Saint [sic] Joseph, Corberrie and surrounding communities in Clare, hereby, petition the Department of Transportation and Public Works, Province of Nova Scotia to have the Patrice Road from St. Joseph to Corberrie repaved immediately as it presents itself as a safety hazard to the motorists and pedestrians."

[Page 2416]

2415

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name to it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition for the improvement of the Long Point Road. The operative clause is:

"We, the undersigned, strongly request your action on the upgrading of the Long Point Road from McNally Road into the village of Harbourville."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature to this petition that contains 158 names.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following petition. The operative clause reads:

"We the undersigned request that the paved sections of the WESTFIELD ROAD & the ROSETTE ROAD get Immediate Attention. These roads are beyond patching and band-aiding . . . they need serious attention. There are cracks, holes, bumps & humps and much of it reduced to the look of cobblestone. Some of these dips & dives are so bad that vehicles bottom out & hit; one cannot even walk on the road without fear of rolling or twisting an ankle. With roads reduced to this condition how are residents of this community expected to receive prompt Fire & Ambulance Service; maintain their vehicles, etc.

THESE ROADS ARE A DISGRACE to the community, to the County & the Government of this Province."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature to a petition with well over 100 names.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

[Page 2417]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 2217

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

Whereas for the past 94 years the Maritime Fire Chiefs Association has been gathering annually to provide education for fire service officers in our region; and

Whereas the annual trade show is the largest show of its kind in Atlantic Canada and has greatly improved opportunities to learn about fire safety in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the 94th Annual Maritime Fire Chiefs Association Conference will be hosted in Lunenburg by the Lunenburg Fire and Emergency Service from July 6th to July 9th, where the importance of fire safety and the contribution of all firefighters will be recognized;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the continued efforts of the fine fire services to protect and serve the citizens of our province, and congratulate the association for 94 years of excellence in fire service leadership.

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 Gaelic Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 2218

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

[Page 2418]

Whereas today marks the first day of Gaelic Awareness Month, celebrated throughout the province every May month since 1996; and

Whereas Gaelic language and culture represents one of the province's early languages and cultures, contributing to the rich fabric of the province through its language, music, storytelling, song, dance, and custom; and

Whereas the Gaelic community contributes culturally, educationally, socially and economically to that which constitutes the broader Nova Scotia experience;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize May 1st as Gaelic Awareness Month in the province and participate in opportunities throughout the month to learn more about Gaelic 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 responsible for Conserve Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 2219

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

Whereas the Departments of Finance, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Economic Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation have signed on to participate in Conserve Nova Scotia's rethink program; and

Whereas rethink is a greening government behavioural change program designed to increase departmental employee awareness about energy use in the workplace and encourage greener choices at work; and

[Page 2419]

Whereas combined with the Department of Environment, the Department of Energy, and Conserve Nova Scotia, there are a total of eight government departments and agencies and about 750 government employees making environmentally conscious decisions at work;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate these government employees for leading by example and playing a direct role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:15 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Acting Minister of Emergency Management.

RESOLUTION NO. 2220

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 Musquodoboit Valley Ground Search and Rescue Team celebrates its 25th Anniversary of service to the people of Nova Scotia today; and

Whereas the diligent and dedicated efforts of those volunteers have saved lives and brought comfort to families when loved ones have gone missing; and

Whereas the Emergency Management Office will recognize members of the Musquodoboit Valley Ground Search and Rescue Team for their long service at a celebration tonight at the River Oaks Golf Course in Meaghers Grant;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank and congratulate the proud members of the Musquodoboit Valley Ground Search and Rescue Team for a job well done.

[Page 2420]

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. 2221

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

Whereas Marie Ann Battiste, a Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq currently working at the University of Saskatchewan, was recognized at the 2008 National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in Toronto; and

Whereas Dr. Battiste was recognized with the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Education for her work on preserving indigenous language and culture; and

Whereas Dr. Battiste is known nationally and internationally as the author of influential books, essays, and other works;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Marie Ann Battiste and thank her for her contribution to Mi'kmaq and First Nation education across the province, Canada and the world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2421]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 2222

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

Whereas African Nova Scotian activist Eugene Williams passed away December 21, 2007; and

Whereas Mr. Williams worked as a social development and rehabilitation officer with social services for 25 years, developing community organizations and assisting disadvantaged groups, and he worked to break down racial barriers during a turning point in Nova Scotia's race relations; and

Whereas he helped organize the Black United Front, contributed his time and expertise to keeping the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People organized, and was a member of the Association of Black Social Workers, the Black Educators Association, and served on both the North and East Preston Day Care boards;

Therefore be it resolved that the House join me in a moment of silence honouring the accomplishments and the passing of Mr. Eugene Williams.

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.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

[Page 2422]

RESOLUTION NO. 2223

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Council for the Family is a registered charity formed in 1967 and made up of member organizations that serve children and/or families in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the members of the council are drawn from organizations and professions that are concerned with the well-being of families; and

Whereas the council offers a range of services in the areas of education, advocacy and special initiatives to Nova Scotia children and families;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the hard-working board of directors and staff of the Nova Scotia Council for the Family and their efforts to support families in need 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 Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

RESOLUTION NO. 2224

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

Whereas a motorcycle is an energy-efficient vehicle which conserves fuel, reduces urban traffic and parking congestion, and causes less wear on our road system; and

Whereas motorcycle riding is an increasingly popular form of transportation and recreation for thousands of people across the Province of Nova Scotia; and

[Page 2423]

Whereas the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has combined with Safety Services Nova Scotia to promote May as Motorcycle Awareness Month in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage the department and Safety Services Nova Scotia in their efforts to make all vehicle operators aware of the increasing number of motorcycles on the streets and highways.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Before I introduce the bill, with the indulgence of the House, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the Speaker's Gallery - I think that's where she is located, in your gallery, sir - to Ann MacKenzie, who is the CEO of Film Nova Scotia.

Bill No. 144 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 20 of the Acts of 1990. The Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation Act. (Hon. Angus MacIsaac)

Bill No. 145 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 30 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Homes for Special Care Act. (Mr. David Wilson, Sackville-Cobequid)

Bill No. 146 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Hon. Murray Scott)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 2424]

RESOLUTION NO. 2225

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

Whereas even in this modern age of medicine and health care, human life is fragile and tenuous; and

Whereas 100 years of life therefore remains a noteworthy achievement; and

Whereas on April 3rd, 2008, John Afton McLellan of Belnan marked his 100th birthday;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate John Afton McLellan on his long life and wish him many more happy birthdays.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2226

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

Whereas the Sydney Lions Club is celebrating its 60th Anniversary on Saturday, May 31, 2008; and

Whereas the Lions Club has, and continues to be, a volunteer organization that serves the people of Sydney and area and many communities in individual ways; and

Whereas the Sydney Lions Club has had many members who have distinguished themselves as excellent citizens over the past 60 years;

[Page 2425]

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature offer congratulations to the Sydney Lions Club on 60 years of excellent community service, and wish this club and its members all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, permission for an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. DUNN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the gallery today, a couple of residents from Pictou County: Gus Fahey with his special guest, his father, Leo Fahey, from Stellarton. I'd ask the Faheys to please rise. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2227

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

Whereas Leo Fahey, born in New Waterford on September 3, 1924 and living in Stellarton since 1947, has dedicated his entire adult life promoting the value of sport with the youth and adults of Nova Scotia, particularly the Town of Stellarton; and

Whereas Leo Fahey, for the past 60 years, has taught the fundamentals of baseball to youth at the Stellarton Albion Baseball Field, recently concluding his 20th consecutive Youth Summer Baseball School; and

Whereas Leo has been honoured by numerous graduating classes of Stellarton High School for coaching hockey, rugby, track and field, and has been inducted into the Cape

[Page 2426]

Breton Sport Hall of Fame, Pictou County Sport Hall of Fame, the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Boxing Sport Hall of Fame;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House take this opportunity to thank Leo Fahey for his extraordinary dedication to instructing, organizing, coaching and teaching of sport to the residents of Stellarton and Pictou 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 Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2228

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

Whereas Clean Nova Scotia will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with a celebration on June 12, 2008; and

Whereas this Dartmouth-based provincial organization integrates sustainable environmental values and practices into all its decisions, programs and actions; and

Whereas the broad array of programs and services offered by Clean Nova Scotia enhance its collaborative approach to the protection of our environment, health and economic prosperity;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Clean Nova Scotia for 20 years of environmental leadership and change, and thank its board, staff, volunteers and supporters for their significant contributions to our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2427]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2229

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

Whereas Marvin States was instrumental in initiating the East Preston Minor Hockey Association; and

Whereas Marvin has changed the lives of many youth in a positive manner by bringing youth together through sports; and

Whereas Marvin values recreation as a must in all communities, recognizing this as a positive impact on the youth;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize Marvin States for his years of dedication and service to the community of Preston and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Permission for an introduction, Mr. Speaker?

[Page 2428]

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. DUNN: In the east gallery today, I have my son, Mark, home from McGill University, my sister Velma and I believe somewhere perhaps in the centre of the gallery, my brother Lawrence. I'd like to welcome them to the House and the warm welcome of the members. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2230

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

Whereas a dozen North Nova Education Centre students and two of their teachers spent March break in the sun, but they were not resting; and

Whereas teachers Fred MacKenzie and Andrew Francis, with Cross-Cultural Solutions and E.S. Educational Tours, accompanied the students as they travelled through Guatemala for volunteer work; and

Whereas the students spent the time not only offering their labour services, but also distributing items that most Canadian kids take for granted, such as shoes, and the students learned a great deal including the fact that children who cannot afford shoes, cannot attend school;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the tremendous work that was done by the students of North Nova Education Centre for those with less opportunities in Guatemala, as they demonstrated and exported the very best qualities that can be found in Nova Scotian youth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2429]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: I wonder if I might have your permission to do an introduction before I start.

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. PARKER: In the west gallery, I'd like to introduce my wife Marilyn, and my niece, Laura. I'd ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2231

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 County Tourism Association held their 11th Annual Gala Awards Ceremony on April 10, 2008 at the Museum of Industry in Stellarton to recognize outstanding tourism operators; and

Whereas the purpose of the evening is to recognize outstanding tourism operators with the Star of the Festivals Award being shared by the Pictou Lobster Carnival and the Festival of the Tartans of New Glasgow for festivals that have made an outstanding impact in attracting visitors to Pictou County and the growth of the local tourism industry; and

Whereas Frances Buchan of Pictou, who operates the Scottish shop Whigmaleeries, was honoured with a special award for developing the beautiful Pictou County tartan;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the Pictou County Tourist Association for recognizing outstanding achievement and congratulate the Pictou Lobster Carnival Committee, the Festival of the Tartans Committee and Frances Buchan for all that they do to enhance our tourism industry in Pictou County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2430]

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. 2232

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

Whereas on February 17, 2008, the Halifax Metro Centre celebrated 30 years of hosting exciting events in Halifax; and

Whereas since 1978 there have been a variety of events held at the Metro Centre from music concerts to sport events with over half a million people attending the Metro Centre each year; and

Whereas the Halifax Metro Centre, along with Trade Centre Limited, have contributed over $2.2 billion dollars to the Nova Scotia economy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate the Halifax Metro Centre along with the many staff who contribute to the various events and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2233

[Page 2431]

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

Whereas CORE, a Junior Achievement company from Memorial High School in Sydney Mines, realized one of the highest profit margins of all JA companies across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas their profits were $1,500 from the sale of pins with catchy slogans and an ambitious dinner theatre production; and

Whereas the students donated these profits to the Northside General Hospital Foundation for their ongoing work to provide meaningful support to staff, patients and their families;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending congratulations to the CORE team for their success, generosity and entrepreneurial spirit.

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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 2234

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

Whereas Wellington resident, Allan McLeod, has been a loyal blood-plasma donor once a week for over 40 years; and

Whereas September 11, 2007, marked the 800th blood donation for Allan McLeod who was recently named one of the top five blood donors in Canada; and

[Page 2432]

Whereas Allan McLeod has donated over 400,000 units of blood over the past 40 years and has either helped or saved the lives of more than 2,000 people;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and commend Allan McLeod for his many years as a generous and remarkably dedicated blood donor.

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. 2235

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

Whereas the United Ostomy Association of Canada has chapters across Canada to help individuals and families who have undergone gastrointestinal or urinary diversion surgery; and

Whereas Betty and Roy Yetman have volunteered with the Halifax chapter for many years, assisting others who have had the surgery; and

Whereas without the support of the Ostomy Association, many families would be left to cope with significant changes to their lives with limited support and guidance;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize the contribution Betty and Roy Yetman have made to the Halifax chapter of the Ostomy Association.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2433]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

I would just remind the members to try to keep their chatter down.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 2236

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 selfless dedication of volunteers makes communities richer, healthier and happier for the people who live there; and

Whereas Barry Simm has been delighting audiences with his musical talents, entertaining residents of several North Shore seniors' homes, including the Willow Lodge Home for Special Care, the Hills of Annand and White Birches; and

Whereas Barry has also participated in raising thousands of dollars to help a number of community groups, including the Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital, the Tatamagouche Fire Department, Cumberland North Memorial Hospital, families in need and local sports teams;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Barry Simm for his commitment to volunteer service and congratulate him on being chosen Volunteer of the Week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2434]

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. 2237

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 region of Queens Municipality recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary; and

Whereas one of the ways the region celebrated this anniversary was to apply to the Governor General for a coat of arms;

Whereas the coat of arms has pine tees to represent the region's forest resources, the setting sun to represent beautiful sunsets, rivers and oceans, sand dollars to represent the beaches, colour stones to represent the mining heritage, a bald eagle to represent the First Nations, a claw with a salmon represents the salmon industry, and it also includes a white-tailed deer and a moose;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the region of Queens Municipality on its 10th Anniversary and its new coat of arms.

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. 2238

[Page 2435]

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 Order of Canada is the highest civilian honour in the Canadian system of honours; and

Whereas this award is presented on behalf of all Canadians to recognize outstanding lifetime achievements; and

Whereas Joan Craig of Halifax was originally given this distinct honour for her exceptional dedication to both the arts and her advocacy in autism awareness;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Joan Craig on her appointment to the Order of Canada and thank her for her outstanding contribution to her community, her province and her country.

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 Government House Leader.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, it being a very busy day here in Nova Scotia, I would at this time like to ask for the agreement of the House to revert to the order of business, Government Notices of Motion and I say that as well, and especially for this next one as Minister responsible for Human Rights, it has special meaning.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

[Page 2436]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and to my colleagues. Before I read my first resolution, I'm honoured to introduce a few very special guests here in the Speaker's Gallery joining us. First of all, Philip Reitman, known to many in this House, Mr. Speaker, in your gallery, is a Holocaust survivor and has spent a great deal of time retelling a painful tale so that others know of the horrors he saw firsthand in concentration camps over six decades ago. He has spent countless hours, many devoted to our youth so that they might grow to appreciate even more the importance of the story that he tells and the events that took place. I would ask him to stand and I have a couple of other introductions along with that. Also in the Speaker's Gallery, Mr. Speaker, is his son, Larry. (Standing Ovation) I want to thank his son, Larry, for accompanying his father here today to the Legislature and as well welcome him.

Mr. Speaker, also in the Speaker's Gallery is Ms. Kathy Zilbert, the president of the Atlantic Jewish Council and Organization, who, along with so many activities, also spends time educating others on the Holocaust and commemorating this solemn occasion. I would ask her to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 2239

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

Whereas this year, May 1st will be a time for reflection and remembrance as Yom Hashoah is honoured here and around the world; and

Whereas Yom Hashoah is an opportunity to remember the devastation of the Holocaust and reflect on the heroism of the victims themselves and the many supporters who took great risks in attempts to save lives during a dire time; and

Whereas while the lighting of candles represents the millions of precious lives lost, it is also an example of the flicker of hope that the bravery of so many brought to those who found themselves in the darkness of this shameful period of history;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commemorate the six million Jews whose lives were extinguished during a regime of hate, and acknowledge the many significant lessons their sacrifices continue to offer the world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2437]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[NOTICES OF MOTION]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2240

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

Whereas Keith Meerman came to Canada as a young man from the Netherlands, where his parents successfully hid Jewish people from the Nazis during the second world war, and has been a volunteer in his new home of Wolfville ever since; and

Whereas Keith Meerman's volunteer activities have included amongst other things, over 35 years as a member of the Wolfville Volunteer Fire Department, and also a very active 40 year member of the Wolfville Lions Club; and

Whereas Keith volunteers with the Wolfville Baptist Church, raising funds to gather medical, school supplies and other important household items, which he and his wife Alice personally deliver to an appreciative following in Cuba every year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge this outstanding representative as the Town of Wolfville's Volunteer of the Year for 2008.

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.

[12:45 p.m.]

[Page 2438]

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 2241

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

Whereas Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, today is a day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust; and

Whereas one of the principal messages of this worldwide commemoration is, by remembering what happened during the Holocaust, we might inspire a more tolerant society today and in the future; and

Whereas the Atlantic Jewish Council together with the Holocaust Education Committee in Halifax, and communities in Sydney, Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John, Charlottetown, and St. John's will hold similar memorial services today;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly thank the Atlantic Jewish Council and the Holocaust Education Committee for helping us to remember the horrors of the Holocaust and for using the lessons of the Holocaust to help create a more just and tolerant world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 2242

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

[Page 2439]

Whereas on Friday, April 25th, 2008, the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation held their 11th annual celebration of school sport; and

Whereas Anton Ian Lorde, coach for the Eastern Shore District High School, was honoured for his contribution to boys basketball; and

Whereas Anton received the Outstanding Service Award for his many years of volunteering displaying leadership, commitment, and positive community relations;

Therefore be it resolved the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Anton Lorde on receiving the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Outstanding Service Award and recognize his significant contribution to the role of sport and education.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 2243

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

Whereas Ron MacKay, former music teacher at Cobequid Education Centre, passed away peacefully at home on April 24, 2008, surrounded by his beloved children; and

Whereas under Ron MacKay's leadership, Cobequid Education Centre developed one of the most prominent school band programs in Canada, and he inspired hundreds of students to pursue careers in music; and

Whereas Ron Mackay, who received his formal music education at the Canadian Armed Forces School of Music, St. Francis Xavier and Dalhousie Universities, and after his retirement from CEC in 1991 had been active as a clinician, adjudicator, conductor, and composer;

[Page 2440]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House express their sympathies to the MacKay family for their loss and pay tribute to Ron's lifelong dedication and passion for music as a father, musician, composer, band director, teacher, and friend.

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. 2244

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

Whereas David deMolitor of Shelburne participated in the four-week Physical Activity Challenge and won a red fleece toque; and

Whereas the program is sponsored by the Municipality of the District of Shelburne Recreation and Parks Department and the Town of Shelburne Parks and Recreation Department; and

Whereas the promotion is part of Take the Roof Off Winter, being held throughout Nova Scotia and sponsored by Recreation Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate David for winning a red fleece toque by participating in the four-week Physical Activity Challenge sponsored by Recreation Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2441]

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. 2245

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

Whereas the Western Counties Regional Library is doing its part to ensure that there are books on the shelves in their ten library branches; and

Whereas April 1st marked the start of their Adopt-a-Book campaign, giving the public a chance to contribute new books to the aging collection of their local library;

Whereas the goal of their campaign is to put at least 1,000 new books into circulation for library-goers to enjoy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize the many efforts of the Western Counties Regional Library in putting new books on the shelves of libraries.

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 Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2246

[Page 2442]

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

Whereas the 112th Boston Marathon was held on April 21, 2008; and

Whereas Chris Anderson of Bayport, Nova Scotia, has run in the Boston Marathon every year for the past 20 years; and

Whereas Chris Anderson holds the Nova Scotian record for running in the most consecutive Boston Marathons;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate Chris Anderson on his 20th year of running in the Boston Marathon.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice - and just by way of information I should also point out for the record that Mr. Anderson ran the marathon last year in a cast.

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. 2247

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 Duke of Edinburgh's Young Canadian Challenge is a tremendous program that recognizes the achievements of young people in our community; and

Whereas Francina Lynch, a Grade 10 student at Sir John A. Macdonald High School and a Timberlea resident, has earned the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze Award; and

Whereas Francina's community service and personal commitment are exemplary;

[Page 2443]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Francina Lynch on her Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze Award with best wishes in her 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. 2248

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 year the Governor General distributes the Caring Canadian Awards which are given in recognition of the unpaid contributions of people and groups whose efforts have not previously been recognized at the provincial or federal level; and

Whereas this year there are four Nova Scotians among the 49 awards being given; and

Whereas this year Mae Forbes, Evelyn Walsh and John Walsh of Bridgewater, as well as Sister Maura Margaret Bridget MacGraw of Halifax will be honoured with the Caring Canadian Award;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize these four individuals for their outstanding contributions to our province and our country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2444]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2249

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

Whereas on April 12th, Kings County Special Olympics held its first ever recognition banquet in Kentville in its 20 year history; and

Whereas the Kentville County Special Olympics motto says it all, "Let me win and if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt"; and

Whereas Allan Fredericks was recognized for his 20 years of volunteer contribution to Special Olympics, largely as coach of the Kings-Hants Soccer Team which has won numerous provincial titles and at least two national gold medals over that time;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the efforts of Allan Fredericks in volunteering and supporting excellence of those with special needs in Kings 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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2250

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

[Page 2445]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's very hard to hear the member. The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GLAVINE: Whereas the East-West Kings Women's Institute hosted a Farm Fun Safety Day on March 29th at Planter's Equipment in Steam Mill, Kings County; and

Whereas 32 children between the ages of 8 and 12 were taught proper safety procedures to follow to ensure their safety in a dangerous environment; and

Whereas Carl Palmer discussed the issue of farm safety with the children and shared his experience as a double amputee due to a farm accident almost 30 years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature thank the East-West Kings Women's Institute for providing this valuable lesson in farm safety to children in Kings 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 Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, with the agreement of the House, would you please revert to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[INTRODUCTION OF BILLS]

Bill No. 147 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 37 of the Acts of 2005. The Correctional Services Act; and Chapter 31 of the Acts of 2004. The Police Act. (Mr. Michel Samson)

[Page 2446]

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

HEALTH: NURSING HOME DEPOSIT - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Health. Entering a nursing home is a difficult time for seniors and their families - it's challenging emotionally and financially. Residents must pay the nursing home in advance for their room and board fees and it can add up to several thousand dollars. Some nursing homes are also charging a deposit in addition to the up-front fees. I would ask the Minister of Health, why does he allow this extra financial burden to be placed on seniors and their families?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'm unaware of what the member opposite is speaking to. I know we spend hundreds of millions of dollars in keeping people in long-term care facilities and helping them with their day to day requirements. If the member opposite will provide me with more information on this one, I'd be more than happy to look more closely at it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, for the very reason that we do spend many millions of dollars on this, I'm surprised that the Minister of Health is not aware that these deposits are charged. I'm going to table a receipt that I was given by one family. These deposits are about $2,000 and one senior was told this was a damage deposit. This money is held by the nursing home during the length of the resident's stay and you can imagine, if you multiply $2,000 by 150 residents, it's a substantial amount of money. These deposit fees are unreasonable and they place an additional burden on the seniors. So my question for the minister is, why doesn't the minister ensure that if this is to happen, that there are consistent, fair rules on any additional fees that nursing homes can charge residents?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that I'm unaware of, one that I'm going to go back to my department to figure out what's going on. I don't feel that it is something that is just, to be asking a damage deposit for a senior. If the member opposite could provide me that information, I will be looking into it as soon as possible.

MR. DEXTER: Apparently, that's exactly what I'm doing, providing the minister with the information since he doesn't seem to be aware of this. Because they are exempt from the Residential Tenancies Act, nursing homes don't have to pay interest on these deposits the way landlords do nor is there any limit on the size of the deposit. One family

[Page 2447]

told me that their father had to pay more than $5,000, including the so-called deposit of nearly $2,300 paid upon admission. Mr. Speaker, that's a lot of money up front, it doesn't make sense and the practice really should be stopped. I'm going to ask the minister this - when will the government put a stop to these unfair and unnecessary deposits that are being charged to seniors and their families?

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Again, Mr. Speaker, the people in our care under long-term care, in Level II Nursing, in residential care facilities that are under our care, are paid for on a per diem basis. I'm unaware of what the member opposite is speaking to. I do see a receipt here that he did table on behalf of the House - I'm still unaware of which facility he is speaking to and maybe he'll provide that information to me after Question Period. Thank you.

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

GAS PRICES: ARTIFICIAL INFLATION - EXPLAIN

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Today, New Brunswick raised the price of gasoline by two cents a litre. Even with their increase, there continues to be an eight cents a litre difference between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The total tax difference between the two provinces is about five cents, so it begs the question, where's the extra cost coming from? My question to the Premier is simple, why do you continue to artificially inflate the price of gas?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, through you to my honourable colleague, as my colleague knows, the price of gas fluctuates and there are differences between what happen in provinces. There are times when our price is lower than New Brunswick's and there are other times when it is not. That is the reality of what we see within the market and with regulation as well. All of the information is used and that information determines what that price will be.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, many Nova Scotians are concerned that their government is inflating the price of the gas to line the provincial coffers and they believe that political interference is at hand. How can one argue with motorists when they see a price difference between two Maritime provinces anywhere from seven to 10 cents a litre on any given day. Gas regulation continues to be a failure for the people of this province and continues to hit them in the pocketbook. My question for the Premier is, will you direct your Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to appropriately lower the price of gas in Nova Scotia?

[Page 2448]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the last thing that any Nova Scotian wants to see is for us to be debating what that price should be on the floor of this House. The relevant information will be used. As my colleague knows, the amount of fuel tax which is collected, that 15.5 cents, does not change regardless of what that price is. Every single penny of that, by law - which was voted on in this House and agreed to by all Parties - goes back into Nova Scotia's highways.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, if he doesn't want to debate it on the floor of this House, perhaps he should take the decision out of the hands of his minister and give it to the URB- an independent body. If you want to see another person who believes that gas regulation doesn't work in this province all he needs to do is look to his right, to the Minister of Economic Development. Back when Nova Scotia didn't have regulation, on September 14th, 2001, the minister was defending our unregulated market in a comment in The Chronicle Herald, "Prices take longer to come down when a regulated system is in place and that competition asks consumers to shop around for the best price." Mr. Speaker, I couldn't have said it better. My final question is to the Minister of Economic Development is, do you still believe that an unregulated market is the best for Nova Scotia?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I do know is that coming from rural Nova Scotia, we have benefitted from the regulation because there are more service stations than would have been the case had regulation not been in place. That's extremely important for the citizens of this province.

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

AGRIC.: AGRIC. POLICY - ANNOUNCEMENT (04/29/08)

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. If Tuesday's announcement is all this government is willing to bring to the table for Nova Scotia agriculture, I imagine our farm sector is finding it difficult to see the tunnel let alone the light at the end of it. Late last year, the Federation of Agriculture met with the Resources Committee. They had a very clear message - they want an agricultural policy for Nova Scotia and they want a plan. At the campaign agricultural debate held in Dartmouth in 2006, the current minister had said he had talked the talk and if elected, the government would walk the walk. Mr. Speaker, today the talk has gone along a lot longer than the walk so my question for the minister is, why has he turned his back on our farmers?

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for bringing forward the question of agriculture. It is in fact the backbone of rural Nova Scotia and as we all know, Mr. Speaker, you would know coming from your riding,

[Page 2449]

that farmers do in fact feed us all. I'm proud to say that this government has done more for the agriculture sector than any government in Atlantic Canada over the last two years. I'm extremely pleased to stand here in my place and say that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, let's look at the hog sector. They came forward with a plan - it was ignored and in a letter from the minister on April 21st, he said we continue to explore value chain opportunities between local producers, processors and retailers. Mr. Speaker, Pork Nova Scotia tells us that in 2005, the farm gate for hogs was approximately $35 million - the projection for next year is between $6 million and $8 million. Less than a quarter will be left and, again, no plan coming forward from this government. We are losing the critical mass to sustain our processing industry. Mr. Speaker, I wonder at times if the minister is actually engaged in the process. So my question is, can the minister tell us when he will be coming forward with his plan for agriculture?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, this government has been a leader when it comes to helping the pork industry, the hog producers transition. Many have transitions to models that in fact are more profitable and sustainable. The Opposition Leader should know that last week, in fact, to point out the significance of the national concern that the pork producers are facing, the federal government put in place a $50 million to help cull hogs right across this country.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, earlier this week my caucus received a letter from a long-time friend in the beef industry. The minister and others will know him very well, his name is Kurt Sherman. He had a long letter outlining the problems facing this sector and the hope he had for a meaningful plan but now, for the first time in 30 years, he can't see next season from here. He asked that we put his question to the minister, so I will. If this government doesn't come forward with a vision for agriculture and a plan, who will be feeding Nova Scotians in five years' time?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, back in May, 2003, right here in this very Legislature, we tried - the people on this side of the House and the government on this side of the House - to formulate a task force as a consequence of the mad cow disease. We had asked the Liberal caucus - they supported us. They joined us in our efforts to help the farming community. We asked the NDP caucus to help us to put a member on that task force so we could go out to try to work on behalf of the farmers, listen to the concerns they had. We did come back with a big package and the question is, where was the NDP? They wouldn't even help us.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on a new question.

PREM. - PRIMARY HEALTH CARE: PRIORITY - STATUS

[Page 2450]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Premier. This past Winter, the government spent a lot of money to mail a brochure to every home. The brochure is all about transforming health care. I will table a copy of it in case the Premier has forgotten. In fact, there was a whole section about gaining access to primary care and investing in better results, but when the Premier went on his spending spree and spent a windfall of extraordinary revenue, he did not put one cent into primary care and it was not mentioned once in the budget. So, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, why did primary health care fall so quickly from the top to the bottom of the Premier's priority list?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. This government has invested heavily in health care. There is a significant investment within the budget and I don't want to get into a debate on the estimates, of course, here on the floor. There is a significant investment in health care, primary health care being one of those priority areas. When you take a look at investments such as we made in Health Promotion and Protection, millions of dollars more to make sure that this province is the healthiest and the safest province in this country. We stand by those investments. Do we need change in our health care system? Absolutely. The PHSOR Report, which I might add, was endorsed by every single district health authority in this province, shows that the government is on the right track.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier calls his March spending spree a tough decision, but the Premier is not the only one making tough decisions. Dawn Lowe, a nurse practitioner from Hantsport, was recently offered a job in New Brunswick. She has to decide whether she will leave her community because the Progressive Conservative Government won't sign a contract to help the good people of Hantsport. So my question for the Premier is this, can the Premier tell us why he mailed out 400,000 brochures when his government has turned its back on a nurse practitioner who was ready and able to deliver primary health care?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm shocked that the Leader of the Opposition would suggest that we shouldn't be communicating with Nova Scotians to tell them where their tax dollars go. I believe that is vital. We stand by the record of this government on making investments, time and time again. I'm listening to those out there in Nova Scotia. One of the aspects in the PHSOR is a rural health care strategy. What did the Opposition say? No, forget about the PHSOR. They are not willing to change. They are stuck in the past, they are stuck. The people of Nova Scotia see it, we see it. We are going to make the change.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier doesn't seem to recognize is that what we're asking him about was transformational change in helping collaborative clinics get off the ground. We all know that nurse practitioners can decrease the number of ER visits and support a larger patient load in collaboration with doctors. If transformation is not a code word for cuts to rural health care, then my question is this, when will this government finally

[Page 2451]

come up with a province-wide plan to bring nurse practitioners to the many communities in Nova Scotia with pressing health care needs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer this to the Minister of Health so he can elaborate on the seven-day, 24-hour service through the Selfcare/ Telecare Service that was announced in the budget.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as I'll have the opportunity in the next few hours to talk about the budget during estimates, I'll save a lot of those comments for later on, but nurse practitioners in this province are paid through our district health authorities. The district health authorities have their request into us on nurse practitioners. Of course, they are not private practitioners as a doctor would be, and I'm wondering if the member opposite is advocating that nurses or nurse practitioners work on their own?

Mr. Speaker, that is not our intention. Our intention is to use these individuals across the province in a strategic way to make sure that they offer primary health care services to all Nova Scotians. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: So, Mr. Speaker, we are looking forward to this budget because there are a number of nurse practitioners held within it through the district health authorities.

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

PREM. - OFFSHORE DEAL: DOCUMENTS - RELEASE

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. My office has sent several information requests to both the provincial and federal government regarding details around the Premier's offshore deal. In all cases, most of those documents obtained have been blanked out entirely - it seems evident that the Premier and his government do not want Nova Scotians to know exactly what took place. So my question to the Premier is if you were so proud of your new deal, why don't you release all the documents and let Nova Scotians make up their minds themselves?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government stood up for Nova Scotians and made sure that we are the primary beneficiary of the offshore and we will continue to be.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, before he stood up, we were the sole beneficiary of the offshore, now we're the primary beneficiary.

[Page 2452]

[1:15 p.m.]

Speaking notes from the federal Minister of Finance on April 20, 2008, contained an interesting quotation: Now that Nova Scotia is in the O'Brien-based system for 2007-08, if you were to remain in that system we could examine mechanisms to ensure that Nova Scotia would be cumulatively no worse off over time than the province would be if it remained in the status quo. What was being offered back in April is entirely what the Premier accepted in October. So, Premier, why did you accept the very deal you campaigned against for five months?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'll refer that to the Minister of Finance to clarify, for the member, the deal which ensures Nova Scotia not only remains primary beneficiary but also sees us increase the dollars that we would have seen.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the question by the Leader of the Liberal Party. What happened is with respect to this year. Further to the agreement, we are allowed to choose either the expert panel, the O'Brien panel report, or to choose to go with the alternative formula that was negotiated as part of our arrangement with the Government of Canada. In this fiscal year the best amount for the Province of Nova Scotia is the so-called expert panel report. Based on our projections for the next fiscal year, it would change, and the best formula for the Province of Nova Scotia, the one that will turn the best return to Nova Scotians, is the so-called alternative formula which was part of the deal negotiated with the Government of Canada.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the people of this province wanted the Atlantic Accord that was signed more than two years ago, not the 20 pages of amendments that you agreed to. The deal you later accepted was the one you campaigned against for five months. So my question, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, I want to ask the Premier, is your relationship with the Prime Minister more important than doing your job and standing up for the people of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the agreement that we came to with the federal government ensures that Nova Scotia remains the primary beneficiary of our offshore - full stop, Mr. Speaker. We stood up for Nova Scotians, we got a great deal for Nova Scotians and not only did we protect their interests for the offshore, we also are now moving forward on the issue of the Crown's share, which is going to settle a 20-year dispute. Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge and I certainly thank the Prime Minister for agreeing through the process so that finally Nova Scotians will get their due worth.

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

HEALTH - ORs: STAFFING - DIFFICULTIES

[Page 2453]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Long wait times for surgeries are a major concern for Nova Scotians. One of the major reasons for these long waits is the lack of operating nurses. A few weeks ago Capital Health said they had 10 vacancies and that even with maximizing recruitment and training they stated they would still be short.

This Progressive Conservative Government was elected on promising to fix health care yet health care is worse today. So I'd like to ask the Minister of Health, why has the Progressive Conservative Government made it impossible to fully staff the operating rooms in our major hospitals?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is quite the opposite. If you pay attention to the budget over the next number of days and, of course, to our estimates, you will see the extra training components that we are putting in place, the nurses in all regions of this province can receive training on-line, actually on-line through our Telehealth system. They will be able to hone up on those skills, to be offering more services to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, we'll continue to hire as many nurses as we can coming out of our provincial programs. As it stands at this point there are 396 graduates coming up. Our retention rate normally on these is well over 80 per cent of those nurses.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, Capital Health says, it can take six months or longer to recruit a single candidate, when they need to hire an experienced operating nurse. Capital Health's in-house training course has trained no more than 15 nurses a year. People are left in pain, uncertainties, waiting for surgeries and fearing a last-minute cancellation while operating rooms sit empty for lack of qualified nurses.

So I ask the Minister of Health, how could this minister let the wait time situation get so bad in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again here in Capital Health we had the opportunity to work with the district health authority, looking at the new skill centre, the new training centre that is available, just next to the VG in the old nurses' residence in the basement, there is a wonderful high-tech training program that can train these nurses. There have been a number of nurses already going through that program that we can actually help fast-track some of those individuals.

So, Mr. Speaker, we'll continue to work on training those individuals to have them available in emergency rooms, in our operating rooms and we'll continue to make a huge dent in the wait times in this province, as we have in the past.

[Page 2454]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, first the minister says each DHA is on their own, now he is saying they are working with them. This is not a new situation yet the government spent much of 2007 threatening nurses with legislation that threatens their democratic rights. The government is relying on a core group of experienced nurses who, understandably, feel over-worked with little or no relief in sight.

So I ask the Minister of Health, why didn't the Minister of Health make sure that recruitment and retention of OR nurses was a priority this year, Mr. Speaker?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again I will say to the member opposite that we continue to work with all stakeholders for this issue, making sure that we have the best complement of nurses right across this province. We'll continue to work with the universities and colleges that train our nurses to make sure they have the specialty programs available to them. Again, over 396 nurses will be graduating in this year. We have 150 vacancies right now. If we do the math again, we keep about 80 per cent of those working in the province, so we will have many of the nurses that we need in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

PREM.: COMMUN. DEV. TRUST - STAKEHOLDERS

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Premier. On January 10th the federal government announced the Community Development Trust to help single-industry communities hurt by global pressures, the American economic collapse and the high Canadian dollar. In March, the Premier announced that in Nova Scotia, forestry, fishing, manufacturing and small business are four sectors that will benefit from the initiative. Has this government worked with stakeholders in these industries to figure out how best to use this money?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer this question to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, indeed we have consulted with industries. There will be further consultation as the process goes forward and we will be able to outline to Nova Scotians exactly how the process will work in the very near future.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Economic Development - his department pointed to the Towns of Trenton and Canso as examples of communities that would get help. Trenton hasn't heard anything from your government. The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, as of last week, was still in the dark about how the program will operate. The Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia hasn't been approached about a proposal, there's no information package, no timelines, nothing. Why can't the government say clearly what the fund is for and how a community should apply for it?

[Page 2455]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I have no difficulty answering questions in this House when the premise of the question is straightforward and factual. When the facts are not put on the table in the premise of the question, it's not appropriate. There has been consultation by this government with the Nova Scotia Forest Products Association, for example, which the honourable member said didn't happen. We will consult, we built our reputation on consultation.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table from the Economic Development Web site, the Community Development section on events, publications, programs and initiatives, resources and links. There are no mentions of the Community Development Trust. The department has told us that all Economic Development will be doing is writing the cheques. It falls to other departments to work with their existing partners to develop proposals that will go to Cabinet for approval. How transparent. How very responsible with taxpayers dollars. How can the Premier and the minister claim to be helping Nova Scotian communities through a program that has no criteria, no deadlines, no formal process, and no public information?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member better stay tuned because he will hear exactly what he's wanting to hear in the very near future because, indeed, we're involved in consultation, we're involved in a process. The Department of Natural Resources, for instance, has consulted with the forest industry. There has been consultation through Fisheries with the fishing industry, especially in relation to the Town of Canso. So the honourable member will get what he is looking for and we'll be very proud of what we'll present to the people of this province.

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

PREM. - NOVA SCOTIA POWER: URB RATE HEARING - CALL

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad my question is for the Premier. Yesterday during Question Period the Premier made the following comments when asked about the high profits of Nova Scotia Power, I will concur, "When Nova Scotia Power is making profits like that, the URB will utilize all the information at hand and we should see Nova Scotians be fairly treated in that regard." My question for the Premier is, are you going to ask the URB to call Nova Scotia Power before them for a rate hearing?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the process, as the process unfolds, with regard to the next rate hearing, that is the type of information the UARB will be using. They are the appropriate body. They have the expertise; they have the knowledge; they have all the relevant information and I certainly stand by the UARB and the process.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are feeling the pinch in their pocketbook and they are angry when they hear that Nova Scotia Power has doubled their profits from the

[Page 2456]

previous year. I have written a letter to the chairman of the Utility and Review Board asking the board to convene a hearing to establish whether rates should be lowered. Mr. Premier, many Nova Scotians are facing energy poverty in this province. Will you echo my call and support our efforts to get the board to do a review of the high power rates and the high profits of Nova Scotia Power?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as Minister responsible for the UARB, I can indicate to the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party and to the House that the UARB does review the profits of Nova Scotia Power. Obviously not that of Emera, which is a separate company from Nova Scotia Power, but the component with respect to Nova Scotia Power is reviewed by the UARB. As we have found in previous years, the requests of Nova Scotia Power are not always granted, as they should not be, because we need to have those decisions made in the best interest of Nova Scotians.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, yesterday it was stated in the paper that it was Nova Scotia Power whose profit had doubled. I don't know when this government would intervene to protect Nova Scotians. We are simply asking you, Mr. Premier, to support our call for the UARB to review the high cost of energy in the Province of Nova Scotia and whether or not Nova Scotians deserve an energy break with the lower rates. So will you, or will you not, stand up for Nova Scotians or are you going to protect Nova Scotia Power?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I will take this matter under advisement with respect to Nova Scotia Power to see what the legislation provides and review the exact nature of where the profits were generated.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

ENVIRON.: ENFORCEMENT & COMPLIANCE - EFFECTIVENESS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment. The minister likes to talk about 2012, 2015, 2020 - principally, I would suggest, because he faces no accountability for what is going to happen that far in the future. But he knows, as I do, that the largest number of calls regarding the environment to come into an MLAs office, or a caucus office, have to do with enforcement and compliance today. The simple fact is that people have lost faith in the ability of this minister to enforce the laws that are already on the books. Recently, the Auditor General added his voice to this course of concern in what can only be described as a devastating critique of the enforcement and compliance division of the Department of Environment. The Auditor General lists a litany of problems including, "The division issued many approvals without all required documentation in place."

[Page 2457]

My question to the minister is, why should Nova Scotians trust this minister and this government to fulfil their environmental commitments for 2020 when they are failing to meet their environmental responsibilities today?

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, my office was in close contact with the Auditor General as we went through this process together. I can assure the House that no approvals were issued that should not have been issued. There are times, for example, when inspectors have the right to waive certain items. For example, on an approval for a pet cemetery, they can waive whether there is an oil spill analysis or not. That was done. The paperwork for that needs to accompany that and it didn't happen on six occasions. That will be fixed in the future, but that is the level that we are talking about.

On another example, Mr. Speaker, a deed was referred to in the approval as being deposited in another government department. The Auditor General wanted the deed photocopied and included with the approval. We will do that, although the deed was very clearly listed in another department and as an Environment Department, we like to cut down on paper in order to protect our trees.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's Report also talks about monitoring and inspections. The Auditor General says, "We concluded inspection processes are not adequate as the division is not meeting its inspection requirements." The Auditor General points out that in 27 per cent of cases, risk assessments were not documented; 38 per cent of cases, inspections were not carried out as frequently as required; 45 per cent of cases, there was no proof on file. The permit holder was aware of the inspection results. My question to the minister is, why should Nova Scotians trust that this minister and this government will fulfill their environmental commitments in 2020, when they are failing to meet their environmental responsibilities today?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I indicated in my first answer the concerns the Auditor General raised. I gave concrete examples, which the member opposite can't give. These are concrete examples that, if the deed needs to be with the approval document, we'll put it with the document if that's what the Auditor General so desires. We do 7,000 inspections every year, seven recommendations were made. We're putting in an activity tracking system, if the opposition will approve the budget, which I hope they will do, and that will take care of the tracking system.

I stand behind our department. We have one of the best environment departments in the country and I resent very much the honourable member trying to cast aspersions upon the hard working people within the Department of Environment.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, that Party has been in government for nine years and the minister says he's looking for approval for a compliance system. The Auditor General also reports, "The division does not have adequate systems to track and monitor public

[Page 2458]

complaints." He reports that some complaints are not investigated and in even more cases, the complainant is never informed of the results of the investigation. It's no wonder that people who contact the department wonder if anyone is listening. My question to the minister is, why should Nova Scotians trust that this minister and this government will fulfill their environmental commitments for 2020, when they are failing to meet their environmental responsibilities today?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I indicated in my earlier answer that we're putting in an activity tracking system, if he'll support the budget, that will be in place. It's a budget item and we would very much relish his support. I have shared before, we are leaders in waste management, we are leaders in electronic recycling. We will improve our tracking system. Those were the seven recommendations the Auditor General made. Every one of them are being worked on and if the honourable member will have the grace to support the budget, the activity tracking system will be in place the day the budget is approved.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - COLLABORATIVE PRACTICES: APPROVAL -

DELAY EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. There's a media report from April 5th of this year that highlighted some frustrations that are being experienced by a young nurse practitioner in this province. A year ago, Dawn Lowe, along with Dr. Iona Wile in Hantsport, began the process of establishing a collaborative practice. It took them about a month to figure out who to talk to and a month to be told to write an expression of interest to Capital Health. Four months later, the Department of Health told them to fill out an application. Mr. Speaker, as of this morning, neither Dawn nor Dr. Wile has heard anything back from the department with respect to their collaborative practice. My question to the minister is, why does the minister speak so highly about the role nurse practitioners play in our health care system and yet take so long to approve a collaborative practice that will enable more patients access to health care more quickly?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again, in my response to the NDP a little bit earlier was that nurse practitioners are basically under the employ of the district health authorities. They are in the business plans of the district health authorities. It's not that they can go and hire all kinds of these individuals at whim. They have to be fitting within the budgets that we set forward from this House of Assembly. Mr. Speaker, we will continue to expand the roles and the number of nurse practitioners in this province. I look forward to expanding that in this round this year again.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, you know it's not like we don't need nurse practitioners to work in this province. Example - in Digby, they've been waiting

[Page 2459]

for a nurse practitioner for close to a year now. Mr. Speaker, Dawn Lowe graduated in a class of seven, three of her colleagues have already left for Alberta. Dawn does not want to leave Nova Scotia but she feels that she has no choice. My next question for the minister then is when will this minister respond favourably to the 99-page proposal submitted on the Merits of a Collaborative Practice in Hantsport before it's too late and before we lose Dawn to another jurisdiction?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again we will look at that proposal just as soon as we know what our budget is going to be in the go forward so that district health authority can make its decision. Mr. Speaker, there are 28 positions filled in this province, there are still six that remain vacant that we continue to try to recruit for. We want more nurse practitioners in this province and we will continue to recruit them as they become available.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, if you want more nurse practitioners, you have one who is willing to work. Give her a job, Mr. Minister. Dawn Lowe is young, trained and eager to work and the delays in approval are just not acceptable. They're nothing more than messages of contradiction. When it comes to this minister, he preaches to the public and it's not what he's actually practicing. I'll ask the minister this - will the minister then commit here today he's going to establish a more flexible time frame so that he can approve collaborative practices in this province and that we don't have to continue to drive away our young and brightest people to other jurisdictions?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I will take the recommendation under advisement. Again, there are six vacant positions in this province for nurse practitioners. I have to question why they remain vacant at this time. Again, I will take that under advisement to see if there is something we can do for the community of Hantsport.

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

COM. SERV. - REPAIR PROGS.: INCOME LIMITS - EXPLAIN

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. I will table a document obtained from her department outlining the household income limit for all provincial and federal housing grant programs. According to the table, if you are a senior in Nova Scotia your cut-off level for all housing repair programs is $22,000 - this is regardless of the size of your home. My question through you, Mr. Speaker, is why is the household income limit kept so low for seniors of this province?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, my honourable colleague brings an issue to the floor of the Legislature that is very important to all of us. He and I had numerous conversations, as I had with members of the other Party. We know the challenges are very real for seniors and for low-income households when it comes to adaptations and repairs in Nova Scotia. We continue to invest heavily to the tune of multi-million dollars, $18 million

[Page 2460]

in fact, for all of the housing repair programs that we offer to Nova Scotians. We'll continue to do that, helping all of those who need our assistance.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, unless you live in the Halifax area, household income limits are unrealistically low. Families, disabled persons and seniors apply for desperately needed help and they are told, no, you make too much money. According to this table, a family of five in small town Nova Scotia can't get help if they make $26,000. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister why are there so many Nova Scotians being denied the critical housing repairs they need?

MS. STREATCH: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and again to my honourable colleague, we have a menu of housing repair programs in this province. Some of those income levels are done in cooperation with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and, of course, we work with them to ensure that those rates are equitable. Some of our programs are solely provincial in nature and as we are able to, we increase those levels, as we've done in the past and we will continue to do so for the programs that we offer to all Nova Scotians.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad the minister talked about increases. The household income limits in 2008 are exactly the same as they were in 2007 and they were far too low then. Heat and food costs have gone up and now families are facing more basic electricity needs. Mr. Speaker, my question through you to the minister is, why won't her government realize that income levels are far too low and do something about it soon?

MS. STREATCH: Thank you very much and again to my honourable colleague, we have evidenced, in the household income level, increases of the past and demonstrated our commitment to continue to respond to those needs as we do in various other departments across the province. We acknowledge that there's always more to be done. However, we continue to make progress and we will continue to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ENERGY - DEMAND-SIDE MGT. PROG.: AGENCY - SUPPORT

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Minister of Energy. Sir, the need to reduce our energy consumption for both environmental and economic reasons is becoming clearer every day. When it comes to electricity, conservation is known as demand side management. The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board recently approved a DSM program for Nova Scotia Power, but for such a program to be successful, it should be managed by an independent agency. My question to the minister is, does he support the establishment of a performance-based, independent agency to operate a demand side management program for Nova Scotia?

[Page 2461]

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, my department has engaged a private professor to do a review on this. His report is now on my desk and I will be making some recommendations to my Cabinet colleagues in the very near future.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the budget announced a few half-hearted environmental initiatives but there was no reference to government support for demand side management. A recent agreement between the Utility and Review Board, Nova Scotia Power and a group of stakeholders allows for the establishment of a modest DSM Program right away. However, for the most effective ramp up to take place, the performance-based independent agency should be created as soon as possible. The question I have for the minister is, will he move in an early fashion to establish an independent agency?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member and all members that when a file is on my desk, I do move rapidly on it. I will be reading the report from Professor Wheeler. I will be making some recommendations to my Cabinet colleagues and, hopefully, I'll have the support.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, depending on how things unfold, the honourable minister might only have a couple of weeks left in his entire political life. (Interruptions) So my question to the minister is, will he use that time effectively and bring forward at this session of the House legislation (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: My question to the minister is, will he use the time he has left to bring forward, in this session of the House, legislation to establish the independent agency that is needed to achieve such a program?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, if I may, there were two questions there. The first part of the question was - the citizens of Yarmouth are saying I'm going to be another Ron Russell. (Applause) Mr. Speaker, I can also say that being a member of government, in a government that one of their main priorities is protecting our environment, I'm very proud to be a member of that government.

I can also say that I'm very proud that our Premier is the Premier who developed the new program called Conserve Nova Scotia. We have reached out and helped over 300,000 Nova Scotians in a little over a year with Conserve Nova Scotia, and 50 new programs have been developed under Conserve Nova Scotia. I'm very proud of that track record; I'm proud of our Premier for introducing that.(Interruptions)

[Page 2462]

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

ENVIRON. - FOIPOP REQUEST: RESPONSE DELAY - EXPLAIN

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment. On May 25, 2007, my office filed a freedom of information request with the former Department of Environment and Labour regarding oil spill contamination reports in recent years. The standard 30-day reply from the department to inform us of any time extension was not sent - and after 60 days, still no response.

Mr. Speaker, on October 3, 2007, my office finally received a reply, but this correspondence contained no answers to our questions or any information of any type. So my question to the minister is, why did it take your department 131 days and not even provide any information on our request?

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Clearly timelines that long are not acceptable, however, I do want to assure the whole House that when it comes to freedom of information requests, I do not get involved at all as minister. I can ask, make sure they stick to the processes but I don't get involved, so I'm not aware of the exact request that he has made.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my office filed a request for a formal review with the FOIPOP review office - the review office found that your department was responsible for several infractions - your department even failed to comply with a formal request from the FOIPOP review office itself. Ultimately the minister is responsible for this and needs to be held accountable for this kind of blatant disregard for public information.

I'd like to add, Mr. Speaker, that the FOIPOP review officer directed that the department provide us with an answer by April 18, 2008 - we have not, as of yet, received any information from the Department of Environment. My question to the minister is, will you provide the information to the House of Assembly immediately?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, all I can speak abut the FOIPOP department is in generalities because the person deals with the information and keeps it confidential, as well it should be, and the honourable members opposite who would make fun of that don't understand what freedom of information and protection of privacy means. I do know that we have the most requests of freedom of information and protection of privacy because we have the most regulatory power within government, and we oftentimes send back comments that we would give them the information without FOIPOP. In fact, Mr. Darce Fardy, in a conference a year ago, mentioned that our department was a shining example in terms of FOIPOP.

[Page 2463]

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it is extremely disappointing that there's still this kind of poor and inadequate approach to access of information by a public body.

Mr. Speaker, with the current process in place for reporting oil spills, it may actually deter people from reporting contamination. If these incidents aren't recorded properly it can negatively affect individuals, homeowners and potential buyers. These individuals can be financially ruined because of the lack of due process by the department.

My question to the minister is, will you immediately change the current process regarding oil spill contamination reporting that exists in the Department of Environment to ensure the protection of residents and people in our province?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I'd be happy to meet with the honourable member to discuss how we can improve the situation. I know him to be a very honourable member who works hard for his constituents and cares about the environment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

COM. SERV.: SUMMER STREET INDUSTRIES - FUNDING

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Community Services. On the North Shore of this province, we have a real gem called Summer Street Industries. It is a place where caring and compassion come together to serve people with intellectual disabilities and has operated there since 1968. There are 139 clients.

However, the department has been funding only 80 positions there, expecting the community to donate the rest. In tough economic times, it gets more and more challenging to get those charitable donations. My question through you to the minister is, why won't the department step up to the plate and cover a fairer share of this organization's funding?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have the time today to rise and speak to this question as I know my honourable colleague attempted to ask it yesterday. I've personally been to Summer Street Industries with the member for Pictou Centre. It was my pleasure to visit there and see the wonderful work that goes on there. Of course, as we discussed the other evening in late debate, we have in excess of 2,000 individuals in this province who benefit from the adult service centres, who do an amazing job from one end of this province to the other, working with persons with disabilities to ensure their quality of life and their employability, their skills are fully maximized.

We do provide funding, as the honourable member has indicated. We are currently in the final stages of a province-wide review and as soon as we are able to get this budget passed, Mr. Speaker, I'd be pleased to put some of those new dollars on the ground.

[Page 2464]

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, that ongoing review has been ongoing for more than two years now. Summer Street Industries has had the same core funding for over 10 years. For example, their operational funds cover 16 staff, but they actually have 24 people working. The cost of heat and lights has tripled in the last 15 years, the last time allowances for these costs changed. All of this puts real pressure on more and more community funding. I want to ask the minister, when will her department own up to its responsibility to take these funding pressures off the community?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, again I thank my honourable colleague for the opportunity to speak to the wonderful work being done from one end of this province to the other by all of our partners, our stakeholders, our service providers, the individuals, the family members who come out every day, willingly, to participate in that quality of life.

Again, while we recognize the increases that we have provided to the adult service centres had been for wages, we do acknowledge that operational funding is part of that review. Again, I'd be pleased to put those dollars on the ground just as soon as we get this budget put to bed.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, Summer Street is a great organization, as we all agree, but it really needs help. Funding levels at Summer Street have . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Pictou West has the floor.

MR. PARKER: Funding levels at Summer Street have decreased from 75 per cent in 1993, to less than 50 per cent today, less than 50 per cent. Summer Street does a superb job and certainly the community is doing its part. I want to ask the minister, when will this government do its part too?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I know that all members of this House recognize the challenges that go along with the review process. We wanted to ensure that we had all the information necessary. We feel we are prepared to move forward now and I would like to acknowledge the member for Pictou Centre who, upon my very first coming to this office, presented me with the challenges and with some suggestions from Summer Street Industries. So it was my pleasure to receive that information from him. Again, we will continue to work diligently with our service providers and our stakeholders across the province to ensure those individuals who do require our assistance . . .

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth North on an introduction.

[Page 2465]

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the attention of all members to the west gallery. Where in a year we are celebrating 250 years of democracy, it's a pleasure for our caucus and all members to see some young Grade 11 and Grade 12 students from Dartmouth High. They are accompanied by the staff members John Nimmo, Isabelle Coombs and Cathy Bamwoya. If we can have all members give a round of applause for the students today.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 1767.

Res. 1767, re Estimates - Committee of the Whole House on Supply - notice given Apr. 24/08 - (Hon. M. Baker)

MR. SPEAKER: Debate had been adjourned by the honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, in the time that I have available to me today I'm going to complete my remarks on the budget that was delivered two days ago. For members in the House who have forgotten where I left off, I spent most of my remarks on Budget Day talking about the centrepiece of the budget, which is an 8 per cent across-the- board increase for every household in Nova Scotia on electricity. We think this is a mistake. We believe that Nova Scotians will be dismayed by this move on the government's part and we too are dismayed on their behalf.

This across-the-board tax increase that will increase the expenses of every household of Nova Scotia amounts to a tax grab on the part of the government of $28 million - $28 million out of the pockets of hard-working Nova Scotia families and into the coffers of the government. In exchange the government offers a program the price of which they put at $10 million. Mr. Speaker, it does not take a lot to see that's not a fair exchange. If the government had taken the money out of one program and put it all into assistance for low-income families we might be having a different debate today. Really this is about the

[Page 2466]

government taking more money out of people's pockets. Every single household in Nova Scotia will pay more as a result of this government's budget.

[2:00 p.m.]

The program that they have implemented, the $10 million program is very similar to the previous Keep the Heat program, which we know from experience did not work. Advocacy groups who advocate on behalf of those most in need as well as this caucus have begged the government, pleaded with the government to redesign the program so that it will actually work, but instead the program had been reinstituted much the same as it was before. We do not question the need for this program. From the moment it was eliminated we have asked that it be brought back. We did not ever see the rationale for chopping that program. So it's not the necessity of the program we question, it is the design. It will not get too many people who need the help. This is not just something we're asserting, we know this from experience.

Even though the government has set aside $10 million we have to see that as a maximum amount, and that is if 100 per cent of the eligible families actually take up the program. We know from bitter previous experience that the take-up rate will be much less than 100 per cent. The amount of money the government will spend will be less than $10 million on this program. We know this from experience, Mr. Speaker. The only question is, how much less than $10 million will it be? Will it be $3 million, $5 million, $7 million? We don't know, but we do know that any paper-based application program will defeat very many of the families that need the help the most.

More than anything, Mr. Speaker, it is a broken promise, another broken Progressive Conservative promise. The Premier promised families that he would give them this break on their energy bill. He didn't say on their heating bill, he said it would be on their energy bill and now the Premier is redefining that promise to be something different from what he actually said. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind, my colleague's mind or the minds of the people of Nova Scotia, that this is a broken promise.

So, Mr. Speaker, we come to this question of confidence. Can we have confidence in a government that would back off so quickly on a promise that formed one of the seven key priorities in the last election campaign? In the most literal sense of the word, we do not have confidence in this government. I do not have confidence in this government's ability to manage the affairs of the province in the best interest of the people. My colleagues do not have confidence in this government. The people who sent me here tell me they do not have confidence in this government.

I would like to read some of the e-mails and phone messages that I received since the budget was delivered, Mr. Speaker, but I'm afraid that almost all of them use at least one unparliamentary word so I'm not able, I'm afraid, to actually quote from what my

[Page 2467]

constituents are telling me, but what I will tell you, in summary, is they utterly lack confidence in this government. That is not the same as the question of confidence that will face this House on or around Thursday, May 15th. That is a much different meaning of the word and that is whether it is the will of this House to let the government continue, because in the minority situation in which we find ourselves, it is within the power of the combined Opposition Parties to say to this government that we do not have confidence in your ability, we do not think that you should continue, that we think the decision should be made by the people.

That is a decision not to be made today, Mr. Speaker, but it will be made very soon. Does this House have confidence in the government? It is difficult to have confidence in a government when there is such a gap between what they say and what they do. Let me cite a couple of examples. Once again this year, the revenue estimates in the budget are not compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Everybody thought we had gotten past the stage of books that do not follow the rules but, once again, the revenue estimates do not follow the rules. It's not me saying so, it is the Auditor General who is required, by law, every year to sign off on the revenue estimates and he says, once again, those revenue estimates of the government are not in conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

We have the government's year-end spending spree, Mr. Speaker, the likes of which we have not seen in many a year, although the Premier says it has happened before. It happens in other provinces. The amount of money involved was very large, I believe larger than we have ever seen before. The government has taken the Provincial Finance Act, and the terms of extraordinary revenue and defined them to mean something other than what any ordinary person would take it to mean and said, no, they do not, according to the law, have to take this extraordinary revenue and pay down the debt but they can, indeed, choose to spend it on whatever they choose to spend it on. It is difficult to have confidence in a government that does that.

It is difficult to have confidence in a government that has created trust funds in order to shuffle money around from one fiscal year to the next. This is a device used first and most widely by Paul Martin when he was federal Finance Minister and I am disappointed to see our provincial government adopting this method of obeying the letter of accounting rules while not obeying the spirit of them because, Mr. Speaker, if anybody looked at the budget documents, they would see that an extraordinarily and unusually large amount of money was spent on post-secondary education in the last fiscal year and it looks like there is a big drop in the amount of money being spent on post-secondary education this year, when the reality is that the trust fund was created. The money was booked last year but is actually going to be spent this year. It may obey the accounting rules, but it does not tell Nova Scotians the whole story about what their government is doing and it is difficult to have confidence in a government that would do such a thing. I could stand here all day and cite dozens of examples where what the government says and what it does are different things.

[Page 2468]

In my remarks on the Justice Administration Amendment (2008) Act, Mr. Speaker, I spoke about one such case that struck home to me because of a murder in my constituency and that had to do with electronic tracking of offenders who were on house arrest or curfew. The difference between what the government announced it was doing and what had actually happened in practice is, frankly, appalling. I think every one of my colleagues in their critic areas could cite example after example of such situations. It is difficult to have confidence in the government where there is such a gap between what the government says and what it does. It is difficult to have confidence in a government where there is such a gap between what they say and what the verifiable facts are.

Let me cite a few examples, Mr. Speaker. Just last week in Question Period, the Premier stood up and said that Nova Scotia's credit rating is "one of the highest in the country." For anyone seeking a reference for that quotation, it is on Page 1935 of Hansard. The Premier of the province says, we have an A-plus rating, it is "one of the highest in the country".

Now, Mr. Speaker, my eyebrows went up when I heard that because I did not believe that to be so and when I checked the facts, I find out that it is, in fact, not so. There are three credit rating companies in Canada and when you look at them, one rates Nova Scotia second lowest in the country. Another one rates Nova Scotia tied for second lowest in the country and the other one has Nova Scotia tied for lowest in the country.

Mr. Speaker, it's in the government's own Budget Documents on Page 3.23 if anybody doubts my facts and figures. Now, an A-plus rating sounds good until you know a little bit about the weird and wacky world of credit rating where you realize that A-plus is actually not a very good grade. The highest grade in that particular category is triple A and, of course, provinces with good finances like British Columbia and Alberta have a triple A rating. Below triple A is double A and Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario all have a double A rating - above Nova Scotia's. There is a province with a double A-minus rating, that is our neighbour, New Brunswick, but that's still in the weird and wonderful world of credit rating, it's above an A-plus. So we fall behind all of those provinces and we are ahead only of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. So that is just one example. The Premier stood up in Question Period last week and said not once, but twice, look at us, we're great, we have an A-plus rating and then he went on to say it's one of the highest in the country when it is demonstrably not so.

Now, Mr. Speaker, you could do the same thing about most any economic indicator that you care to choose. Let's look at employment, for example. The government loves to vaunt its achievements with respect to employment. Indeed, the employed numbers are quite high but so they are in every province across the entire country. Over the past number of years, the economy is going very well. The tide has floated everybody's boat. The problem here in Nova Scotia is that our employment growth has gone up less than the rest of the country or, to be more precise, in fairness, that is true of employment in Atlantic Canada.

[Page 2469]

The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, the non-partisan body, Mr. Speaker, says Atlantic Canada's employment gains "have not kept pace with national numbers." It also says later on that Atlantic Canada's weaker job growth is found across the industry spectrum. Now, I remember the days, they weren't that long ago, when every time the employment numbers went out, the government would send out a news release claiming credit for the job creation. The problem, of course, was that employment was up and down and you'd get months where employment went down and there we had radio silence. The government refused to take the blame, they found other factors. So when things were good, they took the credit; when things were bad, they pointed fingers. Thank goodness those days are behind us, we don't see the government issuing news releases every month like they used to.

Mr. Speaker, we have to have a dose of reality about what the employment situation is in Nova Scotia. The latest figures from Statistics Canada showed that the unemployment rate in Cape Breton stands at 15 per cent. Neither the government nor we in this House can rest as long as there is one region of the province with an unemployment rate that is that high. As I've said in previous years, that is coupled with an extremely low participation rate. That is the number of people in the adult population who are even looking for work, whether they are employed or not. In Cape Breton that is historically low, as it is commonly in depressed parts of the country. So they combine a very low participation rate with a very high unemployment rate. Let us not hear anybody vaunting employment numbers in this House until we have done something to deal with that sort of situation.

Another thing that the Premier likes to talk about is the debt cost. What the documents show, Mr. Speaker, is that debt servicing costs are going to go up over the next several years, they're not going down. The net direct debt of the province this year, if the budget targets are met, will go down 0.1 per cent, the proverbial drop in the bucket. Next year debt servicing costs will go up and the year after that they will go up, and the year after that they will go up. No wonder indeed, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier chooses not to talk about that particular number.

Then there is the question of the Crown Share, which is completely absent from the budget, as it should be, because we don't know if there is any money that is going to be available. The ultimate result of the Crown Share discussions could be zero, or it could be a lot more than that. If the Crown Share Panel Report comes back while this House is sitting, we do expect the government to revise its budget and report to this House what it plans to do with that money. We expect this government to seek the approval of the House, if there is that extraordinary revenue gained this year.

[2:15 p.m.]

I want to emphasize again, the budget documents are completely silent about the Crown Share. Any pronouncements the government has made about what it will do with that money are outside this Assembly, outside the budget documents, a statement of intent only

[Page 2470]

on the part of the government, Mr. Speaker. We expect them to seek the approval of this House so that we can have a debate if, indeed, there is any money at all received on the Crown Share.

Let me turn then, Mr. Speaker, to another topic on which we have heard an extraordinary amount of nonsense, except this time it's from the Liberal Party, and that is gas tax and regulation. The system of gas regulation in this province was instituted for three reasons - one is to create stability in price. Once the price is set on a Friday, it stays the same until the following Friday. It has achieved that objective so that Nova Scotia drivers know what the price is going to be on a Tuesday.

Mr. Speaker, there's been the other benefit, of course - New Brunswick's price goes up a day before ours, or down, it gets adjusted a day before ours. So Nova Scotia drivers have the benefit of having a pretty good signal about which way the price is going.

The second objective of gas regulation, Mr. Speaker, was transparency to get at this issue of people feeling they are being gouged. Now the price is transparent, media outlets predict - the media outlets know what the formula is and they're able to predict what it is fairly accurately. There are a lot of people who are making a lot of money out of petroleum prices, Mr. Speaker, but they are not in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the third purpose of gas regulation was to protect rural gas station owners, to provide a guaranteed margin and it has achieved that objective as well. Now, Mr. Speaker, the other day on the radio I was listening to a gentleman from Richmond County who was saying how important the gas price regulation was to his business. I would be interested to hear the conversation between the member for Richmond and that particular constituent. Or what about the gas dealer from Annapolis who ripped up his Liberal Party card because he couldn't believe that the Party, to which he had showed his allegiance his entire life, wanted to destroy his business. I would like to hear the conversation between the Leader of the Liberal Party and that particular constituent.

Just for a moment, Mr. Speaker, I would like to pause and offer the floor to enable one of my colleagues to make an introduction.

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

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the honourable member for ceding his time. I do want to welcome in the gallery opposite half of the class from Northeast Kings Education Centre led by their teacher, Nova Keddy, who was the unofficial editor of my second book and taught all my three children. She doesn't look old enough for that but she did. We're delighted to have the students down. They have been on a tour here. There were up at Parade Square with you, Premier. They went over to

[Page 2471]

the caucus office to see how a caucus office works and I would ask the members to welcome them and give them the warm welcome of the House.

I should just explain what's going on to the students. This is a debate on budget. The budget was tabled by the Minister of Finance and now the critic for the Opposition, the honourable Graham Steele, a very honourable man, is speaking about his Party's perspective on the budget. So if I could ask the members to welcome the students, I would appreciate that. (Applause)

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, back on the topic of gas price regulation now. We've always had an open mind about it. You have to allow it to work for a certain amount of time and then study it objectively to see if it's working and do you know what, we're not married to it for any ideological reason. If it's working for the people, if it's achieving the objective of stability, transparency and protecting rural gas stations, then we're for it and if it's not doing that, then we're against it.

What happened was, Mr. Speaker, the government agreed to do a study after only six months, giving in to one of the demands of the members from the Third Party over there and the results of this study, which cost a great deal of money, was that it was too early to say whether the gas price regulation was working or not. It was too early to say, but it was one of the demands of the Liberal Party. I've often said, the government should have billed the cost of that study back to the Liberal Party Caucus Office because they were responsible for wasting the money. It is time to look at it again. It is time to look at it again objectively, based on the facts.

The Liberal Party announced their opposition to gas price regulation before it ever came into effect and, therefore, they are married ideologically to a certain position. They feel they can't move it off now and the facts no longer seem to matter to them, Mr. Speaker, nor does it on the gas tax either. We hear enough nonsense from the Liberal Party on gas price regulation but we get even more on the gas tax. There are certain immutable laws of public finance and one of those laws is that if you cut your revenue, you have to cut services or get a new revenue source or run a deficit. What the Liberal Party consistently refuses to do is to say which one of those options it chooses. There are no other options. It is an immutable law of public finance. Either you raise taxes, or you cut services, or you run a deficit. You simply can't blow a hole in your revenue and pretend that nothing is going to change.

Mr. Speaker, now as proof of my thesis, let me refer to a couple of our neighbouring provinces, which by coincidence happen to have Liberal Governments. What happened in the Province of New Brunswick? They cut the gas tax and good for them, but the part the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia always leaves out is that at exactly the same time, in the same budget, they raised income tax to offset the drop in revenue because the Liberal Party of New Brunswick understand that there are certain immutable laws of public finance. They blew a hole in their gas tax revenue and they filled it in with income tax revenue.

[Page 2472]

Now the Government of Prince Edward Island made a different choice, Mr. Speaker. The Liberal Government of Prince Edward Island has just delivered a budget that has a deficit. Now I thought we were past that in this part of the country, indeed across the country. I thought we were all opposed to deficits. I know my Party is. I know their Party is. There is no NDP Government for a long time that has run a deficit, but the Liberal Government of P.E.I. has just delivered a budget with a built in deficit because they recognize that there are certain immutable laws of public finance. You only have three choices but the Liberal Party would want the people of Nova Scotia to believe that they can cut revenue and nothing else will change. It's just not the way the government works.

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would find it very unfortunate that in the year of Democracy 250, when we have students visiting here, the House, that they would have to see honourable members, in any way, trying to mislead the House. I would ask if the honourable member for Halifax Fairview, whose Party was pursuing the 8 per cent cut in home heating oil and electricity, which cost the Government of Nova Scotia $75 million in revenue. I'm wondering if that honourable member would table for us here in the House today, what plan his Party has as to how the government is going to replace the loss of $75 million in revenue. Because, if he is going to criticize what our Party has been proposing, one would think that he would at least let this House and the visitors to this House know exactly what their plan was for that lost revenue as per his economic lesson.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I do think it is unfortunate when members of this House take advantage of the fact that a point of order is always in order to get up and give a mini speech. I think it is not terribly respectful of the traditions of the House.

The other thing about the gas tax, Mr. Speaker, is that it is going to be swallowed up. (Interruption) The other important question about anybody who wants to cut gas taxes is that when the price of gasoline goes up, as it will, and the cut gets swallowed up, what do you do then? Once you fired your cannon, what do you do next because let there be no doubt about it, gasoline prices are going up. We have to be ready for it, we have to get used to it, but the Liberal Party's answer is superficial and will not work.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is true that the government does get a benefit from high petroleum prices because one of the things that I noticed in the budget on the revenue side, is that there is an enormous jump this year in petroleum royalties because of the production, mainly of natural gas, the price of which has gone up commensurate with petroleum. One

[Page 2473]

could say, I don't think it would be going too far to say that is the one thing that saves the government's budget this year, an extraordinary increase in petroleum revenues.

Now this is a government that, since it was elected in 1999, has surfed the wave of a growing economy of large increases in revenue every year. They have never really had to make those difficult choices that they like to talk about. Even this year, Mr. Speaker, they have managed to find ways to avoid the difficult choices because, out of the blue, they get a gift of a large increase in petroleum royalties as well as the creation of trust funds, the objective of which is to shuffle money from one fiscal year to the next.

Now, Mr. Speaker, each of my colleagues could talk about, in their Critic area, the reasons why it is difficult to have confidence in this government. Again, I draw the distinction between confidence in the most literal sense of the word and the vote of confidence that will be held on or around May 15th.

Let me just mention a few things in my other critic area, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Environment. These could be repeated by our Critic for Community Services, our Critic for Labour, our Critic for Justice, our Critic for Transportation, our Critic for Health, our Critic for Education. I am going to take a few minutes to focus on the Department of Environment to show why it is difficult for us to have confidence in this government and why it ought to be difficult for the people of the province to have confidence in this government. With respect to the environment, the government has missed all of the key opportunities it had in this budget to do something that would really work. The Ecology Action Centre, the foremost environmental advocacy group in the province, says, "The budget is a testament to the need for less rhetoric and more action."

For example, we have a need in this province to set efficiency targets for fuel oil. This province is unusual in the large percentage of people who heat their home with fuel oil, it is at or around 60 per cent. About 60 per cent of all homes in Nova Scotia get their heat from oil and yet all of the work, all of the action on efficiency is on the electricity side. We need to see more from this government. There is much more that could be done. It would be the single best investment this government could make in energy conservation helping people to use less fuel oil, but they have not done that.

[2:30 p.m.]

A report commissioned by their own Conserve Nova Scotia agency laid out 16 programs that would lead to efficiency gains and it ranked them in order of cost effectiveness. What has the government done? It has chosen in this budget, the most expensive and the least effective option for reducing emissions by funding a transit tax credit. Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear, we are not opposed to a transit tax credit because it will put a little bit of money in people's pockets but it is far from being the only answer, the best answer, a sufficient answer, to the question of climate change. The amount of money is so

[Page 2474]

small for any particular individual or any family it is highly unlikely that it will change anybody's behaviour. For people who are already taking the bus and have a monthly bus pass they will get a very small annual tax credit but only if they earn enough money to pay provincial tax, because it is a non-refundable credit so let's not forget that. You have to be earning enough money already to be paying provincial tax in order to get any benefit at all from this provincial tax credit. Mr. Speaker, it's not going to motivate anybody to take the bus who's not taking the bus today.

The amount of money is so small that it is not conceivable that anybody currently taking their car will look at this transit tax credit and say that's what I need, that's enough for me to move from the car to transit, it's just not enough. On top of that, it's a very expensive option compared to efficiency gains. It can be made much more effectively, much more cheaply if some of the other programs had been pursued.

After all, the business of government is not necessarily about doing good things - anybody who has $8 billion to spend can do a few good things - the issue is putting the money that is available to its highest and best use, to say of all the options available the one that is going to give us the best return on our investment is option number one out of 16, or two or three - that's what it's all about. No one is going to stand up in this House and say a transit tax credit is a bad thing, of course it isn't, it's just of the 16 programs identified by Conserve Nova Scotia it is the most expensive and the least effective.

You can say the same thing about the rebirth of the Keep the Heat program which did not work before. There's no reason to think that it will work now. The Ecology Action Centre and the Affordable Energy Coalition have been pleading with the government to reintroduce a redesigned program. The government has reintroduced it but hasn't redesigned it, an opportunity has been missed.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to carbon tax, cap and trade systems, there is no movement in this budget at all. As the Ecology Action Centre says, "Nova Scotia and British Columbia have a lot in common on climate change policy, except when it comes to concrete policy implementation." What that says is that the government talks a good game, but doesn't actually take meaningful steps forward. In contrast, British Columbia is taking very meaningful steps forward - it is leading the country on the climate change file. Where is the Government of Nova Scotia? On this issue, the budget is silent, or at best it is whispering when we need decisive action.

This caucus does not support a carbon tax; we do not think that is the right way to go. We do support a revenue-neutral carbon incentive such as is being pursued in British Columbia. We do support the entry of Nova Scotia into a cap- and- trade system, but we need to be there - we need to be at the table where those programs are being designed today. Instead, this government is still messing around with intensity targets, which is the vehicle

[Page 2475]

used by people who oppose climate change action. They talk intensity targets when what they really want to do is business as usual, Mr. Speaker. So on the environment, the budget represents a real lost opportunity and that is why, in the most literal sense of the word, we lack confidence in the ability of this government to manage the affairs of the province in the best interests of the people.

That is different from the vote of confidence that will be held in this House on May 15th; that is a matter that we take very seriously. If all the members of the Opposition vote against the budget, there will be an automatic election; it will start the following day and that is a very serious thing. That is not something to be done lightly. We need to weigh everything in the balance. There are good things in the budget, and I mentioned some of them after the budget was delivered on Tuesday.

Of course there are some good things in the budget. I'll say again, it is not possible for a government to spend $8.3 billion without doing some good things. But there are so many missed opportunities, it's difficult to have confidence in the government. There is such a gap between what the government says and what it actually does on the ground that it is difficult to have confidence in the government. There is such a gap between what the government says and the facts that can be verified to be true that it is difficult to have confidence in the government.

We will move forward, we will consult our constituents and people around the province to see what it is that they want us to do. If they want us to vote against this budget and take the chance the government will fall, then we will do that. If the people we talk to express, on balance, confidence in this government, we will vote for the budget.

With those remarks, my colleagues and I look forward to the budget debate over the next two weeks so that, like all members of the House, when it comes to vote on that matter of confidence, we will do the right thing. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise this year and speak again on the budget, the budget for the year 2008-09. I have done so on a number of previous occasions and it is a privilege for me to be the spokesman for our Party and to, again, address directly the issues that are presented in the budget for this year.

Before I begin, I would like to congratulate the Minister of Finance for his very tremendous effort in pulling this together and being so much a part of the process and for presenting the budget when he did two days ago. It, again, was a very great effort we know, and we commend him for the hard work and the excellent effort he has done and to the staff who have supported him throughout.

[Page 2476]

In beginning the look at the budget, I think it's always important to have a context and to consider what exactly is before us in terms of the financial capacity of this province, where we've come from and what the abilities are that we have within our own means to move our province forward. That's really why we're here. We want to find the means and the right programs, the right tools, to help stimulate our economy; to help young people work; to address our demographic challenges, which are seen through the education and training of our young people and providing opportunities for them to stay and remain and work and contribute in this province.

We want to help those Nova Scotians who have been here for years to continue to thrive. So we have some very big agenda items to consider. Certainly the issue around the environment and around how we can keep pace and improve our environment, how we can be leaders instead of laggards in this very important issue is also on our minds. As the members of this House know, there are multiple priorities and all of us are dealing with them.

In terms of our capacity, Mr. Speaker, it's really important that all members of the House recognize the tremendous increase in financial capacity that we have seen in the last nine years under this government. I credit it to the hard work of Nova Scotians; to our more positive economy; to the increases in surpluses that we've seen federally, which have allowed more monies to flow to the province which were not available in the 1990s and created tremendous stress, not only on the Nova Scotia Government in the 1990s, but right across the country on all provincial governments.

It was a time of crisis, a time of lack of resources, downloading on provinces and downloading on municipalities, as we still hear about today, because there was not enough money to fund the programs that we needed and Nova Scotia was hampered by having a huge debt, which I'll talk about later. We're still living with the legacy of our debt. We had a lot of difficulties to overcome.

Today's budget that we're looking at now shows a total revenue of $8.45 billion, and that is 75 per cent higher than the $4.8 billion that was the total revenue in 1999. I think that means, and all of us can see that means, that there's a huge increase in the ability to fund new projects, to have some legacies, to look forward and make a mark for Nova Scotians.

My concern is that a lot of that money has not been directed in the kind of investments that would make our province stronger for the future and that we have enjoyed some good years and we spent a lot of the money just paying the grocery bills. Maybe we've been buying nicer goods but we're not addressing the legacy projects that will improve our house, build up our strength and our infrastructure, so that we're ready for the lean years and we're ready to be leaders in new economies, rather than people who hang on to the old economies.

[Page 2477]

The offshore royalties this year alone, Mr. Speaker, are $513 million and that's the largest amount that we have enjoyed in petroleum offshore royalties since we've begun to have an industry in this province. I'm very happy to see that and I know the member for Fairview referenced the fact that that's how this budget is balanced, that's how this budget is able to deliver on some of the promises that are in there and some of the new initiatives that are in there.

Mr. Speaker, I would challenge that when you have something that's a non-renewable resource and that we're benefiting from the royalties as we export and sell this product and it's not going to renew itself, that the Government of Nova Scotia should, from the very onset of this money, have begun to think of how we could invest for future industries and for future growth.

I would suggest that there are many ways that it could have been done but I believe there is a huge opportunity in the renewable energies in investing in wind, in tidal, in solar, in geothermal energies. That's the future. In fact, petroleum is the commodity of the last century. It is declining in its importance because we have to replace it for many reasons, because it's a resource that's getting harder and harder to find, because a lot of it is found in unstable parts of the world, because it is harming our environment irrevocably.

So we have a large amount of royalties this year, which is one of the good news pieces of the budget. However, I believe they have not been addressed to prepare us for the future. Our debt now, Mr. Speaker, is $12.35 billion. Now, when this government came to power in 1999, they had a debt at that time of $11.2 billion. We all know this is the seventh balanced budget that has been brought in. We heard the Finance Minister say so and boast, and we applaud that. As has been mentioned, the economic vibrancy of Canada has allowed most provinces to go towards balanced budgets and to be more fiscally responsible, but the debt of this province has grown, it has grown by over $1 billion in those years and that cannot be forgotten. It does not mean that although the budgets have been balanced that the debt did not grow. In fact, we have just seen the first year where the debt has gone down any amount whatsoever. So yes, hopefully we're at that point where it tips and we can start to move in the direction of taking this debt at least piece by piece and seeing it retired. We have around our necks a huge weight and that is the debt that we're carrying of almost $12.5 billion for our province. It is the second highest debt in the country.

In discussing the debt that this province carries I would be remiss if I did not remind the House that half of that debt was the legacy of an earlier Premier whose name is John Buchanan. That was a Tory Premier, Mr. Speaker, in whose years we said no to nothing and everything was purchased and there was no sense of preparing for the future. Although we've had a balanced budget for a number of years, although we have 75 per cent more spending capacity than we had in 1999, my question to the House and the question that Nova Scotians ask themselves is, are we in fact any better off?

[Page 2478]

When you ask Nova Scotians I'm afraid to say they do not feel the roads are better, or health care is better or more accessible. They're not happy about the level of education, the performance of our students - our universities have a lot of questions around maintaining their tuition rates and attracting students to their universities. So there are still many areas that are not improved and those are the central areas to our society. I think there is a great deal more work that needs to be done and a lot of work that should have been done with that increased capacity, with these good years that we've enjoyed.

In talking about the economy we know that there is a decline now in the United States economy. Over a period of time that will be felt here at home because usually there is a couple of years, at most, lag between their downturn and what we'll feel here. Yet we're still projecting an increase in our GDP and we're still looking for a continuation of those good years of growth. Remember all those revenues I spoke about are increased corporate taxes, increased HST from a buoyant retail and sales market, increased personal taxes because more people are working and perhaps their salaries are a little higher, also we don't index our income tax. Of course we've been able to grab a little more each year under the current rules of the Tory Government because we don't keep pace with the indexing that the federal government has to allow more people to really protect their income from inflation which is what the indexing does. Here you can have added taxes when your income has only gone up as much as the cost of living so that doesn't protect people.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there are some good things about debt and I did want to go to that. Some good moves have been made this year that I think we need to congratulate the Finance Minister for taking. One of them was the fact that this year we have eliminated all of our foreign currency exposure. That is with the high Canadian dollar, the government saw fit to repatriate our debt to Canadian dollars. I think that's a very important thing because again, going back to the 1990s after the big borrowing years of earlier Tory Governments, we had a lot of foreign debt. As currencies changed we had to pay more than even we had anticipated because we had to adjust to currency fluctuations and, in fact, sometimes a great deal of uncertainty. That has been eliminated this year and I think that was the right thing to do. It was a good decision and I'm glad to see that we have finally been able to get to that point. Really we can thank the high Canadian dollar and the fact that the government saw the opportunity and took it. So, I'm glad to see that.

I know that at the same time, because of our expanded economy, we have a lot more capacity to service the debt. It is still hundreds of millions of dollars that we spend each year out of our budget in order to pay for just the debt servicing, not even to bring the debt down, but just to pay the interest on it. Mr. Speaker, that hurts us tremendously and that's money that we can no longer spend on our programs, on providing early childhood education, on helping our students, on supporting public education. All of those things are so important and we don't have that capacity because we're spending over $800 million a year on interest

[Page 2479]

payments. That amount, even though it has become a smaller percentage of the overall budget, it's still huge in a province like Nova Scotia, where we have less than a million people and we spend $800 million on interest payments. It really is something that we have to see change.

We want to see a greater commitment to the funds that come to this province going toward debt reduction. We have said so from the very start, Mr. Speaker. The Liberal Party has been very strong on the point of putting extraordinary income toward the debt.

Mr. Speaker, this year we have had exactly the kind of extraordinary payment to the province, or at least we are anticipating it, but even though the Tories, themselves, have recognized in the past that these kinds of extraordinary payments should be put down on the debt, 100 per cent, no questions asked, a decision was made by the Progressive Conservative Government to do otherwise.

The first issue I am speaking about, Mr. Speaker, is the Crown share agreement that we are waiting for, and the Crown share is a long-standing dispute that we have had with the federal government. It dates back to the 1980s and it does relate to offshore oil and other issues. The fact is that we saw no hope that it was going to be resolved. It hadn't appeared that it was going to be looked at ever, since more than 25 years had past. A number of years ago, in 2003, when the Honourable Neil LeBlanc first brought in the 2003 debt management plan, he specifically mentioned that the offshore Crown share dispute, if it were ever solved, would be an example of the kind of funds that should go directly on the debt. Remember, this is in the context of him announcing a debt reduction plan. He said that any extraordinary income that comes to the Province of Nova Scotia should be put 100 per cent toward our huge debt, which is impairing our ability to deliver services to our people.

So in his own words he said to do that and yet, here we are in 2008, with hopefully a resolution coming soon to the Crown share disagreement that we have had, and the government has chosen to spend a portion of that Crown share of money on something other than the debt. I think that is a short-sighted, political decision, Mr. Speaker, which should never have been allowed to take place. I would have hoped that there would have been stronger, more fiscally minded voices within the Cabinet to have prevented that from happening.

The Provincial Finance Act, as well, which is something that was amended in 2005, Mr. Speaker, says very clearly - this is again talking about extraordinary monies and any additional income that the province receives outside of the regular forms of revenue, saying that it should be used, again, to pay down the debt. In that, Section 62A(3) of the Provincial Finance Act states, "All extraordinary revenues that accrue to the Province in any fiscal year must be paid into the Public Debt Management Fund." I don't know what else you could call the Crown share monies when they do arrive but they are exactly that, extraordinary.

[Page 2480]

In Section 62A(4), it goes on to say, ". . . 'extraordinary revenue' means revenue that is not typical for a government reporting entity, not included in the annual budget of the Province or would not normally be expected to become a typical revenue source and that is designated as extraordinary revenue by the Minister."

Now, Mr. Speaker, can you imagine this, that in this day and age, 2008, in an age of transparency and openness in government, the Government of Nova Scotia decided that even though all of these previous criteria that I have named in the section of the Act say that if monies are extraordinary, it also requires the minister to recognize the money as extraordinary and if the minister decides to call something a rose by any other name, if they choose to call it not a rose, then it is not a rose.

That is really what we are saying. In this day and age, the minister can say it is not extraordinary when any grade school child would tell you it was extraordinary, that anybody, whether they had financial background or not, would know that under this definition, Crown share is an extraordinary amount of income coming into this province, which we will not see again.

Mr. Speaker, there is another big problem with already allocating money from the Crown share to things other than the debt and it is a tremendous shortcoming that the government doesn't even know how much this is going to bring into the Province of Nova Scotia. We have no idea. We have a panel of three people working on this in Ottawa who were supposed to support by March 15th, but they didn't and they have yet to report. Yet the government rushed through at the end of the fiscal year and allocated the funds so that they would not go to the debt. They made a direct announcement of other uses for the funds that would be applied to last year's budget and spending so that this Legislature would not have a say in it. It would not appear in this year's budget. It would not come here for discussion and they've made their own decision on how to move forward with that.

Mr. Speaker, I think that in doing so they've made somewhat of a mockery of the process here in the Legislature, because the whole process we're embarking on is hours and hours of discussion and questioning of the minister and their staff on estimates. By pushing through on, March 31st, massive spending, really massive allocations of funds to other projects and other priorities of the government without bringing it here to the Legislature, they've circumvented the authority that this Legislature has. They have really not held the public in high esteem in terms of their ability to influence and to speak to the matters that are important to them. So I think that, again, has been very different from the earlier approach of the previous Premier, John Hamm, who when he received the large commitment of funds that related to the Atlantic Accord, he put 100 per cent of the funds towards the debt retirement.

At the time we had asked for that, the Liberal Party had called for that, and we applauded his courage in doing so, because we know the government has a lot of requests

[Page 2481]

and we understand that you're under a lot of pressure. But at the same time, Mr. Speaker, we expect that the debt will be looked after as well when you get extraordinary amounts of income. I've already said there's an extraordinary expansion in the province's own source revenue in the amounts of money that we generate ourselves. So when we get something that's unexpected, it should go to the right thing.

On top of that, Mr. Speaker, this year, this Spring at the end of the fiscal year past, which would be March 31, 2008, the government chose to spend an additional $300 million that they suddenly found in last year's budget. In December we had an update. We get quarterly updates, which we appreciate, on how the budgets are going and what's being spent. In December of this year, when we received the quarterly update, we were told that it was going to be a tough year, you know, if they pinched and changed a few things here and there, if departments were careful with their spending, we would still have our balanced budget but it was not going to be an easy chore to get to that point at the end of the year.

That was the last official update that we had as legislators or that the people of Nova Scotia had. All of a sudden there is an announcement made on March 31st that the government has $300 million extra and that they have allocated it to spending priorities determined only by the Cabinet of this province, only by the Premier and his Cabinet. Not by the Legislature, not through the normal budget process, and that is purely political, Mr. Speaker. We have asked in the Liberal Party, and our Leader has asked, that in future all of the spending priorities that come through as special appropriations, or additional appropriations, be brought back to the Legislature. I'm sure I'm speaking for all members of my Party, and I'm sure other members of the House, we would be more than willing to return to the Legislature to look at exceptional amounts of money and how they should be spent.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not saying that the government spent them on the wrong things. They may have been priorities, pressing priorities. Perhaps they were things that were urgently in need of expenditure and that case can be made here in the Assembly. We'll listen and we can understand when those things are certainly the right thing to do. So I would stress the fact that all members of this Legislature are reasonable people, are willing to sit down and look at the rationale for this kind of spending, but it should come here and not simply be blown in a last minute effort to see that the money did not go on the debt where it belonged. It really belonged there rather than being spent.

Mr. Speaker, once again, the whole idea of the Crown share, we need to make the point strongly, that was money prematurely committed because we do not have that money and we don't even know the full amount that will be arranged. As I say, it's in the hands of a three-person panel to make a recommendation. How do we know how much is going to be in that amount? So that is another reason why it defies a legacy that was left to them by the previous Premier, John Hamm, who showed fiscal conservatism and fiscal responsibility.

[Page 2482]

Mr. Speaker, there are some good things in the budget that I'd like to just speak to briefly. I believe the expenditures that are in there for post-secondary education are very important, and we do look at that as a positive step. The students of the province, the university and college students, have been very organized, very focused in their efforts to get the attention of the Legislature and the government, asking for support to help them get their education, get a grounding, be able to afford to stay here in this province.

What we've had is a situation where we've had the highest tuitions in the country and, as a result, students have had to maximize their student loans, take on extra debt, many didn't qualify, middle-income families not qualifying for student loans. In those instances they've had to take on person debt, through lines of credit, or family loans, and it has been a tremendous burden on students.

In this budget we've seen some relief for students, and in the lead-up to the budget we saw some relief for students as well. We know that they need that help, Mr. Speaker, and I think we would agree that investing in education has been the way that many other economies have managed to improve their lot - I'm thinking of countries like Ireland and others that have invested heavily in post-secondary education to allow their young people to stay and study there and remain there.

This could be the way for us as well, Mr. Speaker, because our post-secondary education institutions are one of the main, I believe, advantages that we have economically here in this province. We have a great network of universities and colleges; they have a strong reputation. We attract students from around the country and around the world - we have about 4,000 international students studying here in Nova Scotia and we have a good number of students from other provinces. That's an advantage to us that we need to maintain.

Unfortunately the universities have had to increase tuition because they haven't had the money and the support to continue to offer the quality of education without increasing the cost to students. So this year we do see a commitment to our post-secondary students through a freezing in tuition, through a rebate program back to Nova Scotia students who are studying in their own province here in Nova Scotia - and we also have seen that at the end of that three-year plan the students coming from elsewhere in Canada will be given a little bit of support as well in order to keep the gap between our Nova Scotia students studying here and the ones who come from other provinces, to keep that from growing too high.

[3:00 p.m.]

So those are important moves and expensive investments in post-secondary education, and I think the government needs to know that we see the importance of that sector and the importance of our young people. We have some tremendous challenges, as you know, Mr. Speaker, with demographics. The university system will be one way for us to attract more students to come here and, hopefully, to stay.

[Page 2483]

Mr. Speaker, could you tell me what time I began my talk?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member began at 2:36 p.m.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you very much - lots of time left.

Mr. Speaker, in talking about our demographic challenge, I think it's important that we again focus on education because the students that we attract to Nova Scotia - and we are a net importer of students from other provinces - those students have an attachment and I think form an affection for our province, and many of them want to stay. If our economy strengthens and offers the opportunity, they will stay here - in fact, my understanding is that about 25 per cent of the graduates from other provinces stay and contribute and become Nova Scotians, and that's exactly what we want.

We need to do everything in our power to make Nova Scotia the kind of province that people will want to come to and stay and live here. We have many people here in the Legislature who have come here to study and have stayed as citizens of our province.

What we need to do as well, Mr. Speaker, is invite people from around the world and do more on the immigration file. I think that's something that was fairly silent in the budget. There's some more money for our settlement agencies, and that's important that groups like the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association - MISA - the YMCA and other smaller organizations that are helping to support newcomers to Nova Scotia are given the support that they need, because they need the funds in order to advance programs that are going to help people who move here from other countries to really put down roots and to feel part of our society. I'm very anxious that we do more on that front and that we do some more legislative changes that might make this a more attractive place as well.

I think, through the Nominee Program, we have the opportunity to do more and government should be using that tool to its full advantage. Without going into too much detail, this year has not been a good year for the Nominee Program. A majority of the people who arrived in Nova Scotia, under our provincially sponsored program, came as economic immigrants. That program has suffered a black eye, really, this year when we discovered that it was certainly not working as intended, that many people had not received the kind of experience they had expected, and in fact been promised, in our promotion of the program internationally.

That still remains to be looked at as the new year unfolds financially. My fear is that the whole issue around what's gone on in the past, is now hampering our Office of Immigration in going forward and making the kind of changes that are needed to improve our attractiveness as a region and as a province. We need to do more. Even though our numbers are up, they're still very low compared to other parts of the country.

[Page 2484]

In addition to the population declines, I think we need to look at what we can do to stimulate the economy. We have a lagging economy in this province, although we've had increases and although we've had an economy that's expanded, we have not enjoyed the kind of expansion that other provinces in Canada have had. In the last year, we were boasting about increases in our GDP of, I believe, 1.6 per cent, whereas the rest of Canada were way ahead of us. We had the slowest growing economy in the entire country.

That does not in any way prepare us for the future, prepare us for providing the jobs and activity for young people that we desperately need. We need an economy that is far more vibrant and growing. What I would suggest is that when the government boasts about its growth and its superior performance, that we remember we have got to look at what's happening around us. If we're advancing by a few steps and the rest of the world is advancing by leaps and bounds, we are falling well behind. It's very important that be addressed head on.

In the budget, we're estimating growth of about 1.8 or 1.9 per cent, I think, are the assumptions for this year's budget. As I mentioned at the start of my budget address, the American economy has turned around and is going slowly now. They are facing a recession and this is very much going to be felt in Canada. My understanding is that the Canadian average now is down in terms of their projections for next year, down to about 1.1 per cent GDP growth.

If, in fact, all of the economic think tanks and the Bank of Canada and all the other groups are now beginning to lower their expectations for next year. That's going to have a tremendous impact on this budget.

I know it's hard to keep pace with the latest assumptions and the latest changes in the economy, but I'm worried and I'd just like to signal that I really do see a concern in the fact that the Canadian assumptions now are lower and they're lower than what we're assuming. Since Nova Scotia's been tied for the last in terms of the GDP growth, I don't think we're going to outpace the Canadian economy this year. We had better be ready to have some other plans and profiles about how we're going to react if, in fact, we have that significant shrinking in the economy.

This year, in terms of trying to keep more of our young people, I guess give them an incentive to stay in the province - the government's increased the tax credit for graduates - for young people who find work and stay in Nova Scotia. It was introduced last year at $1,000 per year and it comes off the taxes paid by young people that are here and employed. I'm glad to see that's been expanded to $2,000 per graduate. I think that may help, but it's also a program that I think needs to be assessed as we go along. I think that it's very new, it's only been a few years that other provinces have tried this as well and by introducing it even at $2,000 a head, we're really keeping pace there with New Brunswick and with other provinces.

[Page 2485]

We need to look at this in a few years time, I would say perhaps within a short period of time and see whether or not it is bringing us the benefit we would like to see. If it is not having a measurable impact on the retention of young people, then I think we should look at some other means to spend that money, if this isn't the way to do it. I think when a new program like that comes in, it's important to measure its effectiveness. That would be one of my concerns on that point.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the economy there is another concern and that is the slowing down of our exports. Nova Scotia is a province that has thrived through having active exports really, in fact, from before the time of Confederation our economy has been built on exports. We are a small province and a small population and we will not meet our potential or maximize our prosperity by trading internally and only looking inwardly. We have to look at the rest of the world and we have to play our role in that regard.

The signal is worrisome over the last five or six years in terms of our exports and their stagnant position. At the same time, imports are growing at a very fast rate. In fact, in 2001 we were pretty balanced, we had about $5 billion in both imports and exports. In recent years this has changed so that we now have a trade deficit of $2.3 billion. So we're importing $2.3 billion worth of goods above what we're exporting. That really is a little window into the circumstance around our forest industry, around our fisheries and some of the other exports that we have built our economy on. Some of them are manufacturing but a lot of the strengths of our exports have been in primary industries.

We need to look at what's happening in those industries. Some of them are global prices that make it very difficult for us but if that is the case we need to help in the restructuring. Help move our economy to a knowledge-based economy, to IT, to the kind of companies that are setting up here in our province today. We all know some of the success stories that are employing Nova Scotians and exporting their product from here. A lot of it is in digital animation in games technology, in IT for business and industry. There is some tremendous things happening in our province but we need to tap into and support that.

There are good tie-ins to the universities as well, because our university sector allows us to commercialize a lot more medical technologies and cutting-edge improvements. Cutting-edge waves that we could be riding, in terms of improving our economy and really getting in step with the next century, the century we're now well into in 2008. As I said earlier, this century is going to be built on very different foundations than was the case in earlier times. We need to make sure our government takes a stand and helps those industries to thrive because we need exports and we need to be in the right field.

Mr. Speaker, there was some talk about the Atlantic Gateway and support for the Gateway in this budget. I would like to see the government working as a team, working with industry, and working with our neighbours in New Brunswick and P.E.I. so that when we go to Ottawa asking for support for an Atlantic Gateway we have a strong regional voice. Right

[Page 2486]

now, if Ottawa sees us arguing or disputing with each other about who gets the largest piece of this pie, you can expect that we'll get a much smaller amount of money to help us develop, if any. What we need to do is show that we recognize that we are part of a vibrant region and that Ottawa should see that we can work together so that there's a maximization of the benefits that come from Atlantic Gateway. We will not get as far if we allow ourselves to be divided within the province or outside of our province as well.

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to touch on the Atlantic Accord as well because that has been very much on the minds of Nova Scotians throughout the year. I know it's a subject that the Premier would much rather forget about and would prefer not to hear about today, but it has certainly been a source of great dismay for Nova Scotians. Just a few short years ago, in 2005, an agreement was signed that allowed us to keep our revenue from the offshore resources. That was a hard-fought agreement that the previous Premier, John Hamm, was able to win because of a good relationship with the Liberal Government in Ottawa at the time. Many of us were present when that agreement was signed at the World Trade Centre.

Mr. Speaker, a short time later, really in a matter of months, we saw that agreement thrown aside and rewritten to suit a new Prime Minister in Ottawa. It has been a great cause of dismay and damage to our province to see that kind of a flip-flop in terms of the way we were treated with great disrespect.

The agreement initially was both an economic development agreement and a legislated agreement that protected our resources, so that as a province, as we enjoyed these larger petroleum royalties, we would be able to advance and move ahead as a province and not see our equalization payments decreased commensurate with our small but growing wealth.

In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, probably the cornerstone of that Atlantic Accord was that it was recognized by all Parties that equalization agreements change over time and that from year to year they will be different, but what was really central to the agreement that was signed was that as equalization agreements change from year to year we would also see that this Atlantic Accord would remain intact and that whatever agreements came into place it would not undermine the intent of the Atlantic Accord.

So, Mr. Speaker, as we carried on through the year we found that the new Prime Minister in Ottawa has done just that, he has said we have a new equalization agreement and we're no longer willing to honour the Atlantic Accord that was so recently signed. It should be mentioned that the Prime Minister in Ottawa, Prime Minister Harper, actually had campaigned saying that he would honour that agreement and that there was no greater fraud than a promise unkept - and we will remind him of that as we go forward.

Mr. Speaker, my concern is that the Province of Nova Scotia has lost, and lost significantly in the ensuing months of negotiations. The Premier campaigned against the

[Page 2487]

Atlantic Accord changes for four months. He went to the Senate in Ottawa and he championed the cause; he called on federal MPs, all federal MPs in fact, to vote against the budget because it did not honour the Atlantic Accord. Yet the Premier of our province backed off on his whole campaign. He abandoned some of the MPs who listened to his plea and has actually, you know the Premier went ahead with another agreement - I guess we're calling it a clarification agreement - with his partners in Ottawa.

[3:15 p.m.]

And, yes, he did abandon the member for Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I believe it is . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Casey.

MS. WHALEN: Yes, who felt strongly about the accord and felt that his Party had lied - oh, excuse me, misled the people of Nova Scotia.

One of my concerns, Mr. Speaker, that I want to raise is that around the whole new clarification agreement our Party has been able to find no clarification. We have put in a number of FOIPOP requests to this government; we have asked for the assumptions around the projections that are in place to 2020; we have asked for what the models were, the economic models that were used; and we've asked for correspondence between the province and the federal government.

I'd like to go back to this FOIPOP Act, Mr. Speaker, because right now it's not serving our Party. We have asked for all of this background in correspondence and just in the rationale for these changes and why they were accepted by the government, and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, we've received back a large amount of paper that's been completely blanked out. There is nothing of value that we have received back. We have no clearer idea about why this agreement is any better than the previous agreement, why the government would have decided to back down on its very strong position with the federal government, and we are disappointed that the government has done so.

If, in fact, the agreement is better, then share with us the reasons, the rationale, the modelling, the economics behind it, and we will look at that. But in the absence of that, it's nothing but rhetoric and empty promises. We believe that the original accord should have been honoured from day one and should be honoured today.

Mr Speaker, the health care crisis is another issue I want to touch on because my time is beginning to come to a close.

We've seen the emergency rooms in the province closed a record number of hours this year - 154 days actually, in total, if you add them all up. That was in 2006 - I'm sorry,

[Page 2488]

Mr. Speaker, it's up to 262 days this year; it's a 60 per cent increase that we've seen. So we're very concerned abut that. The increase in heath care spending from year to year is another concern. It's up 6 per cent from last year, and we have been increasing our health care budget. Is there an introduction? (Interruption) Okay, thank you.

Mr. Speaker, our health budget has gone up more each year for the last number of years than the growth in our economy and we cannot continue to sustain that. This year, if you look at the health care budget, just in terms of program spending, we're now at 46 per cent of the total budget. I find it interesting that we have 18 Cabinet Ministers and yet one Cabinet Minister is responsible for almost 50 per cent of the program spending.

I think maybe there needs to be a realignment of priorities within the Cabinet of this province because we've got an awful lot of people dealing with much, much smaller amounts of the money allocated to this province and maybe we need some way to acknowledge the importance of health care in the Legislature and through our spending priorities. It's a huge department with a huge amount of spending. We have an aging population and we know that the pressures on health are going to increase. Hopefully, some of the changes that were recommended this year in the Corpus Sanchez Report will make a difference. My only concern there is that so many of those recommendations have been discussed time and time again.

Mr. Speaker, I believe you have an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: That's correct.

The honourable Minister of Environment on an introduction.

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I want to welcome students in the gallery opposite from Northeast Kings Education Centre with their teacher, Darlene Thomas. Darlene also taught all three of my children although she doesn't look old enough to have done that. Seated beside Darlene is Lisa Benjamin who single-handedly won Meadowview for me in three elections.

The students are here and have had a very good time. I should explain to the students that we're in debate on the budget now. The budget was presented on Tuesday and then the Official Opposition responded to it just recently and now the Finance Critic for the Liberal Party, an honourable member - her husband and I have been friends - is responding on behalf of the Liberal Party to what she likes and doesn't like in the budget. So you missed the excitement of Question Period, but you're here for some very substantive discussion. So if I could ask the members to join me in welcoming the students. (Applause)

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I was discussing health care and the huge amount of spending that we have allocated towards it. That budget has risen, as I said, to absorb 46 per

[Page 2489]

cent of program spending for our entire province. It's a huge amount of money and it is, in fact, something that has continued to grow in the many years that the Progressive Conservative Government has been in power. When the Progressive Conservatives were first elected, part of their platform in being elected was that they said they could cure the health care problems of this province for $46 million.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I believe that many members remember that election where that promise was made. This year alone we've added $200 million to the budget in health care and we know that the demands are still not met, that Nova Scotians still have long wait times for surgeries. It's still difficult to see specialists and we have a lot of challenges in long-term care. So $200 million didn't begin to cut it and I don't know where the promise of curing all the problems for $46 million ever came from. In the years from 1999 to this year, the spending in health care is up $1.6 billion. That's more than we spend a year on our education, post-secondary and public education. So health is a huge concern to all of us along with the aging population and the need for more services for seniors.

Mr. Speaker, that brings me to one positive thing in the budget and that was what I will call an expansion of the In-home Support Program. This was a Liberal idea last year that there should be support for people living in their own homes who are cared for by their family members or close friends. That had not been allowed in the past, and this was started last year as a pilot project. It was very limited in its scope while it was being tested and I believe it was limited to the County of Richmond. That has been seen to be a very effective way to help people. Most older people, when they become ill or infirm, want to stay in their own communities. They have friends and connections, they have long-time associations in that area and people who care about them. They do not want to be moved to nursing homes or centres further away from where they live. In fact, in some cases it's even more profound. For example, in areas like Clare where people are sometimes moved away where they even are separated from their culture and language. That's very profound when you find yourself elderly and living in an area where you're being cared for by people who don't speak your language.

We've been very well aware of that and for a long time our Liberal platform has stressed the need to help people stay in their own homes and be cared for in their own communities. This in-home support program is one very sensible common sense way to do that and to see that expanded is something that we do applaud. We'd like to see it become a well-established part of the health care options for seniors in this province. I think from my own personal experience talking to seniors, many of them have asked why they can't have the same support living at home that they would get if they were sent somewhere else and somebody unknown to them was to care for them. It means a lot to them to have somebody who cares about them be there. I really applaud that particular move.

Also in the budget we've seen that the government is now willing to fund the drug Avastin which is used for colorectal cancer. I know that not very long ago the government

[Page 2490]

had listened to a panel and said no they wouldn't do that, but I believe there have been very compelling arguments to move forward. Certainly our caucus has supported the change believing that this is a drug that should be covered by the government formulary. In other provinces, close by Newfoundland and a few others, this drug had been covered. People who suffered from colorectal cancer in Nova Scotia were not given the same opportunity for treatment. As we know there have been a number of people who have championed that cause, most notably Jim Connors of Dartmouth who spoke to many members of the Legislature. We certainly applaud the fact that has been changed to improve the quality of life for those cancer sufferers.

Mr. Speaker, the long-term care program is very inadequate for the needs of this province. Although I applaud the idea of keeping more people in their own homes there's more than 1,000 people on the waiting list today to get a long-term care bed. They're simply not available. The Deputy Minister of Health stated not long ago at a committee meeting that the beds that are promised were needed yesterday, not three years from now. They have right now in place a 10-year plan to provide something in the range of 800 beds. Yet there are 1,000 people on the waiting list today and that number continues to grow. The plan that's in place now, although we've seen some pictures of new places under construction, is not going to be enough to address what's often being called now the grey tsunami that is coming at us as we go forward into this century.

Mr. Speaker, what we want to see are programs that help people stay in their own home and in their community. We think the plan is inadequate at the moment for the long-term care crisis that's facing us and we'd like to see something done on that as well.

Mr. Speaker, my time is getting short and I wanted to speak on the energy rebate which has caused a lot of confusion - 10 minutes may not be enough to go to that but I've got to get there, maybe I'll have more. The energy rebate has been important to us from the start and that energy rebate was originally called Keep the Heat. It was intended for those in our midst who are in the lowest income brackets who need financial assistance in the winter when it's cold and it costs so much to fill up your oil tank or to pay for electricity. When the government - we believe it was misled or in a misguided means - cancelled that program, we had been calling from the very onset that it be re-established.

What we have in this budget is less than the original Keep the Heat program. It's going to provide $200 to people for oil heat - the previous program provided $250. The cost of oil has practically doubled from the time that original Keep the Heat program was put in place so the amount they can buy is even less again. It's just not enough to be effective when you have the costs that we have. We have the oldest housing stock in the country because we're an older province. We have a lot of people living in old homes and they weren't built with any insulation, they weren't built to keep the heat in. We burned wood and coal and we had other sources of heat and we weren't conscious of the impact on the environment or the cost of burning those fuels.

[Page 2491]

Well, today it is quite different, Mr. Speaker, and we need to find a way to help Nova Scotians get their homes updated so that they are no longer basically letting the heat go up the chimney. We have to find better ways to update, insulate and modernize those homes that they are living in today.

Keep the Heat is important but it is a stop-gap measure, because what we have to do is make sure that the money will actually go to the best use. That means we need to have the homes better equipped to be energy efficient. But the Keep the Heat program certainly helped and I don't think there is a member in this House that didn't have people call their constituency office looking for that assistance and needing to access it.

This year, when the government gave an HST cut of 8 per cent to all Nova Scotians, rich and poor, all of us got the benefit. I enjoy it, we all do, but it wasn't being targeted to the people who need it the most. When people called my constituency this year looking for the help, I had to tell them there is no low-income help, call the Salvation Army, call the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, basically go to other charities and hope that they have some help for you, and that's not good enough in a province like ours, Mr. Speaker.

I have said we have had an expanded capacity. We have more money to spend than we have ever had before in this province. We need to help those people, who haven't got the money, to heat their homes. So bringing back this program was the right thing to do but you brought it back in a way that is less efficient than it was before. It is going to have less impact on the people who need it and of the money that is being saved by changing the electricity HST rebate, they are saving, I think it's $28 million, but only $10 million is being redirected to the poor, to people who need it the most.

I think what we need to do is, if we were going to go through the confusion of changing the Your Energy Rebate which was the cut in HST, the provincial portion of HST on home heating fuels, we should have done it right in the first place. If the government never intended it to cover all of your electricity bill, it should have been brought in, in the beginning, with a little more thought, a little more consideration, better attention to the detail in the beginning, because it was brought in as a blanket amount off your electricity bill and now we're facing the trouble that this is going to now feel like an additional burden to people who are going to lose that benefit.

[3:30 p.m.]

So people were given something with the one hand and now, a year later, it's being taken from them. That's not the way to conduct good, public policy, Mr. Speaker. This is important for the province. It should have been brought in, in the right way, in the first place. We feel that there has been an unnecessary amount of confusion. I'd like to mention that the energy rebate that is being clawed back should be adjusted to recognize people who live in apartments, because in my riding of Clayton Park alone, there are 8,500 apartment units.

[Page 2492]

Those people will not be using the average household amount of electricity. It's based on homes, not apartments. So I'm saying that they are completely being left out of this picture in terms of the clawback. It's likely that all of their energy rebate clawback will all be clawed back. It will be gone.

So I think there has been a lot of confusion. I don't like to say it was bungled, but I think it was poorly introduced, and now we're paying the price today and the people who are in greatest need, who need a revamped and improved Keep the Heat program, are getting a lesser version of that program today. So I would like to see that rearranged today.

Gas regulation, Mr. Speaker, is of paramount importance to the Liberal Party because we believe it was wrong from the get-go. We should never have gone there. It was a mistake to introduce it. It was brought in because of shallow, political thinking and pressure from another Party in the Opposition, not this Party. The Liberal Party recognized that it would cost over $1 million to administer and the Gardner Pinfold study, which was the very expensive study commissioned by the government to look at gas regulation, estimates that it costs about $10 million a year to have gas regulation in this province.

Now, the previous speaker, the Finance Critic for the NDP, mentioned that there were three reasons to have it. Transparency - well, we don't have transparency, Mr. Speaker, because it is being applied weekly by a political person, by the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. It is not administered by the Utility and Review Board, which would be arm's length and more transparent. It is not protecting rural gas stations, because we have sat here multiple times telling you which stations have closed around the province. They're closing in rural areas, they're still struggling, it has not saved their day.

The third reason to do it was stability. Stability has also not been provided. We're changing the price now every single week, 52 times a year. The year before this was brought in, we had 50 changes in a year, so we're now changing it more often than they changed when it was geared by the commercial sector. We need to scrap gas regulation in its entirety. We'll save Nova Scotians money and it will actually restore the marketplace to give us the best price on any given day. I think that's clear.

The motive fuel tax is the highest in the country and we have stated publicly that it should come down. We believe that the government themselves raised it two cents only a few short years ago and it's made us not competitive with our nearest neighbours. We want to improve our competitiveness so that there will continue to be expansion in the economy, continue to be some prosperity in Nova Scotia. We believe this is one way to do it. It's not the long-term solution to revamping our economy, to becoming less dependent on imported oil, but we believe it's necessary as a competitive step now, just at this point in time, because the costs are so high and causing Nova Scotians so much pain, at this point in time. We have to follow the example of other provinces and keep those taxes lower.

[Page 2493]

There's another thing that we're doing in this province that not every province does and that is that we add motive fuel tax and then we add HST on that tax. It's a tax on a tax. As the cost of gasoline has risen so greatly, the HST revenues have also risen. The monies we may have lost in that regard have now been restored in HST payments, so we don't believe the government is going to be short millions of dollars as a result of doing this. We believe if they had done it when we first called for it, they'd still be ahead by millions of dollars.

We believe the mass transit tax credit will help people who are taking the bus to just add an incentive to their behaviour. A lot of what we need to do in the future years is change consumer behaviour and that's one part of it. We're looking to see that brought in, we're pleased to see that it's coming forward. We believe those measures are important.

We do believe the government should do more to help the human resources in health care. We'd like to see an expanded number of seats at the medical school that are paid for by the Province of Nova Scotia.

I know I have to wrap up now, so what I'd like to let the House know is that we will be talking to Nova Scotians. We will be speaking in our constituencies and to stakeholder groups and we will be looking at this budget line by line, item by item, through the many hours of estimates that are to come and from that we will then have a clearer understanding about the pros and cons of this year's budget. But, I think today I've had an opportunity to highlight some of the areas that are of concern and some of the things that we see as positive. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The estimates are referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House to go into the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2494]

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to take a few moments of the House this afternoon to bring forth to the attention of members opposite, an issue of a few invitations to Cabinet ministers. As the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, I'm privileged to report to the House the people who I'm privileged enough to serve have some concerns that they believe should be brought to the floor of this Legislature.

For those Cabinet ministers opposite, one in particular, I would like to issue an invitation to the Minister of Education. I wish all the best to the Minister of Education, considering the situation in her family at this time. It's great to see her here in the House and we wish her and her mom all the best.

The Minister of Education is my first choice in more ways than one. If she could take the opportunity to come into Timberlea and to come down to Prospect, I'll make sure that she gets to see a band program in action.

Mr. Speaker, I know there are parents who are very concerned, and they're very concerned lately, about the band programs in junior high schools, in particular, when students are being forced to make an important decision on whether they'll take band as actually a course or will it just be an extracurricular activity. I can take the Minister of Education to band programs in all the schools in my community - junior high, elementary and, of course, the local high schools. Band is an important part of the school system. It's an important part of the curriculum and it deserves the recognition which it must continue to receive.

For the Minister of Education's attention, I'm not going to take her to the new high school. I know the member for Glace Bay is always intrigued with the fact of how you get new schools built in your community. Co-operating with that particular minister, co-operating with previous governments, allowing to make sure that the proper changes were made at the time when the old high school was transformed into a junior high school - the new high school that has been built in my community has been exceptionally well received. I'm always quite amused at times when the member for Glace Bay continues to bring up the fact of politics in the building of schools. The new high school, which is in the communities of Chester-St. Margaret's and Timberlea-Prospect, was built on time. It was built in the correct location because the government listened to the people and the concerns of the community, making sure that we did get a new school.

I'm asking the Minister of Education, when she has the time and opportunity, not to go to that new high school but to go to Terence Bay Elementary. Terence Bay Elementary is a small rural school in the wonderful historic fishing village of Terence Bay. It's the focal

[Page 2495]

point of that community, Mr. Speaker, and I know based upon your experience, you understand how important schools are, schools that aren't necessarily the big schools but schools that are the small schools are the focal point of the community.

While we're in Terence Bay, it might be appropriate if the Minister of Tourism took the time, along with the Education Minister, to accept my invitation to go to Terence Bay and to see the SS Atlantic, the SS Atlantic Museum, and of course it's always a great Sunday, the last Sunday in July when he would have the opportunity as the Minister of Tourism to see the blessing of the fleet in the fishing village of Terence Bay. An event that has continued to be important to my community, important for the people who prosper by working at sea and, of course, recreationally in the boating industry.

More importantly, I would like to offer the opportunity - and I know the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is attentive to the details and the requests that he receives from all of us because he has a job where he's constantly being asked for one particular road after another road, and I know how favoured it seems lately the members opposite are when it comes to pictures. So I'm going to table the pictures of a subdivision street - I would like to table them now, and I would like to point out there's a for sale sign here in this picture. It would be a tough sell to sell any house on those streets.

I would like, however, to invite the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal at any time to come to a homeowners association meeting in the community that I represent. Homeowners who are concerned about the fact of the taxes they pay based upon the assessment and the services that they receive. He can come to the Brookside Homeowners Association. He can come to the Prospect Peninsula Home Owners Association, the MacDonald Lake Road Homeowners Association. He can come to the Haliburton Hills Homeowners Association. The concern that's always brought up is that in these new subdivisions you're going from paved roads to gravel roads - or muddy roads I should call them - and back to paved roads.

The minister opposite is well aware of the fact, of course, that's because of amalgamation here in the HRM but there has to be some continuity so that streets that are paved begin from the end of one subdivision to another subdivision. The minister is aware of the names of some of these streets. He has responded to me numerous times dutifully and I appreciate his thoroughness but it's very important that the people who live on these streets in various subdivisions, they feel that at least they're being listened to. It's with honour that I always table a petition or two in this House when it comes to concerns about various streets and I thank the minister for his patience when it comes to dealing with my continuous line of requests.

I would also like to invite the Minister of Environment to the community that I'm fortunate enough to represent. Now, I'm not going to talk about the landfill site. It's supposed to be state of the art, it's out on Highway No. 103. There are some days it's not state of the

[Page 2496]

art but at least it's being monitored. I'm not going to talk about the New Era Farms. New Era Farms are supposed to be state of the art and let me tell you, when the winds blow on some days, it is not state of the art.

I would like to invite the Minister of Environment to come to the historic Village of Prospect because there is an island off Prospect named Redmond's Island. The minister is aware of this situation. Redmond's Island is one of those islands of coastal communities that has been purchased by a non-resident and that particular gentleman is trying to make a request so that he will no longer have an island, he will have a peninsula to his private island. The concern from the community is that they have environmental concerns about this process. They have environment concerns about Redmond's Island and it would be appropriate if the Minister of Environment take a ride in my truck, I will provide the transportation. We will go see Redmond's Island in downtown Prospect. There will be no TV cameras, there will be no microphones. It will be an opportunity for that particular minister to see up front and personally the concerns that this community has about another piece of coastal community that has slipped from our control and now the new owner of Redmond's Island wants to make these changes that will affect the local environment and the local culture in the historic community of Prospect.

I would also like to invite the Minister of Natural Resources to come to visit the community of Timberlea-Prospect. The Minister of Natural Resources is well aware of the volunteers in the community that I represent and the long service that they have provided to look at protecting lands that are surrounded by Highway No. 103 and Route 333. This is a land that is surrounding the bluff trail, a land that is of real importance to the people in a growing community, a fast-growing suburban community that in the midst of it can have these natural trails.

Actually, there is a herd, not that big these days, of Nova Scotian moose. Not the moose that are in Cape Breton these days - those are not actually Nova Scotian, let alone Cape Breton moose. They have been brought from other parts of Canada to Cape Breton. They are, of course, a healthy stock in Cape Breton but there is a mainland moose that is located 20 minutes down the road here on Highway No. 103. That land must be protected. There are volunteers that have been involved in this process, have expressed some frustration with the amount of time that it takes to get this matter addressed. We are looking at the importance of having recreational land that close to the major capital city of this province. There are people like Wayne Rogers, Tom Musial, Beth McGee, who have put long hours into this process and I think the Minister of Natural Resources is obliged to sit down in our community, again, no TV cameras, no microphones but to look very clearly at the issue of protecting this land so close to the capital city of Nova Scotia.

[3:45 p.m.]

[Page 2497]

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are various other Cabinet Ministers that I, of course, would love to take into my community. I can only visit with so many of them in so much time. So I am looking at the fact, particularly the Minister of Education, when she can fit it into her schedule, I would look forward to taking her to Terence Bay. I ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, to join us at this time so he can get an appreciation of this wonderful community. The Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Environment, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal - at your calling, I would welcome the opportunity to have you come to the community that I am so privileged to represent.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out the fact that the Minister of Volunteerism in this province, it would be a wonderful opportunity if the Minister of Volunteerism took the time to come to Timberlea-Prospect to meet with many of these volunteers.

AN HON. MEMBER: The heart and soul.

MR. ESTABROOKS: The heart and soul of a community that is fast growing. The problem, of course, comes down when you deal with volunteers, Mr. Speaker, you always forget one or two. I took the opportunity to write down a few of the names to make sure that I could highlight their contributions over the last year in the community that I represent.

As you are probably aware, I know there are members opposite aware - particularly the MLA for Truro-Bible Hill, as he continuously talks about the Cobequid Cougars - there is a successful football program at Sir John A. Macdonald High School. The Sir John A. Macdonald Flames have a successful high school football program because of the minor football program that was developed under the name of the Timberlea Titans. Last year, at this time, I had the honour as a member of the St. Margaret's Bay Lions Club to present the Volunteer of the Year, the Citizen of the Year, to Joe Lauder and to Keith Skiffington - the two men, along with lots of other supporters, who began the minor football program in the communities that I represent. Sir John A. Macdonald High School is meeting with success on the football field because of the hard work of volunteers like Joe Lauder and Keith Skiffington.

Tuesday night of this week, I had the opportunity to visit one of my volunteer fire departments. At that time I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Ken Butler. Ken Butler has served in the Prospect Road Fire Department for 30 years, never missing a training night on Tuesday night. Volunteer firefighters, young men, young women were there that evening - and many of them were past students of mine - and acknowledged Ken Butler's commitment to his community, 30 years of not missing meetings, not missing training nights. My hat goes off to a gentleman like Ken Butler because of his longstanding commitment to the community that he lives in.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not mention the outstanding young woman who was recognized recently during Volunteer Week here in our province. Katie Brousseau

[Page 2498]

is a young woman who attends Ridgecliff Middle School. She was chosen as the Provincial Youth Volunteer and she has been suitably recognized in this House. Katie is an example - I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, there are plenty of young people in our community, plenty of young people who are role models.

So often, Mr. Speaker, and you know this, of course, there are teenagers who do great things in our community. It's important that we recognize and thank them because it's the unfortunate headlines, when we deal with teenagers who misbehave, who give young people today a bad name. Well Katie Brousseau has given the teenagers in the community that I represent - the community of Timberlea and Prospect - wonderful recognition and I congratulate Katie and her mom and dad on the great recognition which she has received.

Of course I have to mention the most important volunteer who I'm sure is probably acknowledging the fact, if he's watching today, because when it comes to Christmas daddies in the community I represent - aside from the fact that I have to wear my favourite hockey sweater- the team that I'm not allowed to mention these days because of other reasons. I can't believe that I have to lose another bet when it comes to that hockey team. It seems to me that it is appropriate, again, to recognize Harry Burry. Harry Burry is one those great volunteers who regularly shows up on Christmas Daddies, presents his cheque of $3,000 or $4,000 each and every year and he did it for many years.

Now Harry's health is failing a bit. He still helps me out when he is the local Santa Claus and I'm sitting on a ladder. Can you believe it, Mr. Speaker, I sit on a ladder all day, I'm not allowed to speak, which is very difficult, and they keep me on the ladder by continuing to put money into the pot that is at the base of the ladder.

Harry Burry, the Santa Claus on that day, actually Mr. Santa Claus - I know the young member from Sackville-Cobequid brought his children out to see the ladder sitting competition which takes place just before Christmas Daddies. Mr. Burry has a full, white beard and it is his beard. Young Taylor, who is the member for Sackville-Cobequid's daughter, when she finally got to meet that Santa Claus, she tugged on Harry's beard and said, this is the real deal day, this is the real deal.

Volunteers in my community make it a wonderful example for me to follow. It is a privilege to stand in this House to speak on their behalf. It's an opportunity for me to say to all members present, I hope we know how privileged we are to be in this House, to represent the people and their requests and I thank you for your time today, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It's a pleasure to join in the debate today prior to going into supply. I will try not to trespass on the time of

[Page 2499]

the House too long because I know that everybody is anxious to get at the estimates and no more so than the Government House Leader.

I was going to say a few remarks about a subject that is very near and dear to me. I know that my colleagues in Cape Breton and academics, who are employed in the Cape Breton area, will be very pleased at the events today. You know, Mr. Speaker, some days are better than others in this place and this is a good day. It's a good day for Cape Breton and it's a good day for Cape Breton University and it's a good day for the students of Cape Breton University, the ones who are there now and the ones who will go there in the future.

Before I say a few remarks about the university itself and the programs at that university, I want to congratulate the Minister of Education for listening to the people of Cape Breton, for listening to those at Cape Breton University who saw the need to have an identity in a post-graduate situation and they now have that. The minister listened and I appreciate that and certainly want to pass along my congratulations to her.

Also, Mr. Speaker, the struggle over the years, some people may not realize the struggle that Cape Breton University has had over the years in trying to establish an identity of a university on Cape Breton Island. I go back to the early days of the struggle when the university was looking for an identity. It was attached to St. F.X. University at the time and was indeed St. F.X. University, Sydney Campus. (Interruption) Little X, yes. Then it was Xavier College, then Xavier Junior College, then UCCB. Attempts were started to try to have the name college removed because it seemed to many in Cape Breton that if the word college was there, certainly people would look twice about going to the University of Cape Breton because of the fact that it may not be perceived as a full-blown university.

Well, Mr. Speaker, finally I think today the government realized, and the people of Cape Breton are happy about that, that we now have an identity as a full-blown university, one that I feel should be given equal billing with any other university in Nova Scotia. The announcement by the minister today of forty Bachelor of Education seats for Cape Breton University is a step in that direction. Is it enough? Today it was a good announcement and we can build on that in the future. There is a tremendous need in Cape Breton for students to be able to get a post-graduate education. They can now get their B.A. at Cape Breton University. Now forty of them will be able to get a Bachelor of Education Degree there.

The significance of that, Mr. Speaker, is that those students, the ones from Cape Breton who will be taking the course, will now be able to live at home and attend university and thereby saving many dollars in student fees each year. As you know, the cost of tuition is very high in Nova Scotia. So anything that we can do to enable young people from Cape Breton to attend university, get a B.A. and a post-graduate degree in Bachelor of Education at Cape Breton University is indeed welcome. The people who take advantage of that will be more than pleased that their sons and daughters can live at home and attend a university in Cape Breton and receive a degree.

[Page 2500]

I'm proud to say, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party fought for this for the past year and a half, meeting with the university, meeting with Dr. Harker and his staff. Meeting with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, and meeting with other concerned people in the area who were looking to the day that we have finally achieved today when we would have that degree. So I want to congratulate all those who were involved in making this day a reality, particularly the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and the people at Cape Breton University.

Dr. Harker and his staff, I believe, have exhibited great patience. They have a university with an excellent staff, both in terms of their teaching staff at that university and the other people who work there as well. A dedicated staff, committed to the ideals of higher education, committed to excellence, and today was a vindication of that when the government realized that, yes, Cape Breton University can compete. Cape Breton University should take a place in the academia, if you will, of Nova Scotia as an equal to the other universities in this province. I think we've gone a long way in achieving that today.

The significance of this event today is not lost on the people who will take advantage of it immediately but the significance is going to be down the road when Cape Breton University can build on the announcement that was made today. A good example, Mr. Speaker, is the other program at Cape Breton University that was just announced - an expansion of the nursing program at Cape Breton University - which is enabling now more people to receive their RN, or their degree in nursing I should say, at Cape Breton University. As you know, there's a tremendous shortage of trained nurses and that field is opening up tremendously. To be able to now offer the course to an increasing number of students at Cape Breton University gives further credibility to that university and its goals and objectives and its goals and objectives in the future are to provide a quality education for not only the young people from Cape Breton Island, but people from all over the world who attend Cape Breton University and are able to take advantage of the excellent programs that are being offered there.

I wanted to take the opportunity this afternoon because it is an important day, and again the Minister of Education realized that and the government, I believe, realizes that if there are programs available in various parts of Nova Scotia those programs should also be available on Cape Breton Island.

I never thought in my younger days that I'd be standing here talking about Cape Breton University because of the struggle that seemed insurmountable at that time, that nobody seemed to be listening. I've attended courses at Xavier College, at St. F.X. University Sydney Campus, Xavier Junior College. At one point I didn't know where I was attending courses. I was attending courses downtown, above a car dealership; I was down in the north end in an old building that used to house some office space; I was attending in rented space on Charlotte Street - the university was all over the place.

[Page 2501]

Now it has a home, a campus that they can be proud of. It now has a post-graduate degree, the prestigious degree of Bachelor of Education - and it's a Bachelor of Education that will be rewarded by Cape Breton University, not a surrogate of some other university, or not something that can't be attributed to the excellence at Cape Breton University because it will be. I'm pleased about that and I immediately shook the minister's hand this morning when that announcement was made because it is a step forward for Cape Breton University - a step in the right direction.

Mr. Speaker, we here, who come to Halifax from Cape Breton, can go home and say to people that finally Cape Breton University is coming of age, the name is rightfully displayed as Cape Breton University, not a college or anything else, but Cape Breton University - equal to the other great universities in this province. And that's all we had asked for, that's all we had asked for and today the step in the right direction has begun with the designation of forty Bachelor of Education seats at Cape Breton University.

[4:00 p.m.]

I'll conclude, Mr. Speaker, by saying that the staff, President Harker and his staff, have told me this is a wonderful day for that institution in Cape Breton. I'm sure that every single parent in Cape Breton who has an opportunity to send a son or a daughter to Cape Breton University for a Bachelor of Education, and at the same time saving thousands of dollars in costs that they would otherwise accrue by travelling off the island or to the United States will no longer be the case. Again, it's a good day for Cape Breton University and today I stand with my colleagues from Cape Breton, all of them, and say that it is a great day - it's a great day for Cape Breton University and it's a great day for Cape Breton. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health Promotion and Protection.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I intend to split my time today between remarks concerning my department and programs within the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, as well some of my time will be focused on my constituency. In respect of the time of the House I intend to speak for about ten minutes. I may not finish, but I will come back at some future time and finish my prepared remarks.

I want to first of all thank the member opposite for his passionate speech about Cape Breton University. I know that he has spoken in this House many times about Cape Breton University. I can only imagine that at some point in time in the very near future when we as members of the Legislature attend high school graduations we will begin to see teachers, who will graduate from Cape Breton University, on the stage proudly wearing the colours of their university along with their robes that they wear at the graduation ceremonies. I know that will be a proud moment for those teachers and it will be a proud moment for the member opposite and others from Cape Breton Island who are so supportive of that great university in Cape Breton.

[Page 2502]

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you and the members for the opportunity to speak today, particularly about the Department of Health Promotion and Protection. I absolutely love being the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection, and not just because of the great work we're able to do but I have some incredible staff, great staff, who absolutely love what they do for this province. Many of them are new to government. They are staff who have been hired, they may have worked through an advocacy group or for a variety of different agencies but they all come our department with the same focus and the same mission and the same goal. That is to make Nova Scotia the healthiest and safest province in the country. It makes my job easier and it is because of that staff that I am motivated each and every day to work toward that goal.

We have done a great deal of work to improve the health and safety of Nova Scotians and we are dedicated to continue in that good work into the future. Mr. Speaker, in 2002, we were the first jurisdiction in Canada to create an Office of Health Promotion. In 2006, under the leadership of our Premier, we expanded into a full department with the inclusion of health protection aspects including Public Health and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Mr. Speaker, I am so proud to be the first Minister of the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, helping Nova Scotians be healthier and safer. Thanks to the commitment of our staff, our partners and our stakeholders, we have already had some tremendous successes. I am pleased today to share with the House some of those successes. We use a number of population surveillance studies to help us measure the success we have had, as everything we do and implement is evidence-based as well as researched.

There are a number of key studies that have helped us keep our eye on the puck, Mr. Speaker. The Nova Scotia Student Drug Use Survey, physical activity levels and dietary intake of children and youth in the Province of Nova Scotia, a study we call the PACY Study, our Gambling Prevalence Study and our Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start with our reduced tobacco rates. Before I continue with my prepared remarks, I want to thank the member for Glace Bay who, along with the Mayor of Wolfville, helped bring forward a piece of legislation that will help protect children and young people in our province. We were, again, leaders in the country. We have now seen where other jurisdictions have looked to Nova Scotia as being a leader, including, as I understand, the Province of British Columbia that just recently - I think yesterday - announced they intend to do the same thing that we have done by eliminating smoking in cars when children are present.

I had a tremendous opportunity to share with the Government of Scotland just two weeks ago, at their invitation when they held an international summit on health inequalities. They wanted to know about our successes. In Scotland, they were hearing about the good

[Page 2503]

things we are doing in Nova Scotia and they needed my advice and the advice of Nova Scotians to help them as they moved forward with a similar type of legislative package.

Mr. Speaker, in 2001, we adopted the country's first comprehensive Tobacco Control Strategy. This strategy included legislation protection against exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. It included smoking bans in workplaces, in bars, in restaurants, on patios and now even vehicles where children are present. Community-based cessation and treatment programs, including access to free pharmacological aids such as nicotine replacement therapies.

Mr. Speaker, this particular element of our tobacco strategy is absolutely critical. In addition to providing nicotine replacement therapy, we also provide counseling. We know from the research that we have done and the research of others that, with the combination of counseling and the pharmacological aids, people of Nova Scotia will be able to quit smoking and our rates will even improve and our health will improve as a result of that.

We have had legislation to prevent tobacco companies from advertising and promoting their product at point of sale, Mr. Speaker. That is legislation that has had a great deal of controversy but supported by 100 per cent of the members of this House and I have to thank all members for their support of that piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud and pleased to report to members that our staff have been actively working with retailers with respect to that particular piece of legislation. My understanding is, from our staff, that we have nearly complete compliance of all of our retailers and we are going to make sure that Nova Scotians understand and comply with a very important piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, as a result of the strategy, we have gone from the worst to first when it comes to tobacco reduction. In 2001, the overall smoking prevalence rate in Nova Scotia was 30 per cent. When measured in 2007, the rate dropped to 22 per cent. It is with great pride that I can stand here before you in this House and report to my colleagues that Nova Scotia now has the lowest youth smoking rates in the country, at only 12 per cent. (Applause) Not so long ago, we led the country in that staggering statistic. We have confirmed these reductions from a number of sources including Health Canada, the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey and the Nova Scotia Drug Use Survey.

Another area of focus is in physical activity among Nova Scotians. The reality is that our children and our youth are not as active as they should be. Based on parent self-reported data, less than 50 per cent of Canadian children and youth are sufficiently physically active. When physical activity and obesity are objectively measured, 91 per cent are not obtaining sufficient levels for health benefits. We've been tracking this trend through the PACY study. We are the only province in Canada to have established and conducted a population

[Page 2504]

surveillance of objectively measured physical activity in children and youth and we've done it twice.

This study measures, specifically, the percentage of children and youth that obtain 60 minutes or more of moderate or more intense physical activities on five or more days a week. We also measured the environment, psychological and physiological determinants of physical activity and food choice behaviours. We measured height, we measured weight, we measured waist circumference and we measured food intake.

The PACY study took approximately 2,300 students in Grade 3, 7 and 11. The first study was done in 2001 and then another one in 2005. Again it measured height, weight, waist circumference and BMI. We used accelerators to objectively measure physical activity for seven consecutive days and we used questionnaires to measure social behaviour and environmental factors.

Four months ago, I was pleased to launch a renewed Active Kids, Healthy Kids Strategy at Gottingen Street Community Centre, in a fierce winter storm. The strategy aimed to increase physical activity levels by 10 per cent by the year 2010 - it's an ambitious goal, but it's one we must meet.

I have much more to talk about, Mr. Speaker. I do intend to rise on another day, on debate going into Supply, to finish my remarks and to talk more about my constituency. I'm pleased to take my seat as we move into Supply at this point.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[4:07 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Alfie MacLeod, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have arrived at the moment of interruption. Tonight's debate was submitted by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government recognize the significance of the ferry service between Digby, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick, and its importance to the economy and prosperity of Nova Scotia."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

[Page 2505]

ECON. DEV. - DIGBY-SAINT JOHN FERRY: SIGNIFICANCE - RECOGNIZE

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm very pleased to rise in my place tonight and speak about this important matter for my area, Digby-Annapolis. I want to start way back. I know I've got only 10 minutes, but I'm going to go back 200 years, because that's when the ferry system started in that area. There was a ferry down there when Joseph Howe was riding around this province on his horse. There was a ferry system coming across that bay because they knew then that it would be a vital link to this province from other provinces and other countries.

So that ferry system has been here longer than some bridges and some roads in this province - many bridges and many roads in this province. To lose something like that, I mean this boat, probably you could look at it as part of our heritage, but a lot more important than that it's part of our way of life.

There are bridges on this road, we have been told that boat can be taken out of there and you can drive around the Bay of Fundy. Well, you can see Saint John across that bay on a fine day - and just the same as you living here in the City of Halifax and you can see Dartmouth over there and throw a rock to it. So maybe if we're going to start taking the infrastructure of ferries out of this province, maybe we can start taking the bridges out, too, and probably the folks could drive around here to Dartmouth if they wanted to go to Dartmouth.

Another reason was that it is not making any money. The ferry system doesn't make any money, but I would like to see on the books in this country what piece of infrastructure that's put in for moving traffic and people and goods around that does make money. I don't think you'll find any anywhere that makes any money.

The folks even said down home, take that Bear River bridge out on Highway No. 101, take that out, we can drive up around Bear River, it will only take you another 25 or 30 minutes. So start taking everything out if you're going to take the Digby ferry boat out.

I'll give you an idea of the cost that could be the impact for this area - it was done by the Mariport Group of the Digby area - that impact is between $36 million and $51 million per year, depending on the losses in the fishery. The trucking cost, extra, to go around would be $11.5 million if that ferry wasn't there; the loss in product value, $12 million to $24 million; environment and social costs, $7 million to $11 million; and tourism losses of $5 million to $6 million. That is their report to the federal government.

The federal minister of ACOA said here a year or so ago to the folks of this province and down there, use it or lose it. That was his comment about the ferry - nothing more. That was the comment that was stated - use it or lose it.

[Page 2506]

Well, Mr. Speaker, we need more time to be able to use this, and I'll give you some examples. We had a company come from the South Shore that wanted to expand here a few months ago. They were going to come to Digby, but the first question was, is this ferry going to be here? Well, we don't know, we weren't given any idea if it's going to be here. We know it's here until January 2009, but beyond that we're not sure.

So this company said, well, I'm not sure either, I can't be sure, if you're not sure if the ferry is going to be there. This company moved to New Brunswick, Mr. Speaker, they moved to Campbellton, New Brunswick.

Right now we're looking at a sea urchin business - it's in Portland, Maine. They're going to come here. They buy the sea urchins here from the Digby area, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. They want to come and process them in Digby. I'm talking to these people right now. Is that ferry going to be there? They need that ferry to cross that bay.

It's part of their business plan but, Mr. Speaker, we can't tell them that. We don't know. If we had word from the government saying, okay, you've had a couple of years to try to get some business going, here are a couple more years to try to get some business going down there so you can use it and won't lose it. Give us something like that, but this use it or lose it deal, by January 2009, is not going to work for us.

Mr. Speaker, we've even talked to Senator Bruce Tarr in Gloucester. They have built a $7 million terminal down there. His dream is to put a ferry to Nova Scotia. I've talked to him many times, he would love to come to Digby, Shelburne, Yarmouth, wherever he could get, but nobody seems to want to talk to him about that piece of infrastructure. I know he has been to Digby a few times.

There's a construction boom, Mr. Speaker, that's going to happen in New Brunswick in the next few years and it's going to be worth $44 billion. This massive building boom could be part of Nova Scotia's economy, but according to the people in New Brunswick, if that ferry system is not there, it's not going to work, because they're going to need some tradespeople, they're going to need companies in the Digby, Yarmouth and Valley area to be able to do construction for them here, to be sent across for this $44 billion boom.

Going up around for eight-hour drives on the roads is not going to work - and let's get to roads for a minute. We've had a ferry there for 200 years. There are roads going from one end of this province to the other being doubled, being rebuilt. From Digby to Weymouth, where this ferry boat comes in, we don't even have a single Highway No. 101 there yet. We don't have it yet. For 35 years that has been going to be built there and it's not there today. So I'm not sure, you know, where is our infrastructure going? We lost the Prince of Fundy in Yarmouth. We've lost the airport down there. We've lost the railroad tracks, they're gone. So we have the infrastructure of that boat there left in southwestern Nova Scotia.

[Page 2507]

That's what we have there, Mr. Speaker, and if you take that boat out of there without having a vision of what's going to happen there - and I can see the vision, I can see New Brunswick fish growers coming there. I can see a boom from New Brunswick for the nuclear plant and the LNG plant, just hoping and praying that they can get some workers from that area. So I know I'm running out of time, I wish I had a little more because I've got lots here to tell you about what's going on down there. Anyway, with the high price of fuel and stuff, it's going to be necessary to have that boat, because there are only two ways that you can move goods and people around economically, and that's by rail and water. We've lost the rail, now we may lose the water.

I've always told my children, Mr. Speaker, that you should think twice and act once. I told them that all my life and today they're telling me that. They tell me that now, that I think twice and act once. I think this government and the federal government should think twice and act once about the Digby ferry being stopped going across that bay. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I'm quite prepared to provide the honourable member with another couple of minutes if the House would give unanimous consent.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

MR. THERIAULT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to just touch on the Gateway funding. The Gateway funding, you know, we hear tell of the Gateway funding building and twinning roads up to the east, up to Cape Breton. That's great, to build a wonderful terminal up there. But what about the Gateway funding to the westward, one of our greatest trading partners in world, the Americans, a little slow right now but that is all going to come back. It's going to come back. America is still going to be our biggest trading partner and if we can build the infrastructure to the western part of this province, I believe we can have great connection with the Americans.

Senator Bruce Tarr out of Gloucester is ready to go. He calls me all the time and asks me how I am making out in Digby. Are we getting things corrected? He talks to the company of Bay Ferries and doesn't seem to get any satisfaction there.

Anyway, I just believe if there is going to be Gateway funding for this province that it should be equal. If there are going to be ships coming into the eastern, we need ships

[Page 2508]

coming into the western of this province. If that doesn't happen, it's not going to be fair for this province and moreso it's not going to be fair for the people in western Nova Scotia. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for bringing this resolution forward. It's an appropriate time to have the discussion with respect to that very important service for that part of the province. I can assure the honourable member that it is a matter of considerable concern to this government and it is. I hope in the course of my remarks that I can demonstrate that while it is of concern to this government, it is not a problem that this government can solve entirely on its own. We do need a partnership in order to do that. I don't say that from the point of view of saying that somebody else is to blame, I say it from the perspective that we need to work together.

I am concerned, for instance, that New Brunswick may not see this as important as we see it. I have not seen indications from the Province of New Brunswick that this is something that they look to the future with the same level of concern that we do. I hope that the comments by the honourable member with respect to the activity that will be taking place in Saint John, New Brunswick, over the next number of years will, indeed, bear fruition and that that will be seen by the Government of New Brunswick as something that is a very good reason for them to become involved and to partner with us in the longer term with respect to ensuring that that service continues in the manner that it should.

I was recently somewhat encouraged to see that the City of Saint John, New Brunswick, did indeed take the decision to comment on the need for that continued service. I saw that as a glimmer of hope, if I could say that. There may be some increased motivation within New Brunswick to see that happen.

So the honourable member this afternoon, Mr. Speaker, I believe did bring to the floor of this House a very compelling argument as to why New Brunswick should take a greater interest in that and by the same token, the same argument applies as to why our federal partners also need to continue with us.

I was quite interested to listen to the honourable member speak in terms of bridges and existing roads and things of that nature because it was interesting at the time we took the decision to put the money in the continuation of this service that we did, I was Minister of Transportation at the time. I had asked, if we had a road to New Brunswick from Digby, what would it cost us to be able to maintain that road and keep it operational, functional, throughout the course of the year?

[6:15 p.m.]

[Page 2509]

It happened, Mr. Speaker, that the number would approximate the amount of money that we have committed to the continuation of that service. So that's a number that's fair and appropriate for us to be looking at in terms of the continuation of that service into the future. There is a rationale that says we should be doing that. I found that to be quite interesting at the time. That's not to say that's the only thing we should be doing.

I believe we also need, in consultation with the Government of Canada as well as the local communities, to look at a bigger strategy with respect to transportation in southwestern Nova Scotia. I think it's very important that we take advantage of this challenge, if you like, to be able to focus our attention on the future, assess our needs, see what it is that's appropriate from a go-forward basis.

In doing that, we need to recognize that the service that's in place now is a service that replaced the service that was provided by the Government of Canada, through the government ferry service that was in place there. I think it was somewhere around 1997, or thereabouts, that the federal government got out of that. The federal government, at that time, were putting$17 million into the provision of that ferry service. Bay Ferries came in and carried on providing the service in Digby, as well as Yarmouth, filling the gap of that $17 million deficit in order to be able to go forward.

I point those figures out so that the House understands something of the challenge that Bay Ferries was attempting to meet as it went forward. Of course, it relates to the challenge that we're now faced with as a provincial government looking for partnership with the Government of New Brunswick and, of course, with the federal government on a go-forward basis to ensure we have a strong, viable service there into the future.

I believe that analysis would take into account the points the honourable member was making with respect to the increased demand in traffic that would occur as a result of the increased investments taking place in the Saint John area. That's one of the things that we want to see happen as we look to the future, to ensure we take advantage of this challenge to do the appropriate analysis of what the needs are into the future and to ensure we are prepared to meet those needs.

We can't avoid the fact that there has been a 22 per cent decline in passenger traffic over the five years previous to 2006. That's a reality, that's part of the challenge that we face and we need to find ways of increasing that traffic. We need to ensure - the honourable member has made some good points when he talked about the need to be able to look forward into the future with certainty that the service will be there, because that's part of what you need in order to be able to keep the service going into the future. That is another reason as to why we would want to ensure that we had the assessment that needs to be done with respect to looking to the future.

[Page 2510]

As I have indicated, the province is committed, there's a rationale for us to be able to go ahead and continue providing support to that service. However, when you look at the history and you look at the deficits that were there, that were covered by the federal government in the past, those are not figures that are appropriate for the province to be asked to consider on a go-forward basis. We do need a partnership with the Government of Canada and a partnership, I hope, with the Province of New Brunswick who would see this as an integral link between the two provinces.

I thank the honourable member for bringing this issue forward this afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to speak to it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place to speak about this very important issue for southwestern Nova Scotia. I want to just reiterate some of my Liberal colleague's comments on the importance of the Princess Acadia and what it means not only to Digby but all of southwestern Nova Scotia. I am pleased to also hear the Minister of Economic Development indicate that he, too, and his department are very concerned about the moving forward of this ferry and trying to keep it alive and well.

Not only is this a vital transportation link for many industries along South West Nova, such as the fishing industry, the forest industry, the tourism industry and small businesses such as Frenchys, that depend on bringing their product from different parts of New Brunswick and New England. They rely on this ferry service to make their business strong and viable.

The economy of southwest Nova Scotia is being hit every year with impacts - out-migration of youth, declining population - and we can't afford to lose economic dollars out of southwest Nova Scotia. So this vital transportation link, if we are able to find the solutions to keep it moving forward, will play a major role in keeping the economy of South West Nova strong as we move into the future.

My colleague indicated some of the economic impacts should this service close in January 2009. Our struggling industries can't afford to lose this service and move to transporting goods through trucking around the Bay of Fundy. It is just too costly for those industries. The ferry service has always offered a more viable and efficient service in terms of fuel costs and certainly a quicker way to get their goods to market. So we don't want to see the service disappear and then have to make a digressive step, moving our products through trucking routes. It's just not viable.

There is no question, with the high fuel costs and the operating losses that the ferry has seen, there are tremendous pressures that we are seeing for this ferry and the $8 million that was injected by Ottawa, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to help stabilize this service

[Page 2511]

until January 31, 2009, means there is precious little time for us to really come up with some viable solutions here. I am encouraged that the Minister of Economic Development has indicated a willingness to act more aggressively and to look at partnering with other stakeholders here. I would encourage the minister and his department to take the leadership in bringing these partners to the table.

When I talk about stakeholders, I'm talking about all stakeholders. Transport Canada and ACOA need to recognize that they just can't kind of pull out in 2009 and say, okay, we are done. We have nothing more to contribute. Other stakeholders that are very important to be around the table are industry representatives from fisheries and forestry and TIANS and also business communities need to be part of finding solutions as well as Labour and Bay Ferries, of course. They all need to be able to sit down and discuss some of the challenges and come up with some solutions to make this a viable, sustainable transportation link. I have faith that there are solutions to be found for this viable service.

We need to look at all possibilities of investment into this. It is important to the economy of southwest Nova Scotia. We can't afford to lose the tourism dollars and I do understand that the passenger numbers have been declining but TIANS and the industry has been moving forward with good marketing initiatives. If we can just be a little bit more aggressive in those initiatives, then I am certain that we can turn those numbers around. We have a beautiful province to promote. It is beautiful on the South West Nova part of the province and we really need to step up to the plate and start promoting that.

Other partners that need to come together around that table, of course, are the Departments of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, the Department of Fisheries, and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage to discuss some of the viability and solutions that we need to look at moving forward and I really think too that, you know, with the Gateway monies, that the federal government has indicated possibly investing in this province, I think, as part of our Gateway wish list, we really do need to look at equalizing those dollars across the province. We need to look at this particular service, this particular transportation link, as a Gateway link from the southwest part of the province.

It is important to our industry there. It's important to our economy there and we need to look towards moving that forward in a way that makes sense for the whole province. So the Gateway dollars that are available, or could be available, rather, to this province, we need to seriously look at how we can make a proposal to the federal government to look seriously at this end of the province for Gateway funds.

I can stress, too, the importance of the economy in southwest Nova Scotia and in rural Nova Scotia in general. You know, we can't afford to lose one fishing job. We can't afford to lose one forestry job. We can't afford to lose one retail job that depends on transportation links in order to make their businesses and products viable. These industries are truly

[Page 2512]

important. They play a big role in southwest Nova Scotia and this link is critical to their survival.

As my colleague stated, too, we have lost so many of our transportation links. We have seen a deficit in our infrastructure all across this province and this is a deficit to see this particular transportation link struggle. We need to start investing more money. We need to start investing more resources. We need to be strategic in planning for our future, our economic future, and our transportation links. We need to be looking at other markets. We need to be promoting ourselves in a bigger way whether we're promoting our tourism, whether we're promoting our fishery products, whether we're promoting our forestry, high-tech products. We have a lot of work to do.

I want to say, too, that I do know that Bay Ferries has invested in some renovations and maintenance in refurbishing of the ferry and that's a good move forward. That's a start in the right direction, you know, that refurbishing and maintenance goes a long way to demonstrate the company's ability to look forward at promoting the ferry as an attractive ferry and a viable option.

Mr. Speaker, we all need to work together, but government does need to take the lead on this. They need to step up to the plate a little bit more aggressively. They need to bring the partners together. We can't rely on, necessarily, New Brunswick as coming willing at this point in time to the table. We need to get out there in front and start the dialogue and bring those partners together.

I want to thank you for listening to this very important issue. I want to thank my colleague on the left side of me here for bringing this very important issue to the forefront and I encourage government and the Minister of Economic Development to continue with his concern and his willingness to be involved in this and his willingness to understand the seriousness of this tremendous transportation link and tremendous economic opportunity that could be had, if we can see the will to move this forward in the right direction, and that is keeping this transportation link a part of our investment strategy and infrastructure for southwest Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you honourable members. The time for the late debate has expired. The House shall resolve itself back into Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[7:58 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[Page 2513]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made considerable progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER:Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move that we adjourn for the day and the House hours tomorrow will be from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Following the daily routine we will move into Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

Time permitting, government business to include Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading, with Bill No. 3, Bill No. 81, Bill No. 129. If there's time left after that, Public Bills for Second Reading, with Bill No. 120, Bill No. 126, Bill No. 127, Bill No. 130, Bill No. 131, Bill No. 133, Bill No. 135 and Bill No. 138.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The motion is for the House to rise and meet again tomorrow at the hour of 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]

[Page 2514]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2251

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Official Opposition)

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

Whereas Jim Connors of Dartmouth and Judee Young of Sackville were two Nova Scotians living with colorectal cancer who spoke out publicly to urge the government to include Avastin among the life-giving drugs provided for treatment of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas Judee and Jim passed away earlier this year, but both were alive when Denyse Hockley and Madeline Bolivar brought to this House petitions urging coverage of Avastin, which has been signed by many thousands of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas Blair George of Guysborough is another Nova Scotian who recently spoke out and began gathering names on a petition in support of Avastin coverage for all those who it would benefit, including his wife, Marlene;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the courage and public spirit that was made evident by the late Jim Connors, the late Judee Young, Blair George, Madeline Bolivar, Denyse Hockley and the thousands of other Nova Scotians who supported their effort to have Avastin covered as part of cancer care in Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 2252

By: Hon. Karen Casey (Education)

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

Whereas celebrations are well underway by staff and students of Pictou Academy to mark the 200th Anniversary of the school that has had a rich and vibrant history in our province; and

Whereas the school will mark yearly celebrations on March 26th counting down to the bicentennial in 2016; and

Whereas the current Grade 4 class will be the graduating class of 2016, its members have started a time capsule to be added to each year and opened in their graduation year;

[Page 2515]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send best wishes to the staff and students of Pictou Academy, wishing them all the best with their celebration this year and every year looking forward to 2016.

RESOLUTION NO. 2253

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas yet another business has started to do its part in making our province environmentally friendly and more sustainable; and

Whereas recently the NSLC announced the launch of their "Cheers to Change" initiative, in which they will focus on reducing their carbon footprint, conserving energy, managing their waste more efficiently and promote recycling; and

Whereas one of their largest endeavours is the elimination of plastic shopping bags by Fall 2008, a move that will make them the first mass market retail business in Nova Scotia to eliminate plastic bags;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of the NSLC in working towards keeping our province healthy, clean and sustainable.