The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03-16

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 452, Pub. Libraries Wk. (10/20-10/26/03) - Recognize, Hon. J. Muir 1287
Vote - Affirmative 1288
Res. 453, Waste Reduction Wk. (10/20-10/26/03) - Observe,
Hon. K. Morash 1288
Vote - Affirmative 1289
Res. 454, Health Prom.: Pap Test Awareness Wk. (10/19/03) - Recognize,
(by Hon. A. MacIsaac), Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1289
Vote - Affirmative 1290
Res. 455, Fin. - Responsible Gaming Awareness Wk. (10/19-10/25/03),
Hon. P. Christie 1290
Vote - Affirmative 1291
Res. 456, Health - Seniors for Literacy Comm.: Publications - Thank,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1291
Vote - Affirmative 1291
Res. 457, Women, Status of: Women's Hist. Mo. (10/03) -
Recognize, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1292
Vote - Affirmative 1292
Res. 458, Environ. & Lbr. - Credit Union System: Staff -
Efforts Recognize, Hon. K. Morash 1292
Vote - Affirmative 1293
Res. 459, Commun. Serv.: Foster Families - Commend, Hon. D. Morse 1293
Vote - Affirmative 1294
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 22, Remembrance Day Act, Mr. Michel Samson 1294
No. 23, Labour Standards Code/Interpretation Act, Mr. Michel Samson 1294
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 460, McGinn, Peter: Death of - Tribute, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1294
Vote - Affirmative 1295
Res. 461, Hunger - Problem: Increase - Gov't. Reverse, Mr. D. Graham 1295
Res. 462, McGinn, Peter: Death of - Tribute, Mr. J. Chataway 1296
Vote - Affirmative 1296
Res. 463, Hart, Stu: Death of - Tribute, Mr. D. Dexter 1297
Vote - Affirmative 1297
Res. 464, Small Bus. Wk. (10/19-10/25/03) - Acknowledge,
Mr. D. Graham 1297
Vote - Affirmative 1298
Res. 465, Tourism & Culture - Celtic Colours: Organizers/Vols./
Musicians - Recognize, (by Mr. R. Chisholm),
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1298
Vote - Affirmative 1299
Res. 466, Healthy Workplace Wk. (10/20-10/26/03): Safe Workplaces -
Prioritize, Mr. F. Corbett 1299
Res. 467, Martin, Paul - Fin. Min.: Achievements - Recognize,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1300
Res. 468, Stevens, Jackie: Queen's Jubilee Medal - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 1300
Vote - Affirmative 1301
Res. 469, Bona, Bob & Dawn - Enfield Home Hardware:
Emergency Response - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 1301
Vote - Affirmative 1302
Res. 470, CWL - Stella Maris Council (Louisbourg): Appreciation -
Extend, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1302
Vote - Affirmative 1303
Res. 471, Tearmann House - Share the Warmth Prog.: Vols. - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1303
Vote - Affirmative 1304
Res. 472, Kings North MLA - Long-Term Care Beds: Research -
Undertake, (by Mr. H. Epstein), Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1304
Res. 473, Women of Excellence Awards Dinner: Philanthropic Effort -
Commend, Ms. D. Whalen 1304
Vote - Affirmative 1305
Res. 474, Hfx. Town Clock: Hist. Importance - Recognize, Mr. G. Hines 1305
Vote - Affirmative 1307
Res. 475, MacConnell, James M. - Scotsburn Co-Op Services:
Retirement - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 1307
Vote - Affirmative 1307
Res. 476, Deveau, Emile/LeBlanc, Carl - Lobster Traps Donation:
Organization - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 1307
Vote - Affirmative 1308
Res. 477, Educ. - STEP: Participants - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1308
Vote - Affirmative 1309
Res. 478, Fishermen - Disaster Assistance Applications: Processing -
Expedite, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1309
Res. 479, Prem. - Offshore: Responsibility - Accept, Mr. Michel Samson 1310
Res. 480, Cobequid Multi-Service Ctr. - Walkathon: Participants -
Congrats., Hon. B. Barnet 1310
Vote - Affirmative 1311
Res. 481, McNeill Shell (Elmsdale): Emergency Response - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 1311
Vote - Affirmative 1312
Res. 482, Pap Test Awareness Wk. (10/19-10/25/03) -
Health Care Providers: Appreciation - Extend,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1312
Vote - Affirmative 1312
Res. 483, Hfx. Town Clock: Anniv. (200th) - Celebrate, Mr. K. Colwell 1312
Vote - Affirmative 1313
Res. 484, Dal. Univ. - The Scientist Magazine: Ranking - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 1313
Vote - Affirmative 1314
Res. 485, Econ. Dev. - Rural Depopulation: Challenge - Recognize,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 1314
Res. 486, McGinn, Peter: Death of - Tribute, Mr. H. Theriault 1315
Vote - Affirmative 1315
Res. 487, Treasury & Policy Bd.: Code of Silence - Min. Break,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1315
Res. 488, Commun. Serv. - Nat'l. Foster Family Wk.: Foster Families -
Thank, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1316
Vote - Affirmative 1316
Res. 489, Fin. - Deficit: Action Plan - Table, Ms. D. Whalen 1317
Res. 490, Remembrance Day: Statutory Holiday - Declare,
Mr. Michel Samson 1317
Res. 491, Educ. - Youth Population: Decline - Recognize, Mr. L. Glavine 1318
Vote - Affirmative 1319
Res. 492, Morgan, John - UNSM Pres.: Appt. - Congrats.,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 1319
Vote - Affirmative 1319
Res. 493, Econ. Dev.: Rural Depopulation - Action, Mr. H. Theriault 1319
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 20, Workers' Compensation Act/Occupational Health
and Safety Act 1320
Hon. Kerry Morash 1320
Mr. F. Corbett 1322
Mr. K. Colwell 1336
Mr. D. Dexter 1345
Adjournment moved 1351
Vote - Affirmative 1353
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 11, Collection Agencies Act/Consumer Creditors Conduct Act 1353
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 1354
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Oct. 21st at 11:00 a.m. 1355
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 494, Rideout, Jim - Gov.-Gen's. Award: Finalist - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 1356
Res. 495, Anna. Valley Reg. Library - Staff/Vols.: Efforts - Recognize,
Mr. M. Parent 1356
Res. 496, Gunn, Dr. Jim: Cdn. Assoc. of Administrators Award -
Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1357
Res. 497, Justice - Prov./Fam. Courts: Judges - Swearing In - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 1357

[Page 1287]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2003

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

3:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Ms. Joan Massey, Mr. Russell MacKinnon

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 452

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

1287

[Page 1288]

Whereas Nova Scotia's 76 public libraries continue to offer something to just about every Nova Scotian including lending books, videos and music, and providing educational and personal interest programs for all ages; and

Whereas the importance of our public libraries to our economy was reinforced in a recent survey that indicated many Nova Scotians use public libraries to support their work or business; and

Whereas in the past year, national and international awards have been won by the Halifax, Pictou-Antigonish, and the Western County Regional Libraries;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in recognizing Public Libraries Week from October 20th to October 26th and thank the many staff, trustees and volunteers at our regional libraries for their dedication and hard work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova on an introduction.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction today, in the east gallery, Mr. Dan Yakimchuk from Sydney who is a former alderman in the City of Sydney, a former steelworker and activist, Local 1064 United Steelworkers of America and the Cape Breton District Health Authority. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guest to the gallery today and hope he enjoys the proceedings.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 453

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

[Page 1289]

Whereas Nova Scotia has achieved world fame as a leader in the conversion of waste into resources; and

Whereas this success involves partnerships with municipal governments and the active support of all citizens of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas communities, municipalities, businesses and organizations across Canada have committed to working together to continue Nova Scotia's success in waste resource management;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join with all Nova Scotians to observe Waste Reduction Week today through October 26th, and pledge to continue our efforts to maintain Nova Scotia's leadership position in resource recovery.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 454

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

Whereas Pap Test Awareness Week begins on October 19th; and

Whereas there is a need for education and awareness around the importance of Pap test screening, since regular testing prevents approximately 95 per cent of all cervical cancers; and

Whereas Cancer Care Nova Scotia has developed a teaching resource for Nova Scotia schools to increase young people's awareness of the importance of preventative screening;

[Page 1290]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Pap Test Awareness Week and congratulate Cancer Care Nova Scotia and its partners for working with community groups and organizations to raise awareness about health benefits of regular Pap test screening.

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. 455

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

Whereas October 19th to October 25th marks Nova Scotia's 2nd annual - and still Canada's only - Responsible Gaming Awareness Week; and

Whereas its objective is to increase awareness and to educate people about the importance of playing games of chance responsibly; and

Whereas this week is a partnership with the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, the Office of Health Promotion, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, and Casino Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this government continue to strongly support the responsible gaming efforts of its gaming stakeholders.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1291]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 456

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

Whereas older Nova Scotians will have access to lifelong learning programs and educational resources that better meet their specific needs and interests thanks to a project initiated by a committee of the Senior Citizens' Secretariat; and

Whereas the Seniors for Literacy Committee of the Secretariat released two publications today that will help community learning networks upgrade the basic skills of older Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the publications are entitled "Enhancing the Basic Learning Skills of Older Nova Scotians - Context and Strategies" and "Enhancing the Basic Learning Skills of Older Nova Scotians - A Resource Kit" and will be provided to community learning networks across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Seniors for Literacy Committee of the Nova Scotia Senior Citizens' Secretariat on the release of their useful publications and thank them for their hard work on behalf of older Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

[Page 1292]

RESOLUTION NO. 457

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

Whereas October marks the observance of Women's History Month in Canada, and October 18th marks Persons Day, the day in 1929 when Canadian women were recognized as persons under the law; and

Whereas many Nova Scotian and Canadian women over the years have worked long and hard to achieve rights, such as the right to vote, many rights we now take for granted; and

Whereas this year, Women's History Month is on the theme, What do You Mean, Women Couldn't Vote?, and to mark the month, the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women has published a fact sheet on women and elected office in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognizes Women's History Month in Canada and the long line of Nova Scotia women who have fought for full equality, at home, in the workplace and in public life.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 459

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

Whereas 168,000 Nova Scotians are members of the credit union system in the province; and

[Page 1293]

Whereas in 2002, the combined credit union assets in Nova Scotia grew 9.1 per cent to $1.2 billion, an increase of more than $97 million and returned more than $1 million to members in the form of common-share dividends and rebates; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's 38 credit unions donated more than $350,000 to community development projects, charities and scholarships across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the efforts of more than 800 Nova Scotians who manage and staff our credit union system, and wish them continued success as they continue to invest profits into the communities 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 Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 459

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

Whereas more than 400 foster families in Nova Scotia are being thanked this week for their dedication and commitment to children in need as the province celebrates Foster Family Appreciation Week from October 19th to October 24th; and

Whereas foster parents provide a nurturing environment for our children and youth, and enable young people to have safe and loving homes in their times of need; and

Whereas foster families are the backbone of our child protection system, who work as a part of a professional team to ensure children and youth receive the encouragement and support they need to overcome challenges;

[Page 1294]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the more than 700 Nova Scotian foster families who give so much of themselves so that children and young people can have a brighter 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.

[3:15 p.m.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 22 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 396 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Remembrance Day Act. (Mr. Michel Samson)

Bill No. 23 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Labour Standards Code; and Chapter 235 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Interpretation Act. (Mr. Michel Samson.)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 460

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

Whereas Peter McGinn of Prospect died tragically on Saturday, October 18th while assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas Mr. McGinn served as the Secretary of the Prospect Area Full-Time Fishermen's Association; and

[Page 1295]

Whereas Peter McGinn had worked tirelessly on behalf of local fishermen;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature extend its condolences to the McGinn family, friends and the community on the tragic loss of Peter McGinn.

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. 461

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

Whereas a national survey released last week concluded that Nova Scotians are turning to food banks for assistance more than ever before; and

Whereas HungerCount 2003 showed Nova Scotia food bank lineups grew by 9.9 per cent last year, an increase of 25.2 per cent since 1997; and

Whereas hunger is a symptom of poverty and according to the federal government's Market Basket Measure, 16.1 per cent of Nova Scotians live on low income;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the increasing problem of hunger amongst Nova Scotians and encourage government to take immediate action to reverse this growing trend.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1296]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 462

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

Whereas if Hurricane Juan didn't do enough devastation, Prospect area fisheries personnel were dealt another blow of tragedy Saturday morning when Peter McGinn, a former DFO worker and secretary of the local fisheries association suffered a heart attack; and

Whereas Peter was working at the Government Wharf in Upper Prospect unloading gear donated by fishers from southwestern Nova Scotia to help Prospect and area fishers who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in gear as a result of Juan; and

Whereas Peter was a friend, a neighbour, somebody people could look up to and count on and his death is a loss for the whole community;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs recognize the selfless effort put forth by Peter McGinn, recognize his tremendous contributions in the local community of Prospect and offer his wife and family the deepest condolences of all members of this House of Assembly.

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 Official Opposition.

[Page 1297]

RESOLUTION NO. 463

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

Whereas Stu Hart was recognized throughout the world as one of Canada's foremost wrestling icons and as the patriarch of one of Canada's most talented and famous wrestling family dynasties, the Hart Family; and

Whereas as one of the greatest wrestling promoters and businessmen in the country, Stu Hart was well respected as a generous, compassionate person who contributed much to the Province of Alberta and to the entire country; and

Whereas on Thursday, October 16th, Stu Hart, known as the Dean of North American Wrestling died at Rocky View General Hospital in Calgary at age 88 with his family by his side;

Therefore be it resolved that this House pay tribute to Stu Hart and the legacy he left behind and extend condolences to the entire Hart family on the passing of this great Canadian icon who will be long admired and remembered throughout 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.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 464

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

Whereas October 19th to October 25th marks this year's Small Business Week in Canada, which began in British Columbia in 1979; and

[Page 1298]

Whereas activities held throughout the Small Business Week provide training and development opportunities for entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs, enabling them to meet other business people and share ideas; and

Whereas much of the growth of the Canadian economy is due to dynamic entrepreneurs and the businesses they create;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House acknowledge this week as Small Business Week and the important contributions these businesses make to our local and national economies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 465

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Cape Breton's Celtic Colours Music Festival has been a remarkable success since its inception in 1997, and this year has been no exception; and

Whereas since the festival opened with its gala concert at Centre 200 in Sydney to its closing at the world's biggest square dance in Baddeck, the festival has been nine fun - very full - days of music and dance; and

Whereas this year there has been a focus on youth at the festival, with students from Denmark and Scotland participating along with many of our talented young local performers;

[Page 1299]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing all the organizers, volunteers and musicians who have made this year's Celtic Colours such a phenomenal success, and extend out best wishes to all those involved in the festival as we look forward to next year.

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 Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 466

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

Whereas this is the third year for Canada's Healthy Workplace Week - from October 20th to October 26th; and

Whereas the mission is: "to promote a comprehensive and integrated approach to workplace's health in order to improve and sustain the health of Canadian organizations, their environments and their employees"; and

Whereas the current government's record on workplace safety and health is dismal;

Therefore be it resolved that the government use the opportunity of a Healthy Workplace Week to finally make healthy and safe workplaces a priority in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 1300]

RESOLUTION NO. 467

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

Whereas both NDP and Conservative members of this House are clearly losing their grip on local issues and instead are attacking the next Prime Minister of Canada, Paul Martin; and

Whereas these attacks are a desperate attempt to divert attention away from the fact that both Parties cannot provide solutions to the problems faced by Nova Scotia, especially the deficit; and

Whereas instead of attacking Mr. Martin with sniping resolutions, the NDP and the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party - or whatever they want to be called these days - could learn a few things about balancing the books from someone who actually accomplished the feat;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize Paul Martin's achievements as Finance Minister and prepare for the extraordinary achievements to come when Paul Martin becomes Prime Minister.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 468

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

Whereas the Queen's Jubilee Medal is awarded to those Nova Scotians who have made significant contributions to our province; and

[Page 1301]

Whereas Jackie Stevens, the daughter of Milford and Joyce Stevens of Port Williams, was recognized for her work with sexual assault legal education and training; and

Whereas Ms. Stevens is currently a community education coordinator for the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax - a centre that provides information and support for sexual assault victims;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Jackie Stevens for her outstanding efforts in sexual assault education, and congratulate her on her receipt of the Queen's Jubilee Medal.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 469

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

Whereas Hurricane Juan left many people in the Enfield area of Hants East without batteries, lamp oil, and many other items and goods suddenly critical for day-to-day living without electricity; and

Whereas the Enfield Home Hardware Store's motto is, "Help is always close to home"; and

Whereas the morning after the storm, Enfield Home Hardware opened its doors and conducted transactions by pen and paper, flashlight and by any other low-tech system or apparatus that it took in order to service the immediate demands by its customers and neighbours for essential emergency supplies;

[Page 1302]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Bob and Dawn Bona, owners of Enfield Home Hardware and their staff for their unhesitating response to a public need in a time of emergency.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 470

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

Whereas the Catholic Women's League's motto is "in service of God and Country"; and

Whereas on Saturday, October 18, 2003, the Catholic Women's League of Stella Maris Parish, Louisbourg, celebrated its 50th Anniversary of Christian service since its founding meeting on December 20, 1953; and

Whereas Bishop Raymond Lahey, along with Father Errol McDowell, Father Conrad Edwards and Father Tom Lathigee celebrated service for past and present members of Stella Maris Parish CWL in appreciation of their continued hard work in support of church, community and family values;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and extend appreciation to the Catholic Women's League, Stella Maris Council, Louisbourg, Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1303]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services on an introduction.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, good friends of this province have traveled here from Cape Breton Nova. I would like to acknowledge Barb and John Shaw in the gallery, perhaps they would stand up and accept the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests in the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings. Welcome.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 471

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

Whereas Atlantic Fabrics in New Glasgow was once again home to the volunteers as they collaborated to make quilts for Tearmann House's Share the Warmth Program; and

Whereas Tearmann House is run under the direction of Karen O'Hara and provides a safe place for women of Pictou County who are victims of abuse; and

Whereas some of the quilts made in the annual program are given to clients of Tearmann House when they leave the facility, many of whom had arrived at the shelter with only the clothes on their backs, the remaining quilts stay at the home;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Karen O'Hara, Atlantic Fabrics and the many volunteers who donate their time and expertise to creating a welcome environment for women who are victims of violence in Pictou County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1304]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 472

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Needham, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Thursday, the member for Kings North stated that there are 16 new, long-term care beds opening in Berwick; and

Whereas his statement gave the incorrect impression that Valley residents can anticipate a long awaited increase in nursing home beds; and

Whereas the reality is that the 16 beds opening at Grand View Manor are private-pay, unsubsidized, assisted living beds and not nursing home beds at all;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Kings North spend less time in this Legislature attempting to defend the indefensible and spend more time doing his research.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 473

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

Whereas five female leaders in business, health, arts, and education will be honoured Wednesday at the 14th annual Women of Excellence Awards dinner in Halifax; and

[Page 1305]

Whereas proceeds from the gala at the World Trade and Convention Centre will go to Phoenix youth programs; and

Whereas in each of the past five years the Halifax Cornwallis Progress Club has given $35,000 to Phoenix and expect to match that again this year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend this philanthropic effort, congratulate this year's award nominees, and celebrate the achievements of all women throughout 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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

[3:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 474

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

Whereas on October 20, 1803, the Town Clock on Citadel Hill ticked its first tock; and

Whereas Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, had the clock built with money raised by public donations; and

Whereas a program and celebration to commemorate the Town Clock's two centuries of loyal timekeeping was held today at Citadel Hill's information centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature recognize the historic importance of Halifax's Town Clock and the extraordinary way it has marked time for two centuries.

[Page 1306]

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.

Order, please. The Clerks can't hear the resolutions that are being read. Do you need it read again? (Interruptions)

The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank on the resolution again, please. I would ask all members to keep the noise down, please. If you have to talk, take your conversations outside.

The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

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

Whereas on October 20, 1803, the Town Clock on Citadel Hill ticked its first tock; and

Whereas Prince Edward Duke of Kent had the clock built with money raised by public donations; and

Whereas a program and celebration to commemorate the Town Clock's two centuries of loyal timekeeping was held today at Citadel Hill's information centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature recognize the historic importance of Halifax's Town Clock and the extraordinary way it has marked time for two centuries.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1307]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 475

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

Whereas James M. MacConnell, President and CEO of Scotsburn Co-operative Services Limited, has served there for almost 40 years; and

Whereas during that time, the co-op has grown from a community-based co-operative to one of the larger businesses in Atlantic Canada today; and

Whereas a retirement reception and dinner will be held on November 21st to honour the almost four decades of service of James "Jim" MacConnell;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate James M. MacConnell for his leadership and dedicated service to Scotsburn Co-operative Services Limited, and wish him all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 476

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

[Page 1308]

Whereas this past weekend, Emile Deveau and Carl LeBlanc of Clare organized a donation of over 800 lobster traps to those who had gear destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas the used lobster traps were collected from fishermen in the communities of Weymouth and Comeauville, Digby County, and trucked to Upper Prospect and West Dover; and

Whereas the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans provided the transportation for all of the equipment donated to these fishermen;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the tremendous efforts of Emile Deveau and Carl LeBlanc for organizing the donation of lobster traps and equipment to the fishermen of Upper Prospect and West Dover.

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 Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 477

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

Whereas 36 students at Parkview Education Centre are enrolled in a program that is giving them practical training in skilled trades; and

Whereas the Skilled Trade Exploration Program, otherwise known as STEP, is a two-year program taught by Karen Brazill and Mike Johnston; and

Whereas Parkview Education Centre, the South Shore District School Board, the Lunenburg Campus of the South Shore Community College and the Apprenticeship Training Division of the Department of Education have partnered to create this beneficial program;

[Page 1309]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Karen Brazill, Mike Johnston and all those who are involved in STEP, and acknowledge the growing need for programs focused on the trades in our provincial schools.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 478

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

Whereas hard-working Nova Scotians in coastal communities who lost their fishing livelihood due to Hurricane Juan are conscientiously completing the Disaster Financial Assistance forms; and

Whereas these women and men are collecting the necessary documentation as quickly as possible for this assistance; and

Whereas these residents need this help now;

Therefore be it resolved that the appropriate departments at the respective levels of government process applications from fishermen for disaster assistance immediately in order to assist these Nova Scotians who make their living from the sea.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

[Page 1310]

RESOLUTION NO. 479

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

Whereas the slowdown in our offshore industries is continuing as Kerr McGee is closing its Halifax office, relocating its manager to Houston and laying off two employees; and

Whereas despite commitments to drill in deepwater off Nova Scotia, Kerr McGee has yet to drill one exploratory well; and

Whereas every time the Premier or the Minister of Energy touts commitments of investment, it must be tempered with the reality that such commitments are not enforceable and that companies decide when and if they will actually invest;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier take a leadership role in the offshore and accept responsibility for his failure to do anything significant to help grow the industry since he was elected Premier in 1999.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 480

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

Whereas the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre, a vital emergency and diagnostic community medical facility, held its 10th annual walkathon recently; and

Whereas 200 walkers raised $38,000 toward a new, larger centre; and

Whereas this is $8,000 more than raised in the walkathon last year;

[Page 1311]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House send a hearty congratulations to walkathon coordinator Bill MacNeil, the walkers and the other volunteers, and the staff at the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 481

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

Whereas Hurricane Juan knocked out power to many parts of Hants East; and

Whereas scores of people were caught without adequate gasoline supplies for generators, power saws and vehicles; and

Whereas the morning after the storm, Don McNeill's Shell in Elmsdale, with the help of a generator and good, old-fashioned, low-tech pumps, was able to provide fuel for dozens of gas-hungry residents;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Don McNeill and his staff for their speedy response to a need deepened by the emergency.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1312]

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. 482

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

Whereas October 19th to 25th is Pap Test Awareness Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas a recent report prepared by Cancer Care Nova Scotia states that Nova Scotia still has the highest rate of cervical cancer in Canada; and

Whereas the number of women getting annual Pap tests falls below the 85 per cent target set by the Nova Scotia Gynecologic Cancer Screening Program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature extend their appreciation to Dr. Robert Grimshaw, Medical Director of the Nova Scotia Gynecologic Cancer Screening Program, family doctors and other health care providers who continue to provide leadership in their roles by stressing the importance of prevention and early detection in the treatment of cervical cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 483

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

[Page 1313]

Whereas in 1803 Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, ordered a clock to be sent to Halifax to keep the soldiers in their barracks on time; and

Whereas the clock has become known as Halifax's Town Clock and a distinct symbol of our province's capital city; and

Whereas today marks the 200th Anniversary of the Town Clock as Halifax's official timekeeper;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House celebrate this unique icon and wish for 200 more years of its service to the people of Halifax and all 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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 484

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 U.S.-based magazine, The Scientist, surveyed 2,210 researchers throughout the world at 168 institutions to assess what university had the best working environment; and

Whereas in analyzing the results, The Scientist ranked Dalhousie University as the best university outside the United States at which to work as a researcher compared with 37 other non-American facilities; and

Whereas since its founding in 1818, Dalhousie University has never lost sight of fostering local pride and a sense of community while building an international reputation for its excellent research;

[Page 1314]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dalhousie University and its excellent research staff on receiving this recognition that has made Dalhousie University not only a superior place to work, but an institution for which Nova Scotians can be proud.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 485

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

Whereas since 1981, 11 counties saw their population decline by approximately 37,000 people; and

Whereas 26,000 were lost on Cape Breton Island alone; and

Whereas depopulation in these counties and stagnant population growth in many others is one of the greatest impediments to prosperity;

Therefore be it resolved that all Parties recognize depopulation as the greatest economic challenge in the regions and that the government take a lead role to help find solutions to this neglected problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 1315]

RESOLUTION NO. 486

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

Whereas the fishing community and the people of Upper Prospect area lost a dear and close friend over the weekend; and

Whereas Peter McGinn, a former DFO worker and secretary of the local fishermen's association suddenly passed away over the weekend; and

Whereas I extend my deepest sympathies to Mr. McGinn's family and friends;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their thoughts and prayers to Peter McGinn's family and friends on the loss of their dearly departed loved one.

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. 487

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 minister responsible for Treasury and Policy Board refuses to table documents regarding the financial state of the province, even though that information should be public knowledge; and

Whereas the minister has become the defender of the code of silence by refusing to release a policy paper that would give Nova Scotians a better understanding of the fiscal imperative of this government; and

[Page 1316]

Whereas the minister neatly bookends a Finance Minister who refuses to reveal the true nature of the current deficit;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister responsible for Treasury and Policy Board break the code of silence gripping this government and recognize that he can reveal the truth today and address our province's financial problem or wait until next Spring and face an angry electorate.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 488

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

Whereas October 19th to 25th marks National Foster Family Week which honours the commitment and generosity of foster families; and

Whereas foster families are exceptional people who open their homes and hearts to children who are unable to live with their birth families; and

Whereas all Nova Scotians owe a debt of gratitude to foster families who provide a healthy and secure environment for our children and youth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank our foster families during this year's National Foster Family Week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

[Page 1317]

RESOLUTION NO. 489

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

Whereas it has become more apparent that the government is running a deficit of at least $54 million; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance refuses to answer questions regarding the $54 million deficit in this House; and

Whereas the minister also refuses to tell Nova Scotians how he plans to balance the budget even though the fiscal year is half over;

Therefore be it resolved that the Finance Minister table in this House his specific plan to deal with the growing deficit.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

[3:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 490

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

Whereas the Remembrance Day Act was established to ensure Nova Scotians can continue to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives and health on our behalf and for those of future generations; and

Whereas Nova Scotians have been strong and loyal in their support of Canada's veterans and in observing Remembrance Day, the day set aside to honour the bravery and valour of those who fought and died to preserve our rights and freedoms in World War I,

[Page 1318]

World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and in international peacekeeping activities; and

Whereas under the provisions in the Remembrance Day Act and the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code, this special day does not have the distinction of a statutory general holiday;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House call upon the government to declare November 11th, Remembrance Day, a statutory holiday for all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

Was there a request for waiver? (Interruptions)

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 491

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

Whereas from 1996 to 2001, Nova Scotia saw a net out-migration of over 5,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 29; and

Whereas the declining youth population will have an impact on our education system; and

Whereas the decline in the number of young people is a great impediment to economic growth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize that the decline in our youth population is an issue that can no longer be ignored, especially concerning its impact on our education system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1319]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 492

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

Whereas John Morgan, Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, was named President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities last week in Yarmouth; and

Whereas Mr. Morgan will hold the position for the next year, replacing outgoing President Don Zwicker of Lunenburg County; and

Whereas this was the 98th Annual General Conference of the UNSM, bringing together hundreds of representatives from the province's 55 municipalities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate CBRM's Mayor John Morgan on being named President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 493

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

Whereas since 1996, 13 of Nova Scotia's 18 counties saw their population drop; and

[Page 1320]

Whereas Digby County lost 5 per cent of their population, while Annapolis County dropped by 2.5 per cent; and

Whereas rural depopulation is one of the greatest impediments for rural economic growth;

Therefore be it resolved that this government immediately take action to address the issue of rural depopulation before economic conditions further decline in rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 20.

Bill No. 20 - Workers' Compensation Act/Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill No. 20, amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act. Since the release, in April 2002, of the Dorsey report on workers' compensation in Nova Scotia, this government has been working closely with all parties involved to implement improvements to our workplace safety and insurance system that are fair and viable. The Workers' Compensation Board

[Page 1321]

released a strategic plan that addresses several of the important issues affecting the system and focuses on four key goals: preventing workplace injuries and illnesses, improving benefits, enhanced stakeholder consultation, and enhanced accountability in performance measures.

Today's bill will enable the Workers' Compensation Board to proceed with the improvements to the system over the next four years. This bill introduces improvements that will lessen the effects of inflation for persons receiving pensions by increasing the indexing of these pensions. Our goal is to move indexing from 50 per cent of the consumer price index to 55 per cent this year. We are cutting red tape and improving the ability of the Workers' Compensation Board to respond to the needs of their clients by ensuring that the indexing of these pensions in the future can be completed by regulation.

In addition to addressing the recommendations in the strategic plan, this legislation addresses the recent decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada on chronic pain. Through this bill, we will ensure that all injured workers, regardless of the injury they suffer, will be treated the same. We will repeal the sections of the Act specific to chronic pain and will work with all parties to develop regulations during the Law Amendments Committee process. These regulations will enable the creation of a process that will support workers with chronic pain. The legislation will ensure quick resolution of some issues for injured workers by allowing the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal to correct obvious errors of natural justice and other areas without reopening an entire appeal. Finally, this legislation improves accountability. Through this bill, each of the agencies within Nova Scotia's workers' compensation system will be required to publicly report how they are doing in complying with statutory requirements each year.

Today's bill builds on the many positive improvements made to the system over the past year. We move the department's education and prevention units from the Occupational Health and Safety Division to the Workers' Compensation Board to make the board accountable for safety education and prevention initiatives. In 2002, we increased the supplementary benefits by over $2,000 per year, moving to one-half of the average industrial wage for Nova Scotia and we introduced legislation to allow paid and volunteer firefighters, who contract specific cancers on the job, access to benefits through the Workers' Compensation Board.

Today we're pleased to be implementing additional recommendations from the Dorsey report that will strengthen our workplace compensations system for the benefit of injured workers. The health and safety of workers in Nova Scotia is a top priority of mine and is a top priority of this government. As the Dorsey report pointed out, Nova Scotia continues to have the second-highest assessment and the second-lowest level of benefits. The issues with the workers' compensation system in Nova Scotia did not develop overnight and they won't be corrected overnight.

[Page 1322]

Injured workers in this province have been patient since the release of the Dorsey report. I want to take this opportunity to thank the injured workers' associations for their participation in the strategic planning process and for helping the board work toward implementing the recommendations from the Dorsey report. I'm announcing, today, a continuation of the funding for the four groups that have participated in this process and have continued to bring issues forward on behalf of their members. Their continued participation is key to ensuring accountability and measuring progress towards the goals set out in the plan.

I've been very pleased with the level of participation by all stakeholders, including employers and labour groups, in the planning process. The strategic plan marks a step in the right direction. Having a health and safety background, I appreciate the system's increased emphasis on accident prevention and accountability. I'm confident that our workplace safety and insurance system is moving in the right direction. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 20 today.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for bringing this bill forward, but much of my time today is going to be spent regarding what's not in the bill. I heard him thank the injured workers and their families for being patient and I'm going to tell the minister that I believe that their patience is wearing thin. We've had a year and a half now of Dorsey being presented; a year of Dorsey, previous to that, being compiled by a stakeholder group that travelled throughout this province. One could say that the government taking this slow snail's pace approach to revamping of the WCB would be wise in some ways, if the only piece of information they had gleaned from the public was Dorsey, and had they gone and said, okay, we're going to take Dorsey and study it and so on, but there have been previous reports to Dorsey.

We've had legislative committees looking into the WCB and so on. So, one has to think of why, now that we have Dorsey on the books for over a year and a half, why are we now at this point, this juncture if you will, why does this need further study and why bring it in so gradually, if at all? We're being told that this is a phased process, but nobody is telling any of the parties - whether it is the small "p" political parties or the real stakeholders involved - what timeline we're looking at for a complete acceptance of the Dorsey report as it relates to changes at the WCB.

Mr. Speaker, I have been fortunate in my tenure in this House to be the critic for the WCB on numerous occasions and have met some extremely fine people through the course of that critic area. They are the ones who have taken me to school, quite literally, on the problems within the workers' compensation system in this province. Roughly, we're talking about a system that came into effect pre-1920 - probably around 1917 - in this province to recognize an inequality in the workplace, and that was worker injury. What was set up at that

[Page 1323]

time was a no-fault insurance system - and that seems to be quite topical today in the automobile realm. But this was a no-fault workplace insurance system that was accepted, by and large, on the premise that the employer would pay the premium, and for that aspect that the worker would lose the right to litigate. So the system on that side has worked fairly well; the insurers, being the employers, have been I would consider, by and large, practising due diligence.

Now, we can cite - and maybe I will as I get on to this, Mr. Speaker - areas where employers, I believe, didn't practise due diligence around workplace injury but, by and large, I don't think all Nova Scotian businesses should be tarred with the brush of being irresponsible, because I think most employers are good employers when it comes to workers' safety, because of the reality that if you don't look after your workers in a safe and reasonable manner, then obviously, you're not going to get anybody to work for you. It's as simple as that.

So we have, basically the first quarter of the previous century evolving a workplace insurance system to help workers and to make sure that if they were to be injured on the workplace, or if a fatality occurred, that there was a form of insurance for the family because of the fatality, or that the worker would be duly compensated if there was a workplace injury and they would be allowed to have a reasonable amount of income, if you will.

We have seen that. We have seen parts of the studies back - and we'll move ahead to the 1960s and 1970s, Mr. Speaker, and one of the big problems that workers had identified around the WCB at that point was the CRS, or the Clinical Rating Scale, which many people referred to as the meat chart. Now, the meat chart was, quite simply, similar to that what you would have seen in old butcher shops, really, and that's why it came there. They would show you the various cuts. So what happened with the meat chart, certain injuries would be compensated at a certain rate.

[4:00 p.m.]

Now back in February 1996 when the new version of the Workers' Compensation Act came into effect, which evolved into a wage loss system, which I will refer to today as the Abbass bill, that it went into the idea of the percentage of your impairment related to the amount of ability to earn a wage at a certain rate and therefore they would use a mathematical equation to determine that and that's what your wage would be, as opposed to saying you get $100 a month if you lose one of your digits. It would be directly related to your income and how it affected your income. So we went into a wage loss system which, in the latter half of the last century, became one of the major changes because what we really then ended up seeing was a real kind of line drawn that people had seen that we are either on the old CRS system or now on this new wage loss system.

[Page 1324]

Indeed, there is an argument, and I will get into it later, about did the board purposely hold back decisions that they thought they would have lost under the clinical rating system and waited to bring them forward when the legislation changed and indeed the legislation allowed them to claw back and go in and get these. One of these I will talk about later is primarily people as it related to automatic assumption and miners' lung disease. That was one of the ones that was a major problem and to my estimation, the board has never really fully reconciled and helped the workers.

So we had the problems when we went to the clinical rating system; that bill became effective February 1, 1996. Now I'm not going to spend too much time in the intervening history between 1917 and 1996, Mr. Speaker, for no other reason than you may rule me out of order. I think it was an interesting time after that, when we had basically the two systems and they were working at some parallel in this province. So when it came into effect, we had some serious problems. We had Doward on the go then, which was a case around chronic pain and does the province, through its Workers' Compensation Board, recognize chronic pain. So we had that out there.

When many of us, including you, Mr. Speaker, came into the Legislature in 1998, there was a considerable amount of flux going on within the workers' compensation system, to the point that injured workers were occupying government offices. To that point, I would say one of the greatest stimulants was to have an all-Party committee at that time, again, one of the many, to study the workers' compensation system in Nova Scotia.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what we found out through those meetings and through those hearings, which I was a member, as the now Justice Minister was chairman of those meetings. We had the reality of that committee made up of equal members because again it was done in a time of minority government. It was done in a time of uncertainty because the newness of the February 1, 1996, effective legislation. There was much kind of trying to find our own way, trying to go over ground that had just been gone over, not five or six years. In sight was knowing that there was going to be through the February 1, 1996, legislation, the Abbass bill, that there would be a mandated review by a stakeholders' committee, so we knew in light of what we are doing. What was essentially going to happen was a microscopic look at WCB over a period of three times in less than a decade.

When our committee toured the province we heard, to say the least, many horror stories about workplace injury and it ranged everywhere from industrial diseases, chronic pain, widows' pensions, and indeed, supplementary benefits for pensions. All of these and many more were put on the table as we travelled throughout Nova Scotia.

As we got together - as groups such as ourselves would do - we tried to formulate and put together what we thought was the meat of what we heard while going across the province. One of the biggest things we heard was, every time the WCB is looked at, a long view if you will, what suffers is workers' benefits. The idea that workers' benefits are

[Page 1325]

structured downward just about every time we looked at what was going on with WCB, we now had to look at it and say, are we going a step forward with Bill No. 20? Is Bill No. 20 the substantive piece of legislation that injured workers and employers need in this province?

It is interesting because you have to look at Bill No. 20 in two different lights - one, as it relates to the broader question of Dorsey and the other, a more streamlined idea of what it does with chronic pain. What it does for chronic pain - and I think we have to understand that out of the all-Party committee in 1998-99 came Bill No. 90 but some legislation was hived off that report and brought forward and some of it was the basis for the treatment of chronic pain, that has been subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada on a 9 to 0 vote. Basically what the court said was it is discriminatory, you cannot discriminate on that basis.

So we are here today and we're asking this legislation to repeal those sections that apply to chronic pain, so we can look to another group to come forward with its version of how do we make chronic pain, a) compensable; and b) how do we therefore pay for it? These are two very heavy, weighty issues. But what we don't have in this bill is how that is going to be structured. I want to tell the government that that is very important, because no matter if it's accurate or inaccurate, it certainly appears with injured workers in this province that they do not have the full confidence or they do not give their confidence to WCB and its management team. It has been referred to me quite a few times that it's an institutional bias against them.

First of all what we have to do - if we're looking at deleting the notion of chronic pain, which we have to, again, part of the 9 to 0 decision clearly stated it had to be no more than six months hence - is to do this in a timely fashion. What groups have been telling me since this decision, and indeed more importantly since the bill has been tabled, is there is a fear in this circle that their concerns will not be listened to and heeded. They will tell you, and rightfully so, that they have the ear of the people down at the board level, but are they really listening, and that's a problem. They're saying, you know, we can say what we want. It's like the focus groups and so on. It's that this is coming forward, purporting to be stuff that relates to Dorsey, as being related and endorsed by labour and by the injured workers.

Now, that's not what's coming back to me, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, when I talked to these groups, they're saying that's quite the opposite, that it's a mandate, they tell me, from board management that says here's what we're going to do and we're going to move forward this way, that a lot of the Dorsey recommendations are not really reflective of the front end of Dorsey that they would want to see. So that causes a problem.

I want to say about chronic pain, before I get too far into what's not here from Dorsey, the fact is that if you have that kind of institutional bias, or feeling that there's that institutional bias at the board level, they're not going to buy into being felt as equal partners at the table when trying to come up with a regulation, a piece of legislation, that could be

[Page 1326]

crafted that would show that everybody is on the same page when it comes to chronic pain. They believe that this will be driven more by financial considerations at the board than injured worker considerations at the board. They believe that a large portion of this will be hinged on the unfunded liability as opposed to what's best for injured workers.

Injured workers will tell you that it wasn't an injured worker that caused the unfunded liability at WCB, it was mismanagement. So what they're saying is, is that fair for me to be the party that helps pay down the unfunded liability at a quicker rate than it was assessed by either Dorsey or other groups to fit the timelines of somebody at the board rather than the real concerns of injured workers throughout this province, and especially injured workers as it relates to chronic pain? So what we have to be asking our legislators is, what are we going to do? Are we going to merely say that this is going to be handed off to "stakeholders" to look after and with no real teeth, with the idea that their concerns are not going to be listened to?

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, I believe he understands this, that there are problems, or at least perceived problems, between the board, injured workers and other groups out there.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

MR. CORBETT: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on an introduction of his younger sibling.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to stand to introduce my brother who is in the east gallery - Kevin d'Entremont. Thank you for coming to the House and I was wondering if we could just welcome him to the House of Assembly today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guest to the gallery today and hope he enjoys the proceedings.

Thank you to the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre. You now have the floor.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, at least there's one good-looking one in the family. (Laughter)

[Page 1327]

Mr. Speaker, saying that there has to be a real buy in and I don't think you can adequately say that injured workers and labour will buy into another committee to look at how chronic pain is going to affect them if they find, right now, that the strategic planning groups don't seem to be listened to, or the side of those groups doesn't seem to be listened to now around Dorsey.

[4:15 p.m.]

I think that's something I would like to see the minister really look at and say, how can we give this group the teeth, but, more importantly probably, the transparency so everyone can see that the resolution around chronic pain is going to be one that everyone will have an honest-to-goodness stake in; that other concerns will not be brushed aside, that waits of consideration around unfunded liability take precedence over the idea that workers are injured and should be paid a reasonable compensation for those injuries.

I believe that's what has to be the tenet of any agreement, not what our unfunded liability is. I say that again, I can't say it loud enough or long enough that the unfunded liability at WCB did not happen because workers went out and got injured. I say, without fear of hesitation, it was bad management. Before I get too far down that road, it's gone a long way to get rid of that management style where it was an area of great patronage appointments, appointments that didn't really reflect the people it was going to serve. It became more a master to political servants than the people it was meant to serve, and that was the injured women and men of this province.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I have to say again that that board and the management down there have moved light years from where we were just a short decade ago, for responsibility.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Good government in the last four years.

MR. CORBETT: The Education Minister says good government in the last four years. That may be his opinion, it's certainly not mine. We've had a government that largely ignored WCB. If it was a good government, we would have Dorsey in place today, we wouldn't be talking around the edges, we wouldn't be saying these things. We would be here, we would be implementing Dorsey and we would be moving forward with much fanfare and helping the injured workers of Nova Scotia.

Let's move on to a bit about the Dorsey report and why I believe it's important. I think the Dorsey report, like no other report that in my short tenure in this House, the one completely honest, unfettered document, it's been unsullied by political hands. James Dorsey is a recognized expert around compensation matters, he's a former chairman in British Columbia, and his committee were stakeholders from labour, injured workers, and medical and business sectors from across the province. It was not one that was driven by, as I stated

[Page 1328]

earlier, in 1998, a bunch of politicians going around and looking to position themselves around the WCB issue. These were people who were Nova Scotians, with the exception of the chairman who was brought in - again, I have to say that he was a universally-accepted chairman, he was not from this province so it gave him a bit of distance - to look at the problems that existed in WCB.

We had this group go across the province and ask for submissions and receive these submissions from ordinary working people across the province. Labour groups were involved, injured workers would give reports, business groups gave their position and, indeed, some politicians gave their position when the Dorsey commission came to town.

They go away and this whole process - I'm talking round numbers - is about a year between when it hits the road until the final report is brought to the House in April 2002. So far what we have seen out of Dorsey, in a year and a half the only piece of legislation that has come to this House, by way of Dorsey, was around pension benefits. That was the only piece we saw come forward. Nothing else has been brought forward.

Mr. Speaker, I would put forward today that we ended up with the supplemental benefits question being put on the table to move forward through the persistence of the injured workers' groups throughout this province, in identifying this as a correctable issue that could be done with very little expense to the board. It was their pressure on government that saw that change come forward.

Mr. Speaker, as I say, it was just one of the many recommendations of Dorsey, but it was one that I thought affected a lot of people and it affected them in a very positive way. One gentleman in my constituency was basically using his Visa to pay his Mastercard to pay his other credit card, because he was an injured worker who found himself in the situation, as it related to Canada Pension, where there was no top-up provision for him. At that time I think his income was less than $10,000 a year. This is a gentleman who had worked in construction, as a drywaller, certainly in one of the trades that is fairly busy 12 months of the year because the vast majority of their work is done indoors and is not inhibited by weather, as some of the others may be, like sheet metal and roofing and so on where weather is a greater determinant of how much work you get. Here is a guy who was affected greatly by supplemental benefits.

Through the persistence of these injured workers' groups, this was brought forward. This was brought forward and it was passed. That's the only thing, right now, that we have from Dorsey. Let's look at some of the other recommendations of Dorsey. Some are ones that are not in this bill in particular, and we don't understand why they wouldn't be included. One, and it was in the original Bill No. 19 - it's not in this one - or it was at least discussed around Bill No. 19, is universality.

[Page 1329]

Now, you can look at universality in two different ways. One is - employers can look at it and say, look, you're bringing us in as a cash cow. You want us in here just to help pay down the unfunded liability. We have no right being in the WCB. You just want our money. Quite honestly, Mr. Speaker, I see that as the wrong way to go about it, especially now when we're looking at the WCB as a source for much of the workplace safety. My argument to them today, about universality, is if you do not come in and pay your premiums, you will still be able to access all the health and safety programs, and so on, from the WCB, but you're not on the hook one dime for it. Not one dime.

If that's going to come out of the accident fund or wherever, if we're going to take this money from premiums coming in today and be solely responsible for workplace accident prevention and safety, then I think it's incumbent that all workplaces now become involved with paying premiums. I think it's almost a no-brainer. Yet we don't really see that. I'm sure that at some point there is a phased-in issue about bringing in uninsured companies and employers. I somewhat agree with that, I don't think it should be like, tomorrow everybody's in. I think there is a right way to do it, and a phased-in approach would be appropriate, that these people could first of all be allowed the time period to get their books adjusted to it.

I appreciate how workers and players are saddled with cumbersome payroll systems as it is now, Mr. Speaker, as it relates to payroll taxes, so we should be allowing them to get ready for this coming expense. On the other side of it, I know it will be perceived, in the first go-round, as an expense. But I would contend that if we're going to do workplaces as Bill No. 20 says - make the WCB responsible for workplace safety and accident prevention - then I think that says to every employer in this province that every employer now has a stake in this, and part of your stake, obviously, is going to be that you have to pay premiums into the WCB. It is not one about a tax grab or anything like that, or a benefits grab or premiums grab, it's none of those things, it is just the right thing to do.

Another issue many, many injured workers talk about is medical evidence. If I was to say the one thing that the majority of injured workers can least understand about the WCB system in this province it is why do I have a report here from my specialist, who is a specialist - whether it is a neurologist, whether it is an orthopedic surgeon, whether it is an internist - but over here the board has a member of the Medical Society, but, if you will, just an MD whose assumption around the case overrules that of a specialist.

Mr. Speaker, I guess, in looking at terms like this, it is much like chronic pain, where one body said chronic pain was okay, a lower court, but it went to a higher court where more learned people were, if you will, and they said, no, it's wrong. We, as Canadians accept that, as the higher court's decision. So one has to wonder if you look at the medical profession, if more doctors can routinely overrule specialists who have, by virtue, a speciality in that area, what's the purpose? Why are we wasting the workers' time to go see a neurologist, or an internist or an orthopedic specialist, if the board is going to take their doctors and do this?

[Page 1330]

I will relate to you something back in 1998 when we were on the all-Party committee, and in this very room we had representatives of the WCB - and I forget which one of the doctors from the WCB was asked a question around so and so went into this doctor's office - he was a board doctor and he went into his office and he had a shoulder injury. The claimant walked into the doctor's office, the doctor asked him to walk towards the desk, turn around and sit down. So he did as asked by the physician and then the doctor asked him a few routine questions, his name and so on, then he said thank you very much, I'll do my report.

The injured worker was bewildered by this. So, he passed the story along to one of the members of the committee at that time and related the story to the board doctor who was here that day, in this very room. The answer was shocking, to say the least. That the board doctor had said, oh no, our doctors are so well trained that they can just - what we're looking at is not the bigger picture of this, it is just the minute size of the injury and he could tell by him walking across the room, how he carried himself, if his shoulder was damaged.

I'm thinking we don't need MRIs, we don't even need kryptonite in this province, we got these guys - to say that about somebody.

HON. JAMES MUIR: What do you do with kryptonite?

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Ask Superman. The Minister of Education wants to know what you do with kryptonite, Mr. Speaker.

But here it is, these are the type of problems and I just put forward one there - why do we allow this happen time in and time out? Why is that not dealt with in this bill, to come up with a system that would allow a balance there? I don't think injured workers, or anybody, would say, they want the system weighted toward them, but right now it is weighted on the side of WCB. What they're asking for is to bring it to the middle, allow something to come up that says we will give someone who is neutral in this, to allow us a real third-party decision. This is what we don't see. Some could say that's WCAT's role, it really isn't. WCAT doesn't take, I think, the leadership role it should around that. Maybe after the federal court decision, it may look at it differently.

I think we could save ourselves a lot of time and expense if there was some sort of mediation rather than one of these two being the side. Again, I think it all has to go to fairness. You cannot have anything work if it's going to be weighted on one side or the other. Mr. Speaker, that's another thing, through you, that I would hope the minister hears and will look at, that we need to see fairness around the medical diagnostic version of what goes on.

[Page 1331]

Another problem that has always plagued WCB, and this is part of WCB and the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, is the fact of deeming. Mr. Speaker, for the uninitiated, deeming is - what they do is if you have a certain amount of injury but you're not fully disabled, they will say, we can deem you to work 10 hours a week or 20 hours a week, maybe if you're a labourer a more relaxing or an easier-type job, they may say you may be able to drive a cab or you may be able to work at a computer terminal for fewer hours. But there is a whole lack in the deeming process, and the board will say this but never really acknowledge it, that there's always a great miscarriage of justice around the deeming factor.

What happens is a couple of things. When deeming is put into effect around injured workers, what is never really ever considered is what the employment factors are in the area. The board has told us, oh yes, we do. If there is one issue that I've fought tenaciously with the board about, and at WCAT hearings, is the reality of deeming and how it affects people.

One thing would be, as the minister said in his preamble about doing housekeeping duties, if you will, around WCAT, when WCAT gives a decision and says that the Workers' Compensation Board has deemed this person inappropriately, that they then give parameters of where they could do this deeming at. What happens is - I've seen it on numerous occasions - when it comes back at the board level for reconsideration, somebody at the board level will then say, well, okay, we deemed you to be able to be a night-watch person or a security guard. Well, okay, that was found to be faulty, now we will deem you to be a cab driver. So we send it back and say, look, that's not reasonable. The person lives in a rural part of the province where there are really no cabs. Oh, so we come back and we do it again.

I think what would be more appropriate would be if WCAT would say within their decision, these are areas which we deem the worker eligible to work in, and look at it not only from the perspective of the workplace injury but the reality of the economy of the area. Again, people could say, look, that person can get a job - there are lots of cab jobs in Halifax. Is that fair, because you were injured in the workplace and you were a third or fourth generation woods worker from one of the rural counties in this province, that you have to uproot your family and move to Halifax just to live up to a litmus test of the WCB. As a matter of fact, I heard a few resolutions today about out-migration and I don't think anybody really wants to look at affecting our rural areas any more than what they are.

I think that would be a way to help protect our injured workers so that the board doesn't unreasonably come back. I know where I come from, in my riding, I know of one individual where it took three attempts to find out, to deem them into a position, and it was really unfair for them. At the end of it, the worker capitulated and said, look, I will take it, if you want to deem me and say, at that job I can make $80 a week, then fine, I'm just tired of fighting you.

[Page 1332]

That's another area we come into and what comes across my table many, many times, is the board's aggressiveness around injured workers. I've talked to many people at the board and they said, what we try to do is get the injured worker their benefits as quickly as we can and make things right again, and all avenues are looked at in getting them back to being a full participant in the workforce. By itself, that's a very laudable statement, Mr. Speaker, but the more and more people you talk to, that's not the case. It's not one where I've had a great deal of occasion with. The ones you hear about are ones who have been kind of marginalized by WCB and have been told well, no, no, no, these are your benefits, they've run out and you've got to go back to work, without any real - whether it's physiotherapy, or vocational rehab, those things aren't offered in an open way that people can understand.

I talked to one gentleman this week and he has been offered vocational rehab by WCB, but he's afraid to accept it because he kind of doesn't know what's behind door number two, if you will, to use that game show expression, Mr. Speaker. So we don't know what's really out there for these workers, these injured workers. With that in mind comes another minefield for this bill and what it is, we will do it by way of regulations. That's always the scary one because what we had here in chronic pain, we had a piece of legislation, albeit faulty, that we could take to a court and eventually have it overturned because it was faulty and it discriminated against a certain section of workers. Not so easily done by way of regulations and not so easily done - and transparency, as it should be open and debated in this House.

Again, I am not in any way, shape or form casting aspersions on, especially the minister and his government, that they're trying to do anything nefarious here, that I think what they're trying to do is trying to come up with a solution of some of the problems at the Workers' Compensation Board. I would say to the minister that that's an avenue. If you go by the route of regulation, it's one that's fraught with danger, because it's open not so much to today's government maybe, but governments down the road, that it's a much easier way to get at and maybe deny access in certain ways through Orders in Council and so on, so it's not done. What I think the intention of the Supreme Court decision is, is not so much to start doing stuff behind the closed doors of Cabinet. Indeed, I think the instructions from the October 3rd decision of the Supreme Court of Canada is one of saying that this should be open, because we need transparency here. You've proven that you will discriminate here with full public debate on a bill - what will happen by way of regulations that are done in the infamous bunker?

These are problems that we have to go and say, why would government want to do these major changes by way of regulation and not by way of amendments in legislation? I would hope that at some point the minister will fill that out for us, because I would say that this bill will have a hard time passing the hurdles over at the Law Amendments Committee, if it doesn't substantially change that position.

[Page 1333]

What we're looking for here, I know I don't have to remind the minister, this is a bill that's affected by a timeline. Many bills that come before us are ones that, by and large with the exception of the budget process, aren't affected by timelines. But this is clearly one that the Supreme Court has given a timeline of six months hence, the decision of their court of when this law had to be struck down. Indeed, I would say, by the decision - as I interpret it - would say that there has to be a workable system in place. It's not good enough that you just repeal the bad law, but you replace the bad law and you explain how that is going to work now on the same test for every injured worker with chronic pain in this province.

With that - kind of a side issue - the board hasn't even attempted in any kind of public way to find out who is out there that may be affected by the October 3rd decision. That was one of the many phone calls I was making this weekend where people were saying, am I in or am I out? I had to tell them, I don't know. But if you perceived or were told that under Section 10 you weren't eligible, I would call WCB and ask for my file to be reactivated; if you were ineligible before Bill No. 90 but after the Charter came in place in the country, you may be eligible to move forward, but there's no clear enunciation coming from the board that's telling us this is the people that we want.

You often see an advertisement for a group, if you're involved with a class action suit - this comes to that threshold - and if you find that within this time period you were injured or have chronic pain or have been harmed by a decision of the board for these reasons and within this time period, please call this number and we will do what we can for you. There are many people out there who could really be appreciative of that, it would go a long way to help them.

It goes back to the credibility of the board once again. The management of the board, by not doing that, workers - injured workers in particular - are saying to me, there they go again. They're doing the same thing. What they're trying to do is, if we can get this thing passed before a lot of these people realize it, then they will be through it again.

What they want is the board to be more proactive, to go out there and say this is where we feel you may have been wronged and we want you to come forward, we want to be able to help you. Use their own words. I think that would be a very good step forward. If we're going to tell people that this board is going to move forward, that the management of the WCB is going to move forward, if the strategic planning committee is going to move forward, then we need buy-in and we need honest buy-in.

Right now, I would tell you, as I stand here in my place today, those committees do not have the support of injured workers and they do not have the support of organized labour for that mere fact that there's no transparency and it seems to be a real change of direction. When they go into a meeting and they agree on something and it comes out the other end, the water isn't always as clear coming out that end of the pipe.

[Page 1334]

We need to see change at the board, that they're going to see that these people are truly partners before the injured workers and organized labour will buy in to the process. I noticed, again, with the minister's statement about funding some of the groups. I think that's a laudable effort. It's an interesting thing when you see these injured workers' groups out there, and you would hope that they wouldn't be necessary, to act as advocates. What we do is we have advocates out there in the form of the Workers' Advisors Program, but to that group they are clearly in a position to be overworked, and that's why they come to our groups.

[4:45 p.m.]

There are other factors that cause some problems with getting together with the Workers' Advisors Program, not the least of which - when I talk - is they are overworked, and what happens is that there are many times that they will be able to take somebody and assess them, if you will, as they come in the door of the Workers' Advisors Program. For those who don't know, the Workers' Advisors Program is a system set up of lawyers and other legal advisors who will represent you at the WCB and onward, from there to WCAT, the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal.

The problem is that there are only two offices in the province, one in Halifax and one in Cape Breton. It's hard for an injured worker to access one in Yarmouth, because it's not there or in any immediate area, we have some real problems with accessibility, not only for timeliness but geographically. So that's a problem. What happens sometimes is, from time to time, you do have these injured workers' groups springing up. They've become the advocates in the community, whether it's the South Shore group, the Pictou County workers' group or the Halifax, Nova Scotia one, or indeed the one I'm the most familiar with - a lot of my good friends at the injured workers' group - in Cape Breton.

These are people, by and large, who have come into the system or have become workers' advocates because they're injured workers themselves. They know how hard and how futile fights can be with the board, from time to time, if you do not have proper representation. So what happens is people, first of all, their first stop is usually WAP, the Workers' Advisors Program, but because they have such a huge caseload, they really don't have the ability to take on as many cases as they need to. What happens with injured workers, Mr. Speaker, is they end up having their hearing dates delayed and so on, until the workers' advisor can fit them in to their very busy calendar. Sometimes what they will then do is go to the injured workers' groups who work on an ad hoc basis and help these people.

Mr. Speaker, can I ask the time?

MR. SPEAKER: You have five more minutes, five and a half minutes.

[Page 1335]

MR. CORBETT: Five minutes. I wanted to spend my time remaining, Mr. Speaker, just to tell yourself and others assembled here that this is a bill that is not an offensive bill by its content - minus the Dorsey report and minus the federal court decision around chronic pain, this wouldn't be an offensive bill to deal with. It would be, by and large, considered a step forward. There is really nothing in this bill, with the exception of wanting to handle things by way of regulation, the bill itself is, by and large, a step forward.

But the argument is, how much longer can we rely on the patience and the good will of workers who get injured in this province, day in, day out, to say we're going to get to you, your day will come. I think injured workers are saying that their day came on October 3, 2003, when the federal court struck down the chronic pain legislation in this province and they made a very bold statement. They made a bold statement to the people in this province that said you've got to change it, similar to what Dorsey said in his report. So we have to take that boldness right through. We cannot take these small steps and say this is going to work, but bide your time, we will see changes to universal coverage, we will see changes to the deeming process, we will see changes for the widows, we will see changes around medical opinion and acceptance.

Mr. Speaker, these are things that I believe injured workers have waited too long for. It's a decade in the making. It's more than a decade after we found out about the horrendous problems at the WCB, and were trying to fix the board setup, to make it reflective of the stakeholders, to the idea of making the management team reflective of a modern workplace insurance company. These are things that are moving forward, but the lost group in this are the injured women and men in this province, literally in the thousands out there, who are under compensated for their injuries. We have to reach out to those individuals and make sure it's done in a large way. I'm not asking, nor are injured workers, nor organized labour, asking this province to change the system to give the advantage to them. What they're quite simply asking is to make the system fair. Make the system in balance. Make sure it's in sync, make sure it's reflective of what we want and what employers need.

We know very well that besides being the second lowest in benefits, we're the second highest in premiums, Mr. Speaker. I think those questions have to be looked at and they have to be answered in a fair and accurate way. Injured workers did not cause us to have such high premium rates. We know that. Everyone in this House knows that. So what we've got to do is come up with a system that radically changes what happens to workers when they get injured in this province. Dorsey is the report that has been acknowledged by all sides, all sectors, as the way to go, but we cannot do it in little baby steps.

Mr. Speaker, the government has to show real initiative and real integrity here and move forward in a large way, just as the federal court did in its October 3rd decision. I think government has to do that. I would think that by accepting amendments in a large way to this bill and really putting injured workers on the front burner instead of the back burner, it would go a long way in showing that. Thank you very much.

[Page 1336]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it's a great pleasure to rise to speak on Bill No. 20. It's an Act that really had to be changed for a long time and it's unfortunate that a ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada was necessary to have this Act changed. I work with people every day with chronic pain, trying to get proper compensation for the pain that they go through and the suffering they go through and, unfortunately, the Workers' Compensation Board, to date, hasn't really adequately addressed those concerns. You just have to ask an injured person who has chronic pain, who can't go to work, what the financial implications are alone, never mind the suffering and pain they go through every day.

You see someone who has worked at a profession, say a nurse, another occupation that makes a very good income, wants to work, has the capability of working with their educational background and all the things that go with it, who live with so much pain each day they can't get up and go to work. If they get up and go to work, it may last a couple of hours. They may be in bed for two or three days after that. We've heard some testimony on the insurance bill in that regard and you've heard people who are on record indicating that they came in to provide testimony for that hearing and were going to be in bed for two or three days after that as a result of just that simple act of coming to Halifax, maybe from Dartmouth, or some other area that's very close, and sitting there for a few hours and making a 10 minute or 15 minute presentation. That's a pretty sad statement to live with.

The other thing that really upsets me is that I was recently a presenter to members of the Medical Society regarding chronic pain and pension activities. One of the doctors for the Workers' Compensation Board that makes decisions and recommendations on these cases, as were Canada Pension. The doctor indicated during his presentation that a lot of people are lay arounds, they don't want to work, they'd rather be on compensation than actually do anything. That was a disgraceful thing to do and when I made my presentation and referred to his comments he got very upset, but he had to apologize afterwards. I was very upset about that as were many of the people there with chronic pain. As were many of the medical professionals who really see the results of chronic pain.

The system has to work, it has to work fairly for everyone. I'm a former employer and I did pay workers' compensation. I had people injured who worked for me, unfortunately. Fortunately, none of them were very seriously injured or had long-term injuries. The whole process is slowly coming around.

I can remember about five or six years ago when the government changed the process of paying your payments every month, instead of the old system where you had to do a guesstimate of what your employees were going to be for the year. If you guessed wrong you paid a penalty. If you under-guessed you paid a penalty. If you over estimated what your employment was going to be, you definitely didn't get anything in bonus from the Workers' Compensation Board. So, it was rather one-sided for employers as well as employees.

[Page 1337]

The safety issue and the training and education are a very important issue as well. I'm a bit concerned about this bill - a little more than a bit concerned, I'm very concerned about this bill and the fact that they're going to take the Occupational Health & Safety organization and roll it into the Workers' Compensation Board. On the surface it looks very good, but unfortunately, when you look at the costs, are the budgets going to go with that? Are the budgets going to go to the Workers' Compensation or is that going to be just another downloading on industry and the people of Nova Scotia while the government uses that money somewhere else in their budget? Maybe when the minister wraps up his comments, he can make some reference to that if he'd be kind enough to do that. I'd like to hear his comments in that regard. Safety is a real issue and making sure that people don't get injured in the first place.

If you look at all these issues and how the compensation board has worked in the past, it's been bad. If you look at years ago when there was political interference, when people would actually be put on compensation because somebody made a call to one of the board members and it happened. Hopefully, that has been completely eliminated and won't happen anymore. I'd hate to think of a new insurance program that the province is putting forward on auto insurance having the same kind of an impact.

It would be nice to finally see people compensated for the injuries they have. But, it has to be done in a fair way as well. It's no good giving somebody compensation for pain and suffering if the amount calculated is only $20 a week or something foolish like that. That doesn't do anybody any good who has lost their home, lost everything they had and simply can't live under the conditions that they're living under. We see so many people like that.

As I said earlier, people are professionals, working in places where they make a very good income and indeed can have an excellent lifestyle. Why would somebody with that kind of lifestyle potential want to stay home and get no income at all and not really serve the thing that they worked so hard to get in their profession? It doesn't make sense. So, chronic pain is real and it is real for people in the community who live with it every day.

The other thing is, we have to see that the Supreme Court has made the decision. On October 3rd the decision came down indicating by April 3, 2004, we have to have a system in place that's forced this bill to come about. It's unfortunate it had to come that way, but at least it's there.

[5:00 p.m.]

Chronic pain must be treated like any other injury in industry or in business today. We have to see the opportunity for people who are really injured or really hurt, that they can live a lifestyle that's reasonable. It doesn't mean that people want to travel all the time or do anything else, because most of the people with chronic pain simply can't do that. They just

[Page 1338]

want to know that they're being fairly compensated for the pain and suffering they've had in the past.

The government says it allows the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal to handle chronic pain cases. Well, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal is the appropriate body to deal with these issues, but are they going to have enough resources to deal with that? If you look at the potential estimated $119 million a year that this is going to create for this new ruling by the federal court, I would like to know from the minister, when he does do his wrap-up comments on this part of the bill, how he proposes to pay for that? It can only be in one or two ways. You can either put the assessment up for industry, or broaden the area of assessment, which it appears it is going to be in the bill, in Clause 23(1)and (2), where lots of small companies, maybe one or two employees, three employees, are now going to be hit with workers' compensation.

Now that may be good for the homeowner who gets someone to repair their roof who doesn't have compensation and they could be sued, or for someone who gets injured on their property or other things. It may help the bigger businesses eliminate the smaller businesses. All kinds of things can happen, but it's going to affect a tremendous number of small businesses in this province, businesses that are usually mom-and-dad operations, maybe have one employee besides themselves, who are trying to make a living and eke out a living over time to do the things they want to do. They usually have to work 60 to 100 hours a week just to make ends meet. If you add the burden of workers' compensation on top of this, you have a situation that's marked for disaster.

Then you go down further in that section of the bill and "The Governor in Council may, by regulation, exclude any industry, including any commercial or professional activity, from the application of this Act." Does that mean that government can come along later, that the Governor in Council, Cabinet can say, okay, Michelin Tire, for instance, we don't want them to have to pay workers' compensation, we will exclude them. Maybe they will come along and say, Fred's Pizza Shop, down the road, because he's a friend of government, maybe he shouldn't pay compensation. Maybe someone else in a broader industry may not want to pay this compensation, so they exempt them.

What process will the Governor in Council go through to make sure that's fair and equitable for all Nova Scotians, and not just exempt somebody because they want to exempt them and all the other industries in the province end up paying more money? That could easily happen. I think those clauses have to tightened up, and tightened up substantially in order that there is some accountability and rules and regulations of how this can work.

Then, "The Board shall calculate the amount of compensation . . ." when you go down to Clause 4(3) ". . . payable for chronic pain in accordance with the regulations." That's interesting. Who makes the regulations but the Governor in Council. They can rework the regulations to make sure that the compensable payments for chronic pain aren't

[Page 1339]

acceptable. Interesting scenario, but possible. I would hope that the Governor in Council would never do that, but you never know what they may do when they're faced with a financial crisis.

I want to go back, again, to another item. Actually, I'm going to skip forward before I do that. I'm not going clause by clause in this thing, but there are some issues here I want to bring forward. Clause 8(2)(6) "At the annual general meeting the report referred to in subsection (2) shall be discussed along with any matters raised in relation to the report by those present at the meeting."

Now, I would like some clarification on that. I would like to know if that is the public that comes, the people that come, or sometimes you have these meetings with organizations and boards. They decide it is only the boards that are going to speak.

AN HON. MEMBER: The public.

MR. COLWELL: The public. Thank you very much. That answers that question.

The other thing I was going to ask about, "The Board shall hold an annual general meetings each year that is open to the public." I think that is a very positive move. It doesn't indicate in here though when that public meeting is going to be. At a general meeting, can they adjust it, throughout the year, or shall it be, in a certain part of the year? I think that probably should have some clarification as we move forward so people can plan for the meeting and know when it is going to be. I would hope that we can address those issues as we move forward.

I think those are important improvements in the Act and things that need to be done. The more accountable the board can be to the public and to the general public, I think, the better off we will all be. I think those are positive steps forward.

I am glad to see that some of these things are going to change. If you look at Clause 12, where it is talking about, " . . . Chief Worker Adviser must report to the Deputy Minister of Environment and Labour with respect to the carrying out of the duties of the Chief Worker Adviser." I think that is a positive step forward.

Again, it is a report and I think that we should have some clarification what that report should include. There should be particular things that should be indicated there so that the deputy minister and the minister of the time will have more detail and know exactly what to expect, to ensure that the information that comes forward is what the department needs to really judge whether the information is accurate and where it needs to be.

[Page 1340]

I am going to go back again where the Occupational Health and Safety is going to be transferred from the Department of Labour. Again, I have great concerns about that. Not the fact that it is going to the Workers' Compensation Board but where the funding is going to come from. That is something that probably over the years has been heavily underfunded and as a result of that we have had more injuries, probably, in the province than we should have. There are things that maybe we need to find out.

I know at one time - and there has been major progress made on this which I give all the people involved, great credit - is the woods workers had the highest compensation in the province. I understand that that has been addressed some and improved some, so it is a lot better. Although, you still can't find people to work because the cost is too high and the pay is not adequate as a result of some of the high costs of doing that.

Has there been any detailed research done in seeing exactly what kind of injuries there were, and then addressed by the Occupational Health and Safety people, to address those exact injuries? Were there more cuts on the hand, the leg, were people trapped under trees? What exactly were the causes of all the injuries? I am sure those statistics are there and if not, it is something we should be collecting to help reduce the injuries as time goes on.

There may be some new safety equipment that could be developed to prevent some of these injuries. I think that could be said with all industry. There are certain types of injuries that are related with every type of industry. If we are going to eliminate those, those will go a long way towards cutting the costs, number one, and number two, making sure that people don't get hurt which is very important.

I can tell you as an employer, if you have one of your best employees injured - and, typically, if you are a good employer you have all good employees - he will get injured the day before your big contract has to be delivered and he's going to be off for three weeks. It causes big problems. The cost to employers is, indeed, very high. Then at the end of it, if the employee is injured and the cost of the workers' compensation goes up, the employer pays more, and then it costs more to your customers and everybody loses. It is a no-win situation. So we have to make sure that those things really have to seriously be looked at and there needs to be a structure in that to do it.

I would like to see more detail in the bill. After working on the workers' compensation cases with constituents for many years, with very little or no results, getting inadequate information, I think it's time we laid out more in the bill to make sure that people know that they're being treated fairly, they're being treated to the bill and that some counsellor can't decide to interpret the regulations or rules or create new ones to the best advantage of the board. It really has to be set that way.

[Page 1341]

It's good to see that they're going to change the bill here that anyone working on behalf of an individual can get all the information with the person's permission. That will assist workers with advisers greatly. It's time that happened and I'm glad to see that's in the bill.

All in all, there's some very good things in this bill, but there's many more things that have to be added and changed and corrected here to make sure it's fair for the workers, fair for the employers and also fair for the taxpayers of this province, so we're not hit with another $500 million in unfunded liability as we saw a few years ago.

It's interesting to see the Supreme Court - I wouldn't want to be on the Workers' Compensation Board making a review tribunal when you have to take so many things into consideration and make sure the protection of the worker is foremost. I believe there are very few people who try to rip the system off. There are probably some, as in everything, but there are very few. It's important to see the people who do have an injury are properly compensated and hopefully will get back to work as quickly as possible. That, again, goes with a lot of education, a lot of hard work on behalf of the employers, the government and the employees themselves.

It's disappointing, and it's been said here many times by many people, that the bill does not go significantly further towards a full implementation of the Dorsey report. That's been talked about here in detail. I know some of those recommendations have been moved on, but it's something that has to move a lot quicker.

At the rate they're going now, it appears it will be about 10 years before the Dorsey report will be fully implemented and by that time, it will definitely be out of date. The workplace is changing and the workplace is more and more technology driven and less and less of the typical type of injuries we've seen.

It will be interesting in the next few years to see what's going to happen with industry. Typically you started years ago when it was all manual labour, people would have a broken leg or a broken back or whatever the case may be and they'd be offered compensation. Now you're seeing things such as chronic pain, fatigue, injury to your eyesight due to watching a computer screen every day, cancers that affect firemen - thank goodness they finally get compensation to cover that, which I congratulate the government for doing that. So many things that are new and that are coming, I would hope that the bill has some provision or could put some provision in the bill to look at these things in a more timely manner. It's important that these changes are there and we have to see that the people are protected as time goes forward.

Compensation is a no-win situation. If you're an employer, it costs you a lot of money, puts your operating costs up and if you compete in an international market, it makes it very difficult. If you're an employee and you get injured, you have to make sure that the

[Page 1342]

compensation is there and to a level that you don't lose your home and everything that you've worked all your life to acquire. Also, it puts a lot of stress on your family, that maybe the key breadwinner in the home can no longer get the income that they need to do the things they have to do - if they have small children at home and it puts a tremendous burden on marriages and the whole system in the community.

It's an awful thing - I deal with a lot of people who have chronic pain and illnesses and now with environmental illnesses. The things are coming now that people didn't even know about years ago, and are becoming more and more prevalent - or relevant, I should say. It's going to be very difficult. We have to really look forward to see if we can prevent some of these things from becoming a problem like chronic pain did in the past. When we talk about chronic pain, if you look at the potential unfunded liability of $119 million and the other day we were talking about this, really nobody is sure just how big that unfunded liability is going to be and nobody could know, of course, until all the people make application that could be considered under this bill.

[5:15 p.m.]

It's difficult for me as an MLA, it's difficult for me as a former business person, and it's difficult for a person who works with individuals who suffer from chronic pain, as alluded to earlier, to see one of the doctors from the Workers' Compensation Board indicating that the people that he sees, most of them, are layabouts and don't want to work and everything under the sun. The presentation I frankly couldn't believe, but it was there, it was real, and he even had it up on a slide with a computer. I think that's something maybe the minister should probably have a look at, we can get him a copy of that if he's interested sometime. I think it was possibly prejudiced for anyone who was going there for a claim and that really disturbs me and, as it should, anyone who's involved in this sort of process.

I'm worried, too, with the Workers' Compensation Board, it has been a common practice in the past to draft regulations later and I know regulations make it a lot easier to make changes quickly, to modify things and to do things that can solve a problem quickly, but with the history of the Workers' Compensation Board, that makes me really nervous. If you're a worker and you see all the things that can happen, if you're an employer and see the things that can happen at the Workers' Compensation Board, it's scary. It's really scary.

If you look at an employer, say in the past, if you had to make this guesstimate of what your payroll was going to be for a whole year and maybe you're going to have a good year this year, maybe you're not, then you had to write a cheque for the full amount or pay a penalty. Then if your guesstimate was wrong, as I said earlier, you had to pay, I think, a 20 per cent penalty plus interest if you underestimate it. So that discouraged people from underestimating, but if you overestimated it and you had that money tied up that whole time, then you didn't get any interest back from the Workers' Compensation Board. They didn't

[Page 1343]

pay you a penalty of 20 per cent back or anything like that. So it really crippled Nova Scotia business, it really, really did. So that change was good. That was a positive change.

But I would like to see these positive changes right in the Act, not in regulation, because there are too many opportunities for someone to come along, maybe not this year, or next year, maybe five years down the road, and say here's a regulation in the Act, we can make another $100 million over 10 years out of this, let's change the regulation. Bang, it's done. All of a sudden, industry has got a bill they can't cope with, the board is trying to cut back maybe in other places, and the workers have a problem as well. So everybody loses. It's better to have it in the Act and the Act has got to be very, very clear. There can't be anything in there that can be read one or more ways. It has got to be very straightforward. I know that's difficult to do and I know the people who work on the bills here try very hard to do that, but it is very, very difficult.

I asked earlier about the wording in Clause 8, Section 160(6), to report to all those present and talking about an annual general meeting for the Workers' Compensation Board itself and it doesn't say not just members of the board, but the public and all those present. It doesn't define that. So those are things we have to get defined, to make sure that the people know, they go to the meeting, they have the right to speak. I've seen school board meetings, for instance, which is quite similar. People can't get the right to speak. A very serious issue in their community and they can't speak about it because the Act doesn't say that they can speak about it. The Act should say that people have the right to speak. I think there should be some rules on that to make sure that the meeting isn't taken over and the business of the meeting isn't done, but the people have to have the right to speak and it should be right in the Act. It shouldn't be in regulations later. It shouldn't be guess, it shouldn't be maybe.

So there are a lot of issues that have to be addressed in the bill. We have to make sure that these things are done, and I want to go back one more time to occupational health and safety. I would like to see from the minister - hopefully, when he can provide us with some information - a detailed breakdown on the budget within the department for the Occupational Health and Safety part of the Department of Environment and Labour, to see exactly what the budget is, how many staff they have and what the responsibilities are, and how that's going to transfer into the Workers' Compensation Board, and, indeed, if it's going to be with the funding from the Department of Environment and Labour and continued funding in that spot.

If this is going to be in this, I would like to see that included in the Act, so somewhere down the road somebody can't decide we're not going to fund the occupational health and safety regulations because we no longer need to, it's not in the Act. So that should be clearly laid out in the Act, and to indicate that that money is not just going to disappear to maybe pay for a shortfall in funding or some other thing that the province may need the money for at the time, and at the same time the safety issues of the workers and businesses will suffer.

[Page 1344]

I want to make sure that that money is there for the people, and not on the backs of employers who have to pay for this thing. The more they have to pay, the more the cost goes up, and the more the cost goes up to employers, the more the economy will suffer. It's just that simple. So many times, as legislators, we look at these things and say oh, this is no problem, we will raise another $50 million from this - it will only be $100 per employee for every year. Then, at the end of the time, that $100 means the difference between getting a contract against some company in the U.S. or from New Brunswick or someplace else, and you lose the contract and you have to lay people off. It's just that simple - it is that simple.

It doesn't seem to register with many individuals when they're doing these things. I think really we have to do more in-depth analysis on these things, looking at the big picture to make sure that we're not crippling industry, at the same time protecting workers and at the same time giving the education prevention programs that we really need in place to do these things.

I can remember a few years ago, when I ran my business, I was building a new building, and this one building inspector insisted I put fireproof ceiling tile in my shop. That had never been done before, and the building inspector was a little bit pushy in this regard. I thought to myself, well, we have no choice, we have to do this, and after a long time we had to order the tiles in - they weren't available here in Nova Scotia so they had to come in from outside the province - and we put them in place and never gave them another thought; that was not another thought until we had a fire in our building one evening. Those ceiling tiles that the building inspector was so insistent upon saved the building from total destruction. Instead of going to probably $0.75 million worth of damage, the damage was held to $100,000. I personally wrote a letter to the Mayor of Dartmouth at the time, and to the building inspector, thanking them for doing an excellent job.

That's the kind of thing we need to see from our Occupational Health and Safety people. We have to see that, and we have to give them the latitude to do those things and to make sure they're not interfered with by anybody, that they can go do their job - and they need the adequate funding to do it, they need the proper training to do it, and they need the will of government to make sure that they're supporting them when they're doing their work. They need the funding from the government, not from industry as a downloading operation could be.

The cost and all these things will only work in a safe environment. If we have fewer accidents in the workplace, we have less costs for the Workers' Compensation Board, we have less costs for Nova Scotians, and everybody wins. Less costs in pain and suffering for Nova Scotians who are . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Preston has the floor.

[Page 1345]

MR. COLWELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So really, if everybody works together so you can cut the accidents, you will never eliminate them but you can cut them down. If we can cut the accidents down and eliminate some of the problems and some of the claims that people have to put forward because they are legitimately injured, the cost will go down. The cost in human suffering will go down, the financial cost will go down. Everybody wins.

We want to make sure when the Occupational Health and Safety unit goes to the Workers' Compensation Board, if that, indeed, is the wish of government which it appears it is, make sure they have got the funding to do it and it is not tied into fees they get from employers - from the workers' compensation fees that they pay.

I feel the Department of Labour's role is to establish and clarify the responsibility of various parties under the Act and to intervene appropriately when these responsibilities are not carried out. Does the bill fundamentally change the relationship or is it at cross-purposes with the Workers' Compensation Board? That is something I would like the minister to address when he makes his comments later. The Department of Labour has to ensure that compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act is a primary directive even when and if this goes to the Workers' Compensation Board.

It is so important to have these things in place and have them working properly. I look forward to the comments of the minister and of the government, in this regard. I think that we have a reasonably good bill here to work with. I think there have to be some major changes and some other things included in the bill which we will discuss as we go forward, and we will be making recommendations for amendments to the bill. We will be working with the government to ensure that we get the best possible Act for the people of Nova Scotia, the employers, the employees and, indeed, the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you very much.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate this evening on Bill No. 20, an Act to Amend Chapter 10 of the Acts of 1994-95, the Workers' Compensation Act, and Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1996, the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Well, Mr. Speaker, the first thing that you have to ask yourself when you look at this piece of legislation is pretty simple. It is, what is it doing here? Why is this piece of legislation before the House at this point in time? The answer to that lies in the fact that it is here because the last time we addressed the workers' compensation program and the Act, there was a decision made by both the now government Party and the now Third Party, that they were going to put through a bill that was not substantial enough to address the concerns that have existed about workers' compensation for some considerable period of time. That is the reality of it.

[Page 1346]

In fact, what the Liberal Party did and what the Progressive Conservative Party did in 1999 was ensure the passage of a piece of legislation which guaranteed that the workers of this province would get fewer benefits, would get less under a workers' compensation scheme than otherwise.

I see the former Minister of Labour saying that that is foolish talk. Well, Mr. Speaker, it is not talk at all, it is fact, it is reality. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on this. They have said very clearly that the attempt by the Liberals at the time to essentially punish workers - let's remember that this is exactly what they did. They brought in legislation that tried to deny reality. They tried to deny that chronic pain existed. They said they were not going to bother to recognize these claims and, in fact, they are going to ignore them.

[5:30 p.m.]

It is not surprising that the Supreme Court would strike down the legislation, and rightfully so. The reality for many individuals who are injured in workplace accidents is that they spend a large portion of their life dealing with the aftermath of an injury for which they were not responsible. They had the audacity and the temerity to get up from bed in the morning and go to work, and in return, for trying to go to work and to work for their employers to try to earn a living for their family, they were injured. They were injured and as a result of the legislation introduced by the Liberals and supported, at that point in time, by the Tories, they were not adequately compensated, not adequately compensated at all.

That has to do with certain salient facts that I believe the member for Cape Breton Centre set out in some detail, and it has to do with a kind of confusing mix of what the history of workers' compensation legislation in this province is all about, because if you ask workers, I think many workers, in fact I think if you talked to the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, if you talked to those organizations that have an interest in protecting the rights of workers, if you talked to those people who go to work every day, they will tell you that the Workers' Compensation Board and the workers' compensation legislation is there to protect working people, and it's there to provide them with compensation for injuries that they receive as a result of engaging in their occupation, whatever it may happen to be.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that's partly true and it's partly true because that's where legislation has gotten us over the years, a recognition that the compensation of workers for injuries they receive in the workplace is, of course, not only a good thing but a necessary thing, the right thing, the moral thing to do, for a government to intervene on behalf of people who, in many cases, have little or no bargaining power, don't have the ability to stick up for themselves against what can be very wealthy and very large corporations.

But that's not the root of workers' compensation legislation, the root of workers' compensation legislation, of course, was the design that was set up to protect the employers. It was designed to prevent employees from having the right to sue employers if they were

[Page 1347]

injured on the job, because, lo and behold, every now and then, some sympathetic court, some court of equity would decide that an individual had received an injury for which they were entitled to significant damages, such that it damaged the economic prospects of that particular company. And of course the companies didn't want that.

They wanted to have some assurance that if they had a worker injured on their site that there was going to be a compensation process whereby the worker would get compensated and then after they would get compensated, that would be paid for out of a fund of which the employer would contribute but not be totally responsible for. It was kind of like a co-op for the employers, where they could pool the money, their premiums, and that out of that premium pool would be paid the cost of the injuries that were suffered by working people.

The problem, of course, Mr. Speaker, like many things that have happened, sadly, in this province over the years, this particular program became a political football - and I'm not even talking about just the recent past, but over the years, if you look at what happened, workers' compensation rates, of course, became an issue for employers. I know there are people here today who are listening to this debate, whose interests are around that issue, what is this going to cost my particular employer or what is it going to cost businesses in order to be able to support the workers' compensation program?

I want to say that those are fair interests and I have found, over the years, that those people who are involved on behalf of the various industries treat this issue very seriously. In fact, if you view the Dorsey report you will find there was a consensus that was reached. That's not an easy thing to do when you look at the list of participants in Dorsey and realize the meeting of minds that had to take place; the negotiation that had to take place in order to be able to reach that consensus, I think you can say, with some credibility, that people obviously took their responsibility on that committee very seriously and worked very hard to close what must have been some fairly serious gaps in negotiations in order to be able to come forward with a report that has been widely endorsed by many who see it as a way to address many of the concerns.

I got to that the long way, Mr. Speaker, I know, but what I wanted to say was, in the past, often the workers' compensation rates were a concern for industries who wanted to locate in Nova Scotia, so there would be some horse trading by the government around workers' compensation rates. They would say, well, if I come in, I get a lower rate for workers' compensation, then I could afford to come in and locate my business here. Even though the actuarial calculations with respect to that industry would say what x, y, z rate would be charged, the government would arbitrarily decide that a lower rate was going to be charged.

[Page 1348]

Of course, what's the result of that in the long run, Mr. Speaker? The result is that you build up a giant, unfunded liability in the Workers' Compensation Board and then you have to figure out how you're going to deal with it. How the Liberals decided to deal with it was by restricting the benefits that were going to be paid out to working people. That was a straightforward decision that they made. So they decided that they would say, look, these injuries simply - we use the words, a legal fiction, it is a fiction created by law that says that these accidents or these injuries don't exist.

It's very much like the legal fiction that the government is currently engaged in with its insurance bill. There's a direct parallel, because they want to arbitrarily cap injuries as if they don't exist at law; or if they don't exist at law, it's as if they don't exist at all. Mr. Speaker, we can, in this place, create these fictions, but we must always remember that they are simply that - they are simply a fiction, and the reality is that many, many people will be made to pay a very severe price for those fictions.

In the case of the Workers' Compensation Board, it is injured workers. In the case of the Insurance Act that has been introduced, it will be the victims of motor vehicle accidents. That's just the reality. That is the trade-off that this government and the former Liberal Government are prepared to engage in. They were prepared to engage in it with respect to the Workers' Compensation Act, and I think it's abundantly clear they are willing to engage in it with respect to the Insurance Act, and no matter what they do to try and justify it, in the end, it is unjustifiable.

In this particular case, the irony is that the Supreme Court of Canada has said that it is simply unjustifiable and they have said in their decision, a 9-0 decision, that this was an unwarranted infringement on the rights of individuals. They have given the government six months in order to make the changes that you see in this piece of legislation that we're about to talk about.

That's what has gotten us to this point. That's what's gotten this piece of legislation here. There's a bigger problem, of course, because what this legislation does is deal with two things, one, a 5 per cent increase in the Consumer Price Index with respect to the indexing of pensions, it increases from 50 per cent of the CPI to 55 per cent. Well, that's a good thing, you know, and I agree it's a good thing, but it's not a big thing. It is almost the price that the government had to pay in order to bring this bill forward. They knew there had to be something else in here. The second thing that is in this, of course, is the manner in which the government has decided that they're going to deal with the chronic pain injuries that they tried to mystically or magically make disappear through a legal fiction.

Mr. Speaker, I guess one of the big problems that we have here, and I think one of the big problems that people have just generally, is that much of what's going to happen with respect to chronic pain and the compensation of injured workers is not in the bill at all, not in the bill. It's going to be in regulations. This process is going to be in regulations and they

[Page 1349]

are in regulations that we haven't seen. Now, this is a regular event for this government. It was a regular event for the Liberal Government. They brought forward legislation, they put the meat of what they want to accomplish in regulations, don't bring forward the regulations, so we never really know what the bill means. We never really know what it means for injured workers and we won't know because that process is hidden. That process is going to take place behind closed doors. Well, I don't believe that a 5 per cent increase in the indexing of pensions is a substantial price to pay for getting that legislation through the House of Assembly without comment and without us having an opportunity to point out how weak the legislation is.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I understood the minister to stand in his place today and indicate quite clearly that all three Parties would be participating in the articulation of the regulations. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition wasn't in tune to what the minister said. If I'm wrong, perhaps somebody in the House could correct me.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it always amuses me when the former Minister of Labour gets up and tries to defend these processes. The reality for all of us is that the best way, in order to make sure everybody sees where the process is, is by putting it in the bill so that nobody has any doubt about the way in which this process is going to take place. Inviting us, or inviting the Liberals, to engage in the promulgation is not a substitute for putting what you intend to do in the legislation. I mean in the end they're going to do what they want anyway. Once they have this bill, you know, they can consult, and they often do this, they engage in this chicanery, the facade of consultation, and then they will go ahead and do what they want anyway. They will do it in regulations where there is no scrutiny, where it doesn't have to go to the Law Amendments Committee, where we never get a chance to comment on it in this House.

Mr. Speaker, that is the point that I was making and perhaps the former minister missed that, but he knows that that's the case and, in fact, I have heard him on occasion with respect to this government and with respect to regulations make that very point. There are all kinds of pieces of legislation that have come forward with regulations that were undescribed or vague in their intention.

[5:45 p.m.]

We are unimpressed by the scope of this bill, Mr. Speaker. There were many other things that existed in the Dorsey report that could have been incorporated in this legislation, and here lies part of the problem. I'm sure the government members will say, look, there's all kinds of good stuff in this bill, there's stuff that we would like to see passed, that other workers would like to see passed, that injured workers would like to see passed. So why are you going to take the time to comment on it if you agree that much of what is in here is helpful?

[Page 1350]

Mr. Speaker, this may be the only piece of workers' compensation legislation that comes forward in this term of government. There's no obligation in the Spring for the government to bring forward a further piece of legislation in order to strengthen the Workers' Compensation Act. They don't have to do it next year or the year after. In fact, they never have to bring their minds back to addressing the issue of workers' compensation if they choose not to. It is the case that we could introduce the bill, as an Opposition Party we could introduce changes to the Workers' Compensation Act if we chose.

But both us and members of the Third Party, the Liberal Party, understand that if we do that the only opportunity we have to call them is on Opposition Day, at which point the members opposite, whether they know anything about workers' compensation or care about it at all, can get up and run out the time on the bill that we bring forward. They can do that every Opposition Day from here to kingdom come, and we will never get changes to the Workers' Compensation Act.

If we really want to address the question of workers' compensation, we have to do it in the form of debate on this bill. Every bill that comes forward to the House of Assembly is about two things. It's about what's in the bill, and it's about what's not in the bill. Oftentimes, sadly, with respect to workers' compensation, there is more that's not in the bill than is in the bill, Mr. Speaker. So we do intend to take some time to deal with this piece of legislation.

Now I have pointed out, already, to you, Mr. Speaker, without going through a detailed repetition of what the Supreme Court of Canada has said with respect to this Act, it essentially sets aside those sections of the Act which discriminated against those who were suffering from injuries which were described as chronic pain. That's the nub of what this Act does. You will see references in the bill that deal with the timing of the calculation, with respect to injuries, you will see that injuries are going to be calculated either from the date of the coming into force of Section 15(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedom, or the date on which the worker was deemed to have been suffering from chronic pain, whichever is the latter.

Of course, under the law, that's the way that this becomes effective, the effective date of Section 15(1) or at least that would be the argument that the government would make. There might well be an argument that says the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was really only the codification of rights that already existed. Why else would we, in a democracy, recognize these rights if they didn't already exist? Did we create new rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? That's a debate that I know others here, in other forums, would love to take up, but I'm not going to get into that here today, it's a bigger debate. Nonetheless, that is how this legislation is going to work.

[Page 1351]

There are other things that happen in this bill that raise curious questions. You will notice that education and prevention are taken out of the Department of Labour, but it's not really clear where they're going. They're not going to Workers' Compensation so what's going to happen with respect to those aspects of the responsibilities of the Department of Labour? Who's going to do this? Is this something that's going to be farmed out to a private company? What is going to happen on those issues? That certainly is not clear.

I think what you see from the government is the idea that this somehow encapsulates the spirit of the Dorsey report and they're bringing forward pieces of a report that was, as I said, a unanimous report. I suppose that in some limited sense that is true, but it does not bring forward the kind of major pieces of the Dorsey report. I believe we've heard before the opinion of the government - and by extension, I suppose, the board - which is that it's simply not doable at this time. It has never been clear to me exactly why they say that is the case - I do understand the excuses that have been given, but I have never really understood on what basis they were selling that.

So there's a lot in this bill and a lot not in this bill. I certainly heard other members speak - I heard the critic for the Liberal Party talk about how much is involved in working in your constituency office on behalf of those who suffer injuries in the workplace. This is something that if the new members of the House of Assembly have not dealt with yet, I can assure you that you will very, very shortly. It would be amazing to me that you could escape not working on behalf of one of your constituents, with respect to a Workers' Compensation Board case, because they seem to be absolutely everywhere. Every time you turn around, there's somebody - and I have certainly written a letter on behalf of an individual in my constituency just the other day, before the Supreme Court of Canada decision came down, on the very issue of a chronic pain injury. Not surprisingly, the day after this decision came down, I received another call from him, because obviously this is going to affect his life.

There are many different kinds of issues that arise out of the Workers' Compensation Act and one I don't believe has changed is that whole question around a person who is at work in a motor vehicle and they get into a motor vehicle accident. Under the existing legislation, the board has the right to seize that claim and put it forward on their behalf; in fact the worker loses all of the rights to compensation - this may become less of a problem after the Tories and Liberals are finished putting forward the Insurance Act because it won't be worth anything anyway. I suppose in some sense they're dealing with that problem, but not in a very prudent way.

I think I've had an opportunity to begin the discussion on this Act, and with that I am going to move the adjournment of the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate.

Is it agreed?

[Page 1352]

There is a request for a recorded vote. A recorded vote has been called for. Ring the bells to the satisfaction of the Whips.

[5:55 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[6:30 p.m.]

YEAS NAY

Ms. Massey Mr. Clarke

Mr. MacDonell Mr. Morse

Mr. Corbett Mr. Russell

Mr. Dexter Dr. Hamm

Mr. Deveaux Mr. Baker

Mr. Manning MacDonald Mr. Muir

Mr. Graham Mr. Christie

Mr. MacKinnon Mr. Fage

Ms. Whalen Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Glavine Ms. Bolivar-Getson

Mr. Colwell Mr. d'Entremont

Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) Mr. Hurlburt

Mr. Michel Samson Mr. Barnet

Mr. Steele Mr. Morash

Ms. More Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Parker Mr. Dooks

Ms. Raymond Mr. Chisholm

Mr. Epstein Mr. Langille

Mr. Pye Mr. Hines

Mr. Gosse Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) Mr. Chataway

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. Parent

Mr. Gerald Sampson

Mr. Theriault

THE CLERK: For, 24. Against, 22.

[Page 1353]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 11.

Bill No. 11 - Collection Agencies Act/Consumer Creditors Conduct Act.

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

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to move Bill No. 11 for third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 11. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, could I have the concurrence of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 1354]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 6 - Public Service Superannuation Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at 11:00 a.m. and the House will sit until 5:00 p.m. The order of business following the daily routine and Question Period will be the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, subject to the concurrence of the House and a reporting of bills back from the Law Amendments Committee. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: The hours for tomorrow, and the fact that the presentations of the Order of Nova Scotia, 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., we agreed to some time ago to accommodate that particular event.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise and, as I say, tomorrow we will have the results of Bill No. 1 back from the Law Amendments Committee, hopefully, and that will be our primary business on the morrow.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Is there a late show tomorrow or not? No, okay.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is the House adjourn until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1355]

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:37 p.m.]

[Page 1356]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 494

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas Tri-County District School Board teacher Jim Rideout is one of 25 finalists from 173 entries for the 2003 Governor General's Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History; and

Whereas Mr. Rideout has extensive training and experience in history and developed a classroom resource entitled Yarmouth and the Age of Sail that focuses on Yarmouth in the late 1800s and its relationship to sailing ships; and

Whereas the six winners of the 2003 Governor General's Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History will be announced later this month;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jim Rideout on being a finalist in the 2003 Governor General's Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History and thank him for his dedication to our province's young people.

RESOLUTION NO. 495

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's regional libraries play an important role in teaching a love of reading to our children and help expand all of our horizons; and

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Regional Library's Summer Reading Program was a remarkable success, with more than 1,000 children participating in the program; and

Whereas a new mobile branch of the library got on the road in March, replacing the vehicle that had served the eastern part of Kings County and West Hants;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the valuable efforts of all the staff and volunteers of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library and all those involved in providing Nova Scotians access to reading materials.

[Page 1357]

RESOLUTION NO. 496

By: Hon. James Muir (Education)

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

Whereas Dr. Jim Gunn, Superintendent of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board, is this year's recipient of the E-X-L Award in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this award is presented each year to members of the Canadian Association of Administrators who have exhibited exemplary leadership and enhanced school administration; and

Whereas Dr. Gunn has been helping young Nova Scotians learn for 34 years as a teacher and a school administrator;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dr. Gunn on this award and on his exemplary contribution to public school education in Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 497

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Justice)

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

Whereas I have had the honour of participating in the swearing-in ceremonies for four new judges who will serve Provincial Court and Family Court in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas James Burrill of Shelburne, Marc Chisholm of Halifax, Laurel Halfpenny MacQuarrie of Port Hawkesbury, and Pamela Williams of East Preston were recently appointed to the Bench; and

Whereas all four new judges are recognized for their legal ability, professionalism and community involvement;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Burrill, Mr. Chisholm, Ms. Halfpenny MacQuarrie and Ms. Williams on their appointments and wish them well in their new careers.