The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03-21

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 27, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 1661
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Econ. Dev. - Disaster Financial Assistance Prog.: Cheques - Issued,
Hon. E. Fage 1662
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 621, Année de l'Acadie (2004): Proclamation - Support,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1664
Vote - Affirmative 1665
Res. 622, Bridgetown Fire Hall - Fundraisers: Efforts - Recognize,
Hon. E. Fage 1665
Vote - Affirmative 1666
Res. 623, Educ.: NSCC - Workforce Training, Hon. J. Muir 1666
Vote - Affirmative 1667
Res. 624, Preston Area Bd. of Trade: Members/Vols./Sponsors -
Recognize, Hon. B. Barnet 1667
Vote - Affirmative 1668
Res. 625, Educ. - Tradespeople: Certification - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1668
Vote - Affirmative 1669
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 30, Labour Standards Code, Mr. Manning MacDonald 1669
No. 31, Hepatitis C Compensation Act, Mr. D. Dexter 1669
No. 32, Whistleblowers Act, Mr. F. Corbett 1669
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 626, Health - Cap. Dist. Hosps.: Budget Cut - Halt, Mr. D. Dexter 1669
Res. 627, Energy - Offshore Oil & Gas Workers: Benefit - Ensure,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1670
Vote - Affirmative 1670
Res. 628, S. Shore Safe Communs. Assoc.: Role - Recognize,
Mr. J. Chataway 1671
Vote - Affirmative 1671
Res. 629, Woodlawn Pub. Library: Outstanding Yr. - Congrats.,
Ms. J. Massey 1671
Vote - Affirmative 1672
Res. 630, Sports - Hfx. West Warriors: Soccer Finals - Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 1672
Vote - Affirmative 1673
Res. 631, MADD (Pictou Co.) - Pres./Members: Efforts - Commend,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1673
Vote - Affirmative 1674
Res. 632, Duke of Edinburg Awards: Dart. Recipients - Congrats.,
Ms. M. More 1674
Vote - Affirmative 1674
Res. 633, Justice - Hamm Gov't.: FOIPOP Fees - Increases,
Mr. M. Samson 1674
Res. 634, Kentville FD/Police Force: Fundraising - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 1675
Vote - Affirmative 1676
Res. 635, Trinity United Church (Timberlea): Expansion Proj. -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 1676
Vote - Affirmative 1677
Res. 636, Sports - King's Coll. Blue Devils: Soccer Champs - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 1677
Vote - Affirmative 1677
Res. 637, Scouts Canada: Vols./Participants - Congrats., Hon. D. Morse 1678
Vote - Affirmative 1678
Res. 638, Inamura, Nicole - Exec. Dir.: N.S. Fed. of Acadian Parents -
Appt. Congrats., Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1678
Vote - Affirmative 1679
Res. 639, Sports - C.B. Capers Women's Soccer Team: Season -
Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 1680
Vote - Affirmative 1680
Res. 640, Hfx.-E. Hants Fed. of Agric.: Successful Yr. - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Taylor 1680
Vote - Affirmative 1681
Res. 641, Commun. Serv. - Autumn House: Strike - Resolve,
Ms. M. More 1681
Res. 642, Beacon House: Vols. - Thank,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1682
Vote - Affirmative 1682
Res. 643, Bugbee, Leonard: Lions Life Membership - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1683
Vote - Affirmative 1683
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 1, Automobile Insurance Reform Act 1684
Hon. R. Russell 1684
Mr. F. Corbett 1685
Mr. D. Dexter 1686
Mr. M. Samson 1689
Mr. G. Steele 1695
Mr. D. Graham 1707
Hon. R. Russell 1711
Vote - Affirmative 1712
No. 6, Public Service Superannuation Act 1713
Hon. P. Christie 1713
Mr. G. Gosse 1713
Ms. D. Whalen 1714
Hon. P. Christie 1714
Vote - Affirmative 1714
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 4:43 P.M. 1714
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:58 P.M. 1714
CWH REPORTS 1715
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 26, Health Protection Act 1715
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1715
Mr. K. Deveaux 1717
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1721
Mr. H. Epstein 1726
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1730
Vote - Affirmative 1731
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Ms. M. Raymond 1732
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Oct. 28th at 12:00 noon 1737
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 644, Newcombe, Don - Atl. Agricultural Hall of Fame:
Induction - Congrats., Hon. C. d'Entremont 1738
Res. 645, FNF - Kentville Office: Opening - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 1738
Res. 646, Sponagle, Owen: Birthday (100th) - Congrats., Hon. D. Morse 1739
Res. 647, Chipman, Bob - Breast Cancer Research: Fundraising -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1739
Res. 648, ISO 9001:2000 - Yarmouth Econ. Dev. Organizations:
Accreditation - Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 1740
Res. 649, Health - S. Shore Health Serv. Fdn.: Fundraising -
Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 1740
Res. 650, Mahone Bay & Area Lions Club: Walk for Guide Dogs -
Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 1741

[Page 1661]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2003

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

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

Bill No. 2 - Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act/Labour Standards Code.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House with certain amendments.

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

1661

[Page 1662]

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, might I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to have this bill considered as being part of today's order paper?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

It will be added to today's order paper.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform members of the House that the first cheques to assist Nova Scotians whose livelihoods have been jeopardized by the ravages of Hurricane Juan have been delivered over this past weekend. (Applause)

Last Monday when the expanded Disaster Financial Assistance Program was announced, our government made a commitment to provide this assistance swiftly. With the delivery of these first cheques, we are honouring that commitment to those Nova Scotians who are in the greatest need. The hurricane struck just over four weeks ago. The response, recovery and the restoration by Nova Scotians has been truly remarkable, Mr. Speaker. Last Monday I announced that this government recognized that fishers needed immediate assistance in order to be ready for the upcoming season. As a result, 11 cheques totalling $108,825 were delivered this weekend to fishers who suffered from uninsurable damages to their wharves, their bait and their gear.

Those 11 cheques represent 100 per cent of the fishers who have applied for immediate assistance by last Friday at noon. Since that time, 15 more applications have been received and those claims will be processed with the same expediency, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased that our government can provide this assistance and particularly proud that it can be done in such a swift manner.

Mr. Speaker, as we know, fishers are not the only ones whose livelihoods have been affected and this government has committed to helping farmers and small commercial woodlot owners as well. These people also need prompt assistance and I am pleased to report here today that farms which received extensive damage were visited within 24 hours of submitting an application. We are working hard to process these applications and get assistance into the hands of those farmers as quickly as possible.

[Page 1663]

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind Nova Scotians that applications for assistance under this program are available at designated provincial and municipal locations. Also, that the deadline for submission is Friday, November 21st.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this is an excellent piece of work. It's a very efficient response and the minister and his officials are to be commended for having responded so quickly in the processing of these applications for assistance. I'm very pleased that those in the fishing community who have suffered such extensive damage are now in receipt of cheques to attempt to allow them to rebuild.

It's noteworthy, Mr. Speaker, the size of the loss to the individual. With the initial cheques totalling $108,000 and more for 11 claims, it's clear that they averaged $10,000 or so each. That indicates that there were sizeable losses to people in the fishing community and, of course, it's appropriate that they be compensated. It's appropriate, of course, that anyone who is equally placed be compensated. With the fishing season for some of the shellfish about to start, of course, it's important that they have the flexibility that these cheques will allow them to have to replace their gear and attempt to replace their wharves.

Of course, there are others and I hope the government will continue to follow through as efficiently with the other claims as it has in processing the claims from the fishing community. We're hoping that those in the farming community and small commercial woodlot owners will also have their claims processed equally quickly because we know that serious harm was done to them by Hurricane Juan.

I've noted before that the program that the minister announced was, unfortunately, limited only to those economic sectors. Those are important economic sectors and they're economic sectors that have to be looked after but, of course, there are those who live in urban areas who aren't in those lines of work who suffered damage and are in similar positions and I'm hoping that at some point the minister will turn his mind further to the possibility of extending coverage to those equally placed.

Finally, I want to note that this illustrates just how efficient government can be when an appropriate circumstance arises. I never doubted it and I hope the minister will continue to follow through with his officials in this very efficient fashion. Thank you.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I too, rise in my place to thank the minister for his welcomed statement here today. Certainly, this assistance is welcomed not only by the people it directly affects, but also the many, many people in this province who

[Page 1664]

are waiting to see what was eventually going to roll out here and what will continue to roll out in the future.

I believe much more has to be done in terms of federal and provincial co-operation here to get some money into the pockets of people in Nova Scotia who really need it. I agree with my colleague from the NDP that there is more than one sector in this province that is hurting as a result of Hurricane Juan and that assistance to those sectors would also be welcomed.

I note with interest that the minister, last week, was agreeable to meet with federal Minister Thibault, to discuss ways of cutting red tape and the federal minister said that the cheques would be only days away. Well, he was right and this minister was right, the initial cheques were only days away.

I think we have to look at the longer-term implications of Hurricane Juan and move towards ensuring that everybody in this province, who has been adversely affected by this terrible disaster, will be eventually compensated. I hope that that will be sooner than later. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 621

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

Attendu que l'année 2004 marque le 400e anniversaire de la fondation de l'Acadie; et

Attendu que le peuple acadien a contribué depuis près de 400 ans à la vitalité économique, culturelle et sociale de la Nouvelle-Écosse; et

Attendu que John Hamm, le premier ministre de la Nouvelle-Écosse, a proclamé l'année 2004 comme l'Année de l'Acadie pour faire honneur aux Acadiens et aux Acadiennes de la Nouvelle-Écosse;

Qu'il soit résolu que les membres de cette Chambre appuient la proclamation du premier ministre de la Nouvelle-Écosse en souhaitant une année remplie de joie aux personnes qui vont célébrer l'Année de l'Acadie.

Whereas 2004 marks the 400th Anniversary of the founding of l'Acadie; and

[Page 1665]

Whereas the Acadian people have contributed, for nearly 400 years, to the economic, cultural and social vitality of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas John Hamm, Premier of Nova Scotia, had proclaimed the year 2004 as l'Année de l'Acadie to honour Nova Scotia's Acadians;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLAs in this House support the Premier's proclamation by wishing a joyous year to all those who will celebrate l'Année de l'Acadie.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act.

RESOLUTION NO. 622

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

Whereas residents of Bridgetown and its surrounding communities are currently involved in the largest fundraising event ever to take place in the small community; and

Whereas area residents are working to raise $420,000 towards the cost of a $1.3 million fire hall, slated to be built in the year 2005; and

Whereas the fire hall will serve both as a fire hall and a disaster recovery centre and will be built to withstand a hurricane;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the efforts of all the fundraisers for the new Bridgetown fire hall and extend to them our best wishes as they continue working on this very worthwhile endeavour for their community and this province.

[Page 1666]

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in advance of reading my resolution, I would like permission to do an introduction. I would like to draw the attention of all members to the east gallery, where we have a distinguished Nova Scotian, Mr. Ray Ivany, who is President of the Nova Scotia Community College. He has arrived here today, following the launch of renovation projects at the Nova Scotia Community College campuses in Yarmouth and Kentville, as part of the government's $123 million commitment to the college. Ray, would you please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 623

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College has begun renovations that will create seats for more than 1,100 additional students, and also create state-of-the-art facilities in Cumberland County, the Strait, Yarmouth, Kentville, Pictou and Truro, as part of the government's $123 million investment in the Nova Scotia Community College; and

Whereas this investment is part of the province's Skills Nova Scotia initiative, which involves training and skills upgrading, from basic literacy to the use of the most sophisticated technologies; and

Whereas skilled workers are the key to a prouder and stronger Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia Community College has a critical role in preparing that job-ready workforce;

[Page 1667]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge Nova Scotia Community College on its critical role in preparing a job-ready workforce for this province.

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 African Nova Scotian Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 624

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 Preston Area Board of Trade held its sixth annual recognition dinner on October 2nd; and

Whereas the Preston Area Board of Trade supports and encourages the Black culture of Nova Scotia through its work with youth, business and cultural groups; and

Whereas the Preston Area Board of Trade recognized several leaders of the Black business community: guest speaker Michael Duck, Trailblazer Award winners Clara Clayton Gough, Natherine Willis, Gerald and Carol-Anne Beals, and Youth Entrepreneurial Award winner Cynthia Hellesoe;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the members, volunteers and sponsors of the Preston Area Board of Trade.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1668]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, once again, with your permission, I would like to make an introduction in advance of reading this resolution. In the gallery, I would like to acknowledge Richard Sharpe, who is the Supervisor of Client Services for the Apprenticeship, Training and Skill Development Division, Department of Education. This time last year, Richard, who is a certified tradesperson, won the Chef of the Year Award from the Nova Scotia Association of Chefs and Cooks. I would ask Richard to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 625

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

Whereas 150 of the province's newest cooks, welders, plumbers and other certified tradespeople were honoured at an apprenticeship recognition event on the weekend; and

Whereas apprenticeship provides rewarding careers in a variety of industries and enables students to earn wages while they learn a trade, and is vital to our economic future; and

Whereas improvements to the apprenticeship program are part of the Skills Nova Scotia initiative to provide better labour market access and support, and strengthen Nova Scotia's system of lifelong learning opportunities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the 150 newly-certified tradespeople and recognize the importance of attracting more people to this field of work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1669]

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 30 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Labour Standards Code. (Mr. Manning MacDonald)

Bill No. 31 - Entitled an Act to Guarantee Equality of Treatment for All Sufferers of Hepatitis C. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 32 - Entitled an Act to Protect Civil Servants Who Disclose Government Wrong-doing. (Mr. Frank Corbett)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 626

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

Whereas on Page 20 of the2003 Conservative platform, the Premier promised, "better and faster access to health care"; and

Whereas on Page 24, the Tory platform promises, "to ensure every Nova Scotian has access to the medical professionals they need,"; and

Whereas in his September 19, 2003 news release the Finance Minister said, "Health authorities must now live within their increased budgets and any savings required to achieve that goal must come in areas that do not impact negatively on patients;"

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to halt the 4 per cent budget cut that the Conservatives are now imposing on Capital District hospitals, because it will mean slower and worse access to health care, with negative results for patients.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1670]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 627

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

Whereas on October 21st in the House of Commons, Cheryl Gallant, MP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, criticized the federal government for taking ExxonMobil to task for awarding Sable contracts to a Louisiana company; and

Whereas this government has taken a similar position with regard to the Louisiana contract; and

Whereas greater access to offshore jobs is a position that crosses all Party lines in this Legislature;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse any move in helping to ensure greater benefits to Nova Scotia offshore oil and gas workers.

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 Chester-St. Margaret's.

[Page 1671]

RESOLUTION NO. 628

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

Whereas the Safe Communities Foundation is dedicated to making Canada the safest country in the world to live, learn, work and play; and

Whereas it was created to save lives, improve economic viability of businesses, reduce pain and suffering, get communities working together and create a better life for our children; and

Whereas the South Shore Safe Communities Association has finally received designation and will receive funding from the national Safe Communities Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the role the South Shore Safe Communities Association plays in improving life in our communities and congratulate Association Chairman Paul Fynes and all the members of the South Shore Safe Communities Association in receiving their designation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 629

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

Whereas the Woodlawn Public Library enjoyed a very busy year in which over 140,000 visits were made to the library; and

[Page 1672]

Whereas over 1,200 people registered for a Halifax Regional Library card an increase of over 48 per cent from the previous year; and

Whereas 934 adults attended 34 programs and 3,140 children attended 128 youth programs, and 410 children registered for the Summer Reading Quest, which was also an increase of 23 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Woodlawn Public Library, the staff and the public, for such an outstanding year and wish them continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 630

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

Whereas the Halifax West Warriors won the capital region soccer finals Friday at the Mainland Common in Clayton Park; and

Whereas down by two goals late in the game, the Warriors fought back to force overtime and win a 3-2 victory over the Halifax Grammar School team; and

Whereas Peter Garonis, a Grade 12 forward, scored the winning goal just 45 seconds into overtime to cap an amazing comeback by the metro champions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the coaches, the players, and all those involved with the Halifax West Warriors for winning the capital region soccer finals.

[Page 1673]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 631

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

Whereas four Canadians are killed every day by people who drink and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle; and

Whereas the Pictou County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been working hard to get out their message of thinking before you drink and drive; and

Whereas the chapter has been setting up information booths in visible places such as local malls, as well as being active in programs such as the red ribbon campaign and road checks;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Chapter President Sandra DeGruchy and all members of the Pictou County chapter Mothers Against Drunk Driving for their important efforts to end drunk driving in our communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1674]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 632

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

Whereas the Duke of Edinburgh's Award is a program of activities to challenge Canadian youth to become involved in worthwhile extracurricular activities; and

Whereas these activities encourage youth between the ages of 14 and 25 to excel in community service and personal growth and development; and

Whereas three metro students were presented with their bronze awards today at Province House;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Maxine Profitt, Richard Moulton, and Lois Punshon from the Prince Arthur Junior High program in Dartmouth for earning their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Awards and wish them success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 633

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

[Page 1675]

Whereas the Hamm Government imposed the highest Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy fees in Canada last year, despite warnings - which are now proving to be true - that the dramatic increases would put government information beyond the reach of the people who elected them; and

Whereas with the release of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy committee review report, it appears more than ever the Hamm Government is more concerned with keeping information from the public than in promoting more accountability, as was seen with its commitment to keep in place the high application fee; and

Whereas the Hamm Government has trampled on democracy by choosing political self-interest and secrecy over fundamental democratic values;

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government be singled out for the contempt it has shown those they are here to serve by hiding behind high fees that no longer allows the public to know what its government is doing in their name.

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 634

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

Whereas on Sunday, October 26th, members of the Kentville Fire Department and members of the Kentville Police Force, augmented by individuals from other police departments, held a charity softball game at the Kentville ball park; and

Whereas the game was an exciting one, with the team from the Kentville Fire Department narrowly beating the team from the Kentville Police Department; and

Whereas over $9,000 was raised by this charity event to fund organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada;

[Page 1676]

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate the Kentville Fire Department and the Kentville Police Force for their willingness to help raise money for worthy charities. I would just like to add that the member for Kings South played on one of the teams - I played on the other team and modesty prevents me from saying who won, but this is his consolation prize.

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 635

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

Whereas the Trinity United Church in Timberlea on the St. Margarets Bay Road continues to bring leadership and inspiration to area residents; and

Whereas Trinity United has undertaken an ambitious renovation and expansion project; and

Whereas this project will allow Trinity to better serve the needs of this growing community;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Reverend June Johnson and the congregation of the Trinity United Church in Timberlea with best wishes in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1677]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 636

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

Whereas the University of King's College Blue Devils captured the ACAA Men's Soccer crown on Sunday; and

Whereas the Blue Devils defeated the UNBSJ Seawolves 4 - 1 in the final at Bible Hill; and

Whereas all-conference player and league MVP Matt Fegan scored two goals in the final to lead the Blue Devils to victory;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the players and coaches of the University of King's College Blue Devils for winning the ACAA men's soccer championship.

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 South.

[Page 1678]

RESOLUTION NO. 637

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

Whereas Scouts Canada has been providing Canadian children with perhaps their only opportunity to experience the outdoors and to develop important life skills for over 95 years; and

Whereas this is only possible because of the selfless dedication of volunteer Boy Scout and Girl Guide leaders; and

Whereas Scouts Canada wants to make sure every child can benefit from this shrinking group of volunteer leaders;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize these special people who volunteer of their time for the benefit of the children and youth enrolled in Scouts Canada and encourage those who support the aims and goals of Scouts Canada to consider becoming a leader so that no child goes without the opportunity to be a Boy Scout or a Girl Guide.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 638

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): M. le président, à une date ultérieure, j'ai l'intention de proposer l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que La Fédération des parents Acadiens de la Nouvelle-Écosse a choisi une nouvelle directrice exécutive; et

[Page 1679]

Attendu que l'organisation a choisi pour cette position Nicole Inamura, une ancienne professeur qui démeure en Sackville; et

Attendu que Nicole Inamura a accepté cette position afin de continuer être une voix forte pour les étudiantes francophone, de la Nouvelle-Écosse;

Qu'il soit résolu que tous les membres de cette Chambre souhaitent beaucoup de succès avec sa nouvelle position à Nicole Inamura, la directrice exécutive de la Fédération des parents Acadiens.

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

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Acadian Parents have chosen a new executive director; and

Whereas the organization has chosen Nicole Inamura, a former teacher who lives in Sackville, for this position; and

Whereas Nicole has accepted this position to keep a strong voice for Francophone students in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Nicole Inamura great success with her new position as Executive Director of Nova Scotia Federation of Acadian Parents.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 1680]

RESOLUTION NO. 639

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 Cape Breton Capers completed their second straight undefeated season Sunday in AUS women's soccer action; and

Whereas Joanne Delahunt collected her 11th and 12th goals of the season to capture the conference scoring crown; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Capers are fourth ranked in the country and first overall in the league;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the coaches and players of the Cape Breton Capers women's soccer team on their second straight undefeated season and wish them all the best of luck in the upcoming playoffs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 640

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

Whereas the Halifax-East Hants Federation of Agriculture will hold their annual meeting on November 3rd at the Carrolls Corner Community Hall in Halifax County; and

Whereas Hants County dairy farms produce enough milk to provide 1.5 glasses a day of nutrition to all of HRM's population; and

[Page 1681]

Whereas despite the fact that only 1 per cent of Halifax County's land area is used for agriculture production, the county is second in Nova Scotia in goat farming with nearly 600 goats on 12 farms including Nova Scotia's largest dairy goat operation in Middle Musquodoboit, as well as several beef and dairy farms;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend our congratulations to the Halifax-East Hants Federation of Agriculture on another great year and wish them continued success now and 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 Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 641

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

Whereas transition house workers at Autumn House in Amherst have been on strike for almost three months; and

Whereas the loss of the valuable services provided to women, children and men of the community has put people in real danger; and

Whereas the heart of this dispute is inadequate funding from the Department of Community Services which does not fully fund programs offered at any of the transition houses throughout Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services take responsibility for the unacceptable situation of not fully funding programs at transition houses and work with the employees and the board of Autumn House to return this essential service to the community of Amherst as soon as possible.

[Page 1682]

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 642

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

Whereas Beacon House, located in Middle Sackville, has been supporting the needs of many families in and around the Sackville area for many years; and

Whereas the service they provide to families and individuals in time of need is so important and has been supported by many residents, church groups and organizations in the community; and

Whereas a new location to best serve the community has been needed for some time and this past weekend they moved to their new location on Cobequid Road in Lower Sackville;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly thank the many volunteers who have given their time and energy over the years in support of Beacon House and wish them great success in their new location.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1683]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 643

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

Whereas Lion Leonard Bugbee of the St. Margarets Bay Lions Club has served for many years as a Lions member; and

Whereas Lion Len is acknowledged for his commitment to his community; and

Whereas Leonard Bugbee has been awarded a life membership in the Lions Foundation District 41 N-2 in recognition of outstanding support of Lionism;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly offer its congratulations to Leonard Bugbee on receiving his life membership into Lionism.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

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 Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1684]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

Bill No. 1 - Automobile Insurance Reform Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in moving third reading of Bill No. 1, I would like to thank members for their comments on Bill No. 1, the Automobile Insurance Reform Act, and also to clearly undertake to the House that we will be bringing forward regulations to give full effect to this new legislation. Rising insurance rates have had an impact on all Nova Scotians, especially students, seniors, working families and businesses. This bill will implement the strongest auto insurance legislation in this country, legislation that will enact a 20 per cent rollback in rates, auto insurance that protects consumers from unfair rate increases in the future, auto insurance that eliminates unfair discrimination. This legislation was created by listening to what Nova Scotians need from their insurance system. It incorporates many of the recommendations identified by the consumer advocate in his report, it incorporates suggestions that were raised in the Law Amendments Committee, and it incorporates a compromise between the Parties in this House.

The Automobile Insurance Reform Bill is strong, effective legislation that addresses the heart of the problem and effects substantial reform to the automobile insurance system. We have listened to comments throughout the Law Amendments Committee process and have made some key changes. We are strengthening the legislation by including Facility Association consumers in the 20 per cent reductions. Any future increases to this high-risk insurance category must be reviewed and approved by the Insurance Review Board, beginning April 1, 2004. We have clarified the minor injury definition. The definition includes those personal injuries which do not cause permanent serious disfigurement or permanent serious impairment and which resolve within 12 months.

This amended definition has been moved from regulation to be included directly in the legislation. Our intention is that the definition is meant to be read as a whole. The 12-month clause, which was an addition to the definition, serves to separate minor injuries from those which cause a permanent serious disfigurement or impairment. There are some who will claim that this definition is not strong enough. Certainly it is not the same definition we put forward when we tabled this bill; however, we believe this process, through the House, has resulted in a definition, and more importantly, in legislation that strikes an appropriate balance for all stakeholders.

From the outset, we have been in close consultation with the insurance industry. We recognize the challenges some companies may face once this bill becomes law, so we will continue to keep in close contact with the industry as this new legislation is implemented. We also recognize the challenges that consumers have faced in dealing with rising insurance rates. This bill still ensures that Nova Scotia drivers will receive better protection and a 20

[Page 1685]

per cent rollback. It's taken a lot of work over the past few months, but the result is a thorough and complete auto insurance reform package, legislation that will benefit consumers by making auto insurance more affordable and more fair. It gives consumers better protection, it gives consumers the power to make new choices. It is a strong approach, a consumer approach and, I would suggest, the right approach.

I want to thank the members of the House for their support for this bill. At this time, I move third reading of Bill No. 1.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I will not be speaking long today on Bill No. 1. I just wanted to get a few remarks on the record in third and final reading of this bill. I don't think we have to plow over old ground. We know our position vis-à-vis Bill No. 1, and we're not going to go down that road. The one thing I want to get back on the record, though, is that it's extremely important to my community, the idea that this bill still allows companies to discriminate against people based on where they live. That has been an extreme prejudice practised against people of my community, and I believe in communities across this province that have been disadvantaged for economic reasons.

One of the loudest complaints I heard after, my insurance has gone through the roof, the biggest complaint after that was, they will not insure me because of where I live. They will not insure me by virtue of what my telephone prefix is or what my postal code should happen be. Mr. Speaker, I believe this bill does nothing to help those people. We hear insurance companies tell us all the time, just go shop around. Well, it's not uncommon that, three, four, five phone calls later, we hear from the same constituent, calling me back, saying, look, I've called these various firms, and they're just not writing in the Town of New Waterford, not writing in Whitney Pier, not writing in sections of Glace Bay. The Insurance Bureau of Canada will say, oh no, just keep looking but what really happens to these people, not because of their driving record or any other reason, it's because of where they live they are being discriminated against.

[2:45 p.m.]

As all bills, I am sure, it is never the intent of this government or previous governments to jeopardize people and put them in peril because they live in a certain part of this province. What I'm telling the government - as I said in my response in second reading, it's the same thing - there are people out there who are being discriminated against solely on where they reside. The industry has decided that there is a high incidence of accidents in these areas.

[Page 1686]

I always use the analogy that a department store couldn't go out and say to a consumer look, we're not going to serve you anymore because the town or village you live in, five or six people came in there and committed shoplifting. So what we are going to do now is discriminate against your whole town or village and not allow anybody to shop there. We would be duly upset about that. I believe the government and the insurance industry should not allow this to go on.

One of the reasons the insurance problems first came to my attention was because of this type of practice that was going on in my own community, that caused a small brokerage firm to go out of business. The loan company it had doing the underwriting was gobbled up by a larger company still and they were told, you can continue to write but you can't write in the area where you are doing business. The reality was they set up in New Waterford because that was an underserved area. They thought they could make a living there and indeed, as good responsible citizens, provide a service to the citizens of New Waterford.

Now that this business is gone, that is a small industry that employed three or four people and again, I'm not going to overstate it but clearly, in a depressed economy, three or four jobs are significant. They were jobs that were meaningful and yet they are gone because with the stroke of a business pen, the industry decided that they weren't going to allow this company to write there anymore. Now what we have are seniors - and this was not just around auto insurance, I should interject, Mr. Speaker, it was homeowner and it caused a great deal of harm to the many seniors who are trying to stay in their own home in my community and have to seek insurance elsewhere, which is not easy for them.

They are under constraints now, mostly financial, that they have to try to get to Sydney, which for them - for myself it's not all that much of a struggle but I think when you are living on incomes that are in the $700-a-month to $800-a-month range, I would purport that this is a serious consideration when they have to take $10 or $12 to get to Sydney and back to do business. It was much easier when they could walk downtown and buy, in relative terms, from their neighbours, but this bill does not go that way.

I told you I wouldn't speak long, I just wanted to get that on the record. Much has been said about our position around auto, that it should be driver-owned and public-operated. I wish that the government had heeded that advice but it didn't and it upsets me greatly but you know, the upcoming vote will determine the future of this bill and that's why I will be voting against it. Thank you.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank members of the Liberal Party, I know they have speakers on this and they allowed me to go in advance of them, so I appreciate that. I don't have a lot to say on this bill and I think that much has already been said, in fact, about the weaknesses and the strengths of the legislation.

[Page 1687]

We acknowledged right from the very beginning that this is not what we would do. We had an alternative plan, we put it forward over the course of an election campaign and the government won the day. They are here, they get to set the agenda for the House and they brought forward this legislation. We felt it was incumbent upon us as New Democrats to participate in the process and to take every opportunity to try to make the legislation as good as it could be. That doesn't mean we're going to support it, but it does mean that we take our role very seriously. We are the Opposition, we have an obligation to scrutinize what comes forward from the government. We have an obligation to work on behalf of what we see as the best interests of the people of the province and that's what we're going to do, and we're going to do it on this bill and we're going to do it on every piece of legislation that the government deems fit to bring forward. So this was going to be no different in that sense.

I do believe that it is also my obligation to point out that this is a piece of legislation that is fraught with danger. I think and I have said this before, the reality is, what it does, is it takes away from people some very fundamental rights, it trades those away in order to try to facilitate lower auto insurance rates. As I said before, it amounts to saying, if we can only make the insurance companies profitable enough then surely to goodness they will pass on some of those savings to the people of the province. They may, and at least in the initial instance the government has decided that they're going to legislate a reduction for at least this year. My strong suspicion is that at the end of that time, you'll begin to see increases, maybe not on the scale that you have seen before, but significant increases and in the end, consumers who have already had their rates go up by a minimum of 65 per cent are going to see a small reduction that will last for only a short time.

Let's not forget that there are many consumers out there who have, in fact, seen their auto insurance rates go up far more than 65 per cent. We hear responses and we hear from people who say, my insurance didn't go up 65 per cent, it went up 140 per cent, it went up an egregious amount that I can no longer afford. We see the numbers all over the place. We see the indications of a system that is in decay; we see it in the Facility insurance, the number of people being put into Facility; and we see it in the rise in the number of people who are caught driving without insurance because they simply can't afford it. We see it in the economic news, when the consumer price index goes up and they blame the rising costs of auto insurance as one of the main contributors to the inflationary trend. So, Mr. Speaker, we all pay in one way or another, some people though pay a much greater price.

I am particularly concerned, of course, for those people who will end up paying the ultimate price in this regard, those people who will be seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident and who will not have that injury recognized by way of compensation. No matter what the minister says, and no matter what support he receives for this bill, the reality is that there will be people who will suffer serious, serious injuries and in response, they will receive $2,500 for pain and suffering. It is still the case that people in this province can end up in traction, they can end up in the hospital for an extended period of time and so long as

[Page 1688]

their injuries resolve within a year, they will receive $2,500. That is the effect of this legislation. (Interruption)

The minister says, plus economic loss. That's true, so long as they are, of course, not at fault. That is one of the significant differences. The Coalition Against No-Fault Insurance, of course, opposes this legislation, as they did throughout, and they oppose it because of what they see as a cap. But the reality is that this isn't no-fault legislation, because no-fault legislation at least would have the benefit of providing losses of economic opportunity, real economic loss to anyone who was injured in a motor vehicle regardless of whether or not they were at fault. That's what happens in a true no-fault system. I don't know if the minister wants to take issue with that, but that's the reality, that's the basis of no fault, is to remove the question of fault from the question of compensation. That's something that doesn't happen in this legislation.

There are still other significant gaps. The minister and the government will now allow people to buy increased Section B benefits, for example - well, that's a long way from having mandatory Section B benefits. It means that people who are really struggling with the question of the economics of insurance are not going to be able to get proper Section B benefits because they can't afford what they've gotten already, let alone paying more for increased Section B coverage. It becomes an additional endorsement, but you have to pay more money for it. I'm glad it's available, and many people will likely take advantage of it, but the people who need it perhaps the most, and the people who are least in the position to get it, will not have the benefit of that legislation. So I think in that sense this was very much a missed opportunity.

I was glad to see that one of the pieces that came forward in this bill with the setup of the Insurance Review Board is that they're going to have a look at home and tenant insurance which, as I've been saying for some time now, the storm clouds are on the horizon with respect to that aspect of insurance, because people are seeing that start to go up as well, and the old saw that the insurance companies have always used, which is that the increases in insurance are due to soft-tissue losses, well this I think goes to prove the point that that's not the case - those kinds of soft-tissue injuries do not exist in home and tenant insurance and yet they use that as an excuse to raise auto insurance rates.

The same is also true - and the minister knows and I think everybody in this House knows - that there is a problem around liability insurance and particularly for volunteer fire departments, for Boys and Girls Clubs, for service organizations that are out there. We all acknowledge and I believe all the Parties acknowledge, that they are the bedrock of many of our communities. We all participate in our own area of charity or endeavour, or public service work, or whatever you want to call it, we all belong to these organizations that are facing it. I belong to the local Legion, and they're having a very, very difficult time with liability insurance. I'm a regular contributor at the Boys and Girls Club, because I think it's

[Page 1689]

very important to my community, and they're having a terrible time trying to find liability insurance.

I know I met, in Reserve Mines, with the volunteer fire department and their members there and they're having a terrible time; in fact, they were telling me, Mr. Speaker, that they now have to fundraise basically all year to kind of pay, between insurance and their maintenance costs and the other things they need to do just to keep the fire department running, they're pretty much fundraising full-time just to do that, and in the past that money would be used to add to their equipment base, to add to some of the work they did in the community, and that's just not possible anymore because of the cost of insurance.

We do have a mechanism in here that looks at some method of review at least, and I'm hopeful that they will come forward with some recommendations with respect to that. So all in all, although it is not what we would do, it is an attempt on behalf of the government to try to deal with what is certainly a problem among the general public, one that is I think widely recognized, and one that I frankly don't think is going to go away. I'm going to resist the temptation, Mr. Speaker, to march through all the provinces that have recognized that public auto insurance is the way in which you go about resolving the problem of auto insurance, and I'm going to leave that to another day. I think we've had a pretty good go at it and we certainly had a good go at it over the course of the election campaign and I think there's likely much more to be said on it - that book is not closed, there's still another chapter to go.

So I want to thank you for the opportunity to join the debate on this important piece of legislation and all I can say is, Mr. Speaker, on this issue we will be back.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise and say a few words on Bill No. 1, An Act to Amend the Laws Respecting Automobile Insurance here in Nova Scotia.

[3:00 p.m.]

As I'm sure you are well aware, this has not been an easy process, dealing with this piece of legislation, like many others that we've seen introduced by this government over the years. It was clear that this piece of legislation was going to be the first real test of minority government in Nova Scotia, for people here in 2003. We came into this session knowing that the government would bring in a bill on public auto insurance - on auto insurance, sorry, after following the Leader of the NDP and after his repeating that line. I will come back to my senses.

[Page 1690]

Mr. Speaker, on the bill to amend the Insurance Act, we came into this session knowing that that was clearly going to be one of the government's first priorities. Our caucus came in with an open mind. Our caucus came here saying, we recognize, the people had clearly told us during the election that they wanted the insurance problem fixed and they wanted it to be addressed immediately. We knew what the government was bringing was not exactly what we would have wanted. But as I said, we came here with an open mind.

When the government tabled their bill, the Liberal caucus had concerns with it, but did we think it was so fundamentally flawed that it was going to fail on the face of it, without any discussions? We didn't, but we could have. We could have easily done that. So what were we faced with? Well, shortly after the tabling of the bill - and I am sure the Leader of the NDP will agree with me on this one - they clearly said that they would not support the bill, it was not what they felt should be done, and they would vote against it, regardless of any changes made to it.

Mr. Speaker, there was your first test of minority government. Now, what were we to do? We could have easily turned around, as the Liberal caucus, and said, well, let's make the Tories look bad on this one, we're going to pull out, we're going to say we're not supporting it either. The NDP aren't supporting it, why don't we just do the same. Then let the government have to walk out without even getting that major piece of legislation through the House.

Who would have won? Maybe the NDP could have claimed victory, maybe we would have gone out and claimed some sort of victory. More importantly, who were the losers? The people of Nova Scotia. If this bill were not to go forward, they are the only real losers in this. Not the government, not the NDP, not us, the people of Nova Scotia, those who spoke so clearly on August 5th and made it obvious to all of us that they wanted this matter addressed.

Based on that, we made the decision that we were not going to try to score a cheap political point and cause embarrassment for the government. We instead chose to have reasonable discussions with them. We clearly indicated to Nova Scotians, the minute the bill was tabled, that the definition was a major problem for our caucus, and that there were a number of other items dealing with economic loss that we wanted to see changed. So there were no surprises for Nova Scotians.

As discussions continued, Nova Scotians clearly knew, the media continued to report. The discussions are around the definition and they are around economic loss provisions. So there was no doubt. Nova Scotians were aware. They knew discussions were going on. The discussions were only taking place between two Parties, the government and the Liberal caucus, because the NDP made the decision not to participate. It was their choice, and they clearly made that decision.

[Page 1691]

So we went forward with the negotiations. I believe anyone who has read the column by David Rhodenizer in The Sunday Daily News will have an appreciation of just how close this bill did come to failing. The day an agreement was finally reached to make the changes necessary to the definition, to better reflect what the government had actually said it wanted to do in the first place, a press conference had been arranged that morning for our Leader to announce that we would not be supporting the bill because of the government's failure to make the necessary changes to the definition. That's how close we were. That's how close this bill came to failing.

Yet, fortunately, Mr. Speaker, agreement was reached, significant changes were made to the definition. Is it the definition the Liberal caucus wanted? No. Had we put in the definition we wanted, the government made it clear the bill would be unworkable and they wouldn't call it.

Again, who would be the losers? The Liberal caucus could have claimed victory, we had our definition, yet the bill doesn't get called and doesn't get passed. So, who wins? Certainly wouldn't have been a victory for us. Nova Scotians would have been the losers. So we went forward from there on that basis. An agreement was reached to bring the definition as close as possible to what the government wanted or what the government was saying they were going to do during the campaign, yet, at the same time, being respectful of the fact the bill had to be able to achieve a 20 per cent reduction which is what the government said they wanted.

Changes were made to the housekeeping rule, changes were made to better define some of the economic losses that were in there. The government claimed it was just a language issue that it was never their intent to remove some of the provisions, whether it be for sick days, housekeeping or a number of the other provisions.

We did raise concerns with the discount rate. The government was moving it from 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent. We were very concerned about that. Government came back and indicated it was something based on the formula as it exists today, it should be 3.5 per cent. In return, they did agree that they would have an annual review of the discount rate so that if there were any changes to it, those changes would be made on a yearly basis. Again, is it what we would have wanted in its entirety? Not at all. We certainly had to make concessions, but I believe at the end of the day, we clearly did what was responsible and we made minority government work.

The insurance review board is something we were pushing for all along to try to make sure that as part of its mandate, that it look at more than just auto insurance. You've seen me stand here in this House and give examples of some of the difficulties the residents of Richmond County have been having with home insurance, whether it be the 90 year old who was told to remove an old stove from her kitchen in a house that - having gone to her house and seen it, I believe they put the foundation in, put the stove in and then built the rest of the

[Page 1692]

house around it because the house is quite small and you'd have to take apart half of the house to get the stove out. It's just not practical. A stove that's been there for 50 years. She's 90 years old now and has to go to bed at night with no home insurance, having paid off her mortgage, having saved, having provided for her family, having paid insurance the whole time, now being denied insurance. That certainly cannot continue and this government must realize that auto insurance certainly is a big issue, but home insurance is going to become a greater and greater nightmare for all of us in this province. We certainly need to get control of it.

As I've said, this was a bill that we could have easily walked away from. Instead, we chose to do what we felt was responsible. What Nova Scotians would have wanted from us was to try to make it work, look for the changes necessary.

I know that the Leader of the NDP and a number of his other members have already given their prognosis on this bill to say it will fail. Only time will tell. I know that other members have said that the changes made in the definition and everything else are forever and a day. We know that's just not true. There is nothing that's passed in this House that is forever and a day. Anything brought in here is subject to being amended at a later date. We all know that. That's the whole basis of our responsible government is that nothing we do here, future Legislatures and future legislators here in this province, cannot change. It is irresponsible to claim that the changes being made to Bill No. 1 are forever and a day.

I was pleased to hear the Leader of the NDP recognize today that it is a legitimate attempt to deal with this issue. He does say in the end he feels it will fail. It's fine for him to have that opinion. My concern is he is going out and telling Nova Scotians that something will fail when he clearly does not know that to be the case. That is simply an opinion. But this is an issue which Nova Scotians have clearly told us they want to see action on and I believe that we have done that here in this House.

The Leader of the NDP has said that he wanted to make some changes to it, to a bill which he is going to vote against. I have concerns with that. When a bill is tabled and you say we are not going to support it, we don't want to be part of the discussion because in the end we're going to vote against it, yet, then tries to somehow claim that he was responsible in trying to bring changes to make a bad bill better, in his own words, I just don't buy that. That's irresponsible in every form. But he will answer for that.

What I can say, Mr. Speaker, is that we negotiated to make changes to the Insurance Act. As part of those negotiations, we did not change the Transportation Act, we did not change the Motor Vehicle Act, or any other Acts. The changes we made were to insurance. Nova Scotians weren't sitting there the day we had an agreement and said, well, wait a minute, we didn't know they were going to change this or they were going to change that. Yet, after having been chastised for negotiating in good faith with the government, two days later we watched the NDP reach a deal with the government to deny Nova Scotians Sunday

[Page 1693]

shopping and that this deal was achieved in the backrooms by making significant changes to the Labour Standards Code that had little or nothing to do with Sunday shopping. That left Nova Scotians saying, wait a minute, we thought the bill was about Sunday shopping, now all of a sudden you've opened up the Labour Standards Code but more importantly, you haven't sought input from those impacted by this in making those changes. That is the fundamental concern that we have with what was done on the Sunday shopping bill.

As I've said, the changes the Liberal caucus had for insurance had to do with insurance, nothing else. Nova Scotians were not sitting at home saying, wait a minute, why weren't we told that these types of changes might be coming as part of the discussions? But the NDP will answer for that and more importantly, the government will answer for the process that was used here. Some have even suggested the timid nature of the Leader of the NDP on dealing with Bill No. 1 today in his comments has something to do with that whole agreement reached on Sunday shopping. I don't know, if I was a conspiracy theorist, I guess I could try to make conclusions and make accusations but I simply highlight that as a point that someone did raise hearing those remarks.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is not a bill that the Liberal caucus is going to stand and claim is a major victory for the Liberal caucus. The only victors here are the people of Nova Scotia, because we made minority government work, more importantly, we're allowing a bill to go forward, which is going to be a legitimate attempt to address the insurance crisis that we have here in this province. Will we be back? Who knows. If we have to, we will be, that is our role as responsible MLAs here in this House. If we have to be back then we'll talk again and we'll try to come up with a solution at that time. But today it is important that this bill is moving forward. This bill is an attempt to strike balances and time will tell if it is the appropriate balance.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that I have not heard one word from any of my constituents to say that they disapprove of us allowing this bill to go forward. Not one. Maybe other members have gotten word to say that they want this bill to be stopped. I certainly haven't heard that from my constituents. In fact, I've been getting calls from constituents saying, when will I see relief based on the legislation that's being talked about now? That's what they're calling about. They've said, enough.

The idea of denying this bill going forward or the idea of defeating it, I believe, would be irresponsible. Only time will tell, as I've said, as to what success this bill has. I am sure all of us, regardless of partisanship want the insurance industry to be stable here in this province and want hard-working Nova Scotians to be paying fair, reasonable rates for their insurance. That we are all agreed upon. That, I believe, is our hope in this bill going forward that that will be achieved.

[Page 1694]

But at the end of the day, make no mistake, this bill, Bill No. 1, is a John Hamm bill. This is the bill that the Premier and his government have said will address the insurance issues here in this province. We have simply made changes to it and allowed them to go forward with a bill which we believe is a legitimate attempt but only time will tell its success and the people of Nova Scotia will judge for themselves as to whether it was the appropriate course of action. But make no mistake, this is what the government wanted and it is the government's plan and it is the Government House Leader who brought it forward and it is they who will have to answer for its successes or even possibly its failures.

[3:15 p.m.]

I did mention it at the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, but officially for the record, Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I again did not give my personal thanks, and I'm sure on behalf of our caucus and on behalf of our staff who worked very hard on this, give our thanks to the Deputy Minister of Environment and Labour, Ron L'Esperance, who is truly a gentleman, I believe who is a tremendous asset to this province, and who I certainly enjoyed working with on this bill. There was never any doubt that in negotiations with Ron that his goals were for the best interests of the people of this province and along with the Superintendent of Pensions, Barbara Jones-Gordon, legal counsel who did a great deal of work on this and everyone at the department who worked hard.

This was a difficult process. I believe some of the debates last week were probably a reflection of some of the frustrations that we have all incurred in trying to reach an agreement on this, on something, as I said before, that at the eleventh hour was saved, but was on the brink of collapse. So I do want to thank the civil servants who were involved in this in the department under the leadership of the deputy minister who, I believe, certainly did everything they could to make this bill a better piece of legislation and to make it work.

With that, Mr. Speaker, as I've said, I believe that we have done the responsible thing in making government work. It is important as part of the debate that takes place on this bill that all members of the House speak on facts and that when they refer to reports or other documents which are clearly now outdated based on some of the changes, that they do so in a responsible way and not make claims that what has been done here can never again be changed. The fact that we've been able to have the definition moved into the bill itself makes it clear that changes to it will come before this House rather than simply being done in the confines of the Cabinet Room which I think is a victory, again not only for Nova Scotians, I believe it's a victory for democracy to force government's hand in making sure that any changes or tinkering with the bill or with the definition will have to come before this House. Especially considering the minority environment we live under, it will certainly be that much more of a check and balance for the government of the day.

[Page 1695]

With that, Mr. Speaker, as I said, this has been a challenging issue. It's one that we've taken extremely seriously, that has not been at times very easy to deal with but, again, I think we have a bill here that hopefully is going to bring not only a 20 per cent reduction to Nova Scotians but, more importantly, to bring the much-needed relief and stability to the insurance industry in this province that all Nova Scotians want to see achieved and I'm sure all MLAs in this House want to see realized.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise as the insurance critic for the Official Opposition to talk about this bill. I did make remarks the other day on the bill, on the final version that's before the House for approval but, of course, that was not on the record. So I want to take some time today to put on the record some thoughts about this bill because we will be back to deal with this issue. It's not a matter of whether we will be back, it's when, because this is an extraordinarily bad bill. It will not solve the auto insurance problem in Nova Scotia. It will not work. How do we know that it won't work?

Well, we know it for at least two reasons. The first is that substantially similar legislation has already been passed in New Brunswick. New Brunswick is six to eight months ahead of Nova Scotia on this issue on trying to resolve the crisis of auto insurance premiums and it has not worked in New Brunswick. I don't know why any member of this House would think that a bill that has not worked in the neighbouring province is going to work here. There is nothing different about this bill, nothing better about this bill, than what they did in New Brunswick and it did not work.

The second reason we know that it won't work is simply, for those of us who were at the Law Amendments Committee, the people who work every single day in the insurance business are the insurance companies and the insurance brokers. Many of them came before the Law Amendments Committee and they said that not only is it bad public policy, which they did and it's a matter of opinion, but what they also said is that it will not work, that from a practical point of view, from the people who are being required to implement this legislation, it cannot work in the form that it presently exists. Those are the people who work in the business every single day. Their message to us as legislators was that this bill will not work. It is not possible for them, the people who work in the industry, to deliver to the people of Nova Scotia the results that the government says they expect to be delivered as a result of this bill.

So we know that we are going to have to be back here to deal with it. It is just a matter of whether it will be six months from now or a year from now or later, because this bill exhibits everything that is bad about public policy in Nova Scotia. It's a bill that deals with the symptoms of a problem, not the real issues; it's a bill that demonstrates short-term thinking with negative long-term consequences; it's a bill that shows political objectives trumping good public policy and just plain common sense; it shows a government that

[Page 1696]

refuses to consider all of the options; it shows a government ignoring public input; and it shows a government more interested, apparently, in its public relation lines than in what is really happening with the bill.

I do think it's important to put this on the record because I do think there are some people in Nova Scotia who, when the wheels come off - as they will - are going to look back and ask, how could the Legislature have done this? How could the Legislature have passed a bill that was obviously not going to solve the problem? Because, let's be very clear about this, Mr. Speaker, the pain and the upset and the chaos in the auto insurance industry is only just beginning - it's not solved by this bill, it's only just beginning and, in many ways, this bill is going to make the situation worse.

Let's look, first of all then, at this problem that the bill deals with symptoms only. What this bill does is it legislates a price control. It says to the auto insurers of Nova Scotia, for the next year, from November 1, 2003, to November 1, 2004, we will allow you to charge only 80 per cent of what you charged before. Whatever that price was, you can now charge a maximum of 80 per cent of that price. It's a price control, but what the bill doesn't deal with and has no analysis of is why is the price so high? Why is the price so high, because if we tackle the real problem then we will deal with the price issue. What this bill does is is it tackles the price directly as if the price itself is the root problem, but it isn't.

The real problems are many. The auto insurance industry says there is just one problem - too many claims for soft-tissue injuries. That's what the industry says. They say if you deal with that, everything else will fall in place. Well, I think anybody who has watched the auto insurance issue unfold in Nova Scotia knows that there is an awful lot more to it than that. Never mind that the industry can't really prove that it's an increase in soft- tissue claims that's driving the problem. Everybody knows that investment losses of the insurance companies are part of the problem; everybody knows that a lack of spending on road safety is part of the problem, and a lack of an industry structure that encourages spending on road safety; and everybody knows that a lack of control over fraudulent and exaggerated claims is part of the problem. But the industry doesn't want to talk about that - the fact that it is within their control to deal with fraudulent and exaggerated claims. It's within their control, but what they've done, what they've convinced the government to do is to cut everybody's benefits in order to deal with supposedly fraudulent and exaggerated claims. There is a lack of control on administrative expenses and duplication within the industry in Nova Scotia.

The industry features all these problems, and this bill doesn't deal with any of them. The only one that the bill attempts to come to terms with is the supposed increase in claims for soft-tissue injuries. I will get to that later, about whether the bill even does that, because, of course, the answer is that it does not.

[Page 1697]

The second major problem with this bill is it features short-term thinking with long-term negative consequences. Mr. Speaker, one would think that Nova Scotians had had enough of this kind of government. Through the 1980s, we had a Conservative Government that spent and spent until it could practically spend no more, billions and billions of dollars, with no assets to show for them. So right now, we have a debt of about $11 billion and assets of about $3 billion. What happened to the rest of the money? Where is the rest of it? It got wasted. It got wasted by a government that was fixated on short-term political gain, without thinking about who is going to pay the bills 20 years later. And yet that is exactly what we see with this bill. The government says, look, 20 per cent for everybody. Everybody who has a car insurance policy, you're about to get a cheque in the mail for 20 per cent of your insurance policy.

Mr. Speaker, the government will probably get some short-term credit for that. Apparently, that's good enough for them. Of course the 20 per cent reduction only happens once, you can only go to that well one time. Once you have the money, you can never get it again. So that during this year of the rebate, people might say, well, I guess maybe the government did a good thing, because who minds getting a cheque in the mail? Who minds getting a cheque? I don't mind getting a cheque in the mail. Of course it's very similar to the pre-election $155 cheques they sent out, which they discovered didn't actually lead people to vote for them, although, of course, everybody welcomes the money. It's their money, after all.

Now they're going to get another cheque. Hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians are going to get another cheque. For some of them, it will be substantial. I said in this House the other day that I pay $3,324 for two vehicles in my House, so I'm going to get a cheque for about $500. Some people are going to get more, some people are going to get less, but everybody with a car insurance policy is going to get a bit of a break. But it lasts for only one year. There's something you have to give up to get it, that's the bit the government is not emphasizing. It lasts for one year, so one year from now, when people are getting their renewals for 2004-05, there is no reason to think that auto insurance premiums will not go back up to exactly where they are today or beyond.

The minister says, well, we have a new Insurance Review Board. Yes, but the Insurance Review Board only asks the insurance companies to justify the increases. We've already been through a process at the Utility and Review Board where the insurance companies were asked to justify their prices. Mr. Speaker, do you know what happened? They did. The Utility and Review Board was persuaded, based on the evidence presented to them, that the current prices charged by the insurance companies are justified.

So a year from now, when those same insurance companies go back, after a year of 20 per cent decreases, why does anybody think that they won't be able to justify these increases again, or more? There's absolutely no reason to think that one year from now, we won't be right back where we were before with prices just as high as they are today. In fact,

[Page 1698]

Mr. Speaker, we won't be back where we are today, because we will have also given up something, and that is our accident benefits. We will never, never get them back.

As far as I know, this is the first time, maybe ever, certainly in a very long time, that this Legislature has interfered with personal injury law to the point of dictating to the courts how much to award for particular kinds of injuries. This is a big thing that we're about to do here today. This is not some inconsequential thing. We are going in and mucking about in personal injury law, which has developed literally over centuries. The current law of negligence, which has developed since, not quite but, almost 100 years ago, and all the rules and the amounts have been fixed and set, gradually increasing in line with the Supreme Court of Canada judgments. We are interfering with that. Anybody in this House who thinks that the insurance industry will take a reversion to the status quo lying down is kidding themselves. Once this Legislature has decided to give away accident benefits, the insurance industry will never ever allow us to get them back.

[3:30 p.m.]

Such short-term thinking, Mr. Speaker, because five years from now, when those rebate cheques are long gone and people get hurt in auto accidents, they're going to say, how could the Legislature have voted for this? Because the consequences are forever and the rebate cheque is for one year. Maybe we could accept permanent consequences if there was a permanent solution to the problem, but this is not a permanent solution. The rates go down for one year and only one year and in exchange we permanently give up our benefits.

Mr. Speaker, we in the NDP have proposed a permanent solution to the auto insurance crisis, to which the minister and the Liberals say, well, it might take six months or a year to set up a public auto insurance system and we can't wait that long. Then they say, we're going to deliver cheques immediately to the people in Nova Scotia. That's exactly the problem we're talking about. Yes, it might take six months or a year to set up a public auto insurance system, in Manitoba they did it in six months. Maybe we could do it in six months, maybe we could do it in a year, but once it is in place, the problem will be solved permanently.

This reminds me of a story about Napoleon who surveying a dusty road in the countryside ordered his staff to plant trees so that his soldiers marching along the road could have shade. His staff said to him, but General, it will take 30 years for these trees to grow tall enough to provide shade to your soldiers, to which Napoleon replied, well, you had better get started. Mr. Speaker, permanent solutions sometimes take a while to implement. It is no answer to the delay to say, well, a short-term solution is better. Because that's exactly what this is.

Another failing of this bill is that it features political objectives trumping good public policy and even common sense. Now, the government says that they promised a 20 per cent

[Page 1699]

rate cut and by golly, they're going to deliver it and, Mr. Speaker, they are. Like I said, I'm going to get a cheque, everybody with a car insurance policy is going to get a cheque and so the government then says, okay, we did what we said we were going to do, next issue. It doesn't seem to matter to them how they're achieving that objective or who is going to pay for it. All they care about is what they're going to say on their next constituency brochure. They are delivering to you a 20 per cent rebate cheque, but who is going to pay for it? Where's the money coming from?

It's coming out of the pockets of accident victims. That's where it's coming from. It's not coming - the money is not coming from the insurance industry. This rebate cheque is being paid for by people who will be hurt in motor vehicle accidents after November 1, 2003, this coming Saturday. Of course, Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the members to take their conversations outside, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, starting this Saturday, people who are in motor vehicle accidents in Nova Scotia are going to start seeing their benefits reduced, but today, on the Monday, those people don't know who they are yet. So it's difficult for them to complain about this bill, but it could be me or someone in my family, it could be you, Mr. Speaker, or someone in your family, it could be any member of this House, it could be anybody in the gallery, it could be anybody who's walking by Province House, on the street outside. The point is that we don't know, they don't know, but the money is coming out of their pockets.

Mr. Speaker, I used an analogy the other day that I'm going to repeat, about this aspect of the bill. Imagine if you will a motor vehicle accident, and let's say a couple of people in the car are injured. Before the ambulance can come, a crowd gathers, all around the car and the injured victims. Somebody steps forward from the crowd, walks towards the vehicle, but instead of helping the injured victims, the person reaches in and takes the person's wallet. Then they step out and they open the wallet, and let's say the wallet is full of money. They take money out of the wallet, and they start handing money to everybody in the crowd who's gathered around.

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what this bill does. Over 90 per cent of all Nova Scotians injured in motor vehicle accidents after November 1, 2003, are going to get less money than they would have otherwise because of this bill. It is those people who are paying for this rebate. The government is more fixated on the rebate itself, as if that is the political victory here, that again, for the second time in a year, they can be responsible for delivering a cheque to hundreds of thousands of homes in Nova Scotia. They may get some short-term political credit for that. But the money gets spent, quickly, and it's the limitation on accident benefits that stays forever. I know the member for Richmond says, well, nothing is forever, we can

[Page 1700]

always change it, but we can't because this is the deal with the devil that has been struck by the Conservatives and the Liberals. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member is impugning motive, and as well I would say he made a suggestion that is very unparliamentary, and I would ask him to withdraw it.

MR. STEELE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw that.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MR. STEELE: So this is the deal that the Conservatives and the Liberals have made. In exchange for a one-time reduction in rates, there will always be a reduction in benefits. That's how it's being funded. You can't very well go back after the rebate cheque has been given out and then say that we're going to now change the source of the funding. You can't have it both ways. If you're going to send these rebate cheques out, you have to accept that you can never go back and restore these benefits.

I think everyone in this House needs to remember, now and always, who it is that's paying for this. Where is the money coming from? Who's pocket is it coming from? It is injured Nova Scotians. They are the ones who are funding this one-time rebate. Mr. Speaker, the heart of the bill is this definition of minor injury to which so much attention has been paid and why is it so important? Well, it's because that is the definition that decides who exactly is going to pay. What they've been negotiating over, the Conservatives and the Liberals, is how badly hurt do you have to be in order not to be subject to this cap.

According to the actuarial reports submitted by the government, what they're arguing over is whether something in the order of 94 per cent of Nova Scotians will have their benefits limited instead of 97 per cent. That's what they're arguing over, is where exactly is the dividing line between those who will pay and those who don't have to and we have seen the spectacle of the Liberals standing up and saying we can't agree to a definition if it does not include only minor soft tissue injuries because after all, that's what the insurance industry said they were after.

Of course, it was never true, that they could not produce the evidence that minor soft tissue injuries were the real problem, nor could they ever produce the evidence that it was exaggerated or false claims that were the problem. They asserted it and who can be for somebody who's ripping off the insurance companies? So the insurance companies leave this myth out there that the real problem is the person who comes forward with a false claim, an exaggerated claim, a fraudulent claim, and if we could just deal with them, then the rate crisis would be solved and that was never true.

[Page 1701]

Mr. Speaker, that was never true, but it is the impression the insurance industry likes to leave with us all. So the insurance industry said it was minor whiplash, minor soft tissue injuries they were after, and the government, the Conservative Party, said that too, the Liberal Party said it too, because that's an easy position to hold, that all you're after is minor injuries or the injuries where people ought to just say ouch and get on with their lives. So we have the spectacle of the Liberals saying publicly, just a week ago, that they would not agree to a definition of minor injury if it went beyond minor soft tissue injury. They said they were going to hold the government's feet to the fire. They said that's what the government promised, that's what we're going to hold them to, and they said that only one week ago.

Then on Tuesday, less than 24 hours later, they announced an agreement with the government embodying a different definition, a definition, well, you know, over which there has been some debate - was it a major change, was it a minor change? The Government House Leader, the minister responsible for the Insurance Act, said there was hardly a change at all. He said the government didn't have to give up anything to get it. The Liberals waved it around and say it's a major change, a major change. They can't explain exactly how it's a major change, but they claim that it is. When I read it, it seems like a fairly insignificant change and, as I said, Mr. Speaker, instead of 97 per cent of people having their claims limited, it's now 94 per cent, but all of that obscures what should have been the issue, or one of two issues, and that is why did the Liberals do a 180-degree turn in the space of less than 24 hours?

They said they were going to hold the government to a definition of minor whiplash and then they abandoned that position in favour of something very different. In fact, we, in the NDP, wrote up a definition of minor whiplash, one that would be widely accepted in Nova Scotia, in Canada and, indeed, Mr. Speaker, around the world because we based it on a world-wide medical standard of minor whiplash and the Liberals and the Conservatives

voted against it. They voted it down. Then later on we brought it back to this House in Committee of the Whole House and proposed it again and again the Conservatives and the Liberals voted against it. Now we know that the Conservatives and the Liberals don't support minor whiplash as a definition of minor injury. They support something much broader.

[3:45 p.m.]

How much broader remains to be seen. The fact is that we don't know just how broad this is. The government, when it introduced the definition of minor injury at least used a definition that has been used elsewhere and with which the courts of Ontario had a decade's worth of experience in interpreting it. But now the definition we have introduces a brand new element that as far as we know has never been used anywhere else. It uses words that are not legal or medical words - I'm thinking in particular here of the word, resolve. If something resolves within 12 months, it's a minor injury.

[Page 1702]

What does that mean? I did, I went and looked it up to see if that was a legal word, a word that's been looked at by the law courts before and it's not. What does it mean for something to resolve? Does that mean that you're back to where you were before the injury? As if nothing had happened? For example, let's say you have a young person who has a broken leg and their leg eventually heals and is back, essentially, as good as new within 12 months. So, that injury is resolved.

The problem is, there's so very many injuries that are not as simple as a broken bone, nor are many injuries so simple that the person injured goes back exactly to where they were before. So what else could it mean?

Does it mean that it is plateaued? That's another word that's frequently used in bodily injury cases. Not that the person is back where they were before, but that they've gotten to a point where they're not going to get significantly better or worse. Even that, the word plateau, for an injury to plateau, is not really a medical or a legal word because there are lots of injuries - particularly involving the disintegration of joints - where the injury never really does plateau. I'm thinking here in particular of a bad knee, or people with osteoarthritis where the osteoarthritis, by its nature, will just get worse and worse and worse and it never really resolves and it never really plateaus.

So what does this definition mean? We don't know. We don't know what it means because it's using concepts and phrases that have never been used in our law before. It is going to take several years, at least, for the courts to develop a body of case law to provide guidance in what it means. How is that going to bring stability to the auto insurance industry in Nova Scotia? This bill does not exhibit good common sense about something as major as what is or what is not a minor injury.

The bill also is flawed because it ignores public input. I sat through a great deal of the Law Amendments process. There were five major kinds of presenters - the insurance industry, insurance companies themselves, insurance brokers, lawyers, the injured accident victims and the health professionals. Every single one of them, every single person, every single organization that came to the Law Amendments Committee said this bill will not work. It can't work. It won't work. Some of them explained in detail why that was so. The insurance companies explained in detail why this bill would not allow them to deliver the 20 per cent rate cut claimed by the government.

The insurance brokers came forward and explained in detail why they could not deliver, in the real world, this 20 per cent rate cut, because let's not forget the rate cut this time isn't coming out of the government's printing press, it is coming through the brokers' offices and they have to find a way to do something that if they've ever done it at all, they haven't done in nearly 30 years and that's to deliver an across-the-board premium rebate all at the same time to their customers.

[Page 1703]

They explained why they can't do that. The lawyers came forward and explained why the law, as presently worded, will not work. The accident victims came forward and explained why it was so unfair to load this rebate onto the backs of accident victims. They talked in painful detail about what they've been through since their motor vehicle accident. The health professionals said that this is just the wrong thing to do. Doctors, physiotherapists, the College of Physiotherapists came forward and said this will not work, here's a much better definition for you to use.

It's interesting, Mr. Speaker, that despite all of those presentations, they weren't just debating whether it was good public policy or not, because I can understand that if all these people were doing was saying this is not good public policy, the government could go forward and say, well, we think it is and here's why. That's not what happened in the Law Amendments Committee. People who work every day of their lives in the industry came forward and said this will not work, it won't achieve the objectives that you say you're trying to achieve. They said it's going to create chaos and confusion in the industry and they explained exactly why that was so and how it would happen and when it would happen. Still, the government charges ahead.

The bill is substantially the same as if not one single person had come forward to the Law Amendments Committee. So at least some of those people are saying to themselves and to us, what was the purpose of the Law Amendments Committee if we could come forward and explain to you in detail why this won't work and you still do it anyway? It's a good question. I would like to hear some time from the government or from the Liberals, who are going to vote for this bill, why they feel it's not necessary to take into account the very real and very practical concerns that were raised at the Law Amendments Committee. Those people want answers.

Now we have the prospect of some insurance companies leaving Nova Scotia, and some will, I have no doubt about it and it will be soon. That will be the first negative shock that we all get after this bill passes. I don't know if that is going to be a matter of days or weeks. I don't expect it will be as long as a few months. Some insurance companies will leave Nova Scotia.

One of the things that is important to bear in mind about the insurance industry of Nova Scotia is that it is not just one monolithic company, it is not just one company that is losing a little bit of money. There are some companies that are profitable already; there are some companies that are a little bit profitable, but not very; there are some companies that are losing a little bit of money, but not a lot; and there are some companies that are very unprofitable. There's this whole range, but what this bill does is it imposes on them a one-size-fits-all solution saying that no matter what your financial situation, you all have to do exactly the same thing. Well, the ones that are losing a lot of money have no more interest in staying in Nova Scotia, because they're losing money at their current prices, never mind at 80 per cent of their current prices. So some companies will leave Nova Scotia.

[Page 1704]

Mr. Speaker, if we're going to have a profitable insurance industry, that's not a good thing, to further reduce what little competition there is left in the auto insurance business in

Nova Scotia, because when we emerge from the other side of this rate cut, November 1, 2004, and people are looking around after they get their notices in the mail of the rates going up they're going to want a range of insurance companies to choose from, and some of them will be gone because this bill will finally have forced them out of Nova Scotia.

Some brokers may go under or just retire, give up their business. They're already working on tight margins, they were telling us. Some of them have already cut their own commissions in order to provide a small break to their customers, and now the government is ordering them to implement an immediate 20 per cent rate cut across the board - which includes their commissions, let's not forget. I hope there's nobody on the government side who thinks that insurance brokers are going to keep 100 per cent of their commission when the insurance companies are taking 80 per cent of everything else - oh no, this means an immediate 20 per cent cut in the income of Nova Scotia's insurance brokers, and some of them will close their doors and that's not a good thing.

All of this, Mr. Speaker, at a time when we know there is at least one other option that needs to be considered - and that is public auto insurance. It needs to be considered, but the Conservatives and the Liberals in Nova Scotia refuse to do that. Public auto insurance works. Public auto insurance delivers the lowest and fairest rates in Canada and none of the assertions, especially from the Liberals, on that question can take away from the fact that those are the provinces with the lowest and fairest rates in Canada. Those are the provinces, contrary to what the Minister for the Insurance Act says, that have the strongest insurance legislation in the country. There is no auto insurance crisis in the public auto provinces; there is an auto insurance crisis in every single one of the provinces remaining that has a system of competition solely between private providers. Every single one of the "private" provinces has a crisis, every single one of the "public" provinces does not.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing that Nova Scotia's two old-style Parties can say to get around that fact. Now, they have said from time to time that they support a private enterprise solution, and you know that's the most sensible thing that we're likely to hear from Nova Scotia's old-style Parties, because if you believe that the private sector can always do things better than the public sector you will support this bill. Now never mind that we have public health in this province, public education, public roads, public water and sewer - you know that we deliver a lot through the public sector, and we deliver well. They say no, no, private sector can always do better. At least I will give them this, that it's a respectable, philosophical position to take, but if only they would stick to that and not the nonsense that we hear from them.

Mr. Speaker, can you tell me how much time I have left, please?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately 19 minutes.

[Page 1705]

MR. STEELE: Why do the other Parties feel the need to say things about public auto insurance that just aren't true? For example, they try to claim that it would cost too much to set up a public auto insurance system, never mind the fact that the information is on the record that it costs the public auto insurances precisely nothing to set it up, because like any other business it's set up with a repayable loan - a loan that's repaid with interest - and the rest is amortized over the first few years of the businesses' operations. That's how the public insurance corporations in Canada were set up, and the total cost to the public purse of setting up those systems is, and was, zero.

Yet the other Parties persist in standing up and claiming that some other figure is true. Why do they do this? What are they afraid of? The other Parties persist in saying that the public auto insurers in Canada lose money and that it has to be picked up by the public treasury. It is not true, so why do they keep on saying it? They have access to the same data that we do, so why do they keep saying these things?

[4:00 p.m.]

In the whole history of public auto insurance in Canada, the public Treasury has been called on exactly once in British Columbia 28 years ago by a Social Credit Government I certainly won't answer for. Everybody agrees that they shouldn't have done it, they didn't need to do it and the money was repaid quickly and with interest. Yet, the other Parties still stand up and say that the public Treasury is at risk. Never mind that that's the only time in Canada's history that the public Treasury has been called on by public auto insurance.

Why do they keep saying these things when they have access to the same information that we do. In fact, the truth about the system in British Columbia is that it subsidizes the government. The other Parties have access to the same information that we do. So why do they keep suggesting that the opposite is true?

The equivalent here would be that the entire operation of the Registry of Motor Vehicles were paid for by the private auto insurance industry, because that's what happens in British Columbia. ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, pays for the entire motor vehicle registry operation out of its pocket and it has begged the provincial government to be allowed off the hook because it wants to fight the private insurers on a level playing field. Let's not forget that for the optional coverage, there's full competition in British Columbia in which ICBC is just one of many players.

They have begged the government to let them off the hook, to let them stop paying for these non-insurance operations, which is what they're called in the financial statements, but so far the Government of British Columbia finds it too tempting to dip into ICBC's pocket to pay for the Registry of Motor Vehicles. So that's the way the money's flowing in British Columbia. ICBC is subsidizing the government, not the other way around. Why do the other Parties keep saying the opposite?

[Page 1706]

What is it that they're afraid of? Why is it that just because the NDP adopts a position in favour of public auto insurance that they feel compelled to say the opposite? Because we know that the Leaders of all political Parties in four of Canada's provinces support public auto insurance. We also know that the Liberal Leaders of Alberta and New Brunswick support public auto insurance. We also know that the Premier of New Brunswick supports, at the very least a study, the public hearings that are going on right now about public auto insurance. So why are Nova Scotia's old-style Parties so set in their ways that they utterly reject even considering public auto insurance and they do so in terms and on the basis of facts which are demonstrably false.

Why do they do that? What are they afraid of?

So, we have a bill before us now that deals with the symptoms, not the real problem. It demonstrates short-term thinking with long-term negative consequences for the people of Nova Scotia. It shows political objectives trumping good public policy and even common sense. A bill that ignores the public input that was received in the Law Amendments process, a bill based on an analysis by the government that refuses to consider all the options.

That's why I say, this is a bad bill. This is not the answer to the auto insurance crisis in Nova Scotia. We will be back dealing with this issue, six months from now, a year from now, who knows, but we will be back. This kind of reform has not worked in New Brunswick, and it will not work here. The insurance companies and the insurance brokers have told this House in detail, in the Law Amendments Committee process, this bill will not work. They explained in detail, with practical examples of why it will not work, and still the Conservatives and their Liberal allies charge ahead.

Now, I can't resist saying, Mr. Speaker, that I find it more than a little amusing, the Liberal attitude towards this bill. On the one hand they seem to want to distance themselves from it, saying, as the member for Richmond said again today, it's a government bill, it's not our bill. At the same time, the member for Richmond talks about an item that appeared in yesterday's Halifax Daily News, which says it was the direct intervention of the Liberal Leader that led to the agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberals. Apparently, the Liberal Leader wants to take credit for his intervention.

Mr. Speaker, for the first few days and few weeks, maybe even the first few months, the Liberal Leader will bask in the glow of people saying, well, maybe you've solved the auto insurance problem in Nova Scotia, but six months or a year from now, when things have fallen apart, as they will, I wonder if he's going to stand up and be counted for taking the blame, for being one of the sponsors of such an extraordinarily bad bill.

Mr. Speaker, with those remarks, I take my place, knowing that we will be back, knowing that this issue has not been solved, knowing that there is a better way, but it's going to take an NDP Government to do it. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 1707]

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

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I intended to rise in my place today and speak briefly about the bill that's before the House for third reading, and I do intend to be relatively brief. I did, however, have the opportunity to listen to the member for Halifax Fairview and his comments with respect to public auto insurance once again. As the Leader of the Opposition would know, he and I have been down this road many times before, talking about the dichotomy, and this is the closing of a door, as it were, with respect to auto insurance in Nova Scotia.

We certainly consider it to be the best of a bad situation that resulted in co-operation between us and the other side, the government members. This is the result, overall, of co-operation. This is the result of doing our best to hold the government to its word with respect to what was promised in the first place, with respect to this piece of legislation. Back during the election campaign, Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives running for election said they would put a cap on minor injuries and provide a 20 per cent reduction. What we held them to was a commitment that a minor injury was indeed a minor injury. What we also said, clearly, was that in order for this legislation to avoid the chaos that has happened in New Brunswick, we needed a legislated reduction in insurance rates across the board.

I'm pleased to see that the government has listened to both of those comments that we put forward. I find that it cannot pass without comment that at least for the part of the member for Halifax Fairview's comments that I heard, he made the remark that the bill is the same as if nobody came forward to the Law Amendments Committee. In fairness to the government members who sat on the Law Amendments Committee and in fairness to the Liberal members who sat on the Law Amendments Committee, I would suggest that is terribly unfair, not just to the members who sat and ultimately made for a better bill but for the people of Nova Scotia who appeared before that committee and said that we can do better than this.

This bill is clearly better than what was there before. It is the result of co-operation

between the two Parties. As I understand, the member for Richmond has said this is a government piece of legislation and it is something that they have spearheaded. It is something that in principle we have agreed with, with respect to this bill, but it's not in detail what the Liberals would have brought forth in the circumstances. We certainly said that in order to get a 15 per cent reduction, we would only require a cap on soft tissue injuries.

I would, however, take exception to a number of things that have been said, with the greatest respect, by the member for Halifax Fairview. To suggest that this bill is the same when one looks at the definition is, I think, in the circumstances not a fair reading of what has been put before this House. First of all, with respect to the definition, I note with some interest that the member for Halifax Fairview casts aspersions on new language being used and almost seemed to commend the definitions that existed in New Brunswick and Ontario

[Page 1708]

when he knows I would expect fully well that the definitions in Ontario and New Brunswick are ones that have been considered by people who share his views to be considerably Draconian and they apply a cap on people's personal liberties that this Liberal Party finds unacceptable.

I find it rather interesting that he continues to refer to the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba favourably with respect not only to rates, which I think in fairness to the position that has been taken by the NDP is an arguable point, but clearly we're talking about apples and oranges when we compare these two systems and you need look no further than the compensation caps that are put on in Saskatchewan and Manitoba to consider that the member for Halifax Fairview is trying to have it both ways in this situation. Clearly, if you're referring to the virtues of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, you first have to identify that significant caps exist in those regimes on people's personal liberties and you can't stand in this House and say to the people, it almost seemed bizarre for him to be suggesting on the one hand - it's too bad we didn't adopt a definition that was well accepted in places like Ontario and why didn't we go to a place which kept people's liberty interests and why didn't we consider more the wonderful options that exist in places like Saskatchewan and Manitoba when anyone who understands the Saskatchewan and Manitoba models will recognize that they, in fact, apply significant caps on people's awards at the end of the day.

I won't go through the long discussion about what he has said concerning the cost of startup, but I found it rather amusing that he said unless, and I could be corrected, but if my ears weren't deceiving me, the member for Halifax Fairview said it would cost now nothing to start up a public (Interruption) I see the Leader of the Opposition now nodding that it would cost nothing. I would remind the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Halifax Fairview that it was they who said that, in fact, it would cost $2 million - the same amount of money that it would cost to set up two Tim Hortons' franchises in Halifax.

Now we have an indication from Mr. Jordan, although he doesn't commit himself to this language, he says that he has heard that it would cost, I think it's in the range of $14 million to $16 million to start up. We also have the Premier's task force that says that the total cost would be approximately $100 million. These are significant costs that need to be taken into consideration. It's not just the actual costs of starting this up, but it's the lost revenue that results from moving away from a private enterprise system in these circumstances.

In all of these circumstances I think it's important that we provide a comparison of apples to apples. This bill has been improved. It's by no means perfect. We are clearly suggesting that the definition has been improved and for the member for Halifax Fairview to say that nobody was listening to the people who came forward at the Law Amendments Committee, it's just not so. The definition has been substantially enhanced in a number of ways. First of all, the definition is in the Act and it's not in regulations which I would suggest

[Page 1709]

makes it more malleable in future dates for the opportunity for people to lobby and have it changed at some later date.

We also have the situation where we specifically referenced particular injuries that are explicitly stated to be not minor injuries in the circumstances and we also have the reference to the 12 months, something resolving itself in 12 months, which certainly is a significant concession to the plaintiffs in Nova Scotia and I think it's being recognized as that, but for those homemakers and housewives who wanted this bill improved to ensure that the benefits that would have otherwise flowed to them, clearly, substantial improvements from the initial bill have been made; for those people who saw their sick leave benefits being taken away, there are improvements there; and for all of those people who are in Facility Association and wouldn't have received the 20 per cent reduction, again, they receive the 20 per cent reduction.

[4:15 p.m.]

There is a commitment to review the discount rate in 12 months, and to be reviewed on a regular basis. The Insurance Review Board is also going to be looking into other types of insurance, which we consider to be a step in the right direction. I recognize that the NDP also supported that as a move, that the challenges with respect to other types of insurance are growing, and I think it must be a priority of this government to get on top of that issue at the earliest possible opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party is committed to the minority situation that we find ourselves in. We want to make these circumstances better. When three Parties set out during the summer election to get a mandate from Nova Scotians exclusively for themselves, what they ended up with on August 5th was a mandate from the people to work together. The mandate for us is to make sure that Nova Scotians get, in the end, a better government, a government that is responsive to their needs. Everyone recognizes that we need a reduction in auto insurance rates in this province, and the Liberal Party is committed to that.

Auto insurance rates have been unacceptably high and, most importantly, what we've seen is that they have risen at a rate that Nova Scotians are simply unprepared to accept. What we have before you is a bill that I hope and expect will lead to a better day for drivers in Nova Scotia, but will also provide for a reasonable balance in compensation for people who have been injured as a result of automobile accidents. I would point out, when we speak about a cap on compensation that people receive for automobile accident injuries, that most Canadians - when you consider just the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario alone, which have the majority of the population of this country - drivers operate under some system where there is a cap on certain types of injuries. We are not reinventing the wheel here in Nova Scotia; what we are providing for is a balance.

[Page 1710]

We need to recognize that one independent authority came forward to examine this issue, it was the Utility and Review Board for Nova Scotia. They were asked the question about whether or not, for example, as the NDP suggest that this is a problem with the operator, and the clear and square answer that was given to us by an independent body, a trier of fact, having heard evidence and having heard representations from the NDP, was that it's not in fact the operator, it is the intensity of certain types of claims, particularly soft-tissue claims.

Mr. Speaker, we have responded to the challenges that have been put before us, before the URB. I find it to be of some interest that in the early going, before the URB brought down its decision, the members of the Official Opposition were suggesting that the insurance companies were gouging Nova Scotians.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: They are.

MR. GRAHAM: I hear the Leader of the Opposition saying indeed, today, that they are. But wasn't it the same Party that on a number of occasions over the last couple of weeks have said that it's mathematically impossible for us to cap rates and still provide a fair balance of compensation? Well, those two things, I would suggest to the NDP, can't be reconciled - either they're gouging, or there's no mathematical possibility for us to make this work. (Applause)

I think in the circumstances, Mr. Speaker, that this is an approach that makes the best of this situation. We're not going to forecast into the future that this is going to be perfect forever and a day - because the Liberal Party would have come forward with something that's different - but we recognize that in our responsibility to make this bill a better bill we have succeeded. We have responded to the call from Nova Scotians not to make the mistake that was made in New Brunswick by allowing the insurance companies on their own goodwill to roll back insurance rates, which has not happened. No wonder the Leader of the Liberal Party in New Brunswick is doing that, because it's chaotic there.

We have asked for this definition (Interruptions) We have asked for this definition to clearly state that people would be fairly compensated. In those circumstances, Mr. Speaker, we have provided a balance that this Party has not been able to provide with the NDP. They have trucked out the Premier of Manitoba on various occasions, who I think if one were to look back, appeared to have lost an election as a result of his failure to keep control of an insurance issue. Then one would look at the Premier of Ontario under an NDP Government who ran on the promise of public insurance, but then once he got into office, he recognized that this wasn't a workable solution. It's part of the ideology of the Official Opposition. The only jurisdiction in the western world that they can point to, to support the strength of their potential position, is the one in British Columbia. There isn't a single state in the United States that does what the NDP is promising. There isn't a single province in Canada that has been doing it.

[Page 1711]

We recognize that we have a workers' compensation scheme that is comparable to what is being proposed by the NDP, but I would recognize all the discontent, as the NDP would recognize, with the workers' compensation scheme as it presently exists in Nova Scotia where we pay the second highest premiums and the lowest payouts. So, are we going to repeat those mistakes? I would suggest in the circumstances, not. Our responsibility is to work in the best interests of Nova Scotians and that's exactly what we intend to do as we move forward in this minority situation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members of the Opposition who have contributed to the debate on Bill No. 1 and also who have participated in the ongoing saga of high insurance rates which have been our noose for the last 18 months, two years.

I don't think anybody has come forward as yet with a perfect solution to high insurance rates, but I honestly believe that the bill that we have before the House, and we're going to pass today, is one that will indeed meet the needs of Nova Scotians at the present time. If some time down the way it has to be amended, so be it.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview was commenting about the people who appeared in the Red Chamber at the Law Amendments Committee and he mentioned that nobody came forward who was in favour of this piece of legislation. That may well be true at the Red Chamber, but that isn't the world over there. The world that I travelled in this weekend was within my own riding and I didn't hear anybody complaining about this bill. In fact, they were applauding the fact that something was being done.

Mr. Speaker, I am very, very pleased to move third reading of Bill No. 1. I trust that, indeed, this bill will be answering many of the questions that people have with respect to auto insurance. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 1. Is the House ready for the question?

A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[4:24 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[Page 1712]

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[4:36 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Clarke Ms. Massey

Mr. Morse Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Russell Mr. Corbett

Dr. Hamm Mr. Dexter

Mr. Baker Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Muir Mr. Steele

Mr. Christie Ms. More

Mr. Fage Mr. Parker

Mr. MacIsaac Ms. Raymond

Ms. Bolivar-Getson Mr. Epstein

Mr. d'Entremont Mr. Pye

Mr. Barnet Mr. Gosse

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

Mr. Taylor Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Chisholm

Mr. Langille

Mr. Hines

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Parent

Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Graham

Mr. MacKinnon

Ms. Whalen

Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Glavine

Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

Mr. Michel Samson

Mr. Gerald Sampson

Mr. Theriault

Mr. McNeil

THE CLERK: For, 33. Against, 14.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[Page 1713]

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

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, joining us today in your gallery is Mr. Marc Attali. He is the new Consul General of Israel and he's here in Nova Scotia on his first official visit. He had the opportunity because of the delay to join us in the gallery to see the vote. I would ask all members to welcome Mr. Attali. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome the Consul General to Nova Scotia and to the House of Assembly, and hope you enjoy your stay with us, sir.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 6.

Bill No. 6 - Public Service Superannuation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and move third reading of Bill No. 6. This is a relatively simple bill. It deals with the question of people attaining the age of 65, and whether it is a right or a privilege for them to be able to continue working. This bill will allow people to make the choice on their own, if they wish to stay after 65 and continue working in the Civil Service. I think this bill has had a chance to have some review. This bill is the same as legislation in other parts of the country. We, indeed, are bringing ourselves in line with the other parts of Canada. Having said that, I move third reading of Bill No. 6.

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, as we well know, this bill is an experiment of some sort, along the lines of giving some people an advantage to work until they're 67 years of age. We can't accurately forecast what will happen with this bill. We may very well be coming back in the future to revisit this bill. The government says they get eight to 10 requests a year on this bill. That's very minimal, very few people who request to work until the age of 67. I don't think it's going to hold up too many casual and part-time workers from getting full-time employment, with such a limited number. I think we're okay with this. There may be some things that may have to change in the future. I think it will go for now. We may come back to visit it in the future, if things don't work out right on this bill.

[Page 1714]

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to just say a few words on behalf of our caucus on Bill No. 6. We definitely feel that this is a bill that will extend the right of workers, older workers, to stay on the job, if they choose. We realize that it's purely by choice as it presents an opportunity for workers as they reach age 65. So our caucus will be supporting it. We have no objections to it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Finance it will be to close debate on Bill No. 6.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members for their comments. Having said that, I think there is not much more to say. I move third reading of Bill No. 6.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 6. 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, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

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

The motion is carried.

[4:43 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Russell MacKinnon in the Chair.]

[5:58 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

[Page 1715]

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered one bill:

Bill No. 2 - Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act/Labour Standards Code.

and the Chairman has been instructed to recommend it to the favourable consideration of the House without amendment.

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

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. 26.

Bill No. 26 - Health Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read a second time. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to present this bill to the Legislature. Earlier this month, a report was released on the renewal of public health in Canada in light of what was learned from SARS. In the report, Dr. Naylor and his colleagues urged all provinces and territories to take action to ensure that their health protection legislation provides the tools they need to handle infectious disease outbreaks, while at the same time respecting rights to privacy and civil liberties.

Now is the time for us to take action in Nova Scotia. In the face of new and highly-contagious diseases such as SARS, the current legislation is no longer adequate. Nova Scotians need to know that the people protecting them have the legislative tools they need to manage and contain whatever Mother Nature throws our way. This legislation was created after careful review of Acts in other provinces and territories, identification of needs-based and practical experience and recommendations arising from the SARS experience.

It also incorporates a number of the recommendations identified by stakeholders during the consultation process. During consultation, health care stakeholders consistently stressed the need for stronger legislation to protect Nova Scotians from public health threats. The new Health Protection bill will provide the legal framework for public health officials

[Page 1716]

to protect the public and to prevent, detect, manage and contain health threats without unduly interfering with civil rights and liberties.

This bill provides the Chief Medical Officer of the province and the Minister of Health with some important new authority and is consistent with what is happening in other parts of the country. It allows the province to protect public health in a balanced and contemporary way. To address the new reality of public health, the bill gives the province's medical officers of health the discretionary powers needed to deal with known and unknown public health threats. At the same time, the bill reinforces graduated response and due process to ensure that the rights of individual Nova Scotians are protected, as much as reasonably possible.

No action would be taken without careful review of the situation and feedback from relevant experts. This is the way public health threats are handled in the province now and it is the way they will continue to be handled under the new Act.

I would like to spend a few minutes now outlining some of the more noteworthy improvements of the Act. One of the most significant changes to the Act is the ability of the Minister of Health to declare a public health emergency if there is a serious and eminent threat to health and the ususal measures just aren't sufficient. This would be done on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and would allow the province to secure the supplies, staff and facilities needed to set up voluntary immunization programs, isolation or quarantine facilities, control supplies of vaccines and medical supplies and other reasonable measures necessary to contain the spread of an illness.

A public health emergency would only be declared in extreme circumstances after careful assessment by public health staff. It is a power we hope won't ever need to be used, but it does need to be included to allow us to act more quickly and more effectively in a localized public health emergency so that it doesn't become a provincial crisis.

The new Act will also allow the medical officer of health to temporarily detain a person with a highly communicable disease who is a risk to others and who will not comply with direction from the medical officer of health. The medical officer of health can then seek a court order for a longer lasting solution. The patient has the right to appeal to the courts. This is also consistent with what is happening in other provinces.

What it means for Nova Scotians is that a person identified as having a dangerous and highly contagious disease will be isolated from the public at a critical time, not sitting next to them on crowded buses and workplaces or at a place of worship. Detaining someone is not an action that the province would take lightly. It is one that would be used only if absolutely necessary. It is intended solely for the protection of the public from someone with a dangerous and infectious disease who refuses to protect themselves and others by receiving

[Page 1717]

treatment or isolating themselves. While there is obviously much more to the bill, this highlights the more significant changes in the new health protection legislation.

In addition to these changes, the bill consolidates existing legislation on food safety under the Health Protection Act. Enforcement of food safety regulations will continue to be the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Enforcement of water and environmental regulations will continue to be the responsibility of the Department of Environment and Labour. We continue to work closely with our colleagues in these departments to protect Nova Scotians from public health threats in food, air and water. It is a relationship that works well and one that we will maintain through this legislation.

In summary, the Health Protection Act means more protection for Nova Scotians from known and unknown public health threats while balancing human rights and freedoms. This is the right approach. We have addressed the gaps in the existing legislation and incorporated key learnings from colleagues across the country and beyond to create contemporary and effective legislation - legislation that this province needs. We don't want to still be discussing deficiencies in our Health Protection Act when the next health threat hits our province. This is the strong balanced legislation that we need to protect the health of Nova Scotians. Therefore, I am very pleased to present the bill to the House at this time and I look forward to the comments of members during this consideration. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to get up for a few minutes and discuss second reading of Bill No. 26, a bill dealing with health protection. I guess I'm speaking partly as a Justice Critic because there are some civil liberties' issues with regard to this legislation and also partly with regard to health matters as well that I wanted to have a chance to speak on.

I will start with the civil liberties ones that come under my area as Justice Critic. Mr. Speaker, there are some pretty strong teeth to this legislation, allowing the health officer for the province to come in and do a lot of things. We see that in other legislation as well. I know, talking to some of the media, they pick up on the civil liberties' issues pretty easily. I say that you have to understand that health and safety officers in this province, environmental officers, they have similar powers - to enter a house, to enter premises that is not a house, there are certain differences, but I think there are some things that could make this legislation stronger and I will say, for the record, to start with that our caucus will be supporting it at second reading in order to have it go to the Law Amendments Committee so we can hear from those who would be directly impacted as to what they want to see in the legislation. So we're only supporting it conditionally to send it on to the Law Amendments Committee.

[Page 1718]

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that struck me was there are certain powers in this legislation, not getting into it clause by clause, but there are certain powers in the legislation that allow for health officers and various people working in Public Health to enter a premises that's not a dwelling fairly easily without permission, without a search warrant. As I said, these are things that we can find in other provincial legislation, but one of the things that strikes me about this that I think might be appropriate, and I've said this prior to standing up here today publicly, is that we need to potentially see an ability to judicially review if a Public Health officer, or someone on behalf of the chief health officer for the province, enters a house to take something as a sample, maybe, to see whether there is something in the house that's causing an illness that could be an epidemic, or taking samples.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that these are things that should only be done if we are going to give them the right to do it without permission, without prior permission, without a search warrant, then I think it's important that there be some form of judicial review immediately after they go in and search a premises. You see this in the Criminal Code in some provisions where if you go in without a warrant and seize something, it is sealed and then you go back to a court in order to look at it, to review it to see whether or not it was legitimate and at that point the party who had something seized would have an opportunity to have a hearing. That hearing could result in them being offered an opportunity to argue whether it was a reasonable search, whether the search complied with the legislation, whether it complied with the Charter of Rights, and also whether or not it was something that was in the reach that they could actually seize.

I think that would at least give some accountability. I think there are always worries when we give government apparatus, give government inspectors powers to come into a premises that's not a dwelling, without permission, to come in and to seize things. Obviously, that's a power that has to be tempered. It has to be refined. It has to be used only where necessary, but where it is used, we need accountability and having a judicial review afterwards might ensure that we're going to have some opportunity to ensure that there is at least someone out there who is not a part of the government apparatus, somebody who is independent, a judge, a justice of the peace, to be able to look at it and determine whether they met the criteria and allow for a hearing.

It doesn't have to take months or years. We don't want this tied up in the courts. Obviously, that would defeat the purpose, particularly if there are samples that need to be studied, but literally these things can be done within hours now that we have a JP Centre in this province. These things can be done within days with provincial court judges reviewing and a judicial review, I think, would be an important process to ensure accountability, to ensure that people's rights are not being unreasonably infringed, and I would suggest if there's anyone out there from the government listening, that might be something to think about and, again, we will listen at the Law Amendments Committee to see what civil libertarians and others have to say about it.

[Page 1719]

I think one of the other big problems with this legislation is that this is legislation that is meant to deal with what do we do in a crisis? What do we do when we have a potential epidemic, and this can come from any source, we saw the SARS, that it can come from a foreign country and be brought into our country. We have a huge rate of immigration in our country and we have a country that has fairly progressive rules with regard to who can hold passports. So what we have is people coming from other parts of the world and, quite frankly, they could be living in those other parts of the world. We saw, with the case of Toronto and SARS, that there are many who were living in Hong Kong and commuting to Toronto who brought the disease to Toronto.

Mr. Speaker, what's important to reflect upon is that this is legislation that's meant to address those issues. That's important, no doubt, it's an important principle of government to ensure that we protect people from the potential outbreak of an epidemic, whether it be SARS or tuberculosis or if it's a terrorist attack, God forbid, something that would be smallpox or something else that could happen. The point is, why do we mix that, legislation dealing with a crisis and how we deal with it, with legislation that talks about financing government, because in this legislation - again, not going clause by clause - there are specific provisions that provide for the collection of money. If I have to be detained because I have a disease or potentially have a disease, if I have things taken from me or there's costs that are accumulated because I'm part of a quarantine, the government has the right to go in and charge me for the costs of that. Quite frankly, in my mind, that goes against the principles.

It's not very often that someone is the author of their own misfortune, with regard to having tuberculosis or SARS or anything else. That being the case, and in fact in many cases, as we saw with SARS, they were health care workers the ones who were exposed. They were the ones getting sick. Mr. Speaker, we're going to ask them to pay for their own detention? I think that's wrong. I think that goes against the purpose of this legislation. It's only going to make someone less willing to want to be detained, and that's the last thing we need. We want to ensure that when someone has to be detained, they understand the need for detention, it's not only for themselves but for the protection of the public.

If it's the public good that results from their detention, then so be it, let the government pay for the detention. It shouldn't be something that comes out of the pockets of someone who, from no ill will on their own part, becomes sick and has to be detained. This is in the public good, let the public purse pay for it. It's saying that we're going to go and collect that money from an individual, I think that's wrong. I think it's morally wrong, and I would suggest to you it's something in this legislation we definitely want to see changed.

This legislation should deal with what happens when we have a crisis, when we have a disease, when we have an epidemic in this province, to make sure we're ready, to make sure what happened in Toronto doesn't happen here, to make sure what happened in Beijing or Hong Kong doesn't happen here. It shouldn't be about finding ways to collect money from

[Page 1720]

these people, who, because of misfortune, find themselves sick. This legislation provides for those provisions, and we would say that's one thing we're opposed to in the legislation.

I think it's also important to talk about - we're talking about protocols here. We're talking about providing more regulation into the health care sector. Look, it's important. If we have SARS in this province, an outbreak of SARS, we want to make sure that our health care workers are taken care of, that they are protected, that they are then able to provide the support they need to protect and to serve those who are sick as well, or potentially could become sick.

Mr. Speaker, the problem is we have a health care system that, today, we're announcing that we're limiting overtime, we're cutting staff, nurses in the Aberdeen Hospital, in New Glasgow, we're talking about a freeze on hiring in the IWK-Grace Health Complex. Clearly we have a system that's having trouble keeping pace with its demands now. Yes, we have emergency rooms that are closed in, dare I say, Springhill at times or the Strait or Glace Bay or (Interruption) Mira, Grand Mira - I didn't know Grand Mira had an emergency room, but I will take your word for it.

The fact is that we still have a crisis in the health care system. I think a lot of people in this country, 10 months ago, when they heard that the federal government was going to pour money into the health care system, assumed that these things were in the past, that we were now going to have a fully-funded and appropriate public health care system. That's not the case. We still have a lot of problems. We have budgets that still haven't been approved by this government, from the district health authorities. We see the ramifications of that with layoffs, with job freezes, with attrition, with overtime being slashed or abandoned.

[6:15 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, that clearly shows that we have a system that's still stretched to the limit and on top of that we're going to impose more protocols. We're going to impose more on them and I would suggest to you we already have health care workers who are very stressed. This may sound like a small point, but I think it's an important one. People who are stressed are more likely to catch disease and the more we stress our health care workers, the more likely they are to be victims and, therefore, ones who are going to have to be detained, are going to have problems dealt with in regard to their health.

I would suggest to you that our health care workers are the ones who are most at risk. We saw that with SARS. Some people talked about not wanting to go to Toronto for fear of SARS, but the fact is, Mr. Speaker, that that was a contained epidemic within the health care system, that SARS only really affected hospitals and nursing homes. It didn't affect the general public, infect, I guess, is the other way of putting it, but the fact is we need to ensure that our health care workers are provided with the supports they need to do their jobs now

[Page 1721]

and if we're talking about this legislation, we better be darn sure that we're providing more support for them.

This should not be another piece of regulation, of bureaucracy imposed upon them where someone else in a suit is going to come by and call themselves a consultant at the hospital and tell them how they're supposed to do it and give seminars, provide PowerPoint demonstrations, when in the end we don't provide fiscal support, we don't provide resources, we don't provide training to ensure that these workers have the ability to do their jobs now or even after this is passed. I would suggest to you, like anything else in this House, passing legislation is only the first step. Implementing it in a way to ensure, in this case, our health care workers are provided with what they need, I would argue, is also important.

The other thing is we talked about nursing homes and I think in Ontario under SARS they closed the nursing homes to the public. We see that sometimes here with regard to flu in the winter, but the point is, in a lot of our nursing homes because they're stretched so thin, a lot of the day-to-day details are done by volunteers, or are done by family members for their family members who are patients. Mr. Speaker, it's important that we realize if we shut these down because of an epidemic, or a potential health crisis, or health emergency, they won't be there to do that - again more pressure on our health care workers, more problems they're going to face, more things they're going to have to deal with in less time. I would suggest to you these are all things and this does tie into our health care system.

Let's not be naive and assume that this is just crisis legislation that comes in when we have a serious problem. The fact is a lot of training has to go on before a crisis actually occurs and we have to ensure our staff and hospitals have the help that they need. So we have a lot of concerns with this legislation, whether it be the impact on health care workers or, the impact on budgets with regard to our health authorities. We have concerns with regard to the civil liberties, Mr. Speaker. We want to ensure that Nova Scotians have a chance to be heard, to speak out about this so they have an opportunity to give us their opinion on what they want to see. This legislation can be refined. It can be fine-tuned in a way to ensure that Nova Scotians' civil liberties are not trampled upon more necessarily than they have to be. We can ensure that health care workers have the benefits they need, have the support they need, but this legislation is going to have to be improved before we see that. We will support it at second reading to see it go to the Law Amendments Committee, but after the Law Amendments Committee, we're going to want to see some substantial changes in this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place to participate in this debate on Bill No. 26, the Health Protection Act. Nova Scotia is just the second jurisdiction in this country, after Ontario, to come forward with a Health Protection Act. The current legislation in Ontario pertaining to health protection has been on the books since

[Page 1722]

1990 which is some time before we had such things as SARS and before the tragedy at Walkerton.

Mr. Speaker, we're assuming that this government consulted with officials in Ontario as to whether or not the Health Protection Act there was insufficient to handle those situations and, if not, then the deficiencies, hopefully, have been noted and incorporated into this bill that we're discussing today. I certainly look forward to confirmation from the minister that that is indeed the case.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 26 is described by the government as aimed at dealing with an immediate response to health hazards, communicable diseases, and public health emergencies. The government has tabled a bill though that contains perhaps several potential problem areas. There are considerable powers, first of all, that are going to be invested in the Minister of Health, the chief medical officer of the province, medical officers, public health inspectors and nurses.

Furthermore, the legislation has created a system whereby many of the powers of that Act are going to be enacted through regulations to be drafted after the legislation has been passed. This is not an uncommon practice, but the concern with Bill No. 26 is that there are so many references to what will be established in the legislation that it's potentially harmful if we're not privy to what actions this government is going to choose to take prior to the passing of this bill. There are concerns about meanings of terms contained within the bill as well. There are sections in there that speak of a threat to public health and conditions of premises. One could pose the questions: What is a threat to public health and what exactly does government mean about conditions of premises?

For instance, is a loose railing or uneven steps to a house a condition of premise that is a threat to public health? It would be a threat, perhaps, if you were a letter carrier who has to use stairs on a daily basis to deliver mail - and I'm not trying to make light of the situation on the issue of health protection, but you have a bill that is so broad in scope and subject to interpretation that you can easily have a situation perhaps as minor as some weak stairs being interpreted as a threat to public health.

So there are concerns that need to be expressed about the powers of authority. For example, a medical officer under this bill will have the right to detain a person for 72 hours without a court order. It's not clear whether 72 hours was chosen so that a medical officer is able to have further testing conducted on an individual or whether or not a medical officer already has in his/her possession considerable health information that would justify the necessity of a detention. If it is indeed the latter, then I'm sure you would agree that 72 hours without a court order is a long period of time, and we have concerns that this section is not very clear.

[Page 1723]

Medical officers will have the right to access a tremendous amount of information because the bill states that they can get that from all possible sources of information. While the right of the medical officer is to access information that deals with diseases and health hazards is a great goal, I would suggest it has to be balanced against the privacy rights of individuals. The right to access all possible sources of information, as it reads in the bill, is very broad in scope.

One could ask are all possible sources of information, those which are contained in health records, is that included, or does this clause enable medical officers to interview co-workers as a source of primary data to determine the health status of an individual? If a medical officer can conduct interviews with co-workers, is that not an invasion of privacy of individuals by relaying a health situation that the employee may or may not have been aware of previously? Again, that's another example of just how broad a scope the power is and how it could possibly lead, I would think, to an invasion of privacy.

There's another red flag that could be raised in the role of a public health inspector. The public health inspector in this legislation, and particularly on Page 7, is given the same power as a medical officer if he/she reasonably believes that a health hazard exists. No disrespect to a public health officer, those individuals are trained in ensuring that facilities are adhering to certain pieces of legislation and regulations, but chances are that those individuals are not trained medical professionals who are fully aware of what types of orders or remedies are needed. For example - an extreme example - to perhaps contain Ebola or whatever the case may be. That's an extreme example.

In this Act, though, they're given the power to order, to remedy, act and mitigate a potentially serious disease that they are not trained in recognizing at the outset. Even worse, they are able to act if they reasonably believe that such a situation exists. It would seem more logical that the duty of a public health official should be to make immediate contact with a medical officer for action, as to whether or not he or she deems that it's necessary.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 26 also grants some huge discretionary powers to physicians, to principals, to administrators, individuals, to report to a medical officer if they have reasonable or probable grounds to believe that a person has or may have had a notifiable disease or condition. You know and I know that if such power is granted to individuals they really have the potential to create chaos. As an example, what if an individual saw a group of individuals, perhaps of Oriental descent, two of whom were coughing? We know the scare that existed with the SARS outbreak, in particular with people of Oriental descent. Any individual, under this Act, can act on the belief that they think that cough that they witnessed may be the result of SARS, for instance. They don't need to have any further medical evidence, in that hypothetical case. The assumption that they believe the cough would be SARS-related could be assumed by an individual to be reasonable and probable. Again, that's another example of where the actions taken by individuals are rather broad in scope.

[Page 1724]

A medical officer may also order that where a person refuses, is not or is unlikely to comply with an order, that the medical officer may take whatever action they consider necessary and to use whatever force they consider necessary. Well, on the surface those powers speak of the role of which you would probably be quite familiar, of law enforcement. I would ask the question, can a medical officer physically, perhaps, harm someone if they feel that this is the only option that he or she would have to detain someone? What if a medical officer approached someone and said that they reasonably believed that they may have tuberculosis, and the individual says, well, you're wrong in what you're saying? Is the statement that you are wrong in what you are saying enough for a medical officer to determine that that person is unlikely to comply with an order, and as a result the medical officer would then have free rein to deal with that individual as he or she sees fit?

Mr. Speaker, the couple of examples I've given you may sound a little bit extreme, to assume that a medical officer, a health officer would physically harm someone on a suspicion that they may or may not comply, but as the legislation is written in this bill now, they can do so. There is a section of the bill that deals with public health emergencies as well, and in that particular section, if a health officer believes that a public health emergency exists and special measures are needed to deal with the emergency, the chief medical officer must report that to the Minister of Health, who then may or may not declare a public health emergency for all or any part of the province.

Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the discretion to declare a public health emergency rests with the minister. The Minister of Health, whomever he or she may be, may decide that that particular public health emergency involves an institution or a business whose reputation could be harmed if a public health emergency was declared. He or she could make a decision, perhaps, to hold back on declaring it a public health emergency, even though, if all of the evidence is there, all of the evidence is available and indicates that an emergency actually does exist. It's that type of power that is so broad and it could invalidate all of the protection for public health that is currently contained within this bill. If the minister decides not to declare an emergency, even though a medical officer says that one exists, then where is the protection for the people?

Mr. Speaker, I just have a few more comments to make. Probably the point that we should make most of all is that what is not contained within the confines of this bill, what's not there is probably just as, if not more, troubling than the contents that are in the bill.

[6:30 p.m.]

One just has to look at the Health Protection Act in Ontario, for instance, to know that the title of the bill is the Health Protection and Promotion Act. This government is willing to talk about all of the great things that they have done with health promotion in the past but they're unwilling to incorporate it in the very sections of Bill No. 26. Mr. Speaker, the Public Health Association of Nova Scotia had expressed that very concern to the Minister

[Page 1725]

of Health towards the end of September but yet we haven't seen any concrete action whatsoever by this government to address those concerns. The Public Health Association of Nova Scotia expressed concerns about a very short time line for consultation as well, which is an area that I am going to touch on in my closing remarks.

The Public Health Association of Nova Scotia felt that the present draft is too narrowly focused on health protection only. Public health services and programs are, as we know, much broader in scope than just health protection. Mr. Speaker, the government has the opportunity to include the areas of health surveillance, preventing injuries, promoting and encouraging healthy behaviours, all those areas that are addressed in the legislation in Ontario, all areas that are vital and are necessary for a healthier population, but yet this government, in this bill, has been extremely silent on addressing those very important issues.

Again, the Public Health Association of Nova Scotia mentioned that the health protection functions continue to require a complex matrix of departments and agencies. Mr. Speaker, those concerns were expressed to the minister in September. They have never been translated to make a stronger bill. So we find ourselves debating a piece of legislation that could be more integrated. It could provide for a more efficient public health system, yet it is not what we're dealing with and we find it necessary, finally, to comment on the issue of consultation as well.

I find myself wondering how extensive the consultation has been with respect to this bill. For example, Mr. Speaker, were police, regional, local police, RCMP contacted about the roles that they may or may not play in effectively discharging the requirements of this bill? Are they aware, for example, that a medical officer can take whatever force (Interruption)

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, as I said, I am wondering if the police and RCMP were contacted because a medical officer can take whatever force he or she deems necessary to deal with an individual suspected of having a communicable disease. Have law enforcement officials in this province been contacted as to the powers that a medical officer will now have under this bill?

Mr. Speaker, talk about consultation, what about the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union? I know for a fact that they have not been consulted on this bill. It was the nurses in Ontario who found themselves in the middle of a health crisis there and they're operating on a piece of legislation that served as a model for Bill No. 26, which we are dealing with now. Does it seem logical that nurses could also play a more active role in the protection of people in this province? Of course it does and indeed they have the ability under the Act to protect their own health.

[Page 1726]

Mr. Speaker, what about the Nova Scotia Medical Society and physicians, have they been consulted? How are they integrated into this bill and is this a seamless integration so that the Act becomes a tool for health protection as it is intended and not a hindrance?

Let me close with just one final comment, Mr. Speaker. The goals of this bill are laudable. The contents contained within the clauses and the lack of coordination and integration are somewhat troublesome.

So we look forward to sending the bill to the Law Amendments Committee where, hopefully, all of these issues are going to be addressed in the best interests of not only protecting the health of Nova Scotians but in creating a better, more integrated, more comprehensive piece of legislation before this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to associate myself with the comments made a little earlier by my colleague the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. I also wish to associate myself with many of the comments made by the honourable member for Glace Bay. Both members, I think, have made comments that, in the end, come down to this. What they're saying to the government, what both Parties in Opposition are saying to the government, is that although the idea behind Bill No. 26, that is to say to find some legal mechanism to strengthen what it is that we can do in times of medical crisis that amounts to a public health emergency, is a sensible step, nonetheless important cautions have to be listened to and the cautions that have been input in front of the House so far are ones that are very serious.

I think both Opposition Parties are saying that we are prepared to see this bill go through second reading and move along to the Law Amendments Committee, but we are prepared to do that primarily because we believe that it's important that further consultations take place with the informed and interested sectors of the public. We are prepared to do it because we have already identified changes that are probably appropriate to this bill and it's one crucial change that I particularly want to focus on at the moment. It has to do with this. It has to do with the question of when a public health emergency is to be said to have been established. All of the powers, or really most of the powers that are potentially problematic for citizens flow from the declaration of a public health emergency. If there's no public health emergency, then really we're not dealing with anything that is beyond the usual.

I don't think there's any rush to get in place these changes to our laws when it's clear that the motivating factor for the bill is the recent experience, primarily in Ontario, with the outbreak of SARS. Yet, as I understand it, the main problems to the extent that there were problems, in terms of the public authority's response, had very little to do with defects in the legal regime. To the extent that there were problems, they had to do with confusion over who was in charge. There was a question of who was in charge federally and what their authority

[Page 1727]

was. There was confusion as to who was in charge provincially and what their authority was and there was some confusion as to who was in charge municipally and what their authority was. Furthermore, there were problems of communication among those different players, but in the end there was very high performance and the crisis was dealt with, and continues to be dealt with, in a very professional fashion.

As I understand it, the problem wasn't the lack of legal authority. So while at the same time it's appropriate for us to learn from those circumstances and to take appropriate anticipatory action, there's no reason to think that we are in the middle of a crisis. There's no reason to think that this bill has to be enacted immediately. So we do have time to consider what it is that we ought to do. The one main point that concerns me that I've identified so far in Bill No. 26 is the standard that applies prior to the declaration of a public health emergency. All else flows from this declaration of a public health emergency. Now, by standard, I mean what is it that the public health officials are supposed to conclude and upon what evidence. It's our job, as legislators, not to make the medical decisions, but to set guidelines for those who do make the medical decisions and who make the legal decisions that flow from that.

So we have to decide what standard is appropriate. We have to say to the public health authorities, be they the chief medical officer or be they the Minister of Health, what exactly they have to believe and according to what objective standard do they have to arrive at their conclusion?

We know that the barest of standards, and therefore the widest of authority, would be given by this Legislature to the chief medical officer and to the minister if we were simply to say to them that they could, upon no standard, no specified standard, declare a public health emergency. This bill does not quite go that far, but it goes pretty far because what it says is that the chief medical officer merely has to believe that there is in existence a public health emergency.

Elsewhere in the bill, after the minister declares the public health emergency, there are various objective standards, things that were refer to believing on reasonable grounds or in some places, reasonable and probable grounds. But that is not the case when it comes to the original power, that is the chief medical officer concluding, believing, that there's a public health emergency. No standard is specified. All the chief medical officer is told is that they have to believe that.

I want to draw a contrast between what's provided in this bill with respect to this fundamental first step in the process and what is provided in the Criminal Code of Canada when it comes to authorization of search warrants by a Justice of the Peace. If we look in the Criminal Code of Canada, Section 487, what it says is that a Justice who is satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds to believe and so on. Now, look at that, look at that language - that there are reasonable grounds to believe. The Justice has to be

[Page 1728]

satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe. That's for a search warrant. It's not left to the Justice to simply say that he believes. What the Criminal Code requires is that there be something objective, that there be reasonable grounds.

The law has devised language that's in a continuum. There's unfettered discretion, there is belief, there's belief on reasonable grounds and there's belief on reasonable and probable grounds. That language is a continuum. This language in the Criminal Code of Canada is fairly far along that continuum, but the language of our bill for this fundamental decision on the part of the chief medical officer is at the lower end of the continuum. I'm saying that it's not appropriate. What I'm saying is that I think the minister should reconsider how it is that he is addressing this fundamental question under Bill No. 26.

I do not personally believe that it is appropriate that there be such a low standard. I'm suggesting to the minister and to the members of this House that there should be an element of objectivity specified by us in this bill in order to give a hard guideline to the chief medical officer and to the Minister of Health when they face the circumstances of deciding whether or not a public health emergency exists.

I know that elsewhere in the bill there is tough language, but the tough language doesn't change this fundamental part of the decision-making process. I have to say that when it comes to issues of the balance of what have been called the civil liberties - to which I would also add the privacy rights of individuals in society - compared with what are sometimes perceived to be the collective rights of all of us, our Department of Health and other Departments of Health, elsewhere on our continent have not always made the right choice.

I want to give a couple of examples. What we're dealing with in this bill has to do in essence with the instrument of quarantine in the end or other associated remedies that might be appropriate in certain public health emergencies. Yet the history of quarantines is full of examples in which inappropriate standards were applied. The history is full of examples of circumstances in which the prejudices of society sometimes come to the fore. The history of quarantines and other associated health actions is full of examples where something approaching public hysteria took over. I worry about that. We should all worry about that.

[6:45 p.m.]

This bill is the opportunity to set in place a mechanism that will balance in an appropriate way the rights to privacy, the rights to civil liberties of the individuals with the collective needs of society to maintain its health. There is no doubt that it is a balancing process. But I think, for example, about how it is that even this province, not so long ago, dealt with mental health issues. Until there were various amendments to the Hospitals Act in the 1980s, the circumstances, the law in Nova Scotia was that a person who is believed

[Page 1729]

to have a mental illness and to be dangerous to himself or others could be detained and certain certificates by physicians could be proof of that. But it was also the case that once detained, the person could be treated without their consent and against their will. That was something, which in litigation in the United States was found to be unconstitutional and wrong. That litigation had not taken place in Canada by the time we changed our laws, but the point was that there was such a feeling about mental health issues that the law as it was structured in the Province of Nova Scotia allowed treatment of mentally ill persons without their consent and against their will.

I know this specifically, not just because I read the law as it existed 30 years ago, when I first embarked upon the practice of law, but I had such a case. I was retained at one point by a person who had been confined in the Nova Scotia Hospital. He was being given shock treatments without his consent and against his will. On his behalf I went to court and sought an injunction to stop that. The mere fact of incarceration, I said, does not deprive someone of their civil rights, their civil status. The judge said, that's not in the Statute. The judge said, what's the point of detaining someone if you can't treat them? They're mentally ill. I think, with respect, that the judge was wrong and had an option of interpreting the law another way and would have set a very interesting precedent in Nova Scotia if he had done so. But he did not and that was the law in 1974 in Nova Scotia and remained the law, I think, for a decade until the Hospitals Act was amended to make it clear that special procedures had to be gone through if a mentally ill person was going to be treated without their consent. There had to be a separate assessment of whether they were competent to grant or withhold their consent. There was finally a specific recognition of the difference between those two things.

My point, though, is that in society's drive to protect itself, in this case from a mentally ill person who was thought to be dangerous to themselves or others, and even when motivated by the best of ideals, that is to say, to make someone who is ill better, added, perhaps, to protect the public, it went too far. What I am saying is, let's not go too far in the context of this bill.

I want to give another example. The other example has to do with how society, including in Nova Scotia, has reacted to AIDS. Now AIDS is a communicable disease, it's a problematic disease and there's lots of room for abuse by those who are HIV positive, and unfortunately there is also room for abuse by the system in attempting to respond to it. I recall, again through first-hand experience of dealing with the Department of Health and the Minister of Health, about 12 or 13 years ago that they were very keen to make sure that if anyone was found to be HIV positive that this be treated in exactly the same way as any other communicable disease.

What that meant was that they were not prepared to allow anonymous testing, and yet anonymous testing was what the AIDS/HIV community was saying that it wanted. What they were telling us was that if their members weren't given anonymous testing they wouldn't

[Page 1730]

come forward, if they suspected that they might be HIV positive, and have the testing if they knew that there were going to be negative consequences to them that they weren't yet prepared to deal with - and by negative consequences in this context, I mean negative legal consequences. Of course we had the Eric Smith case where privacy was not respected.

My point is that there has to be a balance between what's sensible, what will work, what respects the privacy and civil liberties of individuals and at the same time is efficacious in terms of public health. In the case of HIV/AIDS, I think at that time, a dozen years ago, the Department of Health, our Department of Health was going too far in the wrong direction, and it took a long time for them to move off of that hard position. What I don't want is that we make the same error here, or a similar error.

This is the problem that I have - the problem I have is that I think the bill, as it's presented to us, does go a bit too far. I remind the minister and ask him to think about this issue of a continuum of standards. It's our obligation as legislators to choose where on the continuum of standards of decision making we want the Minister of Health and his advisor, the chief medical officer, to place themselves. I think I've indicated to the minister one of the points - and I think it's an important point - I ask him and his officials to consider as we move through the Law Amendments Committee process.

That said, I thank you for the opportunity to speak to this. We will, as was already indicated, be voting in favour of this upon second reading only for purposes of further consultation and more detailed scrutiny. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Health it will be to close debate on Bill No. 26.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank members for their participation in this debate. Indeed, they have all put their finger on the real challenge that exists in legislation such as this - the challenge between being able to act quickly and effectively in order to respond to a threat that could threaten the lives of thousands of Nova Scotians versus the individual rights, and that indeed is a very significant challenge. All of us, I believe, have to recognize that in the final analysis it's extremely important that those who are charged with ensuring that our public health is protected have the capacity to operate as effectively and as quickly as possible.

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to honourable members - it was mentioned to me that they don't notice any staff in the gallery taking notes with respect to the debate. I want to assure members that the staff are indeed watching the debate through the magic of the Internet and television and they are indeed taking very extensive notes based on the debate

[Page 1731]

that was presented this evening. Indeed, there may be somebody up in the gallery that I'm not able to, I can't see all of the gallery from this corner. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, a number of points were raised with respect to the Ontario legislation. I can tell the House that we indeed did watch very carefully the Ontario legislation and the recent amendments, referred to as the SARS amendments, to that legislation and looked at that. With respect to consultation, there was consultation with police forces through the Department of Justice and those in the Department of Justice who interact with police forces in the province. There was consultation with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. They were involved in the consultation piece. There was consultation with the college of nurses in the province. I want to relate that because those concerns were raised. I want, again, to simply remind members that we're dealing with a situation where, if we are unable to act effectively, we could indeed threaten the lives of thousands of Nova Scotians. So the balance is one which is very delicate.

At some point, Mr. Speaker, the minister has to take responsibility, whoever it is has to take responsibility for the action. That's not something that can be left in the hands of public servants. Obviously, the recommendation must come from professionals, but the decision is one that must be made by a person who is accountable to the elected representatives of this province and so it is appropriate for that authority to rest in the hands of the minister. I can say that the regulations were referenced in the debate and the regulations are an extremely important aspect of all of this legislation. What I want to say to the House is that before this legislation clears the Legislature, if it receives the approval in principle that is being sought at second reading, then that would provide a green light for those who are involved in the drafting of regulations to work on those regulations so that the regulations indeed would be in a presentable form at the time the legislation clears the final hurdles in this process. So that is something that we would want to be able to bring forward at that time.

With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I again want to thank members for their participation in the debate and I am extremely pleased to be able to present this legislation to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 26. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1732]

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I believe I'm the last member to be speaking to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. (Interruption) I know I will only be echoing very, very loudly everyone else's sentiments when I say that the opportunity to speak for one's fellows is a very rare and precious opportunity. As the business of the session is drawing towards a close, I realize how fleeting is this chance, as it is in any aspect of life, and how very privileged one is to have this.

The chance in this case to speak in this Legislature comes from the dedication of many who sacrificed their summer holidays and a great deal of time beforehand to tramp the streets with and without me in pursuit of this.

[7:00 p.m.]

I should thank, particularly, my family, first of all, my mother, my brother and my daughters, who sacrificed not only their summer holidays but some of the conveniences of home in order to put their voice in this particular part of the political process. I should thank, too, a great many friends, who lent their support before, during and after the campaign. Most particularly, I would like to say thank you to one friend, perhaps to her family most of all. That was Mary Lou Ellerton, who was one of the first people to say to me, yes, you could do this, and I would support you, who said that she would come campaigning with me, who made a campaign contribution before the calling of the election, who refused to date that cheque for after the calling of the campaign contribution, who was not available to come campaigning with me and whom I discovered 15 minutes, 20 minutes before the close of the polls on August 5th had passed away the preceding day. She knew she was ill, she was not going to burden me with that, but she lent her support. To Mary Lou and to her husband, Nathan and her daughter, Caroline, I would like to say thank you very much. You were very generous to the very end.

There are new friends as well and campaign allies. I think that all of this speaks to the integrity of the community from which I come. I've been privileged in countless ways throughout my life, but one of the greatest privileges has been the fact . . .

[Page 1733]

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

MS. RAYMOND: One of the greatest privileges that I have had has been the fact that my parents were devoted and wise enough to come to Nova Scotia to live, and particularly, perhaps, to Halifax and to Halifax Atlantic, appreciating the remarkable qualities of this place. I've lived away from Nova Scotia, but I've always come back. I think that one of the things that has brought me back and that has kept many people here or brought them back if they have left is the historical context of this place.

In Halifax Atlantic, one lives at the interface of a rural and urban landscape, and it's wise to keep in mind the fact that this is a story taking place all over this province. In some places, it is only barely beginning; in others, as in the core of Halifax, it is a process well along its way. Nova Scotia is a special place, partly because it's the leading edge of the North American continent for explorers coming from Europe and from settlers. It has always been conspicuous and it first appears, Halifax, in fact, and even Halifax Atlantic, the Northwest Arm, and cesambre, first appeared on the maps of Champlain in 1604, as he began to reconnoitre the coastline. He noted a great and beautiful harbour at Halifax, which was to become later Chibouctou, the settling place of numerous French fishermen, those who came to fish on the Eastern Shore and McNabs Island, and to become the focus, in fact, of controversy long before the eruption of the French and English battles. People were focusing and saying at Chibouctou, is one of the harbours which one would want to fortify.

New England made proposals for the development of timber and pine and paint at the Chibouctou Harbour in the 1690s, and England, already casting a jealous eye, felt that it would be better for that place to be developed under the British aegis specifically. When, of course, that came about, as we all know in 1749, Halifax was settled quite consciously with an eye to its defensibility, and that defensibility has dictated the character of my constituency, Halifax Atlantic, ever since.

Farm lots and fortification were on the peninsula, but behind that peninsula was something called the Hawks River or the Northwest Branch of the harbour, a fine freshwater, navigable river, which didn't pan out. However, it makes a very fine defence for the City of Halifax. As farm lots were laid out on the peninsula and gradually expanded, fish lots were granted as well on the Northwest Arm. The companion piece to the fish lots of James Jordan, James Williams and Nathan bin saddi Nathan was also a grant on the far side of the Northwest Arm - 200 acre grants, which supplied fresh water for ice, preservation of the fish which were caught and sold.

Those lakes, one still known as Williams Lake, fed streams which coursed down the far shore of the Northwest Arm and as you may have noticed, in the Halifax peninsula, water power is in extremely short supply - not the case on the far side. Those streams actually powered some of the earliest industries in Canada. The first shovels in what we call Canada

[Page 1734]

were manufactured at the head of the Northwest Arm on the stream which flows from Chocolate Lake. The earliest self-fastening skates were manufactured there as well. Paint - English companies came, Henderson & Potts came to manufacture paint at the head of the Northwest Arm.

The story of the change from raw industry - sawmills, lumber, stone quarried at Purcell's Cove - is partly the story of Nova Scotia as from raw industry and the development of a rough settlement, people began to move towards an appreciation of the beauty of this place and of the fact that it was possible to live a good and sustainable life there.

One person who early appreciated the importance of the land beyond the Northwest Arm was William Spry, chief surveyor for the army in Nova Scotia. William Spry, like many government officials of his time, was an ambitious person in the acquisition of land. He began to amass land on the far shore of the Northwest Arm describing it as some good land, at least at the back of the Northwest Arm. He was a wise man. He realized that with the thin, sparse shore on the Halifax peninsula, it would be a good idea to develop farming outside. With the good land at what we now call Spryfield, which was his Spry's field, he built a road and a farming community which existed from 1784 until probably the 1960s. That's one of the things that's brought me to this House of Assembly because, as that farming community has been absorbed into the larger city, good things have happened, others have not been as good.

One of the things which has happened, of course, with unplanned development in that area, is what we sometimes call strip development - something that we have seen in other parts of the country which is rarely beneficial to the inhabitants. That too, is one of the things which has brought me to this House of Assembly - a concern for the unheard voices of the members of the communities living there.

The protection of zoning was one of the reasons that much of this land was brought into the City of Halifax in the 1960s. It was because unfettered development was doing tremendous damage to the social fabric and the historical fabric of the area. It was felt that a city with a zoning system could benefit. That has been true and the province has an important hand to play in the development of zoning systems throughout.

Throughout all this, I will continue to harp on the importance of history in the development of any modern community. I detest waste and many things are being wasted with careless or inadequate planning. There is no need for us to sell our birthright. A number of things are being sold perhaps at what we should describe as less than fair market value outside the province. These may include fish, basalt, in some cases, lumber or gravel, building sites which are abandoned, unremediated and development moves on to another nearby.

[Page 1735]

The Herring Cove Road is a source of great disturbance or unhappiness to many people living in that area because it is full of abandoned commercial sites which have never been remediated because it is less expensive for the owner to leave them lying fallow, unoccupied, without paying business occupancy tax. It is less expensive to do that than it is to clean them up and prepare them for reuse. The planning system of the city at the moment permits this to happen and to move on (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. RAYMOND: The planning system as it exists at this moment permits this to happen over the objections of the people of this community and, once again, the province has a very important part to play in ensuring that institutional deafness is not a part of municipal or provincial government.

Another way in which waste takes place in a particularly tragic fashion, and often in my constituency, is the waste of people. How can people be wasted? People are wasted when their health is left to decay. We've all heard about the waiting lists which are accumulating at the QE II. We know that chronic illness plagues our community and chronic illness particularly plagues the poorest of our society. One thing which I have noticed - well, which I've always known - is that mental health issues also drive people into poverty and poverty, of course, drives people into further physical illness. There are a number of people, in fact a large number of people, in my constituency who have, in fact, been marginalized in this way and whose health, physical and mental, is being wasted.

I'm not going to go into great detail about what I would hope for the mental health system. I'm not going to go into great detail about what I would hope for the education system, but I will say that a functional education, a useful education that works for the person who is being educated, or brought out of themself, is crucial to ensuring mental health and mental health is crucial to ensuring that the person is not wasted. You may remember there was a wonderful advertisement campaign for the NAACP in the United States many years ago. It was just a photograph of a face and it was that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and I think that's something that we must remember - minds are wasted in mental illness and in inadequate education. Education needs to be both financially and socially accessible and appropriate.

I will also say something else about mental health which I may never have a chance to say again - although you've maybe heard me hint at it - that is sleep. I am a great believer in the importance of sleep and perhaps this will be my only chance to say this, but you know there are those who say that legislative napping is where it's at. It may seem funny, but I know people, I do know people who smoke because a smoke break is a guaranteed break from the workday. I know people who have taken up cigarettes. I saw a flip chart the other day in a workplace - what are the good things about smoking? - the break, and you know if we can't give somebody a cot instead of a butt, I don't know, something's wrong. So I will

[Page 1736]

say it's important for mental health - rest. Another very important part of this (Interruption) No, only in that context, only in that context; it will be back, don't worry.

We are suffering from an epidemic of stress-related illnesses and I would have to pass on one very, very, very sad story, and I can't tell the name of the person, but you will understand why. I was talking to somebody the other day who explained to me the routine of her day and part of it was that at the end of the day she would go to do the groceries for her mother. Her mother is 58 years old. She lives across the street from the grocery store. She has not left her apartment in two years. She has not left her apartment in the two years since someone broke in, raped her, left her for dead. Something is missing. There has been inadequate counselling. I mean this woman is not an old woman - old enough that one would be surprised by this, but Victims Services were obviously inadequate in this case. Her daughter told me simply that she had run out of counselling time. Everybody suffers for this.

There are many stresses, and some of these are things which, quite directly, have brought me into this election campaign, into this Party. The stress of being unable to meet one's daily financial challenges is dreadful, and the situation with insurance is something which has exacerbated this absolutely dreadfully in all kinds of ways. We know that auto insurance is an almost insurmountable challenge. In many parts of my constituency, it's worse than that, because not only is it an almost insurmountable challenge, there is no public transportation. There is no provincial protocol which says that public transit must be supplied beyond a certain density of population. I know people who have been unable to accept work because they cannot afford transportation and because there is no public transportation. That's been one of my causes.

I can also give you a list of names of people who go without home insurance, because they can no longer afford it because of factors which are completely beyond their control. We cannot afford to permit insurance companies from outside of the Province of Nova Scotia to dictate social policy, how old the houses are which we will live in, where we will live. This, too, comes to the heart of one of my personal concerns, which is the built heritage of our province, which has been a very important part of the development of this country.

Insurance is a huge issue in dictating whether or not a building will survive, it's also an issue in dictating the delivery of social services. Numerous service groups we've heard mentioned recently are unable to afford liability insurance. I have had at least three experiences over the past six years, in my involvement with volunteer work, in which government is simply withdrawing from the provision of government services. This is government at all levels, whether it is the removal of playground equipment because it is an invitation to liability, the removal of signs indicating public property because it might invite people to enter on public property and perhaps invite liability, or the steady erosion of school field trips and thus education because of the cost of travel insurance. It's also a factor for the school boards in the provision of after-school programming.

[Page 1737]

I think it's very important that, throughout this, we look at the involvement of insurance companies from outside the province, and I distinguish that not out of xenophobia but because the origin of insurance is in mutual insurance, it is insurance in which the carrier has a direct stake; mutual insurance was groups of shipowners mutually insuring cargoes, co-operative insurance and so on. We need to actually remember that.

I'm going to wrap up now, but I will say, once again, that I think it's very important that we, as a government, ensure that the people, the cultural resources, the natural resources and the raw resources of this province are not wasted by inattention. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. Following the daily routine and Question Period, we will do Public Bills for Third Reading, and if we have any bills for any other reading, we will carry that out. I move the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is the House adjourn until tomorrow at noon.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 7:19 p.m.]

[Page 1738]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 644

By: Hon. Christopher d'Entremont (Agriculture and Fisheries)

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

Whereas induction ceremonies into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame took place on Thursday, October 23rd in Truro; and

Whereas the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame recognizes members of the farming community for their sterling contributions to the industry; and

Whereas the late Donald Newcombe of Port Williams in Kings County was Nova Scotia's 2003 inductee at the ceremonies;

Therefore be it resolved best wishes are extended to Don's wife Marion and his three children Karen, Janet and Kevin as the late Don Newcombe was recognized for his vital contribution to Nova Scotia's agricultural industry.

RESOLUTION NO. 645

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 the second largest provider of title insurance and mortgage documents in Canada has opened an Atlantic regional office in Kentville; and

Whereas the new FNF Canada office will employ five full-time and nine part-time staff trained in title insurance and mortgage processing; and

Whereas Kentville lawyers Byron Balcom and Donald Taylor have been appointed vice-president and director of operations - respectively - for Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in welcoming FNF Canada to Kentville and congratulate Byron Balcom and Donald Taylor on their new appointments.

[Page 1739]

RESOLUTION NO. 646

By: Hon. David Morse (Community Services)

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

Whereas long-time Avonport resident Owen Sponagle marked a very special milestone this summer; and

Whereas on August 27th, Mr. Sponagle celebrated his 100th birthday with a reception held in his honour at the Avonport United Baptist Church vestry; and

Whereas in attendance at the event were five of Mr. Sponagle's six sons, his wife of more than 70 years, Helen, and many other family and friends;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in extending our best wishes to Owen Sponagle on the occasion of his 100th birthday and wish him many happy and healthy years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 647

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Human Resources)

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

Whereas the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure is a 5 kilometre or 1 kilometre run or walk which raises funds and awareness supporting the advancement of breast cancer research, education, diagnosis and treatment; and

Whereas this was the 12th year of the run which raises tens of millions of dollars a year to support breast cancer causes; and

Whereas Bridgewater's Bob Chipman personally raised $8,375 through his participation in the 2003 Run for the Cure;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in acknowledging Mr. Bob Chipman's remarkable fundraising efforts for breast cancer research, education and treatment and express our gratitude to all those runners and walkers who participated in the 12th annual Run for the Cure.

[Page 1740]

RESOLUTION NO. 648

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Economic Development)

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

Whereas the South West Shore Development Authority, Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission and Port of Yarmouth have partnered to become the first economic development organizations in Canada, in fact, in North America, to achieve the ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management System Standard; and

Whereas the South West Shore Development Authority provides services in Yarmouth and Shelburne Counties, working with municipal governments, community groups and businesses to promote the region as a good place to work, live, invest in and visit; and

Whereas the Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission and the Port of Yarmouth work in partnership with this RDA to maintain the goals of making Yarmouth County a leader in economic and industrial development, to attract new investment that provides employment and to support the capacity to respond to new opportunities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these three organizations, their staff and support systems on their ISO 9001:2000 accreditation and applaud their continuing partnership efforts that keep Nova Scotia in the forefront of new and innovative practices that are recognized worldwide and wish them success as they work diligently to maintain this international standard.

RESOLUTION NO. 649

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Justice)

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

Whereas the Health Services Association of the South Shore held its 4th Annual Jeans and Gems fundraiser on October 18th; and

Whereas the funds raised from this annual event are used to purchase equipment for use in area hospitals, such as a CAT scan machine, echocardiology lab and fetal monitor and radiant warmer; and

Whereas the funds raised from this year's successful event will be used to purchase additional equipment for use in the Obstetrics Unit;

[Page 1741]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore on another successful fundraising event and their commitment to providing continued quality health care to residents of the South Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 650

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Justice)

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

Whereas on October 1st the Mahone Bay and Area Lions Club held their annual Walk for Guide Dogs; and

Whereas the Walk for Guide Dogs raises money to train dogs to assist disabled individuals who have physical, visual or hearing impairments; and

Whereas since 1983, over $4 million has been raised and approximately 1,000 dogs have been made available to assist people with disabilities through this program;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Mahone Bay and Area Lions Club for their efforts to improve the lives of disabled people.