The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03-4

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.

Third Session

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 6, Public Service Superannuation Act, Hon. P. Christie 102
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Hurricane Juan - Update, The Premier 102
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 72, Rossiter, John: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 108
Vote - Affirmative 108
Res. 73, Hurricane Juan - Deaths: Condolences - Extend, Mr. D. Graham 109
Vote - Affirmative 109
Res. 74, Binns, Prem. (P.E.I.): Election - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 109
Vote - Affirmative 110
Res. 75, Hurricane Juan - Survivors Congrats.: Volunteers Thank -
Injuries/Death Regret, Mr. D. Dexter 110
Vote - Affirmative 111
Res. 76, Conrod, Wilma: Kidney Donation - Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 111
Vote - Affirmative 112
Res. 77, Anna. Valley Reg. Sch. Bd. - Anti-Bullying Campaign:
Sponsors - Recognize, Mr. M. Parent 112
Vote - Affirmative 112
Res. 78, Hurricane Juan - Health Workers: Gratitude - Express,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 113
Vote - Affirmative 113
Res. 79, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Roads/Hwys. Policy - Table,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 114
Res. 80, Dominion Minor Baseball: Pres./Executive - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Corbett 114
Vote - Affirmative 115
Res. 81, Libraries: Funding Cuts - Dissuade, Mr. L. Glavine 115
Res. 82, Hurricane Juan - Disaster Relief: Agric. Sector - Include,
Mr. J. MacDonell 116
Vote - Affirmative 116
Res. 83, Thomas, Carolyn - Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 116
Vote - Affirmative 117
Res. 84, Hurricane Juan: Repair Crews - Gratitude Express,
Ms. Joan Massey 118
Vote - Affirmative 118
Res. 85, Hurricane Juan - VG Evacuation: Staff - Acknowledge,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 118
Vote - Affirmative 119
Res. 86, Hurricane Juan - EMO/Cdn. Military: Members - Thank,
Mr. H. Epstein 119
Vote - Affirmative 120
Res. 87, Campbell, Bruce - C.B. Molson Canadians: Head Coach -
Congrats., Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 120
Vote - Affirmative 120
Res. 88, Hurricane Juan - Coastal Communities: Fish. & Oceans Min. -
Assist, Ms. M. Raymond 121
Vote - Affirmative 121
Res. 89, Northside Complex - Residents: Disappointment - Acknowledge,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 121
Res. 90, Hurricane Juan - Nova Scotians: Perseverance - Recognize,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 122
Vote - Affirmative 123
Res. 91, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - C.B. West: Road Plan - Table,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 123
Res. 92, Sports: C.B. Selects Girls Soccer Team - Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 124
Vote - Affirmative 124
Res. 93, Bishop, Dr. Henry - Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 124
Vote - Affirmative 125
Res. 94, Hurricane Juan - Challenges: MLAs - Co-operation Exhibit,
Mr. D. Graham 125
Vote - Affirmative 126
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1, Hurricane Juan - Cost Estimates: Prem. - Provide,
Mr. D. Dexter 126
No. 2, Hurricane Juan - Power Info.: Provision - Details,
Mr. D. Graham 128
No. 3, EMO - Hurricane Juan: Preparations - Proactivity,
Mr. H. Epstein 129
No. 4, Hurricane Juan - State of Emergency: Declaration -
Lack Explain, Mr. D. Graham 131
No. 5, Hurricane Juan - Preparations: Adequacy - Prem. Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 133
No. 6, Health - Hurricane Juan: VG Repairs - Coverage Details,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 134
No. 7, Agric. & Fish. - Hurricane Juan: Farmers - Assistance Details,
Mr. J. MacDonell 135
No. 8, Insurance: Actuarial Costs - Explanation, Mr. M. Samson 137
No. 9, Agric. & Fish. - Coastal Communities: Fish. & Oceans Min. -
Conversation Details, Mr. W. Estabrooks 138
No. 10, Environ. & Lbr.: Boil Water Orders - Min. Issue, Mr. C. Parker 140
No. 11, Agric. & Fish.: BSE Crisis - Min. Action, Mr. S. McNeil 141
No. 12, Commun. Serv. - Hurricane Juan: Social Assist. Recipients -
Assist. Details, Ms. M. More 142
No. 13, Commun. Serv. - Autumn House: Lbr. Dispute -
Intervention Details, Mr. R. MacKinnon 143
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 1, Automobile Insurance Reform Act 145
Hon. R. Russell 145
Mr. G. Steele 148
Mr. Michel Samson 161
Mr. F. Corbett 172
Adjourned debate 178
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Prem. - Disasters: Leadership - Duty:
Mr. K. Colwell 179
Mr. W. Dooks 182
Ms. M. Raymond 185
Mr. W. Estabrooks 187
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Oct. 1st at 2:00 p.m. 188
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 95, Clarke, Shawn: Track Achievements - Congrats., The Speaker 189
Res. 96, Cumberland Co. ATV Club: Children's Wish Fdn. Rally -
Congrats., The Speaker 189
Res. 97, Fisher, Russell: Library Bd. Service (36 yrs.) - Congrats.,
The Speaker 190
Res. 98, Giffin, Paul: Springhill Centennial Club Championship -
Congrats., The Speaker 190
Res. 99, Patriquin, Barry: Wheelchair Athletics Award - Congrats.,
The Speaker 191
Res. 100, Gogan, Rob: Springhill Centennial Club Championship -
Congrats., The Speaker 191
Res. 101, Belliveau, Susan: Golden Quill Award - Congrats., The Speaker 192
Res. 102, Bowman, Keith: 2003 Cdn. Snowmobiler of Yr. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 192
Res. 103, Burden, Dr. Robert Arnold: Order of N.S. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 193

[Page 101]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 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: Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Preston.

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier has a duty to lead the province in times of natural disaster.

This will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

101

[Page 102]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 6 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 377 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Service Superannuation Act. (Hon. Peter Christie)

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of the House, I beg leave to revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (Premier): Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would beg the indulgence of the two Opposition Parties for not providing them with a copy of the statement as far in advance as we customarily do in this House. I'm sure they can appreciate that the demands over the last couple of days have been quite heavy and much of the information that they would expect would have only come to the attention of the government over the last few hours.

I know all members of this House will want to join me first and foremost in recognizing and saluting the extraordinary response of literally hundreds and hundreds, in fact thousands, of Nova Scotians in very trying circumstances. Whether they are emergency services personnel or neighbours helping neighbours, Nova Scotians are answering the call in challenging times, as is our character.

I want to take this earliest possible opportunity to update members of the Assembly on the state of the recovery effort. Hurricane Juan left devastation in his wake. Nova Scotians are saddened by the deaths of our fellow citizens and extend our deepest sympathies to their families.

Today, just 36 hours after the brunt of the storm, the storm which swept across this city and central Nova Scotia, services are slowly but surely being restored. The cleanup and recovery are well underway. The joint provincial-municipal-federal emergency response network went into operation well before the hurricane hit and remains in operation,

[Page 103]

coordinating the response of literally hundreds of government and non-governmental agencies.

The main concern at this moment continues to be the safety of Nova Scotians, as it has been from the outset. Until power and other vital services are restored to all, we must take special care for ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbours. Restoration of power is the number one concern for literally hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians. As Nova Scotia Power works to restore full power, we need to reiterate a very important public safety message - people must stay away from any downed power lines.

Significant progress is being made in power restoration. Power has been restored to 35,000 homes overnight, but we recognize that 150,000 people, families or businesses are still without power. We will do whatever we can to support Nova Scotia Power in their efforts to restore power over the next three days. The Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization will participate in today's 4:00 p.m. news conference at City Hall, where we will all receive additional information.

The various offices and agencies of the province and the affected municipalities are offering and will continue to offer help and support to individuals and families that find themselves in particular need.

As the power disruption continues, safe food and drinking water are an issue. Perishable food spoils when not properly refrigerated. The Department of Health has issued a wise and clear advisory on food safety, "When in doubt, throw it out."

Municipal and provincial officials are ready to assist in circumstances where availability of food and water is a problem. A list of open grocery stores is being compiled and will be released later this afternoon. Emergency assistance for Nova Scotians who are unable to purchase food will be coordinated through the Department of Community Services.

Safe driving is also a concern until all roads can be cleared of debris and traffic signals are back in operation. Transportation crews are working to clear blocked roads and restore the few that were washed out.

All hospitals in Nova Scotia have power and are operational. Health services are there for Nova Scotians when and where they need them.

I conclude this statement today with a tribute on behalf of all Nova Scotians, a tribute to one of those lost in the early hours of Monday morning, a tribute to remember and honour the life of John Michael Rossiter. John Rossiter was the young paramedic who tragically lost his life Monday night while on the job to protect ours.

[Page 104]

[2:15 p.m.]

As many Nova Scotians nervously watched the winds whirl from behind our windows, John Rossiter was outside battling that wind and rain at the ready, to do whatever needed to be done in a profession that he loved. His EHS colleagues and supervisor describe Mr. Resister as an extraordinarily dedicated paramedic, noted for his strong support for the professionalism of paramedics. He was also prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty, supporting those in need in difficult times.

As is clear from his family's comments, John was already their hero in a family with a tradition of helping others. His father, Bill, was a deputy fire chief, and his brother a paramedic. As we extend our sincere sympathy to John's family - his father, Bill, and his mother, both of whom are in the gallery today, and his sister, Karen, and brother, Billy - I hope they can find some comfort in how they inspired this young man to spend his life making a difference in the lives of others. In this, John Rossiter lived as a hero and will be remembered as a hero, first by his family, but also by Nova Scotians, by Newfoundlanders, and by all the Canadians who remember those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Finally, as we honour John Rossiter today, we also recognize and thank the hundreds of brave individuals who work in professions like his: the paramedics, police, firefighters, health care workers, power crews, military personnel, volunteers and so many others who have worked tirelessly to protect us and work to return our lives to normal in the midst and aftermath of one of the worst storms to ever hit our province.

The frightening and dramatic images on Halifax streets and in the backyards and fields outside the city remind us of the risks faced by emergency workers in the last few days. But these people and their colleagues deserve our thanks and respect each and every day they work on our behalf.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the members of the Rossiter family to rise so they could be recognized by the House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I would now ask all members of this House to rise in a moment of silence to honour the life of John Michael Rossiter.

MR. SPEAKER: Would all members please rise for a moment of silence.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Please be seated.

The honourable Premier.

[Page 105]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Greater Halifax and all Nova Scotia are facing the challenges of the last 48 hours. We will come out of this a stronger people and a stronger province, but we will always remember the hurricane of 2003.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I rise in response to the statement just made by the Premier. I guess we all recognize the gravity of the events that have occurred over the last few days, some in personal circumstances as with the Rossiter family and for many of us who work with our communities understanding what our citizenry has been put through over the past couple of days.

It is important at this time that we recognize the importance of the work that is done by paramedics, by firefighters, by power crews and by those health care professionals who provide the essential services that we rely on always, but particularly when our system is put under such great stress by events as have occurred with Hurricane Juan. Certainly throughout my constituency, and I've spoken with almost all of our MLAs and some of the others, the circumstances are similar - downed power lines, downed trees, the lack of some of the essentials of life in these kinds of circumstances, like propane, food, batteries, and all of those things that should be included I guess in preparation for these kinds of things.

I note that schools now are closed for a second day and the question of what kind of damage in fact has been done to some of those schools is a question the government is going to have to deal with in the coming days. I know that many are at home today because they've been asked to not go there, but also because they have to look after children or they have to look after loved ones and they would have to go through some pretty exhaustive cleanups that are being done.

I would also point out to the government that those people perhaps in most need at this time are those who are often closest to the line when it comes to budgets, those who are on social assistance, to whom having to throw out a food supply because it is spoiled means that their budget is completely devastated or if where they live has been harmed. Certainly those in the disabled community who have a difficult time already being able to get around and to be able to get what they need in order to carry on their lives are in particularly difficult circumstances. Seniors are another group who are especially affected and I know in my own community that many people were simply checking in on neighbours, simply checking in on the citizens in their neighbourhood to make sure that everybody was okay and to see whether or not any assistance could be granted.

It's at times like this that the spirit of Nova Scotians comes to the forefront and people see that which we, I think, are famous for throughout Canada which is the generosity of spirit in our province. I'm certainly very proud of the way that people have responded over the last couple of days. There are questions to be asked and answers for the government to

[Page 106]

give about things like preparedness and over the coming days we will seek those answers as is appropriate, Mr. Speaker.

With respect to Mr. Rossiter, I can only say that I join the Premier and would like to associate myself with his remarks in respect to Mr. Rossiter. I understand that he was an individual who cared greatly for the people he served, but also greatly for the people he served with and to that end, Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to ask our member for Sackville-Cobequid, Mr. Wilson, who worked with Mr. Rossiter to say a few comments in this regard.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Liberal Leader for allowing me to say a few words. I find myself in a bit of an awkward position here. I'm trying to think as an MLA for Sackville-Cobequid but also to think and talk about being a paramedic. It's funny how I've ended in this position and how many paramedics have proceeded on to many things in the last several years. It has been a great pleasure for me to be able to be in this position as a paramedic to represent my constituents.

It's a privilege to be in the same category as someone like John Rossiter. I met John back when I started my career as a paramedic, about eight years ago. He came over from Newfoundland, I think two years prior to that. You couldn't help but run into John, because his passion for the job as a paramedic was outstanding. He was always there, willing to work the extra hours. As you've seen the other night, he worked on nights that most people would rather stay home. He was on the front line, and he loved that.

I was talking to a few colleagues over the last few days, and they were telling him how excited he was to work that night. It's not the excitement that you plan on having a call, but the excitement to know that you're there for the possibility of helping somebody. I just want to give my sympathy, as does the whole House, to the Rossiter family. I can assure you that John may not be here with us today, but his memory will live on for a long time, not only with the paramedics here in Halifax, in Nova Scotia, but across Canada because he touched the lives of many. I am sure there are many people here in the city who will realize that he was the one who came to their house and helped.

Just another note - we had a bulletin that was put out quarterly, through our company, and on the back of this bulletin are comments from patients who received such great care. John was always there, if not twice. He touched a lot of people and left his hands, especially his healing hands on their outcome, on how they are today. There are many people who have benefited from John's service.

Again, I feel for you. He won't be forgotten. You guys can count on anybody here in Nova Scotia to lend you an arm, or a shake or even a cry. Thanks for coming up today.

[Page 107]

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

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the thoughts of our whole caucus, and our condolences, are with the families of the deceased, all the families, who lost their lives as a result of this tragedy in one fashion or another, in particular to the Rossiter family whose son was lost in the line of duty. These are tragic circumstances, and it's a time for us to reflect on the power that Mother Nature holds over us. What I have sensed in the province, and certainly in the part of the province where I live, there is a pause. It is a pause in awe, but it's also a pause of respect, and it's a pause of community of sorts as we listen to and watch people come together and put themselves at risk and on the front lines to clean up, the repair that is required as a result of this hurricane that blew through.

I think it's important to remember, Mr. Speaker, the communities that have come together around this. For anybody who has walked through the communities in Halifax, Bedford, Dartmouth, Truro, or other places, what they would find is that people are on their porches. For many of us, Monday morning at the break of dawn, what we found was people out on the streets in their pajamas wondering what had happened. We had heard that the worst had happened in the sense that people were injured and killed. In some respects, I suppose we should be thankful that it wasn't worse, because this was a terrible incident and a devastating act of nature that came upon us.

I am responding to the statement made by the Premier in these circumstances, and I did attend, yesterday, a news conference at City Hall where the Mayor of HRM spoke about many of the issues that the Premier has spoken about today. He spoke in particular, and emphasized the issue of power and the importance of power, and people who were on the panel at that time said that power was and appeared to be the number-one issue. I would ask that we not forget the issue of information, and that there is a huge void of information for people who don't have electricity right now. Certainly in my constituency, where almost everyone is without electricity, they're not going to receive the thoughtful comments of the Premier in his statement today unless something is done to physically distribute that information to people - or to physically distribute information about safety in your homes, whether it has to do with candles or smoke detectors. There are important issues for us to keep in mind. Information, I think, is the thing that I have been receiving e-mails about from my constituents. Concerns have been raised about whether or not all of the information that is important for people to have with respect to hanging wires, et cetera, is had.

[2:30 p.m.]

Today is a day for us to continue to pause. For some of us who have constituents who are largely without power, I think it is a day for us to be spending time with them. Since the House is in session I think some important questions and information can be shared by all the people with information. I look forward to having that. Mr. Speaker I will signal that at the end of Question Period I certainly intend to go back to my constituents in Halifax Citadel

[Page 108]

and spend some time with them, doing whatever I can, recognizing my own limitations. I would encourage others who have constituents in the same circumstances to at least consider doing that. I know how important the business of the House is, and I don't want to be playing hooky on my first week on the job, but today is what we all know to be a constituency day and it can be no more important than for me to spend time with those constituents at this time. Thank you.

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 72

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 all paramedics across our province and country are mourning the loss of a colleague and friend; and

Whereas on Monday, September 29, 2003, John Rossiter paid the ultimate price while on duty providing emergency health care to the residents of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas John's commitment and passion for providing excellent emergency care to every patient he cared for will surely be missed;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House express their deepest sympathy to John's family, friends and fellow paramedics.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

[Page 109]

RESOLUTION NO. 73

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

Whereas just two days ago our province experienced one of the most severe natural disasters in our province's history; and

Whereas there have been a number of lives lost as a result of this disaster; and

Whereas there are countless people responding to and working to restore the province to where it was before the hurricane;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House today extend thier condolences to the families and friends of those people who have died.

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. 74

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

Whereas even in the midst of the aftermath of Hurricane Juan, the democratic process carried on in our neighbouring Province of Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas despite the conditions, an impressive 83 per cent of Islanders ensured their cherished right to vote was not lost and for the third time elected Premier Pat Binns and his Progressive Conservative Party to govern the province - the three-peat a first for Island Tories; and

[Page 110]

Whereas the election results also saw the introduction to the P.E.I. Legislature the son of former Premier Joe Ghiz, Mr. Robert Ghiz, Leader of the Liberal Party, along with three of his candidates;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Premier Pat Binns and his colleagues on their return to government and praise all Islanders for showing such outstanding respect for our coveted democratic right - venturing to the polls to cast their vote, many even by candlelight.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 75

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

Whereas the direct hit on Nova Scotia of Hurricane Juan was a unique experience for most residents of our province; and

Whereas Nova Scotians in the communities and neighbourhoods that suffered damage have responded with the good cheer and helping hand that typify what is best in humankind; and

Whereas members of all emergency services, health services, police, military and others have responded to the fullest extent, helping people cope with the extent of the damage and disruption caused by the hurricane;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join Nova Scotians in giving thanks that hundreds of thousand of people came through the storm in safety, expressing admiration for all those who are helping Nova Scotians recover from the immediate impact of the storm and

[Page 111]

regretting the tragic loss of life and the injuries that have been caused by the hurricane and its aftermath.

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. 76

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

Whereas organ donation continues to be the ultimate gift of life; and

Whereas Wilma Conrod, a lab technician with the Strait-Richmond Hospital, was quick to offer one of her kidneys to her co-worker, Alva MacNeil, a medical transcriptionist, when it was discovered she was a match, resulting in a successful transplant; and

Whereas Wilma Conrod, an active union representative and an NDP candidate in the 1998 and 1999 provincial elections will join Alva MacNeil and her co-workers, family and friends at a reception today in the hospital cafeteria to celebrate this act of kindness and a successful transplant;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their sincerest congratulations to Wilma Conrod for her unselfish offer of a kidney to a co-worker and wish both she and Alva MacNeil a prosperous and healthy future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 112]

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 77

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

Whereas bullying is a serious problem in our school system and in the larger society involving not just physical violence and threats but also verbal put-downs and hurtful taunts; and

Whereas today an anti-bullying campaign was launched by the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board at the Northeast Kings Education Centre by the Kentville Police, the RCMP, Aliant and CCR consisting of bumper stickers, refrigerator magnets and other literature aimed at promoting a new bullying help line, 310-TALK; and

Whereas Ms. Angela Gibson of the Kentville Police Force devoted countless hours of volunteer time to launch this program, a program that will help lessen bullying at schools throughout the Annapolis Valley and beyond;

Therefore be it resolved that this House do recognize Ms. Angela Gibson, the members of the Kentville Police Force and the members of the Annapolis Valley detachment of the RCMP and other sponsors who provided time, effort and money to launch this important new initiative.

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 113]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, before I do my resolution, I would like to introduce a visitor in our gallery. I would like to draw the attention of members of the House to a gentleman who is from Halifax Needham in the beautiful North End of Halifax, Mr. Maurice Hickey, who has joined us. I would ask him to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 78

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

Whereas Hurricane Juan is one of the worst disasters to hit Nova Scotia in recent history; and

Whereas front-line health workers and district health authority staff have been working hard in the face of difficult challenges to ensure the safety and well-being of patients in various challenging situations; and

Whereas health care staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep patient care available across the areas hit hard by Hurricane Juan;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature express its profound gratitude to the dedicated health care workers of this province for once again giving so much of themselves to help those in need of medical care.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 114]

RESOLUTION NO. 79

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

Whereas the Main-à-Dieu Road, Cape Breton County, is in a deplorable state; and

Whereas motorists along this roadway are incurring considerable costs and damages to their vehicles and to their health; and

Whereas the deplorable state of this road and other roads throughout rural Nova Scotia is a major contributing factor to the increased insurance costs for motorists using the Main-à-Dieu Road and other roads throughout Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works table the government's comprehensive roads policy that was promised in the 1999 John Hamm blue book.

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 Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 80

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

Whereas the Town of Dominion has just completed another successful year of minor league baseball; and

Whereas this was a very special year as they celebrated their 50th year of operation; and

Whereas they held their closing banquet on Saturday, September 27th, at the Dominion Fire Hall, where many trophies and other prizes were awarded;

[Page 115]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate President Paul Prince and the executive of Dominion Minor Baseball for their hard work and dedication to the young people of Dominion. (Interruption)

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I was MVP, for the member for Inverness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 81

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's libraries are the community's primary location for access to books, information, lifelong learning, and cultural discovery in a pleasant atmosphere; and

Whereas the Regional Public Libraries Funding Review Committee, in October 2000, recommended funding increases that were drastically cut in 2001; and

Whereas due to this government's payout of their $155 tax scheme they will now be forced to cut public services across Nova Scotia to make up for their $32 million shortfall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize that libraries across our province are struggling to maintain their basic services, and encourage this government not to cut library funding any further to make up for their $155 tax scheme.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 116]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 82

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

Whereas the farmers in Nova Scotia are struggling to survive in the wake of Spring floods and the BSE crisis; and

Whereas damage by Hurricane Juan is yet another blow to Nova Scotia's agricultural sector; and

Whereas farmers in Nova Scotia simply cannot handle any more financial challenges this year;

Therefore be it resolved that this government commit to including the agricultural sector in any plans for disaster relief related to Hurricane Juan.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 83

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

[Page 117]

Whereas Carolyn Thomas has been nominated for the Canadian National Griot Award, which recognizes the contributions Black Canadians are making in their communities; and

Whereas the Canadian National Griot Award honours the talents, hard work and dedication of Black Canadians in 14 different categories, and will be held in Edmonton on October 4th; and

Whereas with her nomination for the Canadian National Griot Award, Carolyn Thomas is recognized for her outstanding achievement in the area of community services;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Carolyn Thomas on her nomination for this award, as well as for the dedication and drive she brings to her community, and wish her continued success in the area of community services.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West on an introduction.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you to all members of the House a very distinguished Nova Scotian who has served in this Legislature for many years - from 1981 to 1984, and from 1988 to 1999 he served as Minister of Agriculture under the Russell MacLellan Government. He is well known to many Nova Scotians. He and his lovely wife, Shirley Lorraine, are here in the gallery watching the proceedings today. He is the former member for Colchester North. I would ask that all members recognize Ed Lorraine and his wife, Shirley. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Mr. and Mrs. Lorraine to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 118]

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 84

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

Whereas Hurricane Juan struck a terrible blow on mainland Nova Scotia, leaving over 300,000 people without power and many people without phone service; and

Whereas the men and women who work for repair crews with Nova Scotia Power, Aliant and EastLink have been working around the clock since the hurricane hit Nova Scotia; and

Whereas these women and men have been braving bad weather and dangerous conditions in an effort to help restore power and communications to the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature express its heartfelt gratitude to these dedicated workers and offer its thanks to crews from New England and New Brunswick who have come to assist.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 85

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

Whereas on September 29, 2003, Hurricane Juan destroyed a portion of the roof at the old VG Hospital; and

[Page 119]

Whereas many dedicated staff worked quickly and effectively to transfer over 200 patients from a section of the hospital that was impacted by wind and serious flooding; and

Whereas such an evacuation involved moving seriously ill patients to other facilities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature acknowledge the dedication and hard work of all staff involved in the evacuation for ensuring the safe transfer of patients under extremely challenging circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 86

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

Whereas Nova Scotians experienced heavy damage from Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas Emergency Measures staff and members of the Canadian military have been working around the clock to help restore services and assist those hit hard by the storm; and

Whereas EMO staff and the members of the military are an invaluable part of the hurricane recovery in our province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and thank the women and men of the EMO and the Canadian military for helping thousands of Nova Scotians in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 120]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 87

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

Whereas Bruce Campbell will be the new head coach behind the bench of the Cape Breton Molson Canadians of the Nova Scotia Junior B Hockey League; and

Whereas this will be the New Waterford native's second stint behind the bench for the team, formerly known as the Alpines; and

Whereas Bruce guided the Junior B franchise for four years, highlighted by an Atlantic championship in 1997;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Bruce Campbell for being named the new head coach of the Cape Breton Molson Canadians, and wish him and the team the best of luck in the upcoming season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

[Page 121]

RESOLUTION NO. 88

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's coastal communities and their resources have been battered by Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas there must be an immediate commitment from the federal government to assist those affected, to repair and replace the wharves, docks and gear of those communities; and

Whereas these Nova Scotians make a valuable contribution to our economy;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature call upon the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to come to the immediate assistance of Nova Scotians who live and work in the coastal communities that have been battered by Hurricane Juan.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 89

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

Whereas a four-year dream to build the Northside complex has ceased to exist; and

Whereas this sportsplex was set to replace the Northside Forum which is now in disrepair; and

[Page 122]

Whereas the honourable member for Cape Breton North obviously had no influence in making this proposed complex into a reality for the children and adults who would have benefited from such a facility;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the disappointment the residents on the Northside must be experiencing at this time.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 90

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

Whereas Nova Scotians in our coastal communities have a legendary tradition of responding to and respecting the sea; and

Whereas Hurricane Juan has tested the resolve of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas Nova Scotians along our coast are ready and able to meet the challenge of recovering from this hurricane;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize the will and perseverance of Nova Scotians, who live along our coasts, in the wake of Hurricane Juan.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 123]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 91

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

Whereas during the 1999 provincial election, the Conservative candidate in Cape Breton West publicly proclaimed a John Hamm Government would pave the Marion Bridge Highway upon its election; and

Whereas during the 2003 provincial election, the Conservative candidate in Cape Breton West publicly proclaimed that he had provided a detailed four-year roads plan to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works on July 3, 2003, for the improvement of roads in Cape Breton West; and

Whereas to date, neither this Conservative candidate nor the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has been able to provide a copy of this four-year roads plan to anyone who has requested it;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works table a copy of this four-year roads plan so the people of Cape Breton West will know what this government's intentions are for the improvement of roads in their communities.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 124]

RESOLUTION NO. 92

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

Whereas soccer has historically been one of the most popular sports in Cape Breton, resulting in numerous championships; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Selects 16 and Under Girls Soccer Team won the provincial championship; and

Whereas the team coach, Jonathan MacIsaac, and the girls on the team have worked extremely hard and are currently fundraising a large amount of money for their upcoming trip to British Columbia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cape Breton Selects 16 and Under Girls Soccer Team and wish them all the best in their fundraising efforts and best of luck in British Columbia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 93

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

Whereas Dr. Henry Bishop has been nominated for the Canadian National Griot Award, which recognizes the contributions Black Canadians are making in their communities; and

[Page 125]

Whereas the Canadian National Griot Award honours the talents, hard work and dedication of Black Canadians in 14 different categories, and will be held in Edmonton on October 4th; and

Whereas with his nomination for the Canadian National Griot Award, Dr. Henry Bishop is recognized for his outstanding achievement in the area of community services;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dr. Henry Bishop on his nomination for this award, as well as for the dedication and drive he brings to his community, and wish him continued success in the area of community services.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 94

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

Whereas on September 28th, our province experienced one of its worst natural disasters; and

Whereas countless individuals across the province and those from neighbouring provinces are working to return our province back to its normal state; and

Whereas as elected officials it is our first responsibility to serve our constituents and to be available as they move through these difficult times;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge their first responsibility is to address the challenges in front of all Nova Scotians and work in the true spirit of co-operation in the days and weeks ahead.

[Page 126]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:55 p.m. and end at 3:55 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HURRICANE JUAN - COST ESTIMATES: PREM. - PROVIDE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Driving through my own constituency, the devastation caused by Hurricane Juan is obvious. Nova Scotians have begun the process of recovery from the damage, but the cost of that recovery is beginning to mount. Municipalities, businesses and individuals are already starting to bear the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of dollars in costs out of their own pocket and lost infrastructure, inventory, wages and personal losses. Will the Premier today give this House an update on the cost estimates of the storm and the recovery efforts, as well as some idea when the federal government will be providing assistance under the DFAA?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome that question because it is a question that will become increasingly relevant over the next week or so. Right now, the government is focusing its efforts on having electricity restored. There will be a process undertaken once that is achieved that will allow an estimate of costs that have been borne by a great number of agencies and individuals. That process, however, is secondary right now to the prime objective of the government, and that is to have electricity restored to all residents safely.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier may not see the costs as being primary at this point but they will become primary to many people very quickly. My question to the Premier is, yesterday in response to a question by Halifax Member of Parliament Alexa McDonough, Defence Minister McCallum said that we are working in a spirit of excellent partnership and in a collaborative way. Well, given the fact that the federal Liberal

[Page 127]

Government has been very slow to deal with other disasters, notably BSE, SARS and with the forest fires out West, will the Premier tell us today that when he was speaking to Minister Thibault, did he ask for any upfront financial assistance to cope with the cost of recovery and will he commit to providing the province's 10 per cent share to those in need immediately?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, we have no argument right now with the federal government. Minister Thibault was in contact directly with me and indicated that he would use his influence to provide a coordinated approach by the federal government as the province works through this disaster. As well, the minister responsible for emergency measures had direct conversations with Minister McCallum, the Minister of Defence, and received great co-operation. As was heard earlier today, very shortly some 600 military personnel will be assisting in the cleanup here in Nova Scotia. I can also say that I was pleased to hear from the Governor of Maine, who indicated that he would be prepared to provide whatever help that he could provide, and he provided this support prior to the hurricane striking our shores. So I believe that the response by the federal government and others to this point has been appropriate.

The other issue that the question addressed relative to the slowness of payments from Ottawa, that is another question and the answer would be different.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, one of the problems for citizens dealing with the government is often the slowness of the government to the difficulties, especially the financial difficulties that they are undergoing. I can see from the news reports that the Premier is already starting to use decisions he made about this year's budget to suggest the limits to the province's financial capacity. I want to ask him for assurances today that Nova Scotians will not be shortchanged by this province when it comes to disaster relief. In particular, is the province going to provide additional funding over and above the 10 per cent of federal-provincial assistance that will be needed to deal with the costs that are not covered by private insurance or by the federal assistance program?

[3:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we went through this exercise following the March 31st flooding in Nova Scotia. I would remind the member opposite, by the very nature of the agreement that the province has with Ottawa, we provide the first upfront money to the limit of $1 dollar per citizen. We provide a reduced amount of funding as the amount goes up, and it's only after a certain threshold is reached that the 90/10 funding actually comes into play. So the province does provide a lion's share of the early funding. It also provides the largest share of the smaller amounts of funding up until the threshold is reached at which point the sharing is 90 to 10. What I can assure the member of is that we will negotiate with Ottawa all of the benefits that are available through that funding.

[Page 128]

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

HURRICANE JUAN - POWER INFO.: PROVISION - DETAILS

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Nova Scotians will be looking for all three levels of government to provide leadership in the wake of this past hurricane. So my question to the Premier is this, what is the Premier and his government doing to provide essential and critical information to the people in Nova Scotia who have no power today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. What the government is doing, we are putting out regular information through all media, radio, newspaper and television. As you know, many Nova Scotians, while they don't have electricity, have battery operated radios. So I do know from talking to a number of Nova Scotians that that has been the information source for many of those who have lost their electricity. The newspapers continue to provide the kind of information that their readers are interested in and I will also inform the House that later this afternoon the government will circulate all relevant phone numbers that would be of interest to MLAs and their constituents relative to services that can be received during this stressful situation. So we will be providing that information prior to the rising of the House this afternoon.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier relates to the 150,000 people and businesses in Nova Scotia who presently don't have power and, in particular, whether or not they would have the opportunity to access a radio or television or perhaps don't have newspapers and my question is, Mr. Premier, how specifically will we provide those people who don't have radio or television or don't receive newspapers or aren't friendly with any of the MLAs who have the information about phone numbers going to find information relevant to their circumstances?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is indeed a difficult question because it would be certainly unknown to the government just who those particular people are. What I can say is that all reasonable things are being undertaken by the government to make sure that citizens are aware of what is happening and also what agencies they in fact can contact if they need specific services and one of the exercises that I took part in yesterday along with the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization was the EMO briefing which involved all of those who are coordinating this effort in the province. It included government departments such as Community Services and Health. It included the military. It included the RCMP. It included the municipality.

In reality, Mr. Speaker, this disaster is being well managed by the minister and by the Emergency Measures Organization. They have now responded in a short period of time in this province to three disasters, the first being the September 11th disaster, the second being the March 31st flood, March 31st of this year, and most recently to the Hurricane Juan

[Page 129]

situation here in our province. We have a good coordinated response, one which while not perfect is very, very acceptable and I believe that we are being well served by that organization.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the concerns we raise today have to do with the safety of Nova Scotians, safety of the 150,000 Nova Scotians who are without power today. Last night we know we had two fires, one of which was caused by a candle. We don't know the cause of the other fire, but we do know that it was in a blackout zone. The concern with respect to information is very high amongst many Nova Scotians. Where I came from in Cape Breton they used to have the Tasty Treat truck that would go around blasting information about people needing ice cream. There are ways in which we can get information to people on the streets.

Yesterday I was on Jubilee Road where a half dozen university students were dancing on a tree that was tangled in wires. What Nova Scotians want to know is how do we remain safe, what information should we know and how do we get flyers out, advertisements out, what plan is there for this government to get information into the specific hands of the 150,000 Nova Scotians who don't have information from this government right now?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I've already indicated to the House my satisfaction with the current response of the Emergency Measures Organization and the response that has been taken on behalf of the citizens. What I would perhaps suggest is that the question could be addressed by the minister responsible.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly the question is a very valid one and as the Premier has stated, all available sources of the media are addressing the issue and certainly the Neighbourhood Watch Programs and the people in the neighbourhoods are talking to their neighbours and relaying that information as well. It's key I think in every advertisement, and I think the members of this House have seen it over the last several days in the example that the member opposite raised, is that people do stay away from downed power lines and that's being conveyed in virtually every press release by all media sources across this province. Those are the types of practical common-sense things that obviously are always put forward in public service broadcasts and continued to be put forward in all our media releases in all forms yesterday, today and will continue while this crisis is on.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

EMO - HURRICANE JUAN: PREPARATIONS - PROACTIVITY

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: My question is for the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization. We know that the response to Hurricane Juan by emergency staff and indeed by all Nova Scotians has been truly inspiring. Unfortunately, there were some episodes, as in metro where damage to some hospitals was such that work

[Page 130]

conditions were compromised. Some staff were sent home. Nonetheless, despite such episodes, once again Canadians have seen our community spirit in action. My concern though is not at this point with the immediate response but with the anticipation and I have to say that it appears the province was caught flat-footed in dealing with this hurricane. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the first and only press release issued by the government warning Nova Scotians about the storm and how to prepare occurred at 5:04 p.m. on Sunday, that is to say only minutes before the expected onset of the storm.

I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if the minister will explain to this House why it is that the province was not more proactive in preparing Nova Scotians for the worst storm in 40 years?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member certainly realizes and knows that the federal meteorologist service, the Hurricane Centre, certainly was putting out advisories that the storm had quickly formed since Friday. With EMO, we began active pursuit of preparedness on Friday. By Saturday most of the government and non-governmental agencies had been contacted and in my direct conversations with the Director of EMO and all the related agencies, those contacts had been made. Shelters were opening up on Sunday and certainly when the press release from the province went out between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, it was to reinforce to Nova Scotians what they were watching on their TVs, hearing on the radios and had taken note of in the paper in the lead-up on the weekend, that a hurricane of dangerous force was close, the emergency services were prepared and indeed the worst storm in recent memory, at least 40 or 50 years, struck the most densely populated area in Nova Scotia.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it's the province's role, not the federal role, that we're focusing on here in preparing Nova Scotians. The need for more effective emergency preparedness is obvious. Indeed, I would like to quote from a letter sent to all of us in this House by the former Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization last Spring: "Our current world conditions . . ." he said, " . . . give even more emphasis to the need for our communities to be prepared."

In this letter there was also an inventory of individual communities' emergency preparedness, some of which, particularly those in Pictou, Cumberland and Colchester Counties, were drastically under-prepared, according to that minister. So I would like to ask, what assistance was given to these municipalities over the Spring and summer to better prepare them for events like the ones we have just endured?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly emergency preparedness is key, involving all levels of government, from municipal, provincial, federal and related agencies coordinated, is part of that effort. If the honourable member is prepared to look at emergency preparedness among provinces in this country, this one, if not at the top, is very near the top. Certainly those particular emergency assessments that the member refers to are an important process and part of being prepared. If we do not examine the municipal and regional levels, local

[Page 131]

organizations ready to deal with this situation, we would not be able to improve it. Certainly the response during the lead-up to this storm coming in was excellent; all those organizations were open, on active duty and watch, and prepared when the hurricane did come ashore.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the answer seems to be that nothing was done since the minister's predecessor's letter in the Spring. Many of these same under-prepared communities were hit hard by Spring flooding this year. They are now left in an even more difficult position in trying to deal with the aftermath of this hurricane.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I may switch now to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. I ask, what is his department doing to assess the need that municipalities have for emergency financial assistance, and when will it be provided?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. That's a question that's more appropriately referred to the Minister responsible for EMO.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member is aware, certainly emergency or disaster assistance falls under the purview of EMO and we are currently concerned with the cleanup, the restoration of power and as the Premier has reiterated, we have a coordinated program in place with the federal government to deal with financial relief and emergency funding. If it meets the guidelines, that commitment is there.

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

HURRICANE JUAN - STATE OF EMERGENCY:

DECLARATION - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I would note with some interest the early leadership that's been shown by the Halifax Regional Municipality with respect to this hurricane. It was in the afternoon of last Friday when they started to prepare for these events. I note with some interest that the first time, and perhaps the only time that this government has issued a press release with respect to this matter was 5:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, when they started to suggest to people that they assemble emergency kits and find meeting places, just hours before this hurricane was to hit.

I also note with interest that the Halifax Regional Municipality has declared a state of emergency for the boundaries that surround the Halifax Regional Municipality. My question on behalf of the people who have been affected in the areas outside HRM is to the Premier. Why, Mr. Premier, did we not declare a state of emergency in other parts of Nova Scotia?

[Page 132]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand a copy of the Emergency Measures Act, which is an Act to Provide for a Prompt and Co-ordinated Response to a State of Emergency. If, in fact, the response was not prompt and was not coordinated, this government would have enacted this legislation and allowed a state of emergency to exist, but the response was prompt, the response has been coordinated, and there is no reason for this government to assume extraordinary powers as long as a prompt and coordinated response is being carried out. (Applause)

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, it's on the subject of that coordinated response that I would like to pick up on the Premier's response. Mr. Premier, would you consider setting up support centres in Truro, Bedford, Dartmouth and other areas, central locations where people without power could come to find information about how they can take care of their needs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member should be aware, that is part of emergency preparedness. Obviously on Sunday, each one of those centres, through the coordinated services of EMO, had available to them and were assigning shelters, open centres, such as happened here in metro and other areas across Nova Scotia - Truro. Those are the actions that did take place and obviously do take place in an emergency measures situation.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, support centres are certainly not known to the people in my constituency. Support centres, I expect, aren't providing the kind of information that is needed. What Nova Scotians are asking for is information. I ask the Premier, will you devise mechanisms, sir, to ensure that we distribute information through pamphlets or through loud speakers to those people who may be travelling over live wires or below branches, or lighting candles in an unsafe manner?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the seriousness of the issue. The government has, as have other agencies, been providing that very kind of information. Within the restrictions that the damage itself has placed upon us, we are doing exactly that. Radio, newspaper, television, word of mouth, all of these things are being utilized to make sure that Nova Scotians understand what they can access in order to get them through this serious situation, and what things they should or should not do and, as a result of these things, protect themselves as much as they can until full order has been restored.

[Page 133]

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

HURRICANE JUAN - PREPARATIONS:

ADEQUACY - PREM. EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Of course the best way to get out information is in advance, so that people have it in their hands before the event actually happens. Now Hurricane Juan may have been the worst storm to hit our province directly in recorded history, and I think everyone in the House recognizes that only so much can be done in the face of such a storm. Nonetheless, as preparedness is assessed, people will note that one news release at suppertime on Sunday was the only public advice issued by the province. I want to ask the Premier, will the Premier explain now or ensure that there is an explanation soon of what the province could have done to ensure more adequate preparation by those living in the very path of the hurricane?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question allows me to repeat, the arrangements that were made by the Emergency Measures Organization and by the minister responsible were prompt, they were effective, and they were accurate. I believe that Nova Scotians were as prepared as you could be for an event as significant, and perhaps as unpredictable, as Hurricane Juan.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier won't be surprised if I beg to differ. This was certainly an unprecedented event, so previous experience with severe storms in this area was not a guide. But the hurricane wasn't sneaked ashore in the middle of the night. Environment Canada's forecasters and the local media let people know the storm was coming, and they kept them informed throughout the night. There was no series of advisories from provincial or municipal officials. My question for the Premier is, how did the province coordinate emergency preparations, evacuations and detailed advice to people in the path of the hurricane, and how satisfied, frankly, is the Premier with the province's role?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what the question allows me to do is to repeat something that I had said earlier in Question Period - I'm very, very satisfied with the very, very prompt and coordinated response of the Emergency Measures Organization. We are indebted to those people who have been working tirelessly since the hours leading up to the storm, during the storm and, as well, in the hours following the storm. So we have had a very prompt and coordinated response on our behalf.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier should understand that it's not simply pointing the finger of blame at the government for not being prepared but it's a question of how do you prepare for future events that will inevitably occur. There are lots of lessons to be captured - details as simple as making sure that vehicles are fuelled up, making sure that food can be cooked without electricity and setting aside a supply of drinking water. The bigger issue is when the Premier, ministers, mayors and wardens should hold news briefings

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and provide very specific advice. So my question is this, how does the Premier plan to assess how the government prepared for this storm and how they responded to it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister responsible.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I think it's important to provide a little detail and point out to the member opposite that certainly there is not a requirement that there is a provincial logo on everything that appears in the press. I refer to, the member opposite was able to obtain a copy of The Chronicle-Herald on Saturday or Sunday listing the precautions that should occur. Those things come because EMO is reporting that to the media.

I would also like to point out to the members of the House that part of preparedness is to ensure that those radio stations are manned on the weekend when they're normally pre-recorded in most of Nova Scotia, that is coordination of EMO with the managers and the media people in those radio stations so that those advisories are on there. It didn't carry a provincial government logo or tag on it but that is how EMO works with and prepares for different media to advise the public and have the critical people in place to ensure, from voluntary fire departments, first responders, different agencies of government from the Department of Health, EMC, they're all there and those things were done and I can assure the House that they did occur and that's why we were ready.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - HURRICANE JUAN:

VG REPAIRS - COVERAGE DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Among the destruction of Hurricane Juan, a portion of the roof of the old VG Hospital was destroyed. Fortunately, thanks to the hard work of some dedicated staff, all of the patients were evacuated safely. However, there is one unanswered question that remains. It is the issue of costs required for repairs and my question to the minister is, will the Department of Health be covering the costs of those repairs?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question, especially his reference to the very carefully executed work of the Emergency Measures' people and, in particular, of our health care workers in ensuring that these patients' needs were addressed and they were moved efficiently and effectively. We will certainly be working with the DHA with respect to ensuring that adequate repairs take place in as efficient a manner as possible.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, there are districts throughout this province that are already in a bind. The capital district is certainly no exception and we've heard that the delay of government in approving business plans is going to have an effect on

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the capital district, including the real possibility, we hear, of more bed closures and now the capital district will be faced with this additional pressure. So, my question to the minister again is, how can the minister expect the capital district to provide quality health care with the delay in their business plan approval and on top of it, this additional pressure?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the honourable member for the question. In situations such as this, it is important that we fully assess all the circumstances surrounding the situation. The questions that come to mind are the extent to which insurance will be involved relative to the cost, the repairs, the extent to which the emergency funding referenced earlier with respect to the federal government becoming involved and any premature statements on my part with respect to funding would not be appropriate at this time until we've adequately analyzed and prepared for everything and every eventuality surrounding the cost of these repairs.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, there's one thing that becomes quite clear by that response and that is that that old $155 cheque is coming back to haunt this government again, one more time. That money would have gone a long way in repairing the roof, not to mention provide more assistance to the district when it comes to the costs that are associated with cancer care drugs, and overtime for nursing staff. My question to the minister again is, will the minister confirm today that the costs associated with those repairs will not come from the current budget of the capital health district, which is already compromised because of government delays of business plan approvals?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated previously, we will be working with the DHA to ensure that all possible sources of funding have been examined very carefully with respect to the repairs and that process is ongoing. The repairs will be done, the operations will continue at those hospitals as soon as possible. I can assure the honourable member that we will work to ensure that as much money as possible, or as is needed, will be made available with respect to those facilities.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - HURRICANE JUAN:

FARMERS - ASSISTANCE DETAILS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will be directing my question to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. We heard today from the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture that farmers have been hard hit by Hurricane Juan. Buildings and crops have either been toppled or badly damaged and the lack of power is affecting operations. The agricultural sector has already been hit hard by flooding this Spring and the BSE crisis. So I will ask the Minister of Agriculture, will there be assistance in place to help farmers repair damage caused by Hurricane Juan.

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HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, we completely understand the problems that Juan has given us today and we are out there to try to assess the damage. I will be trying to leave this afternoon to assess that damage, to find out about some of our crops and see the things that are laying on their side. Apparently there are a number of corn crops on their sides. As the days go on we will find out what the implications will be. As far as we understand, most of these things are insured through crop insurance, through insurance on the buildings in place. We do believe that the new case program will identify some of these things.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his first answer in Question Period, he is certainly following the direction of previous ministers, I want to say, with no answer.

Mr. Speaker, farmers are resilient people, but there's only so much they can absorb in one year. Farmers in central Nova Scotia have been particularly hard hit by the hurricane and many are already struggling. What assurances can the minister offer the agricultural community that this government will take this crisis seriously and provide meaningful financial support. We know the minister would be aware that the insurance would cover, but there are going to be cases where we know that it won't. He would know that before he takes his tour today. So give us a clear answer, are you going to help or not?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the member is very well aware that by signing our APF, or Agricultural Policy Framework, that these things do fall within it. We know that we've made provisions to bring up $75 million in federal-provincial funding to Nova Scotia farmers over the next five years, which is more money than government has been able to provide to the farming community over the last 10 years. So it's something that we're very proud of, in signing this APF. We know that this program will help the disaster that has happened due to Hurricane Juan.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think farmers are looking for some assurance prior to five years. If any amount of money has been acknowledged and restated more than the money in Agriculture, I don't know which department it could be - it's probably a toss-up. So far this government has refused to extend BSE relief and has tied the hands of the task force on the future of our cattle industry. Given the new crisis, I ask the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, will there be provincial disaster relief in place to ensure that Hurricane Juan isn't the final blow for many family farms in Nova Scotia?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I will be talking with the Minister responsible for EMO. It is my understanding that there are monies that can flow through for this type of thing. I also want to make the House understand that the BSE task force that the member

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brought up, I am still awaiting a number of appointments to that board and to finalize the final terms of reference on that board, and I am waiting for a certain member . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

INSURANCE: ACTUARIAL COSTS - EXPLANATION

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for auto insurance announced throughout the summer that he would bring forward a solution to the rising auto insurance problems and even retained an actuarial firm to assist with the implications of proposed insurance reforms; ironically, the same firm that provided work to the New Brunswick Justice Department to determine the caps in that province. We should not be surprised to learn that the Hamm Government was able to announce, a week after hiring this firm, a $2,500 cap for pain and suffering awards in this province; ironically, the same amount announced by the Lord Government in New Brunswick. We should also not be surprised to learn, as well, that the "minor injury" definition is identical to the one that the Lord Government in New Brunswick brought forward earlier this summer.

While the Hamm Government continues to say that they have a made-in-Nova Scotia solution, it is obvious that what they really have is a made-in-New Brunswick solution, and we've seen that that solution isn't working very well. My question to the minister is, given the incredible similarities, can the minister please explain why his department spent $100,000 of taxpayers' money for wording and definitions that he clearly could have simply received by a fax from the New Brunswick Government?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member would take the time to take a look at the New Brunswick legislation and the Nova Scotia legislation, he would immediately understand why we spent the additional $100,000.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the report itself is basically the same information that the Government of New Brunswick got from that firm, yet we paid another $100,000 for the same information. That's not what changed the legislation, it certainly wasn't that report. The minister has claimed that he worked very hard in bringing forward these legislative reforms by taking "great care to properly define minor injuries". There is some concern that under New Brunswick legislation severe injuries would now be classified as minor injuries. This is of concern here, since the same wording is being adopted by this minister in his auto insurance reform bill.

Mr. Speaker, we've seen enough similarities to New Brunswick, and we've seen the concerns that have been raised there. My question to the minister is, can the minister, today, reassure Nova Scotia drivers that severe injuries under his legislation will not be classified as minor injuries in this province?

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MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that's a very simple question and there's a very simple answer - yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable members not to ask questions about bills that are before the House. The first question was not, but I would say the supplementary was a direct question on that bill. So I would ask the honourable member to rephrase his next question, please.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are very concerned that on the one hand savings are being offered by this government, yet on the other hand drastic measures are in place to take important benefits away contrary to the public declarations by this government. I ask the minister again, is he prepared to undertake a review of the pronouncements that this government has already made, to make sure that Nova Scotians are not going to be negatively impacted by this government's new definition of minor injuries?

MR. SPEAKER: Again the question is a direct question about the bill that is before the House. The honourable Deputy Premier can answer if he wishes. If not, we will go to the next question.

MR. RUSSELL: Perhaps I could just answer it in a peripheral manner, Mr. Speaker. I don't know whose side of the equation the honourable member for Richmond is on, but this government is certainly on the side of the consumer.

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

AGRIC. & FISH. - COASTAL COMMUNITIES:

FISH. & OCEANS MIN. - CONVERSATION DETAILS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. In the last few days in the aftermath of this hurricane, I've witnessed, first-hand, the resolve of Nova Scotians in our coastal communities as they have collected themselves to respond to the disastrous situation around them. These are the very same people in the communities that I represent who rushed out to assist with the Swissair crash that fateful September night just five short years ago, but now it's the government's turn to come to these people's aid. What conversations have taken place, Mr. Minister, with the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans about financial assistance for these communities?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: At this point I'm planning on speaking to the minister. I have not spoken to him as of yet and I appreciate the question, I will be speaking to him very soon. I know the Premier has, I don't know what the Premier has more to add to that. (Interruption)

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THE PREMIER: The question was referred to me. I can assure the member opposite that my conversation with federal Minister Robert Thibault was very reassuring. He indicated that he and his government colleagues would step up to the plate relative to the situation that the impending strike of Hurricane Juan was going to provide to our province. So I believe that that declaration by the federal minister is one that we can count on.

MR. ESTABROOKS: First of all, Mr. Speaker, let's be clear on the tone of these questions. This is no laughing matter, this is a matter of concern. I want you to know that fishermen like Barry Slaunwhite of Terence Bay and Gerald Blackburn of Lower Prospect need help now - no delay, no excuses, and no apologies. Instead of promises of assistance down the road, these men and women need upfront assistance now. These coastal communities are in a disastrous situation. So, Mr. Minister, with no hand-off to the boss, what specific commitment will you give today about access to upfront assistance for these coastal communities?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: I want to thank the member for the poignant question. I know, coming from a fishing community, that this is very important to us. I know that I have lived through and seen the devastation of other storms, such as the groundhog storm quite a few years ago and know the devastation that something like this can provide and the problems that it can create for communities. I know that the Minister responsible for EMO will be speaking with the federal minister tomorrow morning and I know that I will have subsequent questions with him very soon. I would ask the member opposite to provide me with some names and we will be talking with them as soon as we possibly can, which is probably in a few minutes.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Minister, I have a better offer. These hard-working Nova Scotians need a hand up now, not a handout later. So I would like to invite you and the Premier - you have a day of commitments today so tomorrow it would seem appropriate - that you and the Premier could learn first-hand of this devastation. Would you accept the invitation of the member for Halifax Atlantic and myself to tour the fishing villages from Sambro through to West Dover at your earlier possible convenience? At 9:00 a.m., the Government Wharf, with Gerald Blackburn, tomorrow, would be just opportune for this member.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Well I think this is a good question and I will see if it works. I'm pretty sure it can and I would also like to maybe see if we could invite our federal minister to do the same thing.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: BOIL WATER ORDERS - MIN. ISSUE

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. About 40 per cent of Nova Scotians rely on well water and in light of the recent hurricane, we still don't know how many of these wells have been affected by flooding, the infection of groundwater and surface water or local damage. The protection of these residents should be one of our top priorities. As municipalities across the province struggle to deal with Hurricane Juan, many homeowners may not yet even know that they could be in danger. Mr. Minister, will you issue precautionary boil water orders until residents have an opportunity to test their wells?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. It is certainly an important thing; our drinking water is of the utmost importance after the storm. Certainly anybody who thinks they may have been affected or any well that they think may have been contaminated, should certainly take all precautions that are necessary to ensure their safety. As a point of information, they should certainly boil their water for three minutes at the very minimum until they can have their water tested to ensure that their water is safe for drinking.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, this storm is certainly one of the worst that we have ever experienced in Nova Scotia and now, more than ever, I think it is important that we ensure that everyone has safe drinking water. The problem is that it costs more than $100 to do an extensive well water test. In P.E.I., it's around $40 and in Manitoba the tests are subsidized. Too many homeowners simply cannot afford to have their well water tested. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour, out of the concern for safety, are you going to provide subsidized well water testing for Nova Scotians?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, there are some numbers that people can call with regard to water and water quality in HRM and in East and West Hants County. It is 424-7773 and in Colchester, Pictou and Truro, it is 893-5880 and people certainly should have their water tested prior to drinking.

MR. PARKER: I didn't hear anything in your answer there about helping out with the cost of it. As you know, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have a right to safe drinking water. We need three things: an immediate boil water order for homeowners, an immediate supply of drinking water for homeowners in the short term, and affordable water testing. So my question through you is, Mr. Minister, when will your government commit to these three basic precautionary measures?

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MR. MORASH: I have been talking with staff as recently as this morning about these three issues. We will continue to monitor and we will proceed to make sure that drinking water is safe for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

AGRIC. & FISH.: BSE CRISIS - MIN. ACTION

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Could the minister tell this House what his department is willing to do to solve the BSE crisis faced by the beef industry in Nova Scotia?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. It is a good one. This is one that I have been working on quite diligently since being appointed minister. It is one that is full of other questions as we get into this issue.

The government has been providing a number of things, including the BSE recovery program which ended, of course, at the end of August but we are still waiting for some applications to come through until the end of this month before people can complete this. We also have the NISA Program, the NISA interim withdrawals. We have a number of issues around bridge funding that we are interested in looking at. There is also CFIP which is still completing to the end of the year. We also have a nice phone number, to provide to farmers if they do have questions about their situations, that we did provide. I think another member did provide it but here it is again, 1-866-844-4276 and each producer, each farmer can call that number to figure out their particular situation with regard to mad cow disease or BSE. Thank you.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. MCNEIL: What farmers need to know is when the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture is going to recognize the uniqueness of the agriculture situation in this province and find a made-in-Nova Scotia solution other than relying solely on Ottawa. What will his department do in the short term for the beef industry of Nova Scotia?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: As the member knows, we've sat down and we are putting together the BSE task force, which I hope to bring forward to this House who the members will be in the very near future. We know that they'll be coming back with recommendations at the end of October to better understand how these programs are working or not working for the producers. We also have some bridge funding to provide to the producers, and I'm leaving that to the task force whether or not we have five different options to provide this, whether it should be the same as the federal government is doing with their bridge financing

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across all commodities, or whether it is something that we should be targeting towards red meat or simply cattle producers. Thank you.

MR. MCNEIL: Thank you. The task force that the minister speaks about will report to this House on October 31st. That will be too late for many farms in Nova Scotia. As an interim step to save the family farm in Nova Scotia, after Question Period today will the minister contact the Federation of Agriculture to set up a feeder market adjustment program to help compensate producers for the depressed prices before the next livestock sale?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: I thank the member for that question. As a matter of fact I'm meeting with Laurence Nason from the federation just after this. I'm sure that will be one of the topics of discussion. Thank you.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - HURRICANE JUAN:

SOCIAL ASSIST. RECIPIENTS - ASSIST. DETAILS

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. As of today, hundreds of thousands of people remain without power despite the best efforts of Nova Scotia Power crews to restore service following Hurricane Juan. Public health officials have warned families that most perishable foods are no longer safe and must be discarded. For families on social assistance, this is an especially hard blow to absorb in their budget. I ask the Minister of Community Services, what are the details of provisions of helping families who lost their supply of food because of the storm?

HON. DAVID MORSE: I thank the member opposite for her question, her maiden question in this House and it was a good one. Actually this morning we were discussing this with staff and the answer to your question - which is particularly relevant because it was just this past week that they got their monthly cheque, so for those that buy a month's supply to put into a freezer, it's of greater concern - is that in those cases they should be contacting their caseworker to see whether there should be some special provision.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, a single person on employment support and income assistance gets $180 a month for food, clothing and other necessities. Low shelter rates mean that much of the personal use allowance must supplement rent costs. Many people rely on food banks, but they cannot return for weeks. I ask the Minister of Community Services, how will the government reassure families receiving social assistance that they will be able to refill their fridges when they can barely fill them once in the run of a month?

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MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the caseworker is to understand the specifics of each case, because no one case is exactly the same and that's why I would encourage clients who are in those circumstances to contact their caseworker to see what would be appropriate in their circumstances. Thank you.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, an estimated 36,000 children in Nova Scotia are living in poverty and studies clearly show that these children and their parents are going hungry. What are the mothers and fathers on social assistance going to prepare for their children's lunches as soon as school starts? I ask the Minister of Community Services, will your government provide an adequate and immediate disaster relief funding so families on assistance can replace their spoiled food?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thought I had answered that question twice already. The purpose of seeing the caseworker is to make sure that the appropriate measures are taken to deal with that family's specific circumstances, so I would encourage any clients in that situation to contact their caseworker and they will make sure that they are not impacted adversely by Hurricane Juan.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - AUTUMN HOUSE:

LBR. DISPUTE - INTERVENTION DETAILS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services, as well. Autumn House of Amherst is an important component to the services essential to women and children across this province, and in particular Cumberland County, and yet this government, indeed this minister, appears to be showing a rather callous disregard for the needs of some of these most vulnerable citizens. So my question to the minister is, why has the minister chosen not to intervene in the labour dispute that has hampered the good work of Autumn House for the past seven weeks?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. The member opposite would appreciate, as a former Minister of Labour, that this is a dispute between an employer and a union. While we are trying to assist those who are impacted by this labour dispute to make sure there's a contingency plan in place which is checked on a regular basis to make sure it's working for the women and children who need the services of Autumn House, it would not be appropriate of us to enter into the negotiations. That is something that's between an employer and the union.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is little wonder this minister walks around with a cloud over his head. It's very disappointing to hear the minister say that he is not in a position to become involved in this labour dispute. The minister and his government know

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full well they have a direct responsibility not only to these people who are most vulnerable, but also the fact that the province is the lead agent that funds this particular organization.

My question to the minister is, what will it take to motivate the minister, or someone in this government, to take appropriate leadership action to resolve this very unfortunate situation?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, of course, that points to the question that this government has taken leadership in this area. There is a funding formula in place right across the province that treats all transition houses the same, and that formula also applies to Autumn House. So the formula is there, we do fully fund nine beds, with eight full-time equivalent employees; that is in place. We stand by that commitment not only to Autumn House, but to all transition houses.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has recently indicated that all departmental budgets, indeed their ministers were to find ways of cutting back, roll back to meet the shortfall in funding. So my question to the minister is, how would a lengthy labour dispute, such as the one at Autumn House, affect the bottom line? Essentially, is it in the government's, and in particular the minister's department's best interests to allow this labour dispute to fester on?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, with reference to the continuing strike, it is a concern of this government, it is a concern of this department and it is certainly a concern of mine. I have encouraged both sides to get together, back at the table; in fact tried to be a bit of a facilitator by assisting Autumn House in getting a professional negotiator, bearing in mind that they basically have one person in management and that person cannot be expected to know everything about the labour laws in the province. So we are trying to do all that we can to assist them to reach a negotiated settlement.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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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, I'm pleased today to speak on Bill No. 1, the Automobile Insurance Reform Act, and to move second reading of that bill.

Mr. Speaker, rising auto insurance rates have had an impact on all Nova Scotians, especially students, seniors, working families and businesses. In Nova Scotia all drivers are required by law to carry auto insurance. Nova Scotians expect their insurance policy to be fair and affordable but for many years the rates have become virtually unaffordable. Even worse, consumers haven't received clear explanations on why their insurance rates are so high. This is completely unacceptable. Insurance companies have gone too far and it stops today with this bill.

This bill will implement the strongest auto insurance legislation in this country, auto insurance that legislates 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 auto insurance system. It incorporates many of the recommendations identified by the consumer advocate in his report of last week.

The Automobile Insurance Reform Act is strong, effective legislation that addresses the heart of the problem and affects substantial reform to the automobile insurance system. This Act will amend five separate pieces of legislation - the Insurance Act, the Judicature Act, the Summary Proceedings Act, the Limitation of Actions Act and the Motor Vehicle Act. It has taken a lot of work over the past few months but the result is a thorough and complete package. This legislation will benefit consumers by making auto insurance more affordable and more fair. It will give consumers better protection. It gives consumers the power to make new choices.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to spend a few minutes now outlining some of the more significant improvements consumers will see from this legislation. The most important and significant impact for consumers is the legislated 20 per cent rollback of auto insurance from the rates as of May 1, 2003. This will benefit consumers in two ways. First, they will receive a 20 per cent pro rata reimbursement from their insurance companies for any premiums paid from November 1st to the time when they renew their policies and, secondly, effective November 1, 2003, all premiums for private passenger auto insurance will be reduced by 20 per cent from the rate that was frozen as of May 1, 2003. This new lower rate will be in effect for at least one year.

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Mr. Speaker, this legislation is putting hard-earned money back into the consumer's pocket. In addition to this immediate rate relief, all future applications for rate increases will have to be reviewed and approved by the Nova Scotia Insurance Review Board. This new system will protect Nova Scotia drivers from unreasonable rate increases that many have experienced over the past two years. This lower rate is achieved by changing the current insurance package. The changes include an increase in minimum liability protection from $200,000 to $500,000. Insurance companies have indicated that their largest cost is minor soft-tissue injury claims. Therefore, this legislation will limit excessive awards paid for minor injuries. Controlling these costs and implementing other changes to the system will reduce insurance companies' costs by at least 20 per cent. The companies in turn will pass a 20 per cent reduction on to consumers.

This legislation ensures that consumers will benefit and you can be sure, Mr. Speaker, that we have taken proper care to properly define minor injuries. We have consulted with many groups, including the insurance industry, the legal community, physiotherapists and others. We have settled on a definition that is similar to other jurisdictions and it is working

well in those jurisdictions.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, most importantly, in no way do these changes affect benefits for individuals who suffer more serious injuries. I want to be perfectly clear that this cap only limits excessive awards for pain and suffering claims. If you suffer a minor injury, you will still get coverage for physiotherapy and other medical treatment. You will still get paid for time missed from work, and you will still get reimbursed for any expenses related to the injury. The only thing that changes is the limit of compensation that is paid for the pain and suffering you incur because of minor injury. That compensation is capped at $2,500.

The second big benefit for consumers is increased protection and fairness. In June we introduced the underwriting practices regulations to protect consumers from unfair discrimination. With this package, we are expanding on the protections that already exist. We will ensure that insurance companies are no longer able to discriminate by setting rates based on age and gender, because we believe good drivers should be rewarded for their clean driving records. We believe all drivers should be rated fairly by considering their experience and driving record.

This legislation also bans insurance companies from using other unfair factors to determine the level of risk and the price you should pay. This means that your rates can't go up if you make a claim for an accident that was not your fault. I think everybody will say that's fair. You can't be charged more just because you chose not to buy car insurance for up to two years. This legislation protects consumers by securing these lower rates until November 2004. After that, rates can only increase if they have been approved by the Nova

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Scotia Insurance Review Board. This government will protect Nova Scotians by being tough on people who drive without insurance.

Mr. Speaker, before renewing or obtaining a vehicle permit, you will now be required to show proof of insurance. Penalties for driving without insurance are going up. A first offence will now cost drivers $1,000 or 45 days in prison, a second offence will cost $2,000 or 90 days in prison, and a third offence will cost $5,000 or 120 days in prison. Penalties for other offences have also been increased or introduced for insurance companies. The fine for contravening the Insurance Act goes up from $200 to a maximum of $5,000. Any company that files information with the Insurance Review Board that may mislead the board will face a maximum fine of $250,000, and any insurance company that breaks the withdrawal provisions of the Act is subject to a fine of $1 million.

Government will be tough on people who have been convicted of dangerous driving, flight from police or intoxicated driving offences. A person will not be allowed to make an insurance claim if that incident contributed directly to an accident. Another benefit consumers will receive, Mr. Speaker, with this legislation is more options. You will now be able to purchase enhanced accident benefits for you and your family. This legislation also opens the door to allow insurance companies to offer coverage beyond the current insurance package. As a vehicle owner, you are allowed to adjust your policy to exclude people from using your vehicle. So your insurance company cannot raise your rates if you have a roommate with a poor driving record, if you don't want to have that person covered by your policy. This is a major step in the right direction.

This legislation builds on existing regulations to protect consumers against unfair discrimination. Through these reforms, insurance companies are banned from refusing to issue or renew auto insurance for an existing or potential customer. Insurance companies can no longer refuse coverage based on criteria such as age, gender, marital status, age of vehicle, previous not-at-fault accidents, making a late payment or a lapse of auto insurance coverage less than two years in length.

As you can see, this legislation is strong, it's detailed and it's complete. All the amendments we made were with the consumers' needs in mind. After a period of consultation with the public and discussions with the consumer advocate, this government is delivering to Nova Scotians what they need - fair rates and more protection. This is exactly the kind of change that was needed - a reform of the private insurance system. We have moved quickly and consumers will see results immediately.

Increases have happened across the country in private insurance systems and in taxpayer-owned systems. That's why we are focused on fixing the insurance product for consumers with this reform. It is a strong approach, a consumer approach and it is the right approach and we're delivering it immediately.

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In summary, this legislation means more affordability, more accessibility and more protection for all Nova Scotian drivers. This is the right approach. We've given Nova Scotians exactly what they needed, what they've asked for - a reform system which provides them with rate relief and the protection that they need immediately. Therefore, I am very pleased and very happy to move second reading of Bill No. 1. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That was the fantasy and now, a little bit of reality. This bill is wrong in principle. This bill is wrong in principle - it will not work, but it won't be apparent to Nova Scotians that it doesn't work until we have gone through more than a year of wrenching chaos and confusion.

This bill is wrong because it attacks the symptoms and not the disease. It legislates a price control and only a temporary price control at that without examining or dealing with the fundamental problems that have caused the price to rise too high, too fast. It legislates a permanent reduction in benefits in exchange for a temporary decrease in premiums - that is another reason why it is wrong in principle.

It's also wrong in principle because it imposes a one-size-fits-all solution on an industry with individual players having widely varying financial positions and on consumers whose circumstances are as individual as they are. It will cause chaos and confusion, all of this at a time when we know there is a better way. Public auto insurance in one form or another exists in four other Canadian provinces and those are the provinces where auto insurance rates are the lowest and the fairest. The minister says that this bill is the strongest auto insurance legislation in the country. Mr. Speaker, the minister is wrong. The strongest auto insurance legislation in the country belongs to those provinces with public auto insurance systems. Those provinces deliver low and fair rates to their drivers - public auto insurance works.

I'd now like to examine each one of these flaws that I've spoken about in some detail. I think it is worthwhile going over this in some detail about why this bill is so misguided and so wrong as a way of dealing with the crisis in auto insurance premiums in Nova Scotia. The bill attacks price of auto insurance and discriminatory rules within auto insurance directly but without any analysis of why the price is high or why there are discriminatory rules.

The minister said something in his remarks that I thought was very interesting. The one time that he came close to identifying what the government sees as the root cause of the crisis in auto insurance premiums, he said that the industry says that was, of course, a reference to the industry's claim - which is hotly disputed by others who know a great deal about the auto insurance industry - that the root of the problem is an increase in minor soft tissue claims. That is the only reason this minister can offer for this piece of legislation, that the industry says that that's the cause. The minister very carefully did not say that this

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government believes that's the cause. There could hardly be a better indication of how this government and the insurance industry are moving in lockstep than this government accepting as a premise of its bill an idea put forward by the insurance industry without the government even saying whether they believe it or not. They're saying the insurance industry says it, so it must be true.

Mr. Speaker, the root causes of the recent rapid rise in automobile insurance premiums are in dispute. There is not one single cause, although the insurance industry and this government would like us to believe there is only one cause, and it's so-called exaggerated claims for minor injuries. There are a number of reasons for the recent crisis and among them are the following. First of all, investment losses by the insurance industry. Now, it is indisputable that the insurance industry has suffered significant losses in its holdings over the past number of years and it is indisputable that that is one of the causes why they had to go elsewhere to make up their profits, namely the pockets of consumers.

Yet the insurance industry's approach, which is well financed as we see from the full-page ads in our newspapers, as we see by the fact that the Insurance Bureau of Canada has more registered lobbyists than any other lobbying organization in Nova Scotia, it is well financed, well organized and all designed to make Nova Scotians believe that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with anything the insurance industry has done or anything the insurance industry is doing, when we know that that is patently untrue.

If you believe the insurance industry, then the only thing that needs to change are consumers themselves. If only they would behave differently everything would be fine. If only Nova Scotians would stop putting forward exaggerated claims for minor injuries everything would be okay. Mr. Speaker, there is little that could be further from the truth.

So the first cause unaddressed by this legislation is the investment losses suffered by the insurance industry. Apparently they're to go scot-free. Apparently their investment decisions are to go unexamined by this government and unaddressed in this legislation.

Another cause, Mr. Speaker, is an industry structure that discourages spending on road safety, and that's because in Nova Scotia we have a structure of many insurance companies, each with a relatively small portion of the business. The largest auto insurance underwriter in Nova Scotia has about 17 per cent of the market. That's the largest, and there are many other small players. But the result of this patchwork of small players is that no company has an interest in spending money on road safety, because if one company spends money on road safety, all of their competitors benefit from the spending. So there's no one player in the industry with an interest in actually promoting fewer collisions. This stands in contrast, for example, with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, the public auto insurance provider in British Columbia which spends millions and millions of dollars on road safety every year because they know that for every dollar they spend, they save many more in avoiding collisions. But in the year before the Utility and Review Board hearing, the

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Insurance Bureau of Canada in Nova Scotia spent a grand total of $32,000 on road safety, $32,000 for all of Nova Scotia in a full year. The reason is simple, the industry is structured in such a way there's no incentive for them to spend any more.

Now, it so happened, some would say by coincidence - I would say not, Mr. Speaker - that during the recent election campaign the Insurance Bureau of Canada spent a great deal of money, a great deal of highly visible money on a road safety campaign dealing with headrests. Alongside the political ads were the IBC's ads, which talked about using your headrests and adjusting your headrests properly, and the subtext of all this was, don't worry, the insurance industry really cares about road safety. But if they cared so much about road safety, why did it take an election campaign for them to spend the money? That's a question that the government doesn't address in this bill or otherwise.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, another root cause of the current insurance crisis is an industry structure that discourages getting tough on false or exaggerated claims. We had one insurance executive confessing that to our caucus. Every time I talk to somebody from the industry I say to them, look, if the problem is false and exaggerated claims, why aren't you going after the false and exaggerated claims? Why are you making everybody hurt? The answer from one insurance industry executive, whose company does auto insurance business in Nova Scotia, is that they couldn't afford to be known as the company that was tough on claims. That was a reputation that they did not want to have, if their competitors did not have the same reputation.

If one company got tough, the idea goes, their customers would flee them and their reputation for being tough in favour of a company that had a reputation for not being tough. In order to avoid that, none of the insurance industry, none of the insurance companies in Nova Scotia are tough on fraud or exaggerated claims. Oh, they will tell you that they are, but they're not. They're not. They will tell you that if you ask them. That's the reality, Mr. Speaker.

If we have an insurance industry that has a line that has been bought by this government, hook, line and sinker, that the problem is exaggerated claims, well, if that's the problem, let's go after the exaggerated claims. Let's get really tough on the people who are exaggerating their claims. Let's stop dinging the people who have been honest drivers all of their lives and have never submitted a claim. Let's take it easy on them and get tough on the fraud artists. But no, no, the industry has a different idea because of the way they're structured, it doesn't pay for any of them to get tough.

Mr. Speaker, let's suppose we had a problem in this province with bank robberies, too many banks were being robbed. So you have two possible responses. One is to get tough on bank robbers, increase security, do everything you can to root them out and put them in

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prison. That's what you should do with bank robbers, but instead this government has chosen the other response, which is if you have a problem with bank robberies, just close the banks because then the robbers can't get in. But the problem is, neither can anybody else. If you solve the bank robbery problem by closing all banks and making them completely inaccessible to robbers, you've also made them completely inaccessible to the people they're supposed to serve.

That is the response this government has chosen to the so-called problem of exaggerated claims. If that's the problem, let's go after them. But what they've done, what this government has done is said, no, the answer is to pay less to anyone who makes a claim. Pay less. If you're injured in an automobile accident, you will get less than you did before because there is a problem with exaggerated claims. How bad is the problem with exaggerated claims? The government has no numbers. They don't have any studies. They can't say it's 1 per cent, 2 per cent, 5 per cent. How many claims are exaggerated? The government doesn't know, and neither does the insurance industry.

There is only one study that has ever been done in Nova Scotia on the problem of exaggerated claims, and who carried it out? An independent researcher? Somebody with unquestionable integrity and independence from all players? No. It was the Insurance Bureau of Canada, who did their study, and did they do this study by questioning everybody involved and saying, okay, what really went on with these files? No, Mr. Speaker, what they did was that their study consisted of talking to claims examiners. It consisted of talking to people only within the industry, asking them, after a file had been closed, whether they thought the file had been exaggerated. Of course, many of the claims examiners gave a positive answer and said, oh, yes, we believe this one is exaggerated, we can't prove it, but we think it has been.

That is the sum total of the industry study on this problem - talking only to claims examiners who have settled claims and say, yeah, we think it's exaggerated, we just can't prove it. Whenever anybody questions the IBC about exaggerated claims, this is the study that they cite.

Mr. Speaker, these are some of the problems that need to be addressed. This bill does not address any of them. We in this caucus specifically reject the following reasons as causes for the current crisis in auto insurance premiums. We specifically reject the idea that one of the causes is the driving habits of Nova Scotians. We are all aware of reckless driving and we probably see it every day. It was unfortunate that among the conclusions of Nova Scotia's so-called consumer advocate, the guy who's supposed to be on the side of consumers, that he apparently identified Nova Scotians' driving habits as one of the root causes of the problem. He said if we only just drove more carefully there would be fewer collisions and rates would come down.

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The truth of the matter is that the number of collisions is on a steady downward trend. Nova Scotians were always renowned as good drivers, careful drivers and the number of collisions is only going down. The accident rate's only getting better so we specifically reject the idea the driving habits of Nova Scotians have anything to do with this.

We also specifically reject the claim on which this whole bill is premised that the cause of the auto insurance crisis is a rise in exaggerated claims. For the reasons that I've discussed already, the industry can produce no proof of this except for a study whose flaws are evident on its face.

We also specifically reject the idea that one of the root causes of this auto insurance crisis is a rise in court awards. Contrary to industry claims, there has been no sudden, recent increase in court awards. Instead, there has only been the same slow and steady increase in line with the rate of inflation, in line with the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the 1970s - nothing has changed since the 1970s except for the slow and steady rise in line with inflation. That is the only thing that has happened in the past couple of years and yet the industry would have us believe that there has been some sudden spike in the awards of the courts. It is simply not true. It is not true. Yet, the government seems to have bought it hook, line and sinker.

So if the government and this bill aren't attacking the real problems, how can it possibly pretend to be solving them? The answer, of course, is that it doesn't. What it does do is handle a political problem. The government said during the recent election that it would do something and they are doing something. They are doing something, except what seems to have taken the front rank in the government's thinking is just being seen to be doing something. It seems to be of secondary consideration to the government about whether it will actually work or not. Let's make no mistake about it - one of the reasons that this bill is fundamentally flawed is that it trades a permanent reduction in benefits for injured Nova Scotians for a reduction in rates that will last for one year.

Once these benefits are gone we will never, ever get them back - never. Once these are legislated away, we will never, never, never get them back. And, the rate reduction that we are getting in return for this trade lasts - how long, Mr. Speaker; forever? No, for one year. So, after that one year is up, the rates can go up to where they want. Oh, sure, they have to be approved by the Nova Scotia Insurance Review Board, but there is no reason to think

that the rates won't go up to where they are today or beyond. The industry was able to convince the Utility and Review Board last year that the rates were justified. A year from now, why can't they convince the Insurance Review Board that the rates are justified.

Mr. Speaker, as one very experienced insurance broker told me, we should be loath to fiddle with the insurance policy that we have today. It is the result of many, many years of experience. It more or less fits the needs of Nova Scotians today. We know what the

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policy provides and we know what to expect if we or the ones we love are involved in an automobile accident.

Now, there are some flaws. Section B being a notable exception, which for many years has been far too low; far, far too low. But by and large the auto insurance policy in Nova Scotia is something that has evolved over decades and is not something to be lightly tinkered with, but this minister comes riding in and says oh no, awards for pain and suffering are excessive. Well, Mr. Speaker, excessive according to who exactly? Are they excessive according to the courts? No, the courts have decided that these pain and suffering awards are fair and reasonable and just and very much in line with that old Supreme Court of Canada decision setting a cap on awards for pain and suffering at a certain level. So the courts don't think they're excessive. Do consumers think the awards are excessive?

Mr. Speaker, I don't know who you're speaking to or who the minister is speaking to, but with all the people who I've spoken to over the past year and a half or two years about auto insurance, I haven't yet come across one who said that the awards being dished out in Nova Scotia today are excessive. Now, that's a different thing from there being exaggerated claims and fraudulent claims, because those exist. I can say this, as I was the person at the Workers' Compensation Board who set up and got up and running the first fraud investigation unit that board had ever had. So I think I know a thing or two about insurance fraud. I know there are exaggerated and fraudulent claims, although I also know, having headed up that unit, that there aren't as many as people think, that as often as not what our investigators found when they went out to investigate reports of exaggerated claims was that the claims were legitimate and it was the tipsters who had misunderstood something about the injury or something about the benefits.

So one of the benefits of our fraud investigation unit - we were finally able to put to rest once and for all some community rumours or you might as well say some gossip about exaggerated workers' compensation claims. But there were exaggerated claims and there were fraudulent claims and we went after them as hard as we could. We did prosecute those who engaged in them and we did convict people who engaged in them, but that's a very different thing from saying that awards in general are excessive. Yet that's what this government and this minister are doing in this bill. They're saying, well, never mind the fraudsters, the people exaggerating the claims, we're going to cut benefits for everybody. If you've got a problem with exaggerated claims, Mr. Speaker, why don't you go after the exaggerated claims? Why are you sticking it to everybody? It is not a sensible way to go.

So consumers don't feel that the benefits are excessive, the healing professions, the doctors, nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists, chiropractors, the people who heal the sick and injured, they don't feel the benefits are excessive. In fact, many of them would say it's not enough to cover the true costs of an injury caused by an automobile accident. The only people saying that these awards are excessive are in the insurance industry. They're the only people saying that these awards are too high and now they've been joined by this

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government, this government which is supposed to be government for all the people but instead it has decided to be the government for the insurance industry and they have been joined in this, I may say, Mr. Speaker, by the Liberal Party, who made it clear from very early on, from the first day that they announced their plan, that they were on the side of the industry. They made it very clear where they thought the fault was and they had identified the fault as being consumers, and they had decided the group that they were going to champion as being the insurance industry.

[4:30 p.m.]

It took that government a little while to jump on board the Liberal bandwagon, but jump on board they did, Mr. Speaker. So now we have two Parties in this House on the side of the industry, because the industry is the only group claiming, day after day, that awards for pain and suffering in Nova Scotia are excessive.

But then we move on to the sorry heart of the bill, and that is the definition of a minor injury. For these injuries, these so-called minor injuries, pain and suffering awards are capped at $2,500. Now, Mr. Speaker, there is something Orwellian about the definition of a minor injury in this bill, because even though the bill defines a certain class of injuries to be minor, let's make no mistake about it, these injuries are not minor by any ordinary usage of the word, by any ordinary definition that any reasonable Nova Scotian would use - the injuries caught by this definition are not minor.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, this section of the bill really captures why the bill is so wrong in principle. The definition proposed by the government for a minor injury is a personal injury that does not result in permanent, serious disfigurement or permanent, serious impairment of an important bodily function caused by continuing injury which is physical in nature.

Mr. Speaker, I am not exaggerating when I say that one could be in an automobile accident and break every single bone in your body and it's captured by this definition as long as it heals. You could break your leg and take a year or two for recovery and suffer from serious depression and verging into chronic pain, and yet you're captured by this definition of a minor injury because in order for it not to be a minor injury, it has to be something that is not permanent. Anything that heals, including every single broken bone in your body, is captured by this definition of a minor injury because it's not permanent.

Mr. Speaker, not only does it have to be permanent, it has to be permanent and serious. I'm reminded here, and I think the government has borrowed from the definition for the Canada Pension Plan disability payments, and surely to heavens every returning member of this House knows, and every new member of this House will know, the consternation and anxiety and frustration that is currently being caused by the government's tightening up of its definition for the purposes of CPP disability benefits, a definition that has existed for a

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long time but only in the last couple of years has been seriously tightened up. There was no change in the legislation, just in the way the government interpreted it.

So now, unless you are unable to feed yourself, unable to clothe yourself - which is what they mean by being able to carry out an important bodily function - then you don't qualify for CPP disability benefits. I have met people in my constituency who, by any reasonable definition, are disabled, are quite seriously disabled, but yet they don't fit into the CPP definition. That's what this government has done.

I might add to the minister that it doesn't help that the definition of minor injury in the draft regulations is different from the definition of minor injury contained in the questions and answers that were handed out in the same information package. It is different, and I would suggest there is a significant difference. At some point the minister is going to have to explain which of these definitions is the correct one. The one that's in the draft regulations covers anything, everything that is not permanent, and no reasonable person would call some of these injuries minor injuries.

The definition is so vague it will be fought over in the court for years, just as a similar definition in Ontario was fought over for years. So rather than settling the insurance crisis, this bill will simply add to the confusion because instead of having litigation or disputes between insurers and insured over a well-understood policy, we have now thrown in a whole new and very significant boundary line that has to be sorted out by litigation. So for any person suffering any automobile collision and who is injured in that collision after November 1st, there will be no way of knowing for some time about whether one is or is not caught by this definition of minor injury. It is so vague it is going to take years of litigation to sort out what it truly means.

Mr. Speaker, I said earlier that the insurance industry's claim is that the fundamental problem we're having in Nova Scotia right now are exaggerated soft-tissue claims. If that's the problem, then why isn't that the problem that we're tackling? There is a well-known and well-understood medical definition of minor whiplash. It is used by everybody in the field. It's known as the WAD(2) definition, Whiplash Associated Disorder (2) definition. Why is that definition not being used instead of one that covers an enormous number of injuries much broader than soft-tissue injuries, much broader than anything that any reasonable person would call a minor injury?

Make no mistake about it, Mr. Speaker, the 20 per cent savings promised by the government is based on the elimination of pain and suffering awards for injuries going vastly beyond minor whiplash or minor soft tissue and why is that? The reason is very simple, and that is that there never was enough money in minor whiplash to pay for the Liberals' 15 per cent "back to the envelope" promise, or to pay for the Conservative's 20 per cent promise. There never was enough money in minor whiplash to fund that kind of reduction. It wasn't there. It never was there. It isn't now. It never will be. Neither the Liberals nor the

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Conservatives were able to produce one shred of evidence that minor whiplash or minor soft tissue by itself was enough to deliver a 15 per cent cut or a 20 per cent cut and the reason is the evidence does not exist.

The only way to deliver a 20 per cent cut is to eliminate pain and suffering awards for injuries going far beyond minor soft-tissue injuries. I would like to ask the members on the government side of the House and the members on the Liberal side of the House to reflect on the example that I gave earlier and that is that any one of those members could break every single bone in their body in an automobile accident and it's considered a minor injury as long as it heals. That is not reasonable.

One of the other bases of the government's legislation is the famous KPMG report. Just before the election, the government commissioned an actuary from KPMG to say whether the government's program could indeed deliver a 20 per cent cut and by some miracle of actuarial science, the actuary delivered within a few days an opinion that the government was able to use for its electoral purposes. They were able to produce a letter that was written in only a few days saying, oh yes, oh yes, this will work. Well, now the full term for which the actuary engaged is behind us. The government in its information material around the release of the bill released a summary of the report, but it is fundamental to the government's whole project here for Nova Scotians to know what is in the full KPMG report, because like any actuarial report, it will be based on assumptions and among those assumptions will be an assumption about how the definition of minor injury will be interpreted by the courts and we need to see that opinion. We need to see what it is that the government is basing its promises on.

So I would ask the minister to release that report - to release it, to table it in this House tomorrow. He has it, he knows he has it, he knows he can table it in this House tomorrow, and I would ask him to do so. We need to see the full KPMG report and there (Interruption) I'm not asking you a question, Mr. Minister. (Interruptions) Oh, I will accept the minister's question, as long as he keeps it brief.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question to the honourable member is simply, he was aware, I believe, that I offered to make that report available when we were having the press briefing, and he was at the press briefing. So there is no difficulty, I would believe, in doing so. I don't know if I can do it tomorrow, but certainly this week.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that. He has promised. I take him as having promised that the report will be tabled some time this week, and I take the minister's word on that. Of course the minister was fond of saying - and probably still is - that there is no need to go through freedom of information, all you have to do is ask. So I've asked, and the minister has said he will table that report, and that will be very helpful.

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Mr. Speaker, what will happen on this bill is fairly predictable, I think. The Liberals will huff and puff, as they always do, and they will get some amendments that they can claim as their own. They will get some amendments that they can say, well, those are the ones that we held out for. They will get some amendments, but the one amendment that they say they want, they can't have. I don't know quite how they're going to explain that when the time comes. The one amendment they say they want, they can't have. So they're going to have to settle for other more minor amendments in order to save face, because they've kind of been outfoxed by the foxer. This bill is tougher than anything that they said they would do, so they would look pretty silly if they didn't vote in favour of it in the end - I would say they've been outfoxed.

Now what they need to do in order to try to save face is to get some amendments. To the Liberals, it doesn't really matter which amendments as long as there are some amendments that they can say, those are our amendments. But the reason that they can't get a change to the definition of minor injury is that the actuary's report is apparently premised on this broad-ranging exclusion of pain and suffering awards for many injuries going far beyond minor whiplash.

Now if we take the actuary's report on its face, then what she is saying, this actuary, is that if you define minor injury this way - in this way and only this way - then it will deliver these savings, but if you narrow down the definition of minor injury it is not possible to still deliver those savings. If you squeeze down the definition, as the Liberals say they want, it will no longer be possible for the actuary to say with a straight face that this change will deliver a 20 per cent reduction in rates.

That's why the Liberals can't get this change, because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate and that is that the government is being less than truthful about the contents of the actuary's report. Now I don't believe that, and especially because the minister has said he's going to table it. I don't believe that there is any wiggle room in that definition, because if that's the case, then what the government is doing is deliberately tabling a definition that they know is too tough, a definition that will cause a great deal of consternation to Nova Scotians once they understand what it really means. I simply can't believe that the government would do that. Therefore, that's why the Liberals can't have their amendment, Mr. Speaker, because the whole government project is premised on this idea of excluding pain and suffering for a broad range of injuries. That is one of the reasons why this bill is so wrong, another reason is that it is one size fits all.

Now the actuary's summary that we got treats the insurance industry as if it was one insurer. It says, okay, if you exclude this kind of minor injury then the industry will be able to deliver a reduction of this amount. But as anyone knows who attended the Utility and Review Board or was a formal intervener - and in that group I would include the NDP caucus, but not the Liberal caucus and not the Conservative caucus. Oh sure, their Leader came along and talked one evening and suggested that if we all had a group hug, everything

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would be okay. But we actually went to the hearings, we received the material and we were able to see the wide range of profitability of Nova Scotia auto insurers. Quite a few of the auto insurers in Nova Scotia, surprisingly, are profitable. Less than half, but still a significant number are making a profit - some over 10 per cent. So, for those companies, they will benefit from this one-size-fits-all solution from having healthy profits to having far more than healthy profits. They'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

[4:45 p.m.]

Then there's another group that's profitable, but just barely profitable, and they will get into a much more significant comfort zone. If your profitability is 1 per cent or 3 per cent it will go up with this Bill No. 1 to 6 per cent or 8 per cent, which is fairly comfortable.

But then there's a third group of insurers who are losing money. Some of them are losing a significant amount of money. Having 5 per cent added to the bottom line as the government proposes, if you're already losing 30 per cent, doesn't help. It doesn't help to go from minus 30 per cent profitability to minus 25 per cent - you're still going out of business.

So, the government's bill imposes a one-size-fits-all solution on an industry with widely varying profit pictures. How exactly is that supposed to help those companies deliver rates? If they're losing 25 per cent still, how are they going to deliver a 20 per cent reduction in rates with the government's legislated price control? If, even with this bill you're still losing money, how are you going to keep delivering the 20 per cent reduction? The whole 20 per cent fantasy is based on the premise that the industry is one monolithic being that's barely profitable or just short of profitability now and this bill will kick it into respectable profitability. But, that's not true. It's just not true. Mr. Speaker, not only is it a one-size-fits- all solution for all insurance companies, it's a one-size-fits-all solution for every consumer.

I was recently talking to a woman whose rate went from $858 to $2,800. She's not in Facility, but her rate went up from $858 to $2,800. If that lady gets a 20 per cent cut, she's down to $2,250.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member entertain a question from the member for Cape Breton West?

MR. STEELE: No, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, that lady is going to go then even if this bill works - and it won't . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member has waxed a lot of eloquence about saving the consumers of Nova Scotia money on auto insurance claims, but yet he refuses to acknowledge as to why the NDP are against putting a cap on contingency fees for lawyers.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member makes a point, but not a point of order. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MR. STEELE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I see that the member's fine tradition of spurious points of order continues the pace in the new House. If that's a point the member wishes to make, he's welcome to make it. I don't believe any of the Parties are proposing that - not his, not theirs, not ours, but if he wishes to propose it, then I'd certainly be glad to speak to it. It's something that I have to say - and I've said it publicly before - I'm personally in favour of. But, I don't suppose that the member would let that get in the way of the point he's trying to make.

I was talking about my constituent whose rate - even if this bill works, which it won't, but even if it does - her rate's going to go from $850 to $2,250. How does the minister or this government, how does that think it's going to help? The first people to contact me when this crisis started blowing up were seniors whose rates were doubling and tripling. How is a 20 per cent cut going to help them? What about the people whose rates have not gone up? There are a number of those. Some people say to me, almost apologetically, I got my renewal and my rate stayed the same. Or, they'll say to me, my rate actually went down a little bit. They're out there, Mr. Speaker, not the majority of people, but for the people whose rates have stayed steady or gone down, a 20 per cent cut is a windfall.

The one-size-fits-all solution is supposed to make people happy, but it won't. Of course it won't. It won't solve the industry's problem because it doesn't deal with the insurers that continue to be unprofitable and it won't deal with consumers who have had a rate increase of more than 20 per cent, which we all know, from our constituency offices, is a significant number of people.

Mr. Speaker, this bill, in addition to all those flaws I've talked about already, will cause chaos and confusion because enforcement of the many, many rules that the government is laying down in this bill depends on consumers taking action. It depends on consumers being well-enough informed about their policy and the law to know when their rights have been violated. It depends on consumers well-educated enough to know what to do, even if they've reached the conclusion that their rights have been violated. Enforcement of these rules depends on a government willing to prosecute these cases.

This government has fallen into a trap that it has fallen into many times before, where it is trying to create the illusion of being tough on a problem and it does so by increasing the fines. When everybody knows that the real issue, the real thing that will stop people, is the threat of being caught. It is not the size of the fine, it is the threat of being caught. If people know in whatever industry or whatever business they are in, that they run a very, very small enforcement risk, then they are going to be willing to run that risk. This will cause chaos and confusion because the people who will benefit from it the most are the people who are already well-educated enough, well-resourced enough to know their rights and know how to

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enforce them. The government apparently believes that they will get credit for getting tough. All they've done is impose penalties that they won't be able to enforce.

All of these problems at a time when we know that there is a better way. Public auto insurance in one form or another exists in four other Canadian provinces and those are the provinces where auto insurance rates are lowest and fairest. The minister says that this bill is the strongest auto insurance legislation in the country but he's wrong, Mr. Speaker. The strongest auto insurance legislation in the country belongs to those provinces with public auto insurance systems. There is no crisis in those provinces. Those provinces deliver low and fair rates to their drivers.

Mr. Speaker, to put it very simply, public auto insurance works. The objections that have been raised to a public auto insurance plan by the private industry and by the Liberal and Conservative Parties in Nova Scotia are trivial or factually incorrect, or misleading, or all three. The truth is that public auto insurance delivers low rates. The proof is in any independent study of the rates across the country. The lowest rates are in those provinces with public auto insurance.

The truth, Mr. Speaker, is that public auto insurance delivers fair rates because those provinces have already taken care of these problems of discrimination. They were eliminated decades ago, decades ago, in the provinces with public auto, the problems of discrimination that this government is only beginning to acknowledge and grapple with now. The truth is that public auto provides an incentive to promote road safety. The truth is that public auto insurance provides an incentive to get tough on fraud. The truth is that public auto insurance eliminates duplication, waste and inefficiency. The truth is that public auto insurance restores some order in the auto repair industry. The truth is that public auto insurance provides stable, reliable income for brokers.

Mr. Speaker, all of these benefits are stated not just by us in this caucus, who are the only Party in this House on the side of Nova Scotia drivers, but any group in the public auto insurance provinces, like the Consumers Association of Canada, like the Insurance Brokers Association of British Columbia which, when the new Liberal Government in B.C. said they wanted to review public auto insurance, they issued a paper, a really excellent paper, probably the best I've read, about why public auto insurance is better than private and this was coming from the organization of insurance brokers in British Columbia. The insurance industry, when we raised this with them said, oh, well, those people, they've grown up under a public system, they don't know any better, that patronizing attitude that we've come to expect from the insurance industry because, of course, they don't think that the same could be said of insurance brokers here, that they've grown up with a private system and they don't know any other way and that's why they're lobbying to keep private insurance.

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That is the public position of insurance brokers, Mr. Speaker. The private position of many insurance brokers, as members of this House know, is in favour of public auto but they know that they can't speak out and contradict their association which has taken a stand in lockstep with the insurance industry.

Mr. Speaker, those who have a political or a financial interest in rejecting public auto insurance or those who simply don't understand it, make a number of objections to public auto insurance, like it would cost too much to set up, it would take too long to set up. That's one of the minister's favourites. It would put the public treasury at risk to make up any shortfalls or there are hidden costs. Each of these objections is demonstrably false. If the members on that side of the House would just talk to the public insurers in those other provinces, they would know that they're almost laughing at us. They're almost laughing at us in Nova Scotia because the things our government says and the things our Liberal Party says about public auto to them are so laughably untrue, so demonstrably false. If anybody on that side of the House, or over there in the Third Party, would approach it with an open mind instead of a political mind, they would see that public auto insurance works.

Mr. Speaker, that's why it's going to be difficult for us to support this bill on second reading or any other reading. The bill is just completely wrong in principle. It represents a permanent reduction in benefits in exchange for a temporary reduction in rates. This bill will cause chaos and confusion over the next year. It will not work and that is why we urge this House not to support this bill. It is the wrong solution to the wrong problem for Nova Scotia drivers.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise here in this House. I guess it's my first opportunity since the last election to speak for more than just a few minutes and I want to tell you it is an honour and a privilege to have been returned by the good people of Richmond County for a third term. I joked with the House Leader of the Conservative Party the other day that at this rate the members of the class of '98 will soon get caught up to him in his amount of elections in about a quarter of the time it took him to get there if we keep going with these minority governments, but certainly democracy is alive and well in Nova Scotia.

In saying that, Mr. Speaker, often we hear different politicians, especially after an election, say the voters are always right but we may sometimes disagree with the voters. That's often the case when a candidate is unsuccessful or a Party is unsuccessful in forming government, but in reality the voters are always right. It's important for us, having been elected to this Legislature in this session, to respect the decisions that have been made by the voters of Nova Scotia.

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Mr. Speaker, I raise that because in this election insurance was clearly a top issue that was dealt with by the voters of Nova Scotia. In the election it was quite clear that both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party were putting forward a position that would maintain the private insurance industry we have now with amendments. One Party was proposing public insurance. The results of the election are clear. The one Party proposing public insurance came last in popular support in the last general election.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I don't say that in a mocking fashion but say that to point out the reality situation we are in. Let's look at another example. In New Brunswick only one Party promoted public insurance. That Party ended up a dismal third and only elected one member. That is the reality. The people of New Brunswick clearly spoke and said they wanted to maintain the private insurance industry. Now, do we want another example? Just last night in P.E.I. only one Party promoted public auto insurance. With all due respect, that Party was able to obtain 3 per cent of the overall popular vote of that province.

Mr. Speaker, the people in the Maritimes have clearly spoken and they have said they want to keep the private insurance industry. Are there problems with it? There clearly are, but we want to see it improved. We do not want to see a revamping of the entire insurance industry, we want the improvements. More importantly, what they've said is go to Halifax, work together - because they've not given any Party a clear mandate of a majority government - they have said work together, work in our best interests, get the insurance crisis under control and, more importantly, put money back into the pockets of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, that's why we're here today and that's why we are debating this bill. Is Bill No. 1 everything the Liberal Party would have liked to have seen? It clearly isn't. Are there deficiencies in the bill that we have been able to identify? There clearly is. Will we be looking for substantial amendments to the proposed legislation? Without a doubt.

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, when I heard the member for Halifax Fairview accuse the Liberal caucus of huffing and puffing and looking for minor amendments and being pleased with that, history speaks for itself. I remember being in this House when we were talking about the smoking legislation, where the Liberal Party clearly said they wanted a total ban, 100 per cent, all public places. The NDP refused to say what their position was, but they got an amendment. I remember, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, you had to be 10 feet away from the intake of an air-conditioning system to a building. Wow, what a success for the NDP caucus. They got their amendment and that changed that legislation in the best interests of Nova Scotians - and he dares speaks about a Party being willing to accept minor amendments as a victory. A glass house, a big glass house is what the NDP speaks of.

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I just want to clear one more point, Mr. Speaker, one more point. I heard the member for Halifax Fairview talk about this report he claims the insurance industry refers to, a report on the amount of fraud that there was in the insurance industry, and then he goes on to attack that report, saying the report, was it done by a fair, independent body, open-minded, not partial to the group? He said no, it was done by the insurance industry itself and we shouldn't look at it.

I remember a day not that long ago in this House when the NDP kept referring to a study, a thesis that had been done by an individual on political contributions in Nova Scotia and how those were linked to patronage and how it attacked the Liberals and the Tories in previous administrations, and how this was such an independent study. We then learned that that study was undertaken by the independent, open-minded, non-biased individual who is now the member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Where's the contradiction there?

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: The Leader of the NDP asks what contradiction? Well, again, Mr. Speaker, the hypocrisy that comes out of the NDP knows no bounds, in what we have heard today.

Mr. Speaker, let's go back a bit on how we've gotten to where we are. This insurance crisis, the problem within the industry itself did not occur overnight. This has been underway for over a year. The Liberal Party, over a year ago, had asked and had suggested an all-Party committee be formed to examine this issue. The NDP mocked the idea at the time. They said it was a terrible thing, it was not a good idea and that they, the Party of the people of Nova Scotia, were not interested in hearing from the people of Nova Scotia - more hypocrisy.

At the time, Mr. Speaker, it was clear the Progressive Conservatives were not interested in dealing with the issue of insurance because the Minister of Finance of the day was trying to claim a balanced budget on the backs of Nova Scotians who pay insurance. As of last Christmas, when his fiscal update was given, the minister made it clear that he was receiving millions of dollars of extra revenue as a result of high insurance rates, so where was the incentive for the government of the day to try to lower insurance rates for Nova Scotians? It clearly was not there, because there was a vested interest that they had in seeing that those rates would remain artificially high and very expensive for Nova Scotian drivers from one end of the province to the next.

Mr. Speaker, prior to the last election, while this House was sitting, while we were debating the issue of insurance, while questions were being asked each day, only one Party was prepared to table its position and its platform on insurance while the House sat. That was the Liberal Party. Now, whether you liked it or you didn't like it, we gave the duly elected members of the Legislature the opportunity to review the plan, to ask questions on it. We even called it for debate. That was the responsible thing to do. The House of Assembly

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closed and three days later the Leader of the NDP gave his plan in the cover of darkness when no one was there, no elected members from the other Parties were there to ask questions, to debate it, to be able to get more information. I know we're not permitted to suggest intent here and I would never want to suggest that that was done intentionally by the leader of waiting until the House closed before doing that but, again, it shows the responsibility and the respect that the NDP has for the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we waited and we waited to see what the government's plan was going to be to deal with this most important issue. The minute the Liberal Party came out with a plan that would have brought a 15 per cent legislative reduction across the board, shortly afterwards the Tories came out with their plan which magically would give a 20 per cent reduction, ironically just 5 per cent more than what the Liberals had proposed which I'm sure is just coincidental and certainly had nothing to do with polling or their interest in one-upmanship at the time.

Mr. Speaker, what they clearly said was 20 per cent, they said an average reduction, so it's not for everyone and the minister clearly said it will not be legislative. There's no need to legislate it according to the minister. So as history would go along and the unrolling of these events, the question then became to the Premier, well, if you're interested in putting a cap - the Liberals have clearly said what process they would go about to establish that - how are you going to establish that cap? Well, lo and behold, they said we're going to hire an actuarial firm to come in and tell us exactly how we're going to achieve a 20 per cent reduction. Ironically, we've learned that it's the same actuarial firm, the same individual who was doing this for the Bernard Lord Conservative Government in New Brunswick. So within a number of days the Premier came out - now, I'm not a financial person myself, I've said that a number of times in this House, but even I have a hard time believing that an actuary could start and within two to three days be able to say here's what the cap has to be. Mysteriously it was $2,500. Ironically, it is the same number as New Brunswick, the same actuary, the same individual, the same amount.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it was quite clear at that point, no Nova Scotian was being fooled that a report had been done and it had carried out the proper analysis to reach this sort of figure. This was a number that was pulled out of the air, the same as New Brunswick, and we clearly said all along that what was happening in New Brunswick was almost being mirrored here in Nova Scotia by the Hamm Government. We saw examples of that as we went.

Mr. Speaker, we each presented our different platform and, as I said earlier in my remarks, on August 5th the people of Nova Scotia spoke. They did not give the Conservatives a clear majority, but they did give them more seats than either of the other two Parties. So on the issue of insurance it is quite clear that the people of Nova Scotia - having elected 37 out of 52 members who supported a private insurance industry - clearly spoke that they

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wanted us to be able to revamp the industry that we have now but to maintain it privately, and we're not prepared to adopt a public insurance system. It was clearly the outcome.

Only the NDP Party can still stand here today and not accept that outcome, Mr. Speaker, but the numbers speak for themselves. That is the reality. So we have said that we have a great deal of concerns with the legislation that has been brought forward. Upon it being tabled, we clearly told the media scrums that we were not comfortable with the definition of minor injuries, that we wanted to see some changes made to that, but I can tell you and I know on second reading we are not permitted to go into specific clauses of the bill, but upon review of the legislation itself since it was announced, we have identified a number of areas that we are not comfortable with, which appear to even contradict what the minister responsible for insurance has said, which is why today, I did ask questions of the minister to give assurance to Nova Scotians.

It is quite ironic because when the minister said at the end, I don't know what side the member for Richmond is on but I'm on the side of the consumer, well, Mr. Speaker, he may want to go back and read his bill again because apparently there are a number of provisions in the Tory-proposed legislation which are certainly not on the side of consumers. That will come out in more specific detail as we go along.

It was interesting to see after the House came into session, I believe on the day that the government introduced their insurance bill, and that is Bill No. 1 - I'm sure all members have a copy - and just for the purposes of those who may be watching, Mr. Speaker, the bill has 19 pages. It's an average bill, especially for a government bill, 19 pages, that's about normal. So let's say for an instant that the Liberal caucus and the Tory Party were to say let's abandon private insurance, maybe we were wrong, maybe it's not the way to go, maybe we should go with public insurance, well, where is the first place you would look? Well, we saw in the media where the Leader of the NDP tabled a bill - it's his name that's on it, Bill No. 4 - which says An Act to Ensure the Lowest and Fairest Rates for Automobile Insurance through the Establishment of a Public Automobile Insurance Corporation.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I immediately figured here are all the answers that I need, that my constituents need, and that the people of Nova Scotia need, to find out if public insurance is the way to go because I'm sure it's got to be in the bill because the government, in their bill, said how they were going to change private insurance, it's all tabled in here, and the regulations attached were also given, so I said, well, I'm going to read this bill, the NDP bill, and that will answer all my questions. Any constituents who call, I'll tell them, I have the answers for you on public insurance in this bill because clearly (Interruptions) We heard, and the history is clear, the Leader of the NDP said at first, when asked, public insurance, how much savings will it give, well, shucks, I can't tell you right now. That was the first time.

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Then they asked, how much is it going to cost? Not going to cost anything. Okay. The next day, well, I think it's going to cost about $2 million to set up, but I can't be sure on that. Then a few days later, closer to the campaign, he said, a 30 to 50 per cent reduction. How? Where was it reached? I said, no, no, when he tables his bill, when he tables the bill, I will be able to see, and my constituents will be able to see, exactly how they are going to achieve 30 to 50 per cent. Now was that going to be guaranteed in the legislation? Well, I figured we are going to have to wait. Is it going to say in there that the Leader of the NDP guarantees that it will only cost $2 million? Well, it's going to be in the bill. Will it say in there that the Leader of the NDP guarantees it will not cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia or the children of this province one cent on the long-term debt of this province under public insurance? Once again, I said, it will be in the bill, we will be able to see it there.

Will there be a guarantee in the bill, a legislated reduction of 30 to 50 per cent across the board for every Nova Scotia driver? I said, it will be in the bill. Will the NDP, under public insurance, continue the tort system we have here today and not go with the Provinces of Saskatchewan or Manitoba which they so often like to cite as examples? I said, that will be in the bill.

Then, Mr. Speaker, one of the other issues that came up, was a report came out that said that there was a higher rate of automobile deaths in accidents in provinces with public auto insurance, an issue the report concluded was because public auto insurance subsidizes bad drivers. So the response that came from the NDP and the NDP Leader ironically was, he said, no, no, no, provinces like Manitoba, for example, if you are a bad driver, they make you pay more for your licence registration. Well now, hold on now, where did that come from? At what point did the NDP say that your licence renewal, your driver's licence, was going to be tied into your insurance? (Interruption) It never said that. Well, I said, it will be in the bill, so obviously I've missed it, it's going to be in the bill, so obviously that will be addressed there.

[5:15 p.m.]

So, Mr. Speaker, when I read in The Chronicle-Herald on Saturday where it said the Leader of the NDP tabled a bill to deal with public auto insurance . . .

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I was just wondering if you could clarify with us, are we debating Bill No. 1 or Bill No. 4? It seems as though we've gotten far away from Bill No. 1 and the member for Richmond is spending more time focusing on Bill No. 4.

MR. SPEAKER: That's not a point of order.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. If the honourable House Leader for the NDP doesn't know what bill we're debating, he shouldn't be here.

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MR. SPEAKER: That's not a point of order.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it appears to be quite clear that the Leader of the NDP has withheld his pacifiers from his members today, so I will continue.

As I was saying, we then read on Saturday in The Chronicle-Herald where the Leader of the NDP said they had tabled a bill on public auto insurance - well, I'm not fooling around and I'm not clowning around on this issue, we're very serious, the NDP, and we tabled that bill and we're very serious about public auto insurance. Other than the multi-coloured wig and the red nose, that's about all that was missing to come with this bill. Because, how many clauses? Five clauses in a bill to totally revamp the auto insurance industry in Nova Scotia. Yet, from a Party that has said they want to bring immediate relief to Nova Scotians, a better deal for today's families - well, guess what? A better deal has to wait at least another six months under the NDP plan in this bill. So I guess a better deal is not coming anytime tomorrow for Nova Scotia drivers.

For the media to even report this as a bill to deal with public auto insurance, is laughable. What does it say? It says that within 30 days of the bill being passed - so it's even more than six months - the commissioner has six months to report back on how to establish public auto insurance. I thought the NDP already knew. I thought the Leader of the Party already knew how to do it, he knew it was going to be a 30 per cent to 50 per cent reduction, he knew it would cost $2 million, he knew it wouldn't add any money to the long-term debt of the province, he knew it was going to be tied in with your licence renewal if you're a bad driver. He knew all of this. Yet, this is the bill that we have before us.

It is no wonder that we saw the results in New Brunswick and P.E.I. as far as the debate on public insurance went for the New Democratic Party. This is not responsible government, these are not responsible actions for a Party that has gone out and told Nova Scotians that they wanted (Interruptions) Well, the Leader of the NDP says that's a responsible Opposition. A bill to change an industry in this province - five clauses is responsible? Responsible. Appoint a commissioner for six months - that is a solution.

What we're left with is Bill No. 1. What we're left with is the reality that during the election the people of Nova Scotia have rejected public auto insurance. The only Party that has yet to come to that realization is the NDP. So we must move forward from the election. We must do what we can to make this legislation as strong as it possibly can be, make sure that the money is put back in the people's pockets as soon as possible. If the NDP were really serious about wanting a better deal for Nova Scotian families, they would not have brought in something like Bill No. 4, which was saying wait another six months.

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Is that what the Department of Community Services should tell the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley when she calls and says, I have a constituent who's on social services, her freezer broke during the power outage, she has no food, her budget's gone and the government would say, wait six months? Would she accept that as a responsible answer from the Department of Community Services for her constituent? I don't think so. Which is why we should not accept that as a responsible proposal from the NDP to say, wait six months and in six months we will show you what public auto insurance should look like.

That is the reality and the NDP members, especially the new members, I hope are able to break the web that they're stuck in and be able to see for themselves the reality and the responsibility to their own constituents rather than just preaching NDP dogma which I know they're almost in a straitjacket, but they need to break free and be independent.

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, as I've said in this House a number of times, any fool can get elected once, but to get re-elected is a whole different (Interruptions) Well, I know the House Leader for the NDP has done it three times, so I guess if he's referring to himself - I leave it to him to use that description. At the end of the day, in all seriousness, we will have the opportunity to speak again on this bill. This will be the opportunity to try to strengthen this legislation, but I want to reiterate, one more time, we have already said that we have concerns with the definition of a minor injury under this bill and the fact that it's wide open. It's almost a carbon copy of the New Brunswick bill. That bill has raised significant concerns already, and it is unacceptable that we follow that path here in Nova Scotia.

Further than that, what the minister said was in the bill, there was a lot that he didn't say was in the bill. Upon review, we have found numerous clauses that are very unsettling in that bill. We will have the opportunity, when we are debating clause by clause, to be able to identify them. Mr. Speaker, at this point in time, if there are any members of the government who believe that Bill No. 1 is going to go through easily, they are sadly mistaken. A great deal of change must take place in this legislation before it can receive the approval of the House.

Mr. Speaker, one thing I can say is this is not the bill and this is not the plan we would have brought forward. So we have a different ideology, but is that a reason for me to stand in this place and say, I am voting against this because it's not the same plan I would have brought? That's irresponsible, because the people spoke on August 5th. They didn't elect members of the NDP to say, stick to everything you've said and do nothing to work with the government or to make minority government work. They clearly did not say that. They said work together, make minority government work.

Mr. Speaker, I am reminded of when I heard the Leader of the NDP say, I am going to work to make this minority happen. I have to tell you the first test was after his Reply to the Speech from the Throne, because in 1998 I remember the then-Leader of the NDP's

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Reply to the Speech from the Throne which was ended with moving forward a motion of non-confidence, immediately after an election. That was the NDP. That Leader then said, I want to make minority work. He said that, and that was his first action. The former member for Halifax Atlantic, a motion of non-confidence at the end of his Throne Speech. We didn't even get a chance to bring forward legislation.

But then again, Mr. Speaker, let me give you another example, I remember the time when the member for Halifax Chebucto, who was a Finance Critic, when it came to the issue of bringing in the first Liberal budget, the Finance Minister had yet to leave his office across the road when the critic for the NDP was in front of the media saying, we're voting against the budget. He hadn't even seen it yet. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, did that happen once? After the mockery that the member for Halifax Chebucto took for not even looking at the budget before making that comment, when our second budget came in, he made the same statement, that they would vote against it.

Mr. Speaker, any Nova Scotian who is sitting home tonight thinking that the members of the New Democratic Party, many of the faces who sat here under the then-Leader of the NDP, the member for Halifax Atlantic, they're still here, a great deal of them are still here. Any Nova Scotian who is kidding themselves into believing that the NDP are here to make minority government work is sadly mistaken. Right now, their pronouncement, before even seeing the bill, saying it's not what we like, so we're going to vote against it. The flashes are once again coming back from the NDP. We are going to see this not only on this bill, we are going to see it on other pieces of legislation.

The veil has been lifted, Mr. Speaker, and the true face of the NDP is clearly coming through. At the end of the day, Nova Scotians want us to fix the auto insurance industry. The member for Halifax Fairview continues to say that our Party and the Tories are only accepting the insurance view, yet a recent opinion poll that asked Nova Scotians, would you be prepared to have a limit on your pain and suffering damages for minor soft-tissue injuries in return for lower insurance rates, there was an overwhelming majority of Nova Scotians who said yes. Not only did they say it in that poll, Mr. Speaker, more importantly they said it at the ballot box. That is the reality that we are faced with here.

It is important for us, well, I hear the member for Halifax Fairview say if the election was a referendum, we came in third, but if he were to talk to his colleague, the House Leader of the NDP, who is a proponent of proportional representation - if we had gone with the popular vote, in fact it is your Party that would be in third place, not ours, because you came in third in popular support. If there were discussions amongst the NDP colleagues, which I understand doesn't often take place, he would have a better understanding of that.

Again, as I said, my colleagues will have an opportunity to speak on Bill No. 1. It was clearly an essential issue during the last election which every single one of us here had to deal with, one way or the other, on the doorsteps of our own ridings, on the doorsteps of

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Nova Scotians, where Nova Scotians raised this as a concern and said we want to see it fixed. The polls already have shown that Nova Scotians are prepared to have limits put on pain and suffering for minor injuries in return for lower rates. But clearly, the definition as it exists is way too broad. I could stand here and give you different examples, as has been done, of different types of injuries which could fall through this definition. That is unacceptable. We cannot have Nova Scotians who have suffered serious injuries be considered to be a minor injury that falls under the cap of $2,500. Right now the definition as it exists would allow for that to happen and that is the fatal flaw, one of the fatal flaws that exists in Bill No. 1.

Mr. Speaker, the debate will continue, there will be an opportunity at Committee of the Whole. I do want to commend the Government House Leader because something we'd like to see for every government bill is the opportunity that he gave for both Parties to actually be able to sit down and discuss some of the bill and to answer some of the questions. One would like that that would be a practice for every single government bill and I would propose to you it may make debate here in this House and passage of those bills much smoother if such co-operation was to take place. Unfortunately it's not.

I don't have any sort of illusions that this was a newfound generosity from the Tory Party. I believe the fact that we're in a minority government has more to do with the Government House Leader's sudden willingness of co-operation and willingness to speak to the Opposition Parties on such important pieces of legislation. I do hope that he will continue and I would encourage all of his Cabinet colleagues who do bring forward legislation to use the very same approach.

In closing, this is an important issue. It's an issue that has impacted a great deal of Nova Scotians - not every Nova Scotian driver is saying that their insurance rates have gone through the roof, but a significant number of them have indicated that. They want to see stability, they want to see lower rates, but they're certainly not willing to give up all of their benefits in return for doing that. We must find a balance, a balance that reflects what Nova Scotians have said they would support and a balance that will bring the rates down to where we want them to be.

I will have the opportunity, as I have said, to speak on this bill again. I do certainly hope that there will be opportunities to discuss this bill outside this Chamber, to talk about the specific provisions which must be addressed before we certainly will be prepared to entertain support for this bill.

M. le Président, je vais juste prendre quelque minutes pour parler, comme je l'ai dis avant. C'est ma première occasion de me présenter à cette chambre depuis l'élection du 5 d'août. Je veux prendre cette occasion pour remercier les citoyens de Richmond pour la troisième fois me rendre réélu et m'envoyer ici à l'Assemblée comme leur porte-parole, comme leur défendant, comme le personne qu'ils ont mis confiance pour représenter les différents problèmes, les différents questions sociales qui ont faire face.

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C'est son question durant l'élection du 5 d'août, de la dernière élection provinciale, que la question des assurances, qui est une question d'une seule idée, c'est une grande partie des citoyens de la province de la Nouvelle-Écosse. On a eu deux parties, le parti libéral et le parti conservateur, qui ont dits, on est prêt a maintenir le système d'assurance privé ici à la Nouvelle-Écosse, mais il faut faire des changes à ce système-la. Le partie néo-democrat a dit on veut une système d'assurance qui est public.

Á la fin du journée, M. le Président, c'est à nous les responsables d'accepter les résultats du vote qu'a peut place sur le 5 d'août, aux gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse ont élus 37 dans 52 membres qui supportent un système d'assurance privé. Juste 15 dans 52 ont élus qui proposent de vouloir un système d'assurance public.

[5:30 p.m.]

M. le Président, comme vous le savez bien, c'est notre parti, le parti libéral, qui est le premier parti a vouloir prononcer, qu'est-ce que c'était notre plan pour adresser le probleme d'assurance à la province. Est-ce que le plan était parfait? Peut-être pas. Est-ce que le plan était une méthode d'adresser le probleme d'assurance? Sans question. Le plan était introduit ici à l'Assemblée au chaque membre élu. D'un coin à l'autre à cette province avait l'occasion de faire - d'avoir un débat, de poser des questions, et de faire les commentaires sur le plan que nous avions proposé. Malheureusement, les néo-democrats et les conservateurs n'ont pas fait la même chose pour donner l'occasion à notre parti et aux autres membres élus aux autres partis de faire commentaire et de poser questions sur leurs plans.

Le projet du Loi No. 1 que nous avons devant nous, comme nous avons dit, il y a plusieurs problèmes avec ce projet de loi. C'est pour ça j'ai souligné en anglais la problème, le description de qu'est-ce c'est qui est un "minor injury" et qu'est-ce c'est comme en sait comment décrire ça. Le grand problème qu'ils ont maintenant, ça laisse l'occasion de quel qu'un qui fait très mal d'a un accident ici à Nouvelle-Écosse peut tomber sous la définition de juste avoir un mal qui est décri "minor injury". Ça ce n'est pas acceptable. Quand que le House Leader du parti conservateur du gouvernement a adressé la parole pendant qu'il a introduit le projet de loi, il a dit très clair que ce n'était pas l'intention de ce projet de loi de ne pas payer les gens qui s'avaient fait mal serieusement dans un accident - tous les bénefits du premier loi. C'est très clair, en lisant le projet de loi no. 1, qu'il y a est des serieuses questions qui reste êtres posées sur ce projet de loi.

Comme je l'ai dis en anglais, on va avoir l'occasion d'avoir plus de débat sur ce projet de loi. J'invite mes collègues, et même les collègues des néo-democrats et même les membres du parti conservateur de se prononcer sur ce projet de loi, de dire leurs propres opinions sur le projet de loi et plus important, de travailler ensemble. Qu'est qu'on peut faire ensemble comme députés élus des trois partis, pour faire gouvernement minoritaire travailler? Même plus important avec ce project de loi de faire certain qu'on peut adresser le problème avec les frais des assurances à cette province et de met de l'argent dans les

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poches des gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse. C'est ça le projet, c'est ça le défit qui nous est présenté.

Je vous assure que moi-même, comme député, je ferai mon mieux d'être responsable d'adresser les différents projets qui sont venus devant nous, les différents questions sociales qui sont mis devant nous, les différents problèmes financiales qui sont mis devant nous et, à la fin de la journée, de vouloir faire ce que les gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse nous ont élus de faire: travailler ensembles, dans un gouvernement minoritaire, dans les meilleurs interêts des citoyens de la Nouvelle-Écosse. Est-ce qu'on est prêt à supporter la loi no. 1? Comme je l'ai dis, il y a plusieurs différents aspects à ce projet de loi qu'on n'est pas confortable avec. Jusqu'à temps que ces problèmes-là ont étés regler et qu'ils ont étés adresser pour questioner à ce point ici, soit qu'on soit prêt à supporter le projet de loi no. 1. Mais, j'ai hâte d'entendre le débat qui m'en prends place.

Je remercier les députés ici à l'assemblée pour m'avoir donner l'occasion de presenter quelques mots sur ce projet de loi, non juste en anglais mais aussi dans la langue française, et j'espère avant long temps d'avoir l'occasion de me presenter de ce projet de loi un deuxième fois. Merci beaucoup, M. l. President.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I welcome you to the Chair. It's the first time I think I've spoken since you assumed the Chair, so congratulations. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, what I'm going to try to do is keep my comments basically on the bill. I'm going to talk about the bill and I'm going to talk about its impact on Nova Scotian consumers. I'm not going to go and tell a bunch of fairytales about what did and didn't happen. I want to talk about one thing in particular before I get into the substantive part of the bill, and that is the much talked about all-Party committee. It's interesting when the Third Party talks about an all-Party committee, and just weeks previous to their announcing that they wanted an all-Party committee to deal with auto insurance was telling this House that we didn't need an all-Party committee on electoral boundaries because whatever the government wanted, they were just going to railroad it anyway. So it seemed it was not all right for electoral boundaries, but it was going to get something done vis-à-vis insurance.

Then we also had the example of the all-Party committee, God knows where they're at, even before the election call yesterday in Newfoundland, where that infamous all-Party committee is. That's over five years in the making, and still no substantive report. So, to be polite you could say it's disingenuous, Mr. Speaker, and that's being extremely polite.

To start talking about this bill and to start talking about it in terms of a legislated 20 per cent reduction really doesn't go anywhere to hit at the heart of the problem with consumers facing real increases of 65 per cent. We saw this happening over a long period of

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time, a period of time when we were warning this government that this was going on. What did that Party do when these flags were set up for them? Did they go and sit down with anybody in any substantive way to try to resolve these problems? No, they fought suggestions of change to the insurance system every step of the way, whether it was taking them in front of the Economic Development Committee, which they originally rejected and then came around to, whether it was bringing them before the Utility and Review Board, which they rejected and then came around to.

Then we asked them to do simple things like freeze the rates, bring in legislation today to freeze the rates until the URB decides what's going on in that industry. They flatly refused it, Mr. Speaker. They flatly refused it. There was nothing that this Party, this government at the time would do to help the consumers of Nova Scotia.

So here we are, today, some year and a half down the road, almost two years, and we see Bill No. 1. Now, one of the highlights the government likes to tout about Bill No. 1 is fairness. Well, I think that's the ultimate gambit or the ultimate position if you want to say, the devil's in the details. We really don't know how fair this is going to be. How is this going to end, in a substantive way, discrimination against our seniors? How is this going to end, in a substantive way, discrimination against young drivers?

More importantly, how is this bill going to end discrimination on where you live in this province, a practice that's used time and time again by the insurance industry? They decide what your rate is going to be, not by the number of accidents you are in, not solely by the automobile you drive, not by the coverage you want, but what your telephone prefix is and what your postal code is. That's what this government is buying into with the insurance companies.

Now, when we first brought this to public attention, it was around a small brokerage firm from Cape Breton Centre, more particularly in New Waterford where I live. This company was basically driven out of business by the large underwriters. They could only underwrite with one firm, because other firms would not write in this area. Then the one large underwriter that they had merged with another company, and then they were told, we don't write product in that town anymore. Now here's a small business - in an area like New Waterford two or three jobs are important. I would say they're important anywhere, but they're more important when you see the types of unemployment in those areas - yet that company was driven out of existence by the unrelenting thirst for profits of large insurance companies.

What does this bill say about discrimination on geography? It's silent. It does not say one word about what and how these consumers are treated and how small business is treated. It's just deafening, Mr. Speaker.

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So where is this bill protecting the people that I represent? It's not. Let's look at the story of a young man who's working a part-time job, wants to go back to university, UCCB, which from his house is approximately eight kilometres away. He's eight kilometres away, and he buys what people refer to in vehicles, a fixer-upper, I guess about $500. He and his dad, pretty handy with the tools, get it more than road-worthy. He works a part-time job at a coffee shop and he doesn't have a whole lot of spare money - we will talk about tuition freezes in another bill, but anyway he doesn't have a whole lot of free money, or extra money we should say, to deal with. Yet he has this $500 car, he wants to get back and forth to further his education, and the cheapest rate he could get was $1,500, just because he was 23 years old. That was the reality of it. A $500 car was going to cost him more than triple what he paid for it. It doesn't make sense and I don't see clearly in this bill where you're going to stop insurance companies from gouging consumers.

We've seen a litany of problems coming into this Legislature - particularly as they affected seniors. Now, you know, I probably wouldn't be as suspect of this bill if the person who introduced it hadn't told me last year in this very House that the reason for the bad driving record in this province, as compared to others, is because we're a hilly province. (Interruption) He's telling me now he didn't say that - that Manitoba was flatter. Well, I think by inference if one is flatter, one is higher. Maybe I'm just walking a long, long plank there, but I think you could draw a real inference from that, that that's why. (Interruption)

The member for Inverness asked me what about New Waterford. Well, you enter by Carpenters Hill, if that would make sense to him, and then the rest of the town is kind of like a bowl. The lower part of the bowl is where the new soccer field is - and I'm telling it by way of information to the minister of sport and rec so he will come visit some day. (Interruption) I'm being told it was done by the municipality. So, Mr. Speaker, I digress.

Let's talk about soft tissue injury, and you know when we start talking about it in this province flags go up, because we have had such a disaster in this province around soft tissue. It's not so much around the fact of automobile accidents where we first, in this province, encounter outrage around soft tissue injury, no, it was the problem faced at the Workers' Compensation Board where we looked for a definition and it was this broad, sweeping reference, soft tissue injury being put in with chronic pain. So you know that's kind of twisted into that fabric. So we have Workers' Compensation defining soft tissue injury as this, we have another group out there defining it another way, and now we've got this bill giving us a third definition of what soft tissue injury can be.

I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, one definition may be cause for litigation; two definitions, pretty sure there's going to be litigation; and three, I will bet my boots on it that there's going to be litigation. So, Mr. Minister, again you've got it all wrong. You bought into wholesale, what the insurance companies wanted you to.

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How are we protecting the consumers of Nova Scotia by limiting pain and suffering awards? The only group that is looking for that is the underwriters. The underwriters are telling us this is what we need. Through their lobby arm, IBC, they're telling people that this is what's going to happen. It would be somewhat believable - very little, but somewhat believable - if we looked at the business insurance companies write on automobile insurance as being the only one with escalating costs. But no, what else do we see escalating at the same rate, it is homeowner insurance. Heaven knows where that is going to go after this weekend's disaster, Mr. Speaker. But here is what we have. We have the insurance company telling us rates are going up for one reason and one reason only, soft tissue injury.

[5:45 p.m.]

So let's go back over to that same group of people and say, well why do we see the escalation in homeowner insurance? You get a big "duh" from them. They don't have a ready-made excuse there. Now I know many seniors who are trying to just barely eke by and stay in their homes in my constituency who are being hard done by these insurance companies because the insurance companies are coming in like storm troopers saying, you better move your oil tank; you better redo your wiring, you better fix that roof, all the while they are gouging these people. These same seniors who were living on the peninsula of Halifax today, if they adopted to say, look, I just can't afford these oppressive charges put on my homeowner insurance, I've got to let it go. Where are they at today, Mr. Speaker?

Well we know last year, the government turned its back on a lot of those people when it came to flood damage because they clearly cut out that group, and said we would help you pay for flood insurance, only if you had coverage. But if you didn't have coverage, you are out the door, we weren't even going to consider you, never, ever once giving thought to the fact that these people are on a low, fixed income and couldn't afford to carry basic homeowner insurance. So it is the same principle here. It is the same principle, Mr. Speaker, of those who are hurt most by these escalating costs are people on low and near fixed incomes.

A lot of our rural areas in this province do not have the luxury of a transit system. There are many people - I'm sure in your riding and in many ridings here - I'm talking predominately about seniors who have to get to appointments - mostly of a medical nature and so on and these people rely on their automobile. This bill does nothing to protect them. Although the minister says it does, in real fact it doesn't. These are people who are living in rural Nova Scotia and not-so-rural areas because again, I put forward to you, the transit system outside of metro, and some would probably even say in a lot of places in metro, is not adequate enough to meet the needs of these people. So these people need their own personal transportation to get back and forth to such necessities of life as medical appointments and appointments around paying bills, appointments to get groceries, don't need appointments yet, but these are things that this government seems to be oblivious to. This is not really

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helping those people. These people have already seen a real increase of 65 per cent on their insurance.

The government is talking about legislating for a period of time, a 20 per cent rollback which really these people can't afford. These people can't afford 5 per cent in real terms and these are the people we should be caring about. But no, Mr. Speaker, who does the minister take his information from? Not from senior citizens in this province, but from the insurance company. It's the insurance company.

Mr. Speaker, let's start talking about people who are on basically what we would call a fixed income because they are well below the poverty line, they are working at jobs, whether they are call center jobs that are a lot of times much below $9 an hour; they work shifts seven days a week, 24 hours a day, yet these people need, like many people in my constituency, vehicles to get to these jobs and insurance as it exists today is just not attainable for these people. I go back to my story of the young student, a $500 car, $1,500 for insurance. It makes absolutely no sense.

It's similar to another bill when the government talks about protection for workers on Sundays and you can see that when the person is at home, they're going to get a big fine for driving without insurance by this bill by the way. But they're sitting home and they're waiting for the government to adjudicate whether they're being gouged by the insurance company. So what happens? Does the employer in this province hold the job until the government gets around to adjudicate? Absolutely not. There's no protection for workers in that case in this province anyway, so they're gone. They lose their job, they lose the car and they're most often back on the Community Services roll. This is what the government's offering these people by way of fairness. That's absolutely unimaginable what it would do to the poor working people of this province.

This is not a bill that was done in consultation with these people. It wasn't done in consultation with the students, with seniors, with people on low incomes - out there just trying to survive. It was done, by the minister's own admittance, with the insurance companies. They just hunkered down.

Even minor things that are maybe somewhat good in this bill, like changes to the Schedule B section, are things that are unreachable by that group of people I just talked about. What it is, it's buying more into your rider. You've got to up-front the money. It's not saying that we will make these things legislated, we'll make them work for you - it's saying, by the way, if you want it, we're going to make you pay more. So, there goes a portion of your 20 per cent already out the window. It's out the window already, so we don't know.

What happens with that, Mr. Speaker? What percentage is that going to cost the consumers if they want some real increases in Schedule B? We don't know. What are we going to do about changes around such things as - you always thought at one time that there

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would be no increase in your insurance if you were damaged by a third party, if it was damaged by vandalism? We've seen increases there that were unwarranted so what are we going to do there? How are we going to stop that? There's not a word about that in here. The insurance business will certainly be there to help themselves to that section of it.

Why do we, when we look at the totality of this bill, why is it that the government can't really say to us as consumers, what are we going to do here? What are we doing really with this bill? It's a bill by and large that they were brought to kicking and screaming. It wasn't a bill that this government had said, look, this is what's best for Nova Scotians. We've been studying it and we believe in it. This is a bill that I guess the phrase, why should we believe them now, comes to mind. They were against all of these regulations a year ago, two years ago, but yet today they seem to have seen the light. Well, you know, where are we going to go with that? After we get this for awhile, where are we in six months time when they change their mind on this, when they come up and say, we've levelled the playing field and everybody's happy.

We know that's not going to happen, Mr. Speaker. We know what's going to happen - they're going to walk away from it, they're going to walk away from legislating rollbacks. They're going to walk away from the pressures put on the insurance industry and they're going to be allowed to operate in this unfettered field again to gouge consumers where they want, when they want and how they want.

This bill doesn't work. I'm not going to stand here and apologize in any way, shape or form for my Party's position on driver-owned public auto insurance. It's been proven time and time again that it works. It's the lowest, fairest, cheapest rates in the country. It's not as portrayed by some other members as this kind of cloak-and-dagger situation. It's open. It's not a drag on the public purse as some would tell you. It's contrary to that. It has an overall good.

Mr. Speaker, I know you, as a former peace officer, would know really probably more than most of us around the aspect of safety and safety on our highways and our city and town streets. So you know when we talk about how SGI and Insurance BC have invested in safe driving programs and in securing safer intersections, it's like in your patrols, you would know where in your town there would have been a higher number of maybe fender-benders, as they've been described, how they can be resolved. Well, insurance companies, as we know them today, have no desire to do that because what they're doing is they're not looking after the collective good, but they're looking after their own good. So they will say no, no, because if I do that, that's going to benefit this underwriter and that underwriter and that underwriter. I'm not going to help look after their losses. That's their problem.

So safety in a large way does not really constitute any great worry for the insurance companies in this province, Mr. Speaker. I think that there are certain things, when we talk about the support around a minority government, I think I tend to agree with the Premier on

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this. The Premier talks about, look, we're going to try and co-operate where we can co-operate, but we're not asking people to give up their fundamental core principles and I agree with the Premier on that. I think that's where we come from on auto insurance. We have not tried to fool anybody on auto insurance, to the contrary.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member like to move adjournment of debate.

MR. CORBETT: I do so, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a motion to adjourn debate.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader on tomorrow's hours and business.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. We will sit until 6:00 p.m. and the order of business will be as elucidated on by the House Leader for the Official Opposition, Mr. Speaker. Before I do that, just for planning purposes, we will sit on Thursday from 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. and on Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Official Opposition.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, after the daily routine we will be calling Resolutions No. 17 and No. 51.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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The House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[6:00 p.m.]

We have now reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Preston:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Premier has a duty to lead the province in times of natural disaster."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

PREM. - DISASTERS: LEADERSHIP - DUTY

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise this evening to speak on this resolution. As you know, we have witnessed a very dramatic storm in the last 48 hours and with some respects it's a miracle that more people weren't killed or injured in this very serious storm. If the storm had been a little bit more powerful, even more damage would have been done but I can tell you after looking in my area today and other areas of the municipality this morning and yesterday, the devastation couldn't have been much worse. The only thing that could have happened would have been more homes damaged and more people injured and possibly more people killed. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber and the honourable member for Preston has the floor.

MR. COLWELL: On Sunday at 6:00 p.m. a local TV reporter said he ran into people from North Carolina who were amazed that there were little preparations being taken for the storm. Places that are used to hurricanes would board up the windows and make mandatory evacuations in low-lying areas. None of this was done and none was requested by the government at any time. People would know where the pre-determined shelters were. Indeed we didn't have any pre-determined shelters and the shelters in some cases people had to evacuate those because they weren't properly set up.

Instead we watched the waves and admired the surf because we all had a false sense of security, a sense of security that could have killed a lot of people and injured a lot more. Surely nothing bad had happened because the province hadn't issued a warning until 5:00 p.m., a mere seven hours before the storm started, although I had watched the storm develop over the last two or three days prior to that and it was clearly indicated that it was going to

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hit Nova Scotia at some point, although we didn't know where. We know that storms in Nova Scotia are infrequent, especially hurricanes, but not notifying people is not acceptable. Environment Canada issued warnings early on Sunday morning, and yet the Emergency Operations Centre was not up until 1:00 p.m. that day, not time enough to set up emergency shelters and do the other things that probably should have been done.

What was worse, there was no mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas, no call for boarding up windows, already alluded to, things that could have prevented a lot of serious damage. We're talking about insurance rates now, and the more damage that's done, the more insurance rates are going to go up and the more difficult it is going to be for Nova Scotians to live in their homes.

By the time the real evacuation order came, the storm was already underway and actually it was too late. Mr. Speaker, evacuation during the storm is very dangerous as well. There was no message conveyed by the Premier that everything was under control, indeed, everything wasn't under control. I can tell you from my own home in the Porters Lake area that the storm was very intense and at one time I thought my house was going to collapse under the pressure of the wind. Now the eye of the storm passed, from my understanding, near Lawrencetown and the Porters Lake area. When we go down and look at places like Fishermen's Reserve, where most of the buildings are destroyed, a lot of boats destroyed, and they prepared as much as they could for the storm, indeed if an earlier warning would have been available, it might have saved some of the damage that was there.

I talked to some people today with trees that had gone through the roofs of their houses, and one gentleman today had a tree through the roof of his house, and to add insult to injury, he had his car collapsed by another tree. His next door neighbour, the roof went in on his house by a large tree. The magnitude of the damage, you really have to see, you have to go see it. You come to Halifax here, you don't really see the damage that's in the rural areas. It's going to be days and days at the rate things are going and the damage that's been done in the rural areas.

In one place I looked today, in Porters Lake, power poles actually totally lifted out of the ground and dropped to the ground again, not snapped off. Other ones were snapped in two. Trees two and three feet on the butt were snapped off, just like they were toothpicks. Just by my home, the trees were laid completely flat, 60 foot trees. It was the worst storm that I can ever remember in my life, and hopefully we never have another one again in Nova Scotia.

When you look at the devastation, we are so lucky we only had so few deaths and so few injuries. The fact that we were simply not prepared, nobody was prepared for this storm, there wasn't enough early warning, there wasn't enough warning by the people who should have been in control of this, to say this is possibly a magnitude two storm that can do the

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following things. Those warnings really weren't there. If you watched the news very intently and tried to pick up this information, it was very difficult.

As far as during the storm that night, I can remember we only had one safe place in our home because we are right on the water, in the direct line of the storm and a very short distance from the ocean, and the wind was coming in there at a very severe level. We listened to the radio and the only information we got out of all the information that was there, and we listened to several different stations trying to get it, was that the peak of the storm would be over by 3:00 a.m. That's the only information we could get from Environment Canada. Environment Canada indeed had to evacuate their own building, which was scary as well.

It's not a situation where we want to see anybody injured, but the next day when you go out and you see roads blocked with trees, cars buried under trees, it's just totally miraculous that more people were not killed. We have to be better prepared for a storm like this, and we have to let Nova Scotians know what's coming at them and how it could develop. I know lots of times we get the warnings for these storms in Nova Scotia and they really fizzle out to just not more than a regular storm, but it does show us that we can have storms like this and it can really devastate the area.

Another issue I want to address too, hopefully the government this time will do a little bit better than the last flood relief program, where, if I recall, two people got relief from that. It was seeing some people's homes that were absolutely buried in water and they were told, we can't help you; thousands and thousands of dollars worth of damage. I'm still talking to people today that haven't got any compensation for that, that have no insurance and didn't have the ability to pay for insurance, particularly people on low and fixed incomes that when they have a choice between paying for their homes and buying groceries, insurance becomes the last thing on the list.

So it's very unfortunate that that happened and this storm is a lot worse than the flood we had and I can't imagine if the province delays in putting in place financial assistance for people, what's going to happen. Some people could be in real financial jeopardy as time goes on. As of today, we can't find anybody on a volunteer basis to clean up debris in seniors' yards. I've had several calls from people needing water, that have no vehicle, no way to get water in their homes. The list goes on and on. Hopefully there's not a lot of - I know when we get a bad snowstorm, a lot of seniors die from the snowstorm because of the anxiety of not being able to do anything. Luckily the weather has been good the last few days. We have a lot of seniors at home that probably can't get out of their homes to get the necessities - food or water, with no power. In the rural areas when you have no power, you can't run any water so therefore you don't have any water in your system, probably all the food in your freezer is going to be destroyed. Maybe that's the food that people had saved money up to get them through the winter or whatever the case may be.

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But, it's not good. I really want to know what leadership has been shown by the government in the last 48 hours. I really want to know that. Storms come and everybody is sort of laughing at it, it's not going to be too bad. I ask the question, if people had been advised better, if they had had their windows boarded up and things done that they should have had done - stocked up on drinking water and the other things, I'm going to ask the question, very simply, does the Premier so strongly believe in his Sunday convictions, he doesn't work even during a disaster? I hope not because Nova Scotians want an answer to that question. They're looking at all the devastation they have in their homes and properties and I think it's time that people really ask if he's doing his job as provincial leader. He's indicated leadership is the keynote of his government and I just want to know if that's the case. It doesn't appear to be at this point and we're going to have to see what they do about the cost of cleaning this up. There's going to be hundreds of thousands of dollars, probably millions of dollars in damage in particular areas and we really need to get this done. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to stand in my place and speak for a few minutes, although it's unfortunate tonight that people of the Eastern Shore are not able to listen to their representative represent them here in this House because we don't have any power on the Eastern Shore. I certainly don't want to underestimate this storm - a lot of members are from different parts of Nova Scotia and the storm has only touched their riding and in some cases, not at all. The people that are representing the metro HRM and outlying areas up in through Truro have certainly seen the anger and the rage of this storm.

I want to tell you that like most Nova Scotians, I did hear the warning from Environment Canada. As a matter of fact, for about two days I was aware that the storm was coming and to be quite honest, I didn't take it too seriously because, traditionally in this area, I've never experienced a hurricane of this magnitude. So I did go to the grocery store and stocked up and my friends also went to the Sobeys and other stores that are in the local area, the Superstore, and stocked up on water, eggs and bread and so on. Then we lashed down our boats and we did what most Nova Scotians would do, thinking that it was only a gale coming. But, bango, boy, what a storm on the Eastern Shore.

I got up early Monday morning after experiencing the storm and after spending the night awake looking over the community. Do you know what I experienced in our community? I experienced the local people putting their resources together and helping neighbour after neighbour. I noticed our local fire department members going to seniors' homes, accompanied by the RCMP in low-lying areas. I watched the emergency lights on those vehicles across our community.

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Mr. Speaker, I said I feel pleased that I am a person who lives on the Eastern Shore and I know clearly that our emergency people are ready and prepared to help the community. I did not see any type of neglect, and I represent that community very actively. What I did experience today, a senior in our community was without water but I noticed their neighbour helped that senior out. I noticed another person didn't have bread, and I noticed another neighbour helped that person out. I've experienced something in this storm that I've never experienced before, it was awful, and my feelings go out to the families who have lost loved ones in this storm. I feel very sad that that happened.

Mr. Speaker, this storm has pulled our community together like I've never experienced before. Experiencing the RCMP, experiencing the ground search and rescue, experiencing our paramedics, experiencing the fire departments watching over our communities in the night of the storm, something very different happened the next morning. As I said, I got out of bed about 5:00 o'clock and I went out to my truck, it was still dark and it was very quiet after the storm. It was unbelievable. It was very warm and very quiet and still dark.

First thing, a truck drove in my yard with a power saw in the back and a few more boys arrived in my yard, and we as a community went and cleared our roads, Mr. Speaker. I want to tell you, there were trees down over the roads like you wouldn't believe. The people from East Jeddore cleared East Jeddore, the people from Ostrea Lake cleared Ostrea Lake, the people from Jeddore to West Jeddore cleared. The good old boys gathered together with their power saws and their trucks and went out. People who I've never experienced before contributing to our community in a volunteer way went out and cleared the roads. They went out and piled the brush on the side.

Mr. Speaker, the torrents of rain then started later on. I watched people helping people. (Interruptions) The member for Cape Breton West wants to know what the member for Eastern Shore did. I took my truck with my power saw and went with the good old boys, and of course that member knows the member for Eastern Shore as well as if he was my own brother. I want to tell you he spends a lot of time concentrating on the member for Eastern Shore. I can assure you it wouldn't have been a couple of hours before he would have been informed, my gosh, the MLA for Eastern Shore is out with his power saw cutting and working with the community people. That's how I spent my day.

I spent my day side by side with my brothers and sisters of our community helping. To stand here in this House and to think that the people of the Eastern Shore did not pull their resources together and did not help each other is wrong, wrong, wrong. I doubt that there are people on the Eastern Shore right now who are hungry, who are not being provided for. I know in Oyster Pond tonight there is a barbecue. So if anybody is without food tonight, they're able to go to Oyster Pond and have soup and a barbecue. These are the people I represent. These are the people I'm proud of. I would like to say that this is the community that I believe will meet all challenges and will come out ahead.

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Mr. Speaker, we know the system here. The members on that side know the system very well, and the members here as well. We know that we have a Premier, we know we have ministers who are responsible for certain portfolios, and the Minister responsible for EMO is now working with the municipality, our good Mayor Peter Kelly is on board with the province, they're trying to look after the situation. The mayor had said this is not going to be a quick fix. The people of Nova Scotia understand that we've had a storm. The people of Nova Scotia understand that we have to work together and that it's not going to be tomorrow before all the logs, before all the poles are put back in place.

It's funny, through this storm, something very pleasant has happened, as well as all the sadness that's taken place. The people have had a reason to go out and to help each other. Government cannot be expected to fill all the voids in society. I believe that's what's going wrong with society today, when we depend solely on government. I want to tell you, my good colleagues across there, they believe in the very basic ways of life, and I am sure they would agree there's nothing better than a community working together. Now, the trees, I don't know how they feel about all the trees that have been blowing out. I know that there are going to be people in the communities who will properly harvest these trees and that the trees that have been lost because of this storm will be put to good use. I will tell you, you wouldn't believe what it's like to go to a fishing community and to see the big boats, the 45- to 60-footers washed up on the road as if someone has picked them up and put them gently on the road, the bigger fishing boats.

[6:15 p.m.]

Now, there are some sailboats I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that were not placed so gently. They're upside down or whatever. I, too, have experienced trees that have smashed through houses, trees that have smashed automobiles and I'm also sad to say that we have lost a house. The ocean to a certain degree came up and engulfed the house and flooded the basements and, yes, there are people who are in need. There are people in my community and other parts who are in need, but I want to say that this government - in concert with the federal government and working with the municipality - will do in the end as they always have done in history, they have always met the needs of Canadians, Nova Scotians and the people of our municipalities.

It's false to say, Mr. Speaker, it would be false for me to stand here and say that any level of government in this country would turn a blind eye to what's going on here in Nova Scotia. Even our federal brothers, at times they seem to get off track and go down a path we don't agree with, the members in this House don't agree with, I can say that tonight, our federal brothers make mistakes but I will tell you in this time I'm sure, I'm sure because our people are in need, that our federal brothers will be there to support this Progressive Conservative Government. Our minister right now is certainly in talks with the regional mayor in that department and I'm sure relief will come shortly.

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Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you, as I said earlier, it's a sad thing that happened to our landscape, to our seascape, to our material things, but people have lost money and a few people have lost their lives and that's very sad, but through the cloud of the storm a bright day, has shone upon us because as Nova Scotians we know that we care for our brothers and sisters.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak at this point about some of the situations that have arisen for many of my constituents. We certainly are all very, very fortunate that the weather following this storm has been as benign as it is because if we were in the dead of winter, we would be in very deep trouble. I should also say I can't help believing the government is very fortunate that we are a self-reliant people and as the honourable member opposite has said, many of us have come to the aid of our neighbours and our neighbours have come to our own aid.

I was not able yesterday to get to many parts of my constituency. There were several reasons. There were, as everybody knows, huge trees downed across the road. You were as likely to trip on a power wire as you were on a twig and I'm afraid there were many sightseers out endangering their lives and that is something to worry about. I didn't have to go any further than the end of my own street where a new house being framed had blown flat. It was interesting because certainly there had been great concern about this particular development at the time it was being erected high on a bluff where all the trees were cut down. There is no windbreak left and in this particular case there is no house left either. Several of the completed houses lost windows, roof and so on. These are very vulnerable new houses and I cannot help wondering just how long they will in fact stand, but that's for another day.

The biggest problem though in the aftermath is, of course, the lack of electricity. Many of our self-reliant constituents and neighbours have supplied themselves with electricity. There's a difficulty though. They have done this by finding generators or by having generators and certainly the biggest gossip on the street was where there was coffee available. Some of us had Thermoses. Others knew that it was possible to drive through the local Robins which must have had a generator. The next gossip was who had a generator. Lots of people headed down the street with extension cords I must say and not all of them could be satisfied.

You have to have gasoline to power the thing. That was the next problem. Although there were a few gas stations which had the electricity to pump gas, I understand that many of them weren't able to, even if they had had the electricity they could not have replenished their gasoline supplies because the distribution centre was without electricity to distribute that gas. So we have something of a knot of a problem, which I think, really, the government should be looking at the difficulties there. Another place the gasoline was essential and was

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being rationed was to power those chainsaws. There were, in fact, many willing neighbours and friends out there with their chainsaws, but they would do only the most essential of the trees that were down across the wires.

Freezers, as well, lots of people losing food, and although we're very fortunate again that there are people with generators, people with gasoline, people with sleeping bags to put over their freezers, that is only going to work for a certain length of time. We were told at the beginning that it would be five days - it's now Tuesday, and now the forecast is for Thursday night, Friday morning before Nova Scotia Power, which has made horrendous efforts and really done very well, and NB Tel and so on are down with their lift trucks as well, but it will be several days.

The worst thing, though, I really do think is not the houses and the damage - mercifully we lost no lives in our area - to the property of those whose livelihoods lies along the coast. One of the things that really has distressed me most when I was able to get to Sambro this morning was to hear people just snorting, oh, the insurance. They have no hope whatsoever that anything is going to be done for them through that. It's just sort of a tax they pay. They said, well, it's not going to happen.

The next thing of course is lobster fishermen - the season begins soon - saying - I can't actually repeat what they said. (Interruptions) I'm pretty sure I haven't read all of the rolls, but I'm fairly sure I can't repeat what they said, but it was why not quit, let's just give it up. (Interruptions) Quote? (Laughter) There were some worries about that even on CBC Radio. Anyway, that was distressing, that's really disturbing to hear them, it's just been so many things, one after the other, the quota difficulties and so on. Boats are splintered, wharves are splintered. Herring Cove is a long, deep narrow gut. I don't know if you've ever been there, it's been stripped of its wharves, they've just all been washed straight up the creek, boats have been thrown over the bridge. Some things, I don't know if they will be rebuilt or not.

I think we really need to pressure the federal government, Fisheries and Oceans, to assist with this. These livelihoods are really going to be gone. These men are gathering up - mostly men, a few women - traps that have been scattered around the shores, flotsam and jetsam is huge. The traps, some can be repaired, others can't. There's a lot of money tied up in each one, as you may know. Sambro is a lovely potential tourist area, as people are quick to say when the fishery is gone, but that's not really going to sustain people for very long. Tourism is an export industry, and we need to take care of the industry we have at home.

Beyond that, again the local spirit, people have been resourceful. The stores were dark, but open. People said a couple of corner stores said they would serve as community centres, they were just places where people could meet. They got rid of food that was perishable as quickly as possible. Everybody has barbecued the last of the food in the freezer.

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I do hope that the government is going to be able to take the lead in the aftermath, but also to look at some of the tangle of dependencies that have left us in this very tight spot at this point. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my thoughts to those so eloquently expressed by the member for Halifax Atlantic. I had the opportunity to tour certain parts of my constituency, and let me tell you there is a sense of frustration out there. I hear the member for Eastern Shore saying all these wonderful things and what the government's role should be, but there are fishermen and people who want to know if the government is there for us now. The examples that I could use as we look from one coast to the other, these are the communities that responded during Swissair, they were out there in those boats, and they were there to step forward. Now those very fishers, those very men and women, they need help in return.

This is the time to have the reassurance, to have the commitment that Nova Scotians will be there, but the Nova Scotian Government and the federal government will be able to step forward. Because as the member for Halifax Atlantic said, we are getting ready in the communities we represent for the lobster season - a lucrative and important part of the industrial commitment that we have in these coastal communities. It's of real significance that these men and women are aware of the fact that they will be able to go to sea, to make a decent living and to be able to respond appropriately. This is no time for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to say in this House that he hasn't been talking to his federal brother, well, we'll make him his federal cousin. This is the time for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Premier to show leadership. To the member for Preston, I thank him for bringing forth this resolution.

Mistakes have been made in advance and perhaps all of us Nova Scotians looked at it and said, it's not going to happen to us. Let's not worry about it. Well, that's past. Let's deal with the future, let's deal with what we're going to do tomorrow. What am I going to do tonight, how am I going to respond to Gerald? How am I going to respond to those people who live down at the end of Blackburn Turn? What am I going to say to them today? What kind of commitment and answer did I receive today during Question Period? Not what I wanted to hear. What's the process? How do Nova Scotians get this assistance? When will they have this assistance?

After all, it's times such as this that the government of any stripe shows leadership, leadership to respond. I think it's appropriate that the Premier take the time to go down to Sambro, to reassure those people, to go to Terence Bay to reassure those people, that there are answers and that the Premier of this province, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in this province will respond and will step in there with the needed assistance now. Not when it comes around in January. Not with a plethora of forms, not with all kinds of excuses, but

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reassurances that we are going to be there for you now. There are areas all across this province, areas that have been affected, areas that the member from Pictou brought to our attention.

Leadership begins now and I call upon this government to respond.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The time allotted for late debate has expired. The House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:28 p.m.]

[Page 189]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 95

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Shawn Clarke of Springhill, Nova Scotia, is a student at Springhill High School; and

Whereas Shawn entered the Canadian Legion National Track Meet which took place on August 7th to August 14th in Kitchener, Ontario, and jumped an amazing 1.85 metres in the high jump earning him a fifth place finish; and

Whereas Shawn is proud that this was a personal best for him and he plans to train all winter and will try out next year for the esquire junior team;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Shawn Clarke on this outstanding achievement and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 96

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Cumberland County ATV Club hosted the Annual Children's Wish Foundation ATV Rally held in Collingwood, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas a large group of over 700 riders drove the trails to raise more than $11,000 for the foundation during their trek; and

Whereas the Cumberland County ATV Club and the devoted volunteers and riders made the weekend a huge success for the Children's Wish Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Cumberland County ATV Club on hosting such a successful rally and wish them much success in their future endeavours.

[Page 190]

RESOLUTION NO. 97

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Russell Fisher, a native of Springhill, Nova Scotia, was honoured by the Library Board when standing down after 36 years, making him the longest serving member; and

Whereas Russell, after being chairman of the board for 21 years, is leaving something for generations to come in Springhill, a wheelchair accessible library; and

Whereas the vision of construction of a ramp at the Springhill Library has been a personal project of Russell's for years and is scheduled to be constructed very soon and although Russell has stepped down from the library board, he claims he still has lots of things left to do;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Russell Fisher on being honoured for his 36 years of service to the library board and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 98

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Paul Giffin took part in the annual Springhill Centennial Club Championship in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the tournament sponsored by D & J Home Hardware is a major event in the Springhill area and was held on August 23-24, 2003; and

Whereas Paul finished the two-day tournament with the honour of placing first in his division;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Paul Giffin on this prestigious win and wish him continued success in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 99

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Barry Patriquin of Oxford, Nova Scotia, has received another honour - Sport Nova Scotia released its Hall of Excellence recently and Patriquin was honoured in the category of wheelchair athletics; and

Whereas the award was handed out at the Excellence in Action fundraising dinner held in Halifax which are given out annually to individuals and organizations which promote and excel in the area of sport for the disabled; and

Whereas Barry will be heading to Toronto for a track meet and road race on October 11, 2003, where he is looking for fast enough times to qualify for the upcoming Paralympics Games in Athens, Greece;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Barry on this outstanding award and wish him continued success in the future as he represents Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 100

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Rob Gogan was the 1st Division winner at the annual Springhill Centennial Club Championship in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the tournament sponsored by D & J Home Hardware is a major event in the Springhill area and was held on August 23-24, 2003; and

Whereas Rob showed great determination and perseverance to bring in the lowest number to win the honour of 1st place in his division;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Rob Gogan on this prestigious win and look forward to seeing his name continue to be at the top of the list at many more golf tournaments in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 101

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Susan Belliveau, Editor of the Springhill Record, was recently named one of 12 winners of the Golden Quill editorial contest sponsored by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors; and

Whereas Susan was one of only four Canadians who were so honoured this year at the ceremony held in Galway, Ireland; and

Whereas the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors purpose is to help those involved in the weekly press to improve standards of editorial writing and news reporting and to encourage strong, independent editorial voices;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Susan Belliveau on this outstanding award and wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 102

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Keith Bowman, Cumberland Snowmobile Club's president, has been named the 2003 Canadian Snowmobiler of the Year; and

Whereas this national award is presented to an individual who has distinguished themselves in volunteerism, leadership, safety and promotion and community outreach; and

Whereas Keith Bowman has been snowmobiling for 27 years and has been a past and present member of many committees in the club over the years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Keith Bowman on being named 2003 Canadian Snowmobiler of the Year and wish him many more years of safe enjoyment on the trails.

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RESOLUTION NO. 103

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Dr. Robert Arnold Burden from Springhill, Nova Scotia, is a recipient of the 2003 Order of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Dr. Burden is a physician and community leader who has long put the health of his patients ahead of his own well-being. In 1956 and again in 1958, he risked his life to help miners caught in the Springhill mine explosions; and

Whereas Dr. Burden was selected by the Order of Nova Scotia Advisory Council from 74 nominations submitted from across the province and he will be recognized at an investiture ceremony at Government House in Halifax on Tuesday, October 21, 2003;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dr. Robert Arnold Burden on receiving this prestigious award and wish him best of luck in the future.