The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04-26

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

FRIDAY, APRIL 16, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TPW - Salt Springs/Mount Thom: Roads - Pave, Mr. C. Parker 2061
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Workers' Compensation Board, Hon. K. Morash 2062
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 823, Yom haShoah (04/18/04): Significance - Recognize,
The Premier 2062
Vote - Affirmative 2063
Res. 824, Sarty, Arnold: Death of - Tribute, Hon. P. Christie 2063
Vote - Affirmative 2063
Res. 825, Health Prom. - World Women's Hockey Championship:
Organizers - Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 2064
Vote - Affirmative 2064
Res. 826, TPW - Staff/Stakeholders: Professionalism - Acknowledge,
Hon. R. Russell 2064
Vote - Affirmative 2065
Res. 827, Vecchio-Ozmon, Angela: Death of - Tribute,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 2065
Vote - Affirmative 2066
Res. 828, Law Day 2004 (04/17/04): Participants - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker by Hon. P. Christie 2066
Vote - Affirmative 2066
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 51, Provincial Acadian Day Act, Hon. C. D'Entremont 2067
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 829, Insurance: Auto Rates - Study, Mr. D. Dexter 2067
Res. 830, Crawford, Rhonda & Lynn - Miller Award,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2068
Vote - Affirmative 2068
Res. 831, Harper, Stephen: MacKay Appt. - Applaud, Mr. B. Taylor 2069
Res. 832, Cdn. Cancer Soc.: Daffodil Campaign Vols. - Thank,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2069
Vote - Affirmative 2070
Res. 833, Guysborough Mun. - Anniv. (125th), Mr. M. Samson 2070
Vote - Affirmative 2071
Res. 834, Nickerson Care Fund: Contribution - Recognize,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 2071
Vote - Affirmative 2071
Res. 835, Naugle, Eva - Prov. Vol. Yr. Award, Mr. K. Deveaux 2072
Vote - Affirmative 2072
Res. 836, Sports - Crosby, Sidney: QMJHL Perf. - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 2072
Vote - Affirmative 2073
Res. 837, Stobbe, Gordon: CD Release - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 2073
Vote - Affirmative 2074
Res. 838, Pilche, Rudy: C.B. Sport Hall of Fame - Induction,
Mr. F. Corbett 2074
Vote - Affirmative 2075
Res. 839, Creamery Sq. Proj. Comm.: Efforts - Applaud, Mr. W. Langille 2075
Vote - Affirmative 2076
Res. 840, Cross, John: Credit Union Movement - Commitment,
Mr. D. Dexter 2076
Vote - Affirmative 2077
Res. 841, Liberalism: Position (N.S.) - Recognize, Mr. R. MacKinnon 2077
Res. 842, Browning, Geraldine & Orval - TIANS Pineapple Award,
Mr. M. Parent 2077
Vote - Affirmative 2078
Res. 843, Elmsdale Lumber - Forestry Awards, Mr. J. MacDonell 2078
Vote - Affirmative 2079
Res. 841, Liberalism: Position (N.S.) - Recognize, Mr. R. MacKinnon 2079
Res. 844, Sackville HS - Reunion (1993): Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Hines 2080
Vote - Affirmative 2081
Res. 845, Ellenvale JHS: Fundraising - Support, Ms. J. Massey 2081
Vote - Affirmative 2081
Res. 846, C100 FM: Fundraising - Acknowledge, Ms. D. Whalen 2082
Vote - Affirmative 2082
Res. 847, Briggs, Krista: Entrepreneurship - Compliment, Mr. W. Langille 2082
Vote - Affirmative 2083
Res. 848, Religious Belief - Practice: Freedom - Affirm, Mr. H. Epstein 2083
Vote - Affirmative 2084
Res. 849, Sports: East. Shore Mariners Hockey Team - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 2084
Vote - Affirmative 2085
Res. 850, Clark's Hbr. - Baseball/Civic Pride, Mr. C. O'Donnell 2085
Vote - Affirmative 2085
Res. 851, Single Parent Ctr. - Doula Prog., Ms. M. Raymond 2085
Vote - Affirmative 2086
Res. 852, Holliday, Kolin - Wrestling Championship, Mr. H. Theriault 2086
Vote - Affirmative 2087
Res. 853, Romo, Jessica: Best Wishes - Extend, Mr. W. Dooks 2087
Vote - Affirmative 2088
Res. 854, Graham, Shawn: IBC Poll - Transcript Release, Mr. G. Steele 2088
Res. 855, Richmond Mun.: Anniv. (125th) - Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 2089
Vote - Affirmative 2089
Res. 856, Sailloft - Team Can. Trade Mission: Participant - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 2089
Vote - Affirmative 2090
Res. 857, Polaris Snowmobiling Relay: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Parker 2090
Vote - Affirmative 2091
Res. 858, Dart. Choral Soc.: Anniv. (50th) - Congrats., Mr. S. McNeil 2091
Vote - Affirmative 2092
Res. 859, Dodsworth, Ken - Bedford Vol. Award, Hon. P. Christie 2092
Vote - Affirmative 2092
Res. 860, McNeill, Stephanie/Smith, Joan: Girl Guides Conf. -
Attendance, Ms. M. More 2093
Vote - Affirmative 2093
Res. 861, Family Violence Forum - Com. Serv. Comm.: Init. - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2093
Vote - Affirmative 2094
Res. 862, Sports - Curling: Mouzar Rink - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 2094
Vote - Affirmative 2095
Res. 863, Banfield, Scott: Hurricane Juan Cleanup - Commend,
Mr. J. Pye 2095
Vote - Affirmative 2096
Res. 864, Harper, Stephen: Election - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2096
Vote - Affirmative 2097
Res. 865, Rosedale Home for Special Care: Anniv. (20th) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 2097
Vote - Affirmative 2097
Res. 866, Crane, Jamie/Gilliard Scott: UCCB Student Union Exec. -
Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 2098
Vote - Affirmative 2098
Res. 867, Cdn. Cancer Soc. Daffodil Month (04/04) - Support,
Ms. D. Whalen 2098
Vote - Affirmative 2099
Res. 868, Veterans/Families: MLAs - Support,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2099
Vote - Affirmative 2100
Res. 869, Corlett, Jamie: Black Belt (1st Deg.) - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2100
Vote - Affirmative 2100
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 37, Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources
Accord Implementation (Nova Scotia) Act 2101
Ms. J. Massey 2101
Mr. J. Pye 2101
Mr. J. MacDonell 2103
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2106
Hon. K. Morash 2108
Vote - Affirmative 2108
No. 40, Assessment Act 2108
Hon. B. Barnet 2108
Ms. M. Raymond 2110
Mr. Gerald Sampson 2111
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2116
Mr. K. Colwell 2125
Adjourned debate 2134
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Apr. 19th at 4:00 p.m. 2135
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 870, Reid, Emily - Duke of Edinburgh Award (Gold),
Mr. L. Glavine 2136
Res. 871, Tufts, Claudette - TIANS Pineapple Award, Hon. R. Hurlburt 2136
Res. 872, Atl. Plumbing & Heating: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 2137
Res. 873, Barry's Septic: Contributions - Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 2137
Res. 874, Big Shot Lanes: Contributions - Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 2138
Res. 875, Coastal Roofing: Contributions - Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 2138
Res. 876, Cousins Serv. Ctr.: Contributions - Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 2139
Res. 877, Guys. Mun. - Anniv. (125th), Mr. Ronald Chisholm 2139

[Page 2061]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, APRIL 16, 2004

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Salt Springs and Mount Thom in Pictou County concerning the very poor condition of Trunk 4 highway. The operative clause reads, "WE THE UNDERSIGNED, residents and users of Trunk 4 which extends through Lower Mount Thom from Exit 21 at Alma to Truro, hereby petition the Department of Transportation & Public Works to pave this road, beginning at the Week's Quarry and extending a distance of 3.7 kilometers to the Pictou/Colchester County line, and extending a further 2.3 kilometers into the County of Colchester for a total distance of 6 kilometers." It has been signed by 148 local residents and I, too, have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

2061

[Page 2062]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report from the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia, their annual report for 2003, entitled safety starts with you.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 823

HON. JOHN HAMM (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas haShoah (the Holocaust) refers to the state-sponsored, systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945; and

Whereas the lives of 6 million Jewish men, women and children were taken at the hands of the Nazis; and

Whereas Yom haShoah, which this years falls on Sunday, April 18th, is recognized through legislation as Holocaust Memorial Day in Nova Scotia, a day to remember;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the significance of this day which stands both as a symbol of one of history's most treacherous incidents of man's inhumanity to man and, hence, a time to honour those victims of the Holocaust and its survivors and those who lost their lives fighting to end the tyranny of the Nazis;

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2063]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance .

RESOLUTION NO. 824

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

Whereas Arnold Sarty was an institution in the Nova Scotia Public Service, serving for 18 years as Auditor General. He was appointed Auditor General of the Province of Nova Scotia in 1965 and held that position with distinction until retirement in 1983; and

Whereas Arnold Sarty worked on behalf of the people of the province in a capable and selfless manner, earning the admiration of his colleagues and community; and

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia has benefited greatly from Arnold Sarty's wise financial counsel, who served the province with dedication and commitment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in saluting the memory of Arnold Sarty and extend our gratitude for his years of service and the enormous contribution to the government and the people of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

[Page 2064]

RESOLUTION NO. 825

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

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians contributed to the overwhelming success of the World Women's Hockey Championship, hosted here in Halifax from March 30th to April 6th; and

Whereas this edition of the World Women's Hockey Championship set a new record for attendance attracting 94,001 spectators to 20 games; and

Whereas organizers and volunteers from all over our province and beyond have much to be proud of including another gold medal win for Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate and thank everyone involved in making the World Women's Hockey Championship such a great time and a great success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 826

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

Whereas this government is committed to improving the transportation infrastructure of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas better highways help all Nova Scotians build a stronger and safer province; and

[Page 2065]

Whereas representatives of the Governments of Nova Scotia and Canada recently marked the official opening of the newly-twinned section of Highway No. 101 between Mount Uniacke and Ellershouse;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the hard work and professionalism of Department of Transportation and Public Works' staff, the construction industry and all stakeholders who work towards improving the transportation infrastructure of Nova Scotia for the safety and benefit of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister Responsible for Health Promotion.

RESOLUTION NO. 827

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

Whereas following a brave battle with breast cancer, Nova Scotia lost an incredible breast health advocate in Angela Vecchio-Ozmon; and

Whereas, sadly, Ms. Vecchio-Ozmon left behind two young children, whom she loved dearly, but she also left a very lasting gift to others - her story, documented via CBC, has served as an inspirational message to all, especially those fighting the same battle; and

Whereas she also used her energy to push the message of the importance of living and caring;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House, through the Speaker, join me in expressing our condolences to Angela's two children and her parents, Elizabeth and Kenneth Ozmon, and thank her, through her family, for the incredible gifts she has left to so many.

[Page 2066]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 828

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

Whereas this Saturday, April 17th, is Law Day 2004 in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Canadian Bar Association sponsors this annual event to raise awareness of the laws that bring order to society; and

Whereas the public is invited to attend mock trials, a tour of the lockup and free presentations between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at the Law Courts Building in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Canadian Bar Association and the other participants who will take part in this year's event.

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 2067]

The honourable Minister of Acadian Affairs.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to introduce someone in the House. In the east gallery, I would like to introduce Stan Surette, President of the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse. (Applause) Bien venue, Stan.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 51 - Entitled an Act to Establish a Provincial Acadian Day. (Hon. Christopher D'Entremont)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 829

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 auto insurance rate freeze and rollback promised by the Progressive Conservatives has proven to be imaginary for thousands of drivers who are paying higher rates; and

Whereas equally imaginary were the Progressive Conservative promises to dramatically reduce the number of drivers who need the costly insurance of last resort, Facility Association; and

Whereas on April 15th, the Premier could only offer a report that uses imaginary costs and imaginary fees, rather than the actual rates paid by drivers, to defend his refusal to seriously consider another option;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier and his Conservative colleagues to face the real world of skyrocketing auto insurance rates and undertake a serious, independent study of how public auto insurance would provide lower and fairer rates in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2068]

[9:15 a.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 830

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

Whereas sisters Rhonda and Lynn Crawford of Whitney Pier will receive the Tom Miller Human Rights Award for an outstanding record in human rights and community involvement; and

Whereas the Tom Miller Human Rights Award is awarded to residents of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in honour of the late Tom Miller, who was Eastern Canada's first Black alderman; and

Whereas the award is in recognition of Rhonda and Lynn's tireless work with Black students and race relations;

Therefore be it resolved the members of the Legislature of the Province of Nova Scotia congratulate Rhonda and Lynn Crawford of Whitney Pier for receiving the Tom Miller Human Rights Award and recognize their work in the field of education and race relations.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2069]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 831

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

Whereas in October 2003 federal Progressive Conservative Leader and Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay signed an agreement-in-principle with Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper to create the new Conservative Party of Canada; and (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I could understand why the NDP would be concerned.

Whereas in December 2003 members of both Parties endorsed the agreement-in-principle to create a new Tory Party, including over 90 per cent of Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives; and

Whereas one of the new Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's first actions as Leader was to appoint Nova Scotia's own Peter MacKay as Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud Stephen Harper for providing Nova Scotia with such a prominent role in the Conservative Party of Canada - Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.

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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 832

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

[Page 2070]

Whereas April is Cancer Awareness Month throughout Canada; and

Whereas during April many volunteers contribute countless hours of their time to the Canadian Cancer Society's familiar daffodil campaign; and

Whereas this campaign enables the Canadian Cancer Society to conduct research to support cancer patients and their families, to conduct public education, and to promote healthy public policy;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature extend our sincere thanks to the many volunteers whose dedication makes this serious and important campaign possible.

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. 833

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

Whereas in 1879 the Municipality of Guysborough was officially incorporated; and

Whereas Saturday, April 17, 2004, will mark the 125th Anniversary of the municipality's incorporation; and

Whereas on Saturday the municipality will host a municipal birthday party which will include several local celebrations, including promotional material of license plates, lapel pins and the unveiling of a new municipal flag;

[Page 2071]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their sincerest congratulations to Warden Lloyd Hines, councillors and residents of Guysborough County as they celebrate the 125th Anniversary of incorporation as a county.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 834

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

Whereas the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund has been established in western Shelburne County to support cancer patients and their families; and

Whereas the fund was set up by Shelley d'Eon in memory of her mother who lost her battle to the dreadful disease last September; and

Whereas this fund will assist cancer patients in the Municipality of Barrington and the Town of Clark's Harbour by offering financial assistance as well as spiritual and emotional support;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the contribution being established by the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund in light of the fact that 28,000 Nova Scotians are living with cancer today and 5,000 more will be diagnosed this year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2072]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 835

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

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia has recognized individuals that have contributed to the betterment of the community through their volunteer efforts; and

Whereas the Provincial Volunteer Awards Ceremony and Dinner which was held on April 13th at the Westin Hotel in Halifax, included the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to a dedicated and generous community member from the community of Eastern Passage and Cow Bay; and

Whereas the Lifetime Achievement Award from the province was awarded to Eva Naugle for 50 years of volunteering to the community's poor and sick, to the community spirit at St. Peter's Anglican Church and its fun, in the Eastern Passage - Cow Bay Summer Carnival and for her many other generous contributions of time to local charities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Eva Naugle on receiving the 2004 Provincial Volunteer of the Year Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Acting Leader of the Liberal Party.

[Page 2073]

RESOLUTION NO. 836

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

Whereas Cole Harbour's very own Sidney Crosby has been playing for the Rimouski Oceanic this season; and

Whereas Sidney Crosby received six Quebec Major Junior Hockey League awards at a banquet held on Wednesday, March 31st; and

Whereas included in these awards were most valuable player, rookie of the year and also trophies for personality of the year, top offensive player, offensive rookie of the year and league scoring champion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Sidney Crosby for his outstanding performance in his rookie year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 837

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

Whereas Eastern Shore fiddling talent, Gordon Stobbe, has recently released his third recording of original music called the Seaforth Waltz; and

[Page 2074]

Whereas the CD continues Mr. Stobbe's exploration of the rich and varied world of folk fiddle with influences from English and French Canadian fiddle traditions as well as influences from Eastern Europe; and

Whereas Mr. Stobbe is also a respected fiddle teacher and has published several books on fiddle music;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join with me in congratulating Gordon Stobbe on the release of his third CD, Seaforth Waltz, and wish him much success in all of his musical endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 838

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

Whereas boxing has a proud tradition in this province; and

Whereas one of boxing's greatest legends, Rudy Pilche, is a trainer and corner man extraordinaire; and

Whereas Rudy will be inducted into the Cape Breton Sport Hall of Fame this May;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Rudy Pilche for his many years of service to boxing and on his induction into the Cape Breton Sport Hall of Fame.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

[Page 2075]

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.

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

Whereas in the Spring of 2003, Canadian Federation of Independent Business Vice-President, Peter O'Brien, gave tacit approval to the provincial government's budget providing a 10 per cent tax cut to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas this tax cut, supported by the NDP, has proved to be a colossal disaster for all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Fall session of the Nova Scotia Legislature realized the backroom deal on labour standards between the John Hamm Government and Darrell Dexter's socialists was also a colossal disaster for Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is out of order because it does name members in the House.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 839

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

Whereas at a public meeting two years ago in Tatamagouche, four ideas were put forth to enhance the Village of Tatamagouche; and

Whereas one of the suggestions, the Creamery Square Project, was chosen and is now well underway with the historic Tatamagouche Creamery to be the centrepiece for an assortment of museum collections, a permanent year-round farmer's market and a performing arts centre; and

[Page 2076]

Whereas Bob Byers, President of the Creamery Square Project Committee was presented with a $20,000 cheque last year by the North Shore Bavarian Society to begin the process of fundraising, which is scheduled to be completed within three years, with the assistance of the Colchester Regional Development Agency;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House applaud the efforts of the Creamery Square Project Committee and wish them every success in this extremely worthwhile endeavour.

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. 840

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 Heritage Credit Union was inaugurated in February 1939; and

Whereas the Heritage Credit Union will hold its 65th Anniversary on Tuesday, April 20, 2004; and

Whereas the celebration Decades of Dedication, will honour John Cross for having served as President and CEO of the Heritage Credit Union for over 20 years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate John Cross for his dedication and commitment to the credit union movement, and that he be commended for his efforts to enhance the successful profile of the Heritage Credit Union in the community and throughout the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2077]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 841

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

Whereas in the spring of 2003 Canadian Federation of Independent Business Vice-President Peter O'Brien gave tacit approval to the provincial government's budget providing a 10 per cent tax cut to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas this tax cut, supported by the NDP, has proved to be a colossal disaster for all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas in the Fall session of the Nova Scotia Legislature there was a realization of a backroom deal on labour standards, between the Progressive Conservative Government and the Nova Scotia socialists, that was also a colossal disaster for Nova Scotia . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is imputing motives and I believe that resolution is out of order. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is the opinion of the Speaker that will matter, but I would like to have a copy of the resolution first and then I will decide whether it's proper or not.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 842

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

[Page 2078]

Whereas each year the Tourism Association of Nova Scotia recognizes Nova Scotians who go beyond the call of the duty in assisting visitors to this province with its annual Pineapple Awards and

Whereas recently Geraldine and Orval Browning, owners of Browning's Bed and Breakfast, in Gibson Woods, were honoured with the Pineapple Award; and

Whereas Orval and Geraldine Browning consistently go out of their way to make visitors feel at home, giving of their time and energy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Geraldine and Orval Browning on receiving the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia's Pineapple Award for their efforts that exhibit the generosity for which Nova Scotians are famous.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honorable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 843

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 forest provides Nova Scotians with a renewable resource that has always been a vital part of our economy; and

Whereas sustainable forestry practices will ensure that Nova Scotia's forestry industry will remain as a pre-eminent part of the economy; and

Whereas in December 2003, Elmsdale Lumber received a Nova Forest Alliance Merit Award for its outstanding efforts in sustainable forestry management, and the Forest Products

[Page 2079]

Association of Nova Scotia's Principles of Good Forestry Certificate for its compliance with FPANS's Forest Stewardship principles;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the owner, management staff, and crew at Elmsdale Lumber for their awards recognizing their efforts to make sustainability in the forestry industry a reality.

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 favor of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I did review the resolution by the honorable member for Cape Breton West and I rule that it is in order. Normally you're only allowed two, but this is your third chance.

The honorable member for Cape Breton West

RESOLUTION NO. 841

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Works in baseball.

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

Whereas in the Spring of 2003, Canadian Federation of Independent Business Vice-President Peter O'Brien gave tacit approval to the provincial government's budget, providing a 10 per cent tax cut to Nova Scotians; and

[9:30 a.m.]

Whereas this tax cut supported by the NDP has proved to be a colossal disaster for all Nova Scotians; and

[Page 2080]

Whereas the Fall session of the Nova Scotia Legislature realized a reported back-room deal, on labour standards between the Conservative Government and the Nova Scotia socialists, which also was a colossal disaster for all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House be mindful that the left is not the right, the right is not the left, and that Liberalism is neither right nor left, but central to Nova Scotia which is a proven fact by its governance in Nova Scotia for 75 per cent of the last 250 years.

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.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Far be it from me to question your ruling, but I do find it offensive when people start attributing back-room deals to people who are not even in this Chamber to respond.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 844

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

Whereas on December 27, 2003, Sackville High School graduates from the class of 1993 celebrated there 10-year reunion; and

Whereas this happy post-Christmas event took place at the Sackville Kinsmen Centre; and

Whereas graduates of Sackville High School's Class of 1993 are making a positive difference here at home and around the world.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Sackville High School's Class of 1993, particularly reunion organizers Debbie Kavanaugh and Kim Pickup, for their many successes and achievements.

[Page 2081]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2082]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 845

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

Whereas many schools in Nova Scotia have no other choice but to fundraise to provide much-needed equipment, books and other various items for their students; and

Whereas Ellenvale Jr. High School in Dartmouth East is one of the many schools that do an outstanding job at fundraising for their school; and

Whereas this weekend, Saturday, April 17th, Ellenvale Jr. High School will hold its annual auction which usually raises approximately $13,000 through a huge effort by the school staff, students, parents and the surrounding community;

Therefore be it resolved that this government wish Ellenvale Jr. High School a very successful auction, this Saturday from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. at Doolittles in Dartmouth East.

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 2083]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park

RESOLUTION NO. 846

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

Whereas the 4th annual Foresters Children's Miracle Network Radiothon Awards Conference recently took place to recognize the outstanding contribution made by radio stations from across North America in raising needed funds and awareness for Children's Hospitals; and

Whereas C100 FM radio was the only radio station out of 230 stations to be recognized with two awards. The first award was for the best "Change Bandit" promotion while the second award was for the best family story, featuring Kyle MacKay, and his courageous battle against cancer; and

Whereas the tremendous success of the annual radiothon held by C100 is a testament to the importance of these events. The monies raised go a long way to improve the lives of the children who are in need of these services.

Therefore be it resolved that each member of this Legislature congratulate C100 for this recognition and acknowledge their valuable contribution to the IWK Health Centre Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 847

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

[Page 2084]

Whereas Tatamagouche Day Care which has now been opened for six months under the capable leadership of owner Krista Briggs, is offering eligible North Shore parents, a structured preschool schedule for their children; and

Whereas being a parent and an early childhood development educator, Briggs saw the need for a complete day-structured program to suit the needs of working parents; and

Whereas the day care situated in the upper portion of the North Shore Recreation Centre offers a host of activities for up to 18 preschoolers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly compliment owner Krista Briggs for her ingenuity and entrepreneurship, in establishing a much-needed service for parents along the North Shore of Colchester County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 848

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

Whereas recent attacks on a Jewish school in Montreal and on Jewish homes in Ontario have renewed concerns about anti-Semitism; and

Whereas in recent years mosques, synagogues and other centres of religious faith have been attacked by those who misguidedly judge others on the basis of their creed; and

Whereas freedom of religion must be vigorously defended so that no resident of our country need fear persecution or attack simply because of their religious beliefs;

[Page 2085]

Therefore be it resolved that on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, Yom haShoah, this House affirm its support for the free and open practice of religious belief, free from discrimination and safe from attack, lest religious bigotry regain a foothold or any degree of acceptance in Canadian society.

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. 849

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

Whereas the Eastern Shore Mariners annual hockey tournament was started over 25 years ago; and

Whereas this tournament which was held in March 2004 has expanded from old-timers to include gents recreational as well as a ladies division; and

Whereas this tournament hosted over 40 teams from the Atlantic Provinces during the four days of the tournament and funds raised have been donated to the local rink and to the Twin Oaks Hospital as well as many other charities over the past 25 years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend congratulations to the Eastern Shore Mariners and their members over the past 25 years, and particularly the six original team members who still play.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2086]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 850

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

Whereas baseball has a rich tradition in the Town of Clark's Harbour; and

Whereas the Clark's Harbour and Area Minor Baseball Association is one of the largest minor ball associations in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas behind the efforts of Mayor Leigh Stoddart, the Town of Clark's Harbour has decided to begin promoting itself as the Home of Baseball in Shelburne County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend the mayor, council and residents of Clark's Harbour for their civic pride and continued interest in the great game of baseball.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 851

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

[Page 2087]

Whereas the months following childbirth are well known to dispose new mothers to depression, sometimes with dire consequences for infant development, health and emotional well-being; and

Whereas the support of trained companions or doulas, before, during and after childbirth significantly reduces the risk of depression and increases the rate of nursing by approximately 150 per cent from the general average in the population; and

Whereas the Single Parent Centre in Spryfield has been training and coordinating the services of volunteer doulas and is launching a post-partum doula program today, at the very same time it has lost funding from the Capital District Health Board;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Single Parent Centre on its continued work on the post-partum doula program, and ensure that future funding recognizes the enormous contribution of this program to promoting the health of mothers, infants and their families.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 852

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

Whereas Digby's very own Kolin Holliday has been wrestling for the Digby Regional High School; and

Whereas on March 26th he entered the 50-kilogram division at the provincial championship held in Cole Harbour; and

[Page 2088]

Whereas Kolin came away with a second provincial championship in that very division by winning all three of his matches;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Kolin Holliday.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 853

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

Whereas we are fortunate in this province to have many bright young people who will make positive contributions to this province; and

Whereas on March 17th, I had the privilege to be interviewed by one such person, Jessica Romo, a Grade 6 student, as part of a school assignment; and

Whereas Ms. Romo is an articulate and intelligent young woman, who has expressed an interest in becoming a politician when she grows up;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in extending our best wishes to Ms. Jessica Romo, and wish her much success as she follows her dream of becoming a politician. Of course, I've added which Party she should be attached to.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2089]

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 854

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

Whereas yesterday, in New Brunswick, a political Party released a transcript of a recent push-poll, commissioned by the Insurance Bureau of Canada and conducted by Pollara Research; and

Whereas the Leader of that political Party warned the public against believing the results of the poll, which seemed clearly designed to push respondents towards expressing an opinion against public auto insurance; and

Whereas that Leader of that political Party, which participated in the all-Party report on public auto insurance, repeated that Leader's previously-expressed support for a public auto insurance system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank New Brunswick Liberal Leader Shawn Graham for bringing the Insurance Bureau of Canada's push-poll to the public's attention, and invites Mr. Graham to Nova Scotia for urgent consultations with the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

[Page 2090]

RESOLUTION NO. 855

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

Whereas Saturday, April 17, 2004, will mark the 125th Anniversary of the incorporation of the Municipality of Richmond; and

Whereas celebrations for the 125th Anniversary included a New Year's levy, a calendar sent to all homes in the county, depicting the 10 municipal districts, and a proposed history project chronicling the county's past; and

Whereas Richmond County has undergone many changes over the years, yet has persevered, due to the resiliency of its residents;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations to Warden Gail Johnson, councillors and the residents of Richmond County as they celebrate their 125th Anniversary of incorporation as a county.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 856

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Business Inc. and ACOA have organized trade missions aimed at increasing trade opportunities with the United States of America to benefit the Nova Scotia economy; and

[Page 2091]

Whereas The Sailloft has been repairing and manufacturing quality sails in Second Peninsula, Lunenburg County for more than 80 years; and

Whereas The Sailloft, owned and operated by Michele Stevens, has been recognized for its quality work and is one of five Nova Scotia companies chosen to participate in a Team Canada trade mission to Washington later this month;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Michele Stevens and The Sailloft on being chosen as one of the companies to represent Nova Scotia in the upcoming trade mission, and wish her a successful trip.

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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 857

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia portion of the Polaris 2004 International WOW (Way Out Women) Snowmobiling Relay in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation was a great success; and

Whereas this national and international event raises awareness and funding for this

important cause as well as encouraging more women to be involved in the great wintertime activity of snowmobiling; and

Whereas in Pictou County the members of the Dalhousie Mountain Snowmobile Club fully supported and participated in this WOW relay fundraiser;

[Page 2092]

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Karen Cock of Sylvester, Pictou County; Kinda Wyllie of Sutherland's Lake, Colchester County; and Betty Boudreau of Cheticamp, Cape Breton, for participating in this international relay and helping to raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

[9:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 858

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

Whereas music as an art form elevates the lives of those who experience it while transcending the entire range of expression and community that is vital to the cultural enrichment of all societies; and

Whereas in May 2004, the Dartmouth Choral Society will launch its year-long 50th Anniversary celebration, a significant milestone for the longest continuous community choir in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Choral Society's 90-voice, four-part choir will launch its celebrations with two performances in Dartmouth in May 2004;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate choral director Shawn Whynacht, accompanist Pam Burton, and indeed all members of the Dartmouth Choral Society on the occasion of the Dartmouth Choral Society's 50th Anniversary, and wish them all the best in the times ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2093]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 859

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

Whereas on Sunday, March 28, 2004, the community of Bedford recognized the hard work and dedication of its volunteers at a special recognition dinner; and

Whereas this year's award was presented to Ken Dodsworth, Ken being an individual who has risen above and beyond the norm and is being recognized by the community; and

Whereas this event gives the opportunity for the community of Bedford to recognize and applaud the hard work of all individuals who have given their time and dedication to improve their community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ken Dodsworth for his continued support to his community and for all those volunteers in the community who we so greatly appreciate.

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 2094]

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 860

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

Whereas Girl Guides of Canada, the largest organization for girls and women in Canada, and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are part of a network of international, non-governmental organizations, all of which share similar aims and objectives; and

Whereas Guiding helps young girls and women connect with their community and with the wider world through varied, imaginative and innovative activity choices that girls are encouraged to reach their potential, be independent, confident and caring; and

Whereas Stephanie McNeill and Joan Smith of Dartmouth, representing Girl Guides of Canada, attended the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts Conference held recently in Santiago, Chile, for delegates from 20 countries;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Stephanie McNeill and Joan Smith on the honour of representing Canada at the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts Conference held recently in Chile.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 861

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

[Page 2095]

Whereas the Liberal members for Cape Breton West, Annapolis and Kings West ably represent the Liberal caucus on the Community Services Committee; and

Whereas that committee heard from Nova Scotia transition house workers in Nova Scotia on February 12, 2004, and at that meeting the Liberal members proposed that a day-long forum be held with transition house workers and other concerned groups and organizations in order that members might have an opportunity to better understand the issue of family violence in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Community Services Committee announced yesterday that a one-day forum on family violence will be held on Thursday, June 24th, in the Red Chamber;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the members of the Community Services Committee for taking this important step in improving our understanding of and, hopefully in turn, our response to the issue of family violence in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 862

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

Whereas Skip Jill Mouzar, Third Paige Mattie, Second Blisse Comstock and Lead Chloe Comstock won the Nova Scotia Junior Women's Curling Championship at the Liverpool Curling Club in January 2004; and

Whereas the following month the Nova Scotia Junior Women's Curling Champions handily defeated a strong team from Quebec to win the 2004 Canadian Junior Women's Curling Championship in Victoria, British Columbia; and

[Page 2096]

Whereas this Nova Scotia team represented Canada at the 2004 World Junior Curling Championships in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, placing second to a powerful team from Norway;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the achievements of Jill Mouzar, Paige Mattie, Blisse Comstock and Chloe Comstock, winners of a World Junior Championship silver medal.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 863

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

Whereas last September Hurricane Juan left a path of destruction in uprooting trees, knocking down power lines, destroying personal property; and

Whereas many individuals placed themselves in harm's way by assisting in the initial clean up; and

Whereas in Dartmouth North, Scott Banfield was one of those individuals who directed traffic, cut trees, moved debris from the power lines and assisted fire and rescue services;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature commend Scott Banfield for his unselfish commitment to public safety.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 2097]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East on an introduction.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize Mr. Bob Venus, he's in your gallery. He's from Dartmouth East and Bob is here today as an advocate for other citizens that are dealing with the issue of the continuing cuts to home care in Nova Scotia. I'd like everyone to wish Bob all the best in his future endeavours. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome Bob to the gallery today and hope he enjoys the proceedings.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 864

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I will try something a little more user friendly since it's a tough audience this morning.

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

Whereas on Saturday, March 20, 2004, Stephen Harper was elected Leader of the newly minted Conservative Party of Canada; and

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, a supporter of Stephen Harper, should be particularly elated; and

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Stephen Harper on his electoral success.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 2098]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 865

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

Whereas the Rosedale Home for Special Care was built in 1984 by the residents of the New Germany area who recognized the need for such a service; and

Whereas the facility currently cares for 29 residents and employs 50 people; and

Whereas the Rosedale Home for Special Care is celebrating 20 years of providing quality service to the people of Lunenburg County and the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the Rosedale Home for Special Care on its 20th Anniversary and thank them for the excellent assistance they have provided over the years to our senior citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 2099]

RESOLUTION NO. 866

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

Whereas Jamie Crane of South Bar and Scott Gilliard of Sydney ran in the recent University College of Cape Breton's student union election; and

Whereas Jamie Crane and her running mate, Scott Gilliard, won the recent election at UCCB; and

Whereas Jamie Crane is now the President and Scott Gilliard is the Vice-President of the UCCB Student Union;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislative Assembly recognize and congratulate Jamie Crane and Scott Gilliard on their great victory and wish them well during their tenure as President and Vice-President of the University College of Cape Breton Student Union.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 867

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

Whereas April is the Canadian Cancer Society's Daffodil Month; and

Whereas the Canadian Cancer Society is a national organization dedicated to eradicating cancer and helping those who are living with cancer and their families; and

[Page 2100]

Whereas the Canadian Cancer Society has led the way in funding for research, promoting health and providing information on cancer to the public;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House should add their support to this national campaign to eliminate cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 868

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 hundreds of veterans from our province and across Canada have been laid to rest without proper grave markers; and

Whereas Ralph Pryde, nephew of World War II veteran John Earle Gale, has fought hard for many years to bring awareness to the underfunded Last Post Fund; and

Whereas this treatment of veterans, often after their passing, is disrespectful and should come to an end;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of this Legislative Assembly continue to speak up and support our veterans and their families, especially in their passing, to ensure all Nova Scotians and Canadians remember the sacrifices our veterans have made.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2101]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 869

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

Whereas Jamie Corlett, son of Helen and Phil Corlett, has been awarded the Junior Shodan (first degree black belt) in the Yoshinkan Aikido martial arts program; and

Whereas this 14-year-old, Grade 9, Ridgecliff Middle School student is the first to receive the award in Eastern Canada; and

Whereas Jamie has dedicated over six years of training to reach this achievement;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Jamie Corlett on this accomplishment, with best wishes in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2102]

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 37.

Bill No. 37 - Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation (Nova Scotia) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to summarize some of the things I spoke about before we adjourned last evening.

The number one issue I was trying to make was that there are safety concerns out there, especially transportation to and from the rigs, and this is all due to the weather reporting on the rigs and coordinating the weather that's reported at the time on the rig and onshore at the same time. I have concerns that the energy sector is moving forward at a very fast pace and we've seen that in a lot of the documents that have been coming forward from that department. That is one of the concerns someone has addressed to me, personally, and I would just like to make sure that somebody is listening to those concerns and that they are acted upon and I would really like to hear back, if somebody could get back to me, on that issue, whether it is an issue they have heard about or they are doing something about.

In closing, I would like to say offshore exploration is a very important issue and it is only going to expand, by the looks of what is going on. I just want to make sure that those issues are addressed. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to speak to Bill No. 37, somewhat briefly, because I am going to wait until the bill goes to the Law Amendments Committee and then comes back, to see what the presenters have to say on the bill, particularly around occupational health and safety. It's important to recognize that, in fact, when the new frontier of offshore oil came to Nova Scotia - and I believe my colleague for Halifax Chebucto actually mentioned this - sometime in 1982, this was really when the exploration really started in the offshore of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2103]

[10:00 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that was at the very same time when there was a downturn in the fishing industry, and many people who were seafarers and earned a living off the ocean had to readjust or change their way of seeking employment. Many of those people went to training programs that were offered to enable them to take employment opportunities in the offshore. Many of those individuals went through training programs, such as WHMIS training programs, offshore safety programs that were sponsored by community colleges or by private industry programs, and many of those individuals made sure that they were protected as individuals, making sure that their own individual public safety was paramount for them.

As a matter of fact, for the most part it was a requirement of employment that the individual employees who wanted to work in the offshore were those individual employees who had to participate in these kinds of training programs. Those employees knew that the safety gear that was required was going to be needed and the safety gear that was necessary was going to be the appropriate safety gear. So the individual employees, for the most part, Mr. Speaker, looked after themselves and made sure that their safety was consistent with what the employer had wanted. Unfortunately, the employer did not implement the occupational health and safety programs that were required for individuals working in the offshore.

Mr. Speaker, you have to remember that the offshore is quite a distance from land, and many people who lived on fishing vessels and so on realize the perils of the employment in that isolated area. They also recognize that there was a need for public safety. Many of the individuals, as my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, pointed out, had spoken about the particular dangers with respect to the lack of public health and safety in that very new frontier that was coming to the province.

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you that I have known a number of individuals who worked not necessarily totally up on the oil rigs themselves, but in fact worked with companies that were suppliers to the oil rigs. Those individuals worked in a very precarious situation, because they were on the supply vessels that delivered the supplies to the oil rigs and had to make sure that those supplies were placed on the oil rigs. The individuals often had to go up and down those oil rigs and put their own safety in peril.

I want to tell you that I recall the Ocean Ranger and the serious - I should say the most unfortunate situation with respect to the Ocean Ranger going down. It happened to go down where every single life, I believe, at that particular time was lost. I don't know if, in fact, public health and safety would have been able to address an issue where a huge storm comes up and everybody is unprepared and unable to address such a disaster, but I do know that if things were in place that there could have been safety measures to help address and assist that.

[Page 2104]

I've often wondered about the individuals who decided to take this on as a career, the individuals who recognize that they're out there at sea for, I believe, some two weeks on, two weeks off, they're out there in this particular environment, precarious and left to the perils of the sea, the ocean. I think it's important that when they are left to those perils that governments not argue about whose jurisdiction and whose right it is to provide the public health and safety for those individuals, but governments at all levels who are responsible and who encourage offshore development in this particular industry.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I think it's important for us to recognize and to know that governments at all levels should pull together, and when they're crafting these agreements and putting these agreements into place that these agreements also address the issues with respect to the employment and public health and safety. It's one thing to draft offshore agreements - and many of us will know that the crafting of this offshore agreement does not necessarily benefit all Nova Scotians.

I don't want to sway from the point of occupational health and safety, but we know that Nova Scotians are not getting the true value of that resource off their coastline and the value and the revenue that's coming through there should be much greater to Nova Scotians, particularly if Nova Scotians who are employed in that industry are going to put themselves at peril. I do know that this present government, unlike the past government, will certainly look at contractual agreements or agreements with respect to developments in the offshore in a much better manner in which the previous government had addressed these to make sure that Nova Scotians will benefit from such agreements.

Also, Mr. Speaker, as I've said, I wanted to speak just briefly on this because I believe that it's important to go the Law Amendments Committee to listen to the presenters and then to come back and give the bill a thorough discussion and a thorough debate after we know what has been said at the Law Amendments Committee.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think that although this is five years after the death of Mr. Shawn Hatcher, the loss of his life and the suffering of that family some five years ago was instrumental, hopefully, in bringing this legislation forward. It is some five years later but it's better late than never and the fact that it's on the floor and, hopefully, we will look at what comes from the Law Amendments Committee. So I want to thank you very much for the opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak on Bill No. 37 and I will probably speak fairly briefly compared to some of my colleagues, but there are a few things that I have concerns about, I guess. I have never worked on the offshore, I certainly have friends who worked in the oil patch in Alberta but really for me I don't have a lot of personal knowledge of the particular job types in the offshore, only what I've seen in

[Page 2105]

promotional commercials on television, et cetera. But I do have some experience in working at jobs in dangerous lines of work.

I grew up on a small farm and certainly I'm familiar with cutter bars and pitchforks and PTO shafts on tractors and all of these things which have been known to either maim or kill people. I worked for three years in the woods, using a power saw and, Mr. Speaker, if you're from rural Nova Scotia, you would have heard of members in your community, probably, in the past who were injured, if not killed, felling trees.

Mr. Speaker, I guess I want to say that I see this as a good move for the government to bring in this legislation but it doesn't, for me, complete the whole picture. The fact that the government recognizes this need that workers in the offshore should have some protection, the same as workers onshore, is a very positive move. I wish that they had moved faster in this regard but I won't condemn them for that.

I think what we tend to lose sight of is that when we get up in the morning and go to work, we don't actually expect that we won't come home in the evening. Quite often, when we do a job and we do it every day and we do it to the point that our skill level makes it routine, in other words, the dangers that we face as part of our job become somewhat second nature to us because we haven't really experienced any close shaves in regard to that danger. Now it only takes one or two of those experiences, and hopefully they would be close shaves, they would be things that would give us a wake-up call that we have to change what we do personally in how we do our job or that there has to be a change in the mindset with our employer or whoever that the way this job is carried out by the workers has a tendency to lead us down a road that the routine nature of it, if we allow that to occur, is going to lead us into trouble. So there have to be things that offset or take us down a different path, away from that danger. I'm hoping that this legislation will help do that because, Mr. Speaker, the one thing we can't escape is our humanity and the fact that at the later part of the day when we are more tired than we are at the start of the day, we tend to allow things to slip and we run the risk of putting ourselves in increasing danger.

Mr. Speaker, we all have separate dreams and aspirations that we hope to achieve when we go to work. In other words, we have things that we want to do for our families and for ourselves that we see our job as the important component in achieving those dreams, that financial reward that will allow us to do that thing that we want to do after the eight-hour day or the 12-hour day and that we regard most important to our families. For most of us, it isn't always the job that is the reason for our living. It is the people closest to us that is the living for our living. It seems so unfair to put people in a situation whereby the dangers of their work are such that they risk the people closest to them or their own lives in trying to accomplish those dreams.

[Page 2106]

I worry very much, Mr. Speaker, that we are willing to be satisfied with a certain statistic. In other words, if we say the number of accidents is below a certain percentage, the number of deaths is below a certain percentage, that somehow that is fine, that we have picked a number that we are willing to settle on that seems to make us think that that is okay. Well, I want to say it is not. I do have a few people close to me, my children in particular. My son is 17. He is getting to an age where I would expect that he will be entering the workforce, either as a summer job or whatever.

I remember probably two years ago, three years ago perhaps, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, he raised this point. I remember seeing, I think it was the front page of the Chronicle-Herald, and it was around the death of a young man. I think he was probably 18. He had started a summer job. I forget just exactly what the job was but it had a level of danger to it and because of his inexperience, actually, and the first day on the job, he was in a situation which took his life. I think that if my memory is right, there were about 12 or 13 deaths of young people at that time. I often think about myself, actually, as 16, 17, 18, working around on summer jobs and not always when you went to work in the morning, some of the older people there, more experienced, they kind of, if you were the new kid there, you were given very little as far as training or here is what you have to look out for or be careful. You kind of had to learn on your feet. Sometimes that was not a good situation.

I looked through the bill briefly, Mr. Speaker. I have a concern although as much as I see this as a good step, I'm not sure from what I have seen is the intent of the government to follow through in a way that actually makes this a workable document. Now maybe one of the members opposite, I see the Government House Leader listening intently, as he always does when I speak. I appreciate that very much. (Interruption) Yes, the Hants County connection.

I don't see anything in this bill, and it may be there, which indicates the resources that the government is willing to put to this, because what we're doing, we're allowing present legislation around occupational health and safety, really to apply to the offshore, that's really what's going to happen here but I'm wondering if our present onshore resources are somehow going to be spread thinner to apply to the offshore. I would like to have the assurance, from the government, that actually this means that they're going to allocate resources to see that there are enough inspectors, et cetera, to do this.

I notice that it does mention the designation of a chief safety officer and another person who is the chief conservation officer, so that's two people. I am certainly hoping that this means that there's going to be an awful lot more than two people doing the inspections to ensure that what the intent in this legislation is, actually will be carried out in the field to ensure that people are protected and that, to me, is the bottom line.

[Page 2107]

[10:15 a.m.]

This may seem to be a nice exercise, but if it's really not going to make a change in the lives of the people who get up in the morning and go to work in the offshore, to ensure that, to the best ability of all of us, that we can strive to see that there are no deaths, or no injuries, to those people in the offshore, so that they actually can get home and to fulfill their dreams with the people they care about.

Mr. Speaker, with those comments, I look forward to seeing the bill move forward and see what the public may say in the Committee on Law Amendments, and with that, I will relinquish the floor. Thank you.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I too, like the member for Hants East, will just make a few brief comments on this bill.

I too have not worked on the rigs or in vessels, but many of my colleagues and friends have chosen to venture out and work in those conditions. The Minister of Environment and Labour stated yesterday in his opening remarks that they need to have at least the same regulations offshore as we have onshore, and I agree with that, but I think we need to take a step further and really make sure that it's strong legislation that is provided for workers who are working offshore, due to the dangerous and remote environment that they find themselves in when they go offshore.

The people who choose to work offshore take a substantial risk working 200, 300, 400 miles offshore of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, wherever it is. They are well compensated when they go out there and that's one of the drawing features for these people to go out there and work, but I don't think they need to forfeit safety and a healthy environment because of a higher wage. I think through legislation we really need to protect that and protect their rights as workers, especially Nova Scotians - even though many people from other provinces are working offshore - and ensure that they have protection and they have the ability to make recommendations or changes in their work environment, without the fear of potentially losing their jobs or maybe not getting that next contract.

As the member for Timberlea-Prospect stated yesterday, he's heard from people who have worked offshore, who fear any retribution that may come to them if they speak up on some of the issues they may find out there. They do take serious safety issues and some of the training when they do get hired on offshore, like the training they take care of over at Survival Systems in Dartmouth. At times you can see many of the workers, or potential workers for offshore bobbing out here in survival suits and learning emergency responses say if a helicopter goes down in the water, but I think we need to look at ensuring that their environment, once they get there, is a safe and healthy place for them to make a living.

[Page 2108]

Many of my colleagues and health care professionals who have chosen to work offshore, men and women, nurses, paramedics chose to go out and, I guess, are somewhat safety officers when they go out there. On top of the job of ensuring safety or treating patients out there, there's an increased stress put upon them when they do take those jobs out there because of the remoteness of where they're working.

As a health care provider here in Nova Scotia, I've had the luxury of having assistance, if I need it within 20 minutes. You just get on your radio, Mr. Speaker, as yourself in your previous occupation, if you need assistance, you just call and usually there's someone who can come and help. Also, we're relatively close to hospitals, where the health care providers who go offshore are out on a limb. At times it's hours before they can get any assistance and they have limited resources out there, and the stress that they go through determining their next step of action when there is an emergency or, in the treatment of a worker, should they call the helicopter in at a large expense to the company to medevac them to the nearest hospital or should they try to treat them offshore.

It's a stressful environment at the least, where I think we need to really bring in this legislation that helps them out and makes it less stressful for them. We need to take a proactive role in bringing legislation in, not a reactive role.

Last evening someone was speaking to me and asked me what was happening in the Legislature, and I had mentioned this bill and he wondered why it takes a tragedy for government to bring in legislation like this - and I have to agree with him, as it seems every time there's a tragedy, on all levels of government, when there's a tragedy, it seems like we react after the fact. I think we need to start looking at legislation to bring forward, to take a proactive role in maybe limiting tragedies that happen for workers in our province and hopefully throughout Canada and take a leadership role.

As an elected official from Sackville, hopefully in the months and years ahead of me, if the residents of Sackville permit me to represent them, I will bring legislation in that hopefully one day will prevent a tragedy like this. I think it's a role of any elected official to look at it that way and take a proactive approach to legislation to prevent this.

A short five years ago, Shawn Hatcher lost his life. The young Newfoundlander who was working offshore had a young family - to many of us, five years isn't that long, but to his young kids five years is a lifetime. I don't think we can put a price on a life and I think we need to really make sure that this legislation is strong and gives the workers on offshore rigs and vessels the opportunity to make suggestions and remarks on how to change their environment to make it safer for them, and maybe put their families at ease a little bit when they do leave. These men and women go out for two weeks, three weeks - some of them up to five weeks at a time - and their families do sit at home and go through some sleepless nights wondering what's going on, especially with the weather conditions that happen off our coast.

[Page 2109]

It's my hope that with this going to the Law Amendments Committee that we can hear from the presenters and hopefully they can make some recommendations that make this a strong piece of legislation. So, with that, I look forward to the comments at the Law Amendments Committee and further debate on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour, it will be to close debate on Bill No. 37.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members opposite for all their comments and debate. There certainly was a lot of discussion, and I believe that's important for this bill. It's important to me, it's important to the government, and I know it's important to everybody in this Legislature that we get good legislation through to protect people in the offshore, the same as we protect people who are onshore. So I would like to close debate at this point in time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 37. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 40.

Bill No. 40 - Assessment Act.

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

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to open debate on second reading of Bill No. 40, an Act to Amend the Assessment Act. This bill will protect property owners by imposing a cap on the amount of annual assessment increases that can be taxed by municipalities. Like every province and state in North America, Nova Scotia uses the market-value approach to setting property assessments. The local real estate market plays a substantial role in determining the market value of one's property.

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In certain parts of Nova Scotia, hot real estate markets have resulted in some property owners experiencing significant increases in their property assessment. Such an increase means that a corresponding increase in their property tax bill later in the year. When we introduced this bill, our intention was to establish a base year for assessment purposes and, following consultation with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, establish a cap on future increases in taxable assessments.

Mr. Speaker, we have been discussing with the UNSM, throughout the Fall and the winter, on this issue, and I had hoped to have had this matter resolved or settled by now. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In the absence of an agreement with the UNSM, we have no choice but to continue with this bill. Our first priority is still to work with the UNSM on a solution that achieves our objectives. We will continue those talks and discussions while we work through the legislative process.

Allow me to explain how the solution offered in this bill will work. Assume a property is assessed at $100,000. If the market value of that property increased to $150,000, the following year, mainly because of local markets, and there were no improvements to the property, the property owner could expect to receive a tax bill from the municipality based on assessed value times the tax rate. If the rate hadn't changed from one year to the next, that property owner would be facing a 50 per cent increase in municipal property taxes.

Mr. Speaker, under our plan, in this example, the assessed value of the property would remain at $150,000, but the municipality would not tax the full 50 per cent assessment increase. There would be a cap that would determine the property owner's taxable assessment increase. This bill would apply only to residential and resource properties of residents of Nova Scotia and would allow property to be transferred within families without affecting the base year. If the property is sold outside the family, the year of the sale would become the new base year for assessment purposes. Municipalities would not lose any revenue, but the amount of tax increase from certain individual properties would be impacted by a ceiling. Such a limit on increased taxable assessment cannot in any way be characterized as losing revenue.

I take the UNSM at its word when it tells me that it wants to resolve this problem. We have been having on-and-off discussions with the UNSM, for more than two years, on this issue. What is most important to Nova Scotians is that we finally fix this problem for them. I look forward to debate from all members of the House.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery today, we have members of the NSGEU Occupational Health and Safety Committee. They are: Chairperson, Carol Gaudet; Mark Burgess; Robert Hughes; Donna Langille; Regina Martin; James Outhouse; John Treige; and Lois Ward. They are accompanied by Debbie Ryan, NSGEU Occupational

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Health and Safety Officer. Would the members of the House please give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I especially welcome the opportunity to speak to Bill No. 40 today, because this is one of the really central issues that have come to the House. This is a longstanding and, as the minister has pointed out, almost intractable problem.

[10:30 a.m.]

Nova Scotians are having a great deal of difficulty paying the bills on the houses in which they live and properties which they have owned. The ways we're setting about resolving it can only show that this is a very, very messy issue. We know the phenomenon. In my riding alone of Halifax Atlantic, I have areas without city water, public transit, snow plowing or paving offered by the province or the city. Assessments have doubled in some cases over the course of the last three years. In HRM alone, assessments are up 8 per cent overall but only 2.8 per cent of that increase is actually due to new construction.

At Purcell's Cove and Ketch Harbour, Sambro, Pennant and the inland rural areas as well, the natural beauty and the extraordinary desirability of living in this area has come to the attention of many and the fair market value system of determining property assessments means that people are having great difficulties paying these taxes.

Why is it happening? There are a lot of old jokes and truisms in the real estate market. Talk about location, location, location and the other one that land is the best investment because they don't make it anymore is absolutely true. Location - Nova Scotia is a wonderful place to live. Its municipalities are wonderful places to live. We know it and other people know it.

I may have brought this story before, my own experience, which is that when I was a child we went to live in a house which had been empty for three or four years. That house is in the City of Halifax and it's worth much more than it was in that day and age because it's not any longer unreachable. Nothing about the house has changed but the surroundings have and the value of land around it.

Land is the best investment. It's a non-renewable resource. There are a lot of non-renewable resources that we depend on and we don't allow them to be sold freely - air and water and land is in fact our source of shelter. Property tax is different from other things. You

[Page 2112]

pay to buy the land and then you pay to keep on owning it. This isn't about paying for services, it's not rental. This is just plain an unlimited, potentially incessant increase.

When personal property is owned, part of the assessment goes to the municipality to deliver services. The other way that the municipalities deliver services is through assessments on commercial tax bases. We've had recent examples of the difficulties of the assessment system. The balance between commercial and residential is not fixed and there are big problems, as we've noticed in the recent difficulties with Imperial Oil.

Bill No. 40 approaches the problem by saying that we will protect certain classes of people owning certain classes of land. Ordinarily resident in Nova Scotia, there's a lot of trouble with that. Rules are changing fast and they're changing constantly and the sky is the limit. So, who do we protect? Is it the ordinarily resident or is it, in fact, any particular class of people? Should we perhaps be looking at land?

The largest problem that I can see with this bill is regulation really is procrastination. The regulations are going to define who has got to prove that they are in fact ordinarily resident. It's dependent on keeping a very, very cautious eye on changes to the regulations to see whether or not one has to prove that ordinary residence. Failure to prove that ordinary residence exempts the land from the capping provisions.

The base year concept is certainly a useful one - it speaks to the long-standing ownership question but the percentage limit is what? As the minister has pointed out, there is big difficulty in deciding what these percentages may be. The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the jury, is still out on what it should be.

In closing, I would have to say that we have a huge problem in lack of predictability which is driving people off the land that they had counted on owning. The process is unfair, the process of assessment appeals is notoriously unfair. There are a variety of possible solutions, and I can only say that there is an enormous amount of room for debate on this bill.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Madam Speaker, I'm glad to see the government bring this bill forward, a bill many would say was a long-time coming. The bill is before us today because of the outcry of Nova Scotia landowners, especially those who have lived their lives on the coast of our great province. These individuals have the great fortune of living, working and raising a family on some of the nicest real estate in the world. They are being forced out of their homes, forced out because of drastic increases in the value of property in their communities.

[Page 2113]

These prices reflect the market value mainly of vacation property, for wealthy visitors. These prices did not reflect a lifetime spent in the family farmhouse or homestead. The bill reflects and affects two groups directly. The first group, those I just mentioned, long-standing residents of Nova Scotia, residents who have been assessed values and thus the property taxes paid on these properties increased dramatically.

Over the years the value of the land in our coastal communities has become more and more valuable for wealthy individuals who want to build palatial homes for summer use. The values of these homes and the demand for these homes on them have led the market value to skyrocket, not only for their properties, but also for the properties around them. Madam Speaker, that's why one part of the bill that I do oppose, is the placing of a cap. Market value fluctuates and a cap does not.

Is it the fault of the long-standing resident? No, it is not. They are being forced to pay huge amounts of property taxes, yes they are, and the change has not been gradual. Increases in the assessment to the value of over $100,000 is not uncommon; they happen in less than 12 months in some instances. The increases have been placing a burden on long-standing homeowners, forcing them in some cases to sacrifice their quality of life to pay the increased taxes, or forcing them to give up their family homes.

The government has proposed a base-year system for residents, going back to 2001-02. The first comment I would have on that is what about those affected prior to 2001-02? There has been a problem I have been hearing about for a number of years, and I am concerned some of the people affected prior to 2001-02 may not be covered with this bill.

I am happy to see the government allowing properties to be held in families, being passed down from parent to child or grandparent to grandchild. It is important to allow families to maintain their family homes and allow generations to benefit from hard work being done over the years. Allowing the families whose parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents who built these beautiful coastal communities to be able to afford to live in these communities is only fair.

Madam Speaker, the second group affected are municipalities. For municipalities that are struggling to survive, the added tax revenue of the increased assessments has given them the ability to provide the services that their residents want and deserve. The bill will cut into that new-found wealth, and it's for that reason, I suspect, that's the motivation of the UNSM to oppose the proposed change.

I feel that municipalities in this situation on the one hand are bringing in revenue they need to deliver their services, and on the other hand are being restricted to provide those very services, thereby forcing founding families to leave their homes.

[Page 2114]

I wonder if the government has considered some compensation for municipalities that are going to see a decline in their tax base. Will the government offer assistance to those affected municipalities that will be facing massive deficits because of the bill, if it is passed - and that is if it is passed, Madam Speaker. We have asked these questions because it is unfair to force families out of their homes, it is unfair to drastically cut back on municipal tax bases overnight.

The Liberal caucus will be supporting this bill, because it is the first step in addressing a very serious problem and also because we want to hear from homeowners, community groups and municipal leaders at the Law Amendments Committee.

As I have stated, this is the first step in the right direction and I hope the government listens to the Opposition and to those who present at the Law Amendments Committee. I hope that the government is willing to entertain amendments to this bill if points are made, or suggestions on how this bill can be made stronger, when they are presented.

Keeping that in mind, Madam Speaker, I would like to attempt to present the position as put forward by the UNSM, which I belonged to for a number of years and, being the Municipal Critic, I would like to bring it forth on their behalf.

As the Explanatory Note explains, "This Bill empowers the Governor in Council to limit the increase in the assessed value" - limit the increase, there's a problem right there - "of certain residential and resource properties for municipal taxation purposes so long as those properties continue to be owned by the same person or certain close relatives." Madam Speaker, an assessment cap is not the best mechanism to assist those on low or fixed incomes facing high tax bills as a result of rising assessments. People on low income will figure, oh boy, thank heavens, there is a cap, it's going to work, I'm safe, I don't have to worry about high assessments. But if a municipality were to require additional tax revenue, all they have to do is raise the rate of taxation on that assessment and up goes their tax bill. So that's not the answer.

UNSM objects to Bill No. 40 for a variety of reasons, which are outlined in this paper. The UNSM's position is that the current situation could be better addressed through a tax exemption or a tax deferral law created through existing mechanisms in the Municipal Government Act and the Municipal Grants Act.

The UNSM recommends the following principles be addressed to reduce the dramatically rising assessments. Madam Speaker, they have a number of points that I would like to make: that no Nova Scotian should be forced from their home due to high assessment increases and the related tax burden; any proposed tax relief provision should not provide a tax subsidy to the wealthy at the expense of the taxpayer; the market value standard of the assessment system should not be altered and any proposed changes should be acceptable to the majority of municipalities in the province and should not hamper natural growth in

[Page 2115]

municipal revenues; and the proposed system should be simple to understand and inexpensive to implement and administer.

Madam Speaker, why the UNSM objects to these bills. First, it alters the market value system of assessment. All assessment notices sent to the Province of Nova Scotia property owners emphasize a market-value approach to assessment as the most equitable and widely accepted system in North America. Every province in Canada uses this approach, as do most assessment jurisdictions in the United States and 127 other countries. Market value is the most widely accepted model for determining property assessment, as it is easily understood by most property owners. It is transparent and objectively determined and equitably applied to property owners. Altering assessments from a market-value system creates inequities by allowing subsidization of certain properties by all other property owners. Taking this important first step away from the accepted market value system will impact future municipal revenues, hinder growth and development, and potentially anger remaining stakeholders such as the business community and other taxpayers.

The UNSM appreciates that in a limited number of cases the market-value system value has produced spikes in assessment that increased the property owner's tax burden to very high levels, but these isolated situations can be addressed in other ways.

Secondly, Madam Speaker, the UNSM assumes the problem is the result of dramatically rising assessments, as opposed to high property taxes caused by dramatically rising assessments. The fundamental problem facing residents with dramatically rising property assessments is a significant increase in their property tax bills. The increase is a result of significant assessment increases due to market changes, and the result is an unfair shift in the tax burden if some form of relief is not provided. The UNSM suggests that the solution falls under the taxation powers of the Municipal Government Act and the Municipal Grants Act, as opposed to the Assessment Act.

Thirdly, Madam Speaker, it would create two assessment rolls. The bill uses the term "taxable assessed value" to indicate the new assessment that would occur as the result of the cap. This bill could result in producing two assessment rolls: the standard market-value roll; and another roll representing the capped properties. The UNSM is concerned that the significant cost issues associated with implementing the two rolls, as well as providing an appeal process for the program, these additional costs would be borne by all property taxpayers.

[10:45 a.m.]

Number four, it attempts to provide a province-wide solution to a local problem. This, I take exception to personally, myself. I've always tried to preach the word flexibility, because one size does not fit all. Initially, the taxpayers in Victoria County, the District of Chester and the District of Lunenburg expressed concerns over dramatically-increasing

[Page 2116]

assessments on their properties. The solution that's currently proposed would impact on all municipal units, not just those affected by dramatically-increasing assessments. It is a province-wide approach that does not provide municipal flexibility to tailor responses to local circumstances in terms of the extent of assessment growth and need for a subsidy. Flexibility there, Madam Speaker, is the operative word.

The UNSM proposed alternatives to the bill. They are proposing three options, the creation of a tax exemption bylaw, a tax deferral bylaw or a combination of the two. The tax exemption bylaw, Madam Speaker, municipalities could be specifically enabled under Section 69 of the Municipal Government Act to offer tax relief to individual property owners facing significant increases in assessment. The Municipal Government Act could provide municipalities with the power to create a bylaw to identify residents with low- to medium-level household incomes for whom dramatically-increased assessments are posing a financial hardship.

The municipality could provide a tax exemption, similar to that already available to low-income earners in most municipalities. By a simple application process, each qualifying household would be eligible for an exemption on any increase in property taxes on their principal residence where their assessment has increased by 25 per cent or more in one year. The exempted portion of the tax bill would form part of the adjustment of the uniform assessment calculation for each municipality participating in this tax relief program.

Let's refer to the tax deferral bylaw. Municipalities could be specifically enabled, under Section 70 of the Municipal Government Act, to create a bylaw that allows property tax deferral for residents facing dramatic assessment increases. The deferral amount could be adjusted to fit local circumstances; however, one approach could be to permit ratepayers to defer up to 50 per cent of the increase in any one year. The taxes payable could be deferred until the ratepayer was able to pay the amount outstanding or until the death of the property owner or sale of the property occurs. Halifax Regional Municipality has recently implemented such a system. Early experience is favourable.

Let's go to number three, the combination of a tax exemption and a tax deferral. There are many possible combinations of the tax exemption, tax deferral approaches that could be applied in response to the issue of dramatic increases in property assessments. One example would provide for 50 per cent of any increase above 25 per cent in one year to be offset by a program of tax exemption. Ratepayers could have the opportunity to defer a part or all of the balance under the general conditions outlined under alternative number two above.

Madam Speaker, the criteria for a tax exemption deferral bylaw could be that eligibility for tax relief would be assessed by a means test, based on a maximum household income level determined by each municipality. The means test would also apply to the transfer of property to a family member. Eligibility for tax relief could be based on the annual

[Page 2117]

assessment increase of 25 per cent or more. The annual assessment increase would factor in land and buildings. Eligible tax relief would only apply to ratepayers considered full-time Nova Scotia residents whose residential property is considered their principle residence, as defined under the federal Income Tax Act, or whose property is owned 100 per cent by Nova Scotia residents.

The application of 25 per cent or more as a limit of tax assessment relief should be subject to an adjustment of new construction or renovations that have contributed to the increase for that year. A single assessment roll would be maintained, reflecting property values at market value. The assessment of tax relief provided for ratepayers experiencing dramatically-rising assessments would be deducted from the uniform assessments of a municipality in the same manner as registered charities under the Municipal Grants Act.

Madam Speaker, there are a lot of ifs, ands, buts and maybes, there's a lot of consideration to be given to this bill and I must say that "one size fits all" does not work most anywhere in the province. I'm looking forward to this coming to the Law Amendments Committee and having presentations made. I know the honourable minister will be open to any legitimate, sound suggestions that may improve the bill when it comes forward. I thank you for the opportunity to speak on this bill.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Here we are again and here's the issue again. The issue that just won't go away, just won't go away. Madam Speaker, for your benefit, if I may - and it's nice to see you in the Chair again - I want to tell you that when I first was elected to this Legislature one of the first questions that I asked the Liberal minister at the time, and he was sitting, and I could be corrected, where the current Minister of Tourism is sitting. I nervously stood in my place and I said to that minister, I am concerned because of what I've heard during the recent election in the coastal communities that I represent and I've heard from other constituents from Lunenburg, from Cape Breton, I've heard from other areas and their residents about the concern about assessments and how coastal communities are really having a problem with the issue of non-resident ownership.

As the minister, who I think at the time was more nervous than I was, turned behind him to the then Minister of Labour . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He was sitting next to him.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Next to him, okay, my geography is off. The veteran minister turned to the Minister of Labour and the answer was, what's the big deal? That's not a big concern. Why are you concerned about something that's really not of a great deal of importance?

[Page 2118]

Madam Speaker, let me tell you, the concern that I had is based upon the fact that when you bring up an issue that gets you elected . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. The point which the honourable member has just raised has absolutely no basis in fact whatsoever. The reality is I didn't sit next to the Minister of Municipal Affairs in that particular government.

MADAM SPEAKER: That's not a point of order, but just a disagreement between two members.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I can name the particular minister I was dealing with because he's not here - I miss him because of his sense of humour and his Gaelic. Let me tell you that particular minister at that time was given the advice, this is not a big deal, don't worry about it, Kennie MacAskill, it's going to go away. Well, guess what? It has not gone away. It has not gone away. The minister who was handling that particular issue and then of course when it was brought on to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the concern was that's just a local issue in one riding of one coastal community represented by the NDP MLA for Timberlea-Prospect. It's not a big deal.

Subsequent to that, I had the privilege of introducing a bill to look at this particular issue. At that time, when the bill was brought forward, that was the same response from the members of the Third Party, the same response. What's this all about? This is no big deal. This is nothing that we should be concerned about. Until they looked in the bill and it said it wasn't just coastal properties, it also involved waterfronts. It involved the area around the Bras d'Or Lakes. It involved the issue that whenever we have coastal properties, or any kind of water, salt water, freshwater, we have a problem with escalating land values because of the issues that revolve around non-resident ownership.

Now, what came out of that was that certain Nova Scotians began to speak up and this particular piece of legislation - and that minister opposite, to his credit, has been listening to backbenchers over there who have been having their say with him, saying you've got to do something about this because this is a big deal. I would like to table for the approbation of the House an election ad from the Masthead News, "Chataway's Policy On Assessments". I'm going to table it here in a moment, "Chester-St. Margaret's has received their preliminary assessments. 1. Call the assessment office for clarification . . . 2. The formal assessments come out in December 2003. You can then APPEAL - APPEAL - APPEAL." That was the policy of the member for Chester-St. Margaret's during that election campaign.

There are other members over there and I look forward to hearing the member for Chester-St. Margaret's speak on this piece of legislation. I'm sure that there are other members who represent coastal communities who sit on the backbenches. They know that

[Page 2119]

this is an issue that is of real concern to the people they represent. They know that this is a doorstep issue that when it happens again and when the election is called within the next number of weeks, or the next number of months, when the time comes again, when they go to Chester-St. Margaret's, when they knock on those doors, that question is going to be put to that MLA, what have you done about assessments except run an ad during the election that my campaign advice is "APPEAL - APPEAL - APPEAL." So I look forward to hearing the member for Chester-St. Margaret's. I look forward to seeing him stand in his place on this important, controversial and - I would like to add - emotional issue.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if I may, what has happened subsequent to the (Interruptions)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has a point of order.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, Madam Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has tabled that document that was paid for by the Chester-St. Margaret's Riding Association, not the taxpayers of this province. I wonder if the honourable member would table that document here in the Legislature?

MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, would the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect please table the document when you're finished.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's tabled.

MADAM SPEAKER: He did table it. Thank you.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Madam Speaker, not to question your point, but the member for the beautiful Colchester-St. Margaret's (Interruptions) What did I say here, I've not only got the wrong member, but I've also described him as beautiful, the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, that member was not paying attention. That member has to understand that in his constituency, based upon some of the complaints that he's going to hear about assessments, they are going to bring that up as a doorstep issue when the time comes again, this particular piece of legislation. I've already said to the minister personally and I say it to him again publicly, he has had the courage to take this issue on, to move it out into the public domain, to have it go to the Law Amendments Committee so that we can hear from the various stakeholders involved, unlike the members of the Liberal Party, the members of the Third Party who never had the courage when they sat on that side of the House to deal with the issue. Stand and speak on the issue at length if you wish. The new members, in particular, should look at the fact that when they served on that side of the House, they did not have the courage to deal with this issue because it was just not important enough. It was just not an issue that really was of any consequence.

[Page 2120]

Well, let me tell you the members of the Third Party know now, it is an issue of real concern. It's an issue of real concern from the UNSM, it's an issue of real concern from Nova Scotians, and from the children of Nova Scotians. That's an example which I want to bring to your attention, Madam Speaker.

[11:00 a.m.]

As you are well aware, I've had the opportunity to teach in the community which I represent for many years, and a number of the young men and women that I've taught have moved on to other places outside of Nova Scotia. One, in particular, lives in the community of Mississauga, outside of Toronto. He would like to have the opportunity to inherit land from his dad. He would like to have the opportunity to be able to use that piece of coastal property in future years, for a retirement home perhaps, but at this stage with his young family, a place where he can return to in the summer.

The problem is compounded with the fact that the assessments have gone so high that the father is having problems paying the taxes on that piece of land. He has been put in a situation where someone from the real estate business - they know the older Nova Scotians, they have lawyers hired to go out and find these pieces of land, so many hectares of coastal property, in some coastal community owned by an older gentleman or an older couple. They have no children who are living at home, a prime piece of real estate. What is that gentlemen to do when the real estate person arrives and says, I will give you this number of million of dollars, for this piece of land.

Many of those older Nova Scotians are faced with the problem of not being able to pay the taxes on the land because of escalating assessments. They have to face a tough situation. They want to pass the land on to their children, they want to have the opportunity so that they can see their grandchildren when they come home, not just for a few weeks in the summer, but that they have an opportunity to see their family continue the tradition of living in that coastal community, whether it's for a few weeks, a month, or later on when they are fortunate enough to move back from Mississauga in this example.

You can imagine the alarm of this young man, when in the New York Times of April 11, 2003, he reads, "Bargains Across the Border," and I'm going to table this for the interest of the House, "Where a house on the water can cost 'less than an S.U.V.'" Accompanying that article are a number of photos, maps, pictures and descriptions of coastal communities and land that have become available. There is some history to this issue, and let me tell you the most recent history to this issue was the situation in Port Mouton, and I know the member for Queens is concerned about this. I certainly know that the Mayor of the Regional Municipality of Queens is concerned about this, that suddenly we have on eBay now, the electronic way to sell destinations, islands and coastal properties in this province, Canada's Ocean Playground.

[Page 2121]

If the trend continues, we might have to change that to America's Ocean Playground, perhaps we could call it Europe's Ocean Playground, as we continue to lose these gems along our coast. Let's face it, and I know members know this, there's something quite mystical about an island and then it's even more mystical if it's your island. My wife is a perfect example, she's from Prince Edward Island, when that ad comes on where the little girls says, come play on my island, my wife says, you're right, that's my island.

Now Prince Edward Island, thankfully is not for sale because Prince Edward Island and the governments there have had the courage to deal with the issue many years before. When they stepped in and they began to say they are not going to lose control of their coastline, they are not going to lose control of their greatest natural resource, the fact that people come to Prince Edward Island to see the coast, to be on the coast, to enjoy all the benefits of that wonderful Island. But when you see islands such as Port Mouton up for sale to the highest bidder and people say, well, what's wrong with that, that's the free market economy, let the market decide and then if someone with those amounts of dollars can come forward, then they can own that island. Well, that's not how we should do it in Nova Scotia. To the credit of the Mayor of the Municipality of Queens, he has taken the initiative to address this issue in his own area. I encourage members opposite to become aware of some of these issues in their own area.

I had a copy of the newspaper the other morning looking at real estate, Port Bickerton is next. Port Bickerton has a piece of coastal property for sale and I believe, don't quote me on this, Madam Speaker, I think it's for $3 million. People will say, the market value has allowed it to go at $3 million, what's wrong with that? Well, I'll tell you what's wrong with that. Nova Scotians will lose access to that. There will be gates, private road, no trespassing that will appear, whether it's on islands or whether it's on coastal properties, this is an issue that has to be dealt with.

Madam Speaker, a Voluntary Planning group led by Mr. Jim Moir toured this province and listened to Nova Scotians and their concerns about what they were saying, what Nova Scotians were saying, about this important issue. As they toured this province, they heard from Nova Scotians. I will table this one too, for the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, and I would like to quote from the beginning of it because it is sent out by the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect. Jim Moir said at Voluntary Planning, "Mr. Estabrooks has been a passionate voice on the protection of coastal properties. He is one of the reasons we are having this province-wide review."(Applause) So if the member opposite would like to see that and I'm sure that the member opposite is also aware of the fact that those were expenses that were covered by the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, mailed to the coastal community that he represents.

So what happened after Voluntary Planning? I know, Madam Speaker, you're involved in this issue right now. We see this issue with Voluntary Planning coming forward with a very controversial report in which, of course, they've been allowed an extension of

[Page 2122]

time but that extension of time will allow more people to come forward with their concerns. Voluntary Planning came forward with a report on non-resident ownership. The last recommendation that they have proved really how spineless the whole process was, I don't think spineless is unparliamentary, but let me tell you, I could get really graphic and call them gutless (Interruption) because the last one, the last recommendation of that Voluntary Planning group was assessments are not part of our mandate, so we are not going to deal with the issue.

I mean when you look, and then when I hear the spokesman on Port Mouton and that issue is none other than Jim Moir. When I hear him as the Chairman of Voluntary Planning on non-resident ownership, he spoke on the CBC the other morning at length on this issue. The CBC obviously wasn't doing very good research on that issue to allow that man, that chairman, to represent Nova Scotians, because he portrayed it absolutely incorrectly. He portrayed it because that's what he thought he heard. If you went to any of the meetings, and it was a two hour meeting, the number one accomplishment was to get Mr. Moir to sit down and let the Nova Scotians present speak. But the report finally did come.

For the members opposite and the members of this side, I want you to know what has happened to the Voluntary Planning report on non-resident ownership since then. Day by day, by day as the member for Pictou West so graphically said, blow the dust off it. Nothing has happened to it. The issue sits idle, nothing is really being taken care of by that particular report. It is and let's call it what it was, a PR exercise, a PR exercise so that now Nova Scotians can say they had their say - mind you, no one listened, but they had their say.

Now the issue is back and I would like to, and I will be tabling for the interests of the House, a letter from January 2, 2004, to the editor of The Bulletin and The Progress Enterprise, from Haigh - and Mr. MacAskill is no longer here in the House but I would assume that's probably a Gaelic first name - Haigh Carthew. My apologies to Mr. Carthew for pronouncing either his surname or his first name incorrectly, but I would like to table this letter, to which I've been given a copy by Mr. Carthew.

Concerning Bill No. 40 and the Assessment Act, he brings four points forward. I've encouraged Mr. Carthew, as I am going to encourage other Nova Scotians, to come forward when this piece of legislation goes through to the Committee on Law Amendments, as it rightfully should, because this government is addressing the issue, finally. Let's look at these points that he brings up and, Mr. Speaker, if you can bear with me and the poor lighting of this place, and with my one good eye, the first concern is, "The fear that people on low or fixed incomes have that they will no longer be able to afford to live in their homes, or paradoxically, only able to afford them once they are sold."

Mr. Carthew also brings forth this concern with Bill No. 40: "The inability to predict with any accuracy the value of future property taxes and so determine the necessary financial planning to meet these." The third point that Mr. Carthew brings forward is what he calls

[Page 2123]

"The 'Sword of Damocles' suspended over a whole community when neighbouring properties are sold at a high value and the rest have their assessments arbitrarily increased to match." His fourth point is "The lack of provision to facilitate minors" - I assume he means by that sons and daughters, younger people, minors incidently - "inheriting their family home."

Damocles, and that particular mythology - I believe it's myth and not actually history, Mr. Speaker - I want you to know that is the crux of the issue, the crux of the issue revolves around the concept of a neighbourhood, a community, a road, or in some situations - and I know the member for Dartmouth North will probably speak on this - a street where there are a number of homes that have gone for sale and if you let the market value determine the assessments will go up, people will say, on the street, the road, the neighbourhood, or the coastal community, well you could get such and such for that particular home or property, because aren't you aware that your neighbour across the street, across the road, or in the other cove, they sold the property for this number of hundreds of thousands, or in the example I brought to the attention of the House earlier, the example in coastal communities for millions of dollars, so in return you should be expected to pay this assessment.

But the answer comes that many people don't want to sell their homes, many people don't want to sell those coastal properties, many people want to have the opportunity, the privilege, and I say to you, Mr. Speaker, the right to pass on their land, inheritance, in a homestead clause, as is included, pass on to their children. That's the concern that remains of primary interest to Nova Scotians.

I want to point out to you, Mr. Speaker, the concern comes down to an issue that isn't addressed, from my perspective, in this piece of legislation. I will be looking forward to the presenters at the Law Amendments Committee about the issue of principal residents. I think we should discuss this issue openly and fairly and people should understand that - let's take the example of Lunenburg.

[11:15 a.m.]

If you're a well-connected lawyer, doctor, dentist from South End Halifax and you are able to afford an elite piece of property on the coast or on the Bras d'Or Lakes or you're in a situation where you can afford this amount of land, you in Lunenburg are a non-resident. You're a non-resident. You do not use that home, that cottage, that camp - I can show you some camps, let me tell you, there's not too many camps that I've been to that have an indoor pool, that have a marina and have a place, where, when the snow flies, everything can be put undercover - from the speedboats to the ski-doos, sea-doos, the whole works, they all can be put undercover.

[Page 2124]

I want you to know - and members should be aware of this - this is an issue, the issue of principal residence. If you do not live within so many months in a year in a particular residence and you have another residence in this province, in this country or, heaven forbid, and here's the controversial issue which we will not deal with in this province, this crowd certainly wouldn't deal with it - and that is, of course, the issue of non-resident ownership.

Mr. Speaker, I'm well aware of the fact that in your constituency there is a well-known radio station called CKDH and I know that when you're interviewed on CKDH, particularly the interview of which I'm speaking, when you bring forward concerns you bring them forward on behalf of your constituents. Whether it's on the Parrsboro shore or anywhere along the Northumberland Strait, I know well that this is an issue that is not just in Timberlea-Prospect. This is not just an issue in Terence Bay, this is not just an issue in St. Margarets Bay, this is an issue that all Nova Scotians are concerned about. Nova Scotians are watching and Nova Scotians are listening. Nova Scotians want to hear what their MLAs are going to say about this piece of legislation.

So, I would encourage members opposite, members who have a concern about this particular piece of legislation, to stand in their place and have their say on what they think should happen as Bill No. 40 moves through this House into the Law Amendments Committee. I know we will see you there, the list will be put out and you will look down through the list and, oh my God, there's someone there from Chester. Miraculously, the member for Chester-St. Margaret's will show up as one of the questioners, thanking the person for taking the time and coming in front of the Law Amendments Committee and hopefully asking a question or two.

Inevitably the question is going to be asked back to that member, that person who has been given the responsibility to represent the views of the people of that particular constituency, what do you really think about Bill No. 40? Then I will say to them - because many of the people who live throughout Nova Scotia are in contact with me on that issue for one reason or another - you should look up Hansard. Click on Hansard, then look under your MLA's name and see what he or she had to say on this particular piece of legislation, on that legislation. What did they say in Hansard? Hopefully, the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, when he has his chance to speak in this Legislature, his advice will be more than just appeal, appeal, appeal. That's no way to handle the issue. I look at that member, I look at other members opposite and I know what an important concern it is for these residents.

It's also a major concern for the UNSM. I would like to thank the UNSM executive for giving myself and the members of my caucus the opportunity to meet with them on a number of occasions, to meet with Mayor Morgan who is the current President of the UNSM, to listen to councillors throughout the province and mayors throughout the province. The Mayor of Yarmouth attended a meeting at which time we were discussing a number of issues. It was very interesting to hear the Mayor of Yarmouth speak his mind and listen to what he says on this particular proposed piece of legislation. Will we get consensus from the

[Page 2125]

UNSM? Will the municipalities across this province agree on any type of support of this piece of legislation?

Mr. Speaker, I have no experience at municipal government, but I doubt it. I doubt it very much because to the credit of the member for Victoria-The Lakes, he has said, one size doesn't fit all, but I remember and I want that member to know that he stood in his place when this bill was introduced and said, well, he said it to the media, this is a good first step. "It's a good first step." But today when he had a prepared text on this pretty emotional topic, the member for Victoria-The Lakes stuck to the text. He read what was composed for him so that when that particular press release comes out, the words will say in Hansard don't stray too far one way or the other, member, stick to the text.

So the members of the Third Party should be aware - and there are some new members here - that when they were on that side of the government, when they were there on that side of the House in government, they were the biggest fence-sitters around on this emotional issue. They were fence-sitters. In fact, the response always was when we raised the issue, whether it was Eric Creaser's case, whether it was the case of some of the other people throughout this province, and not all of them lived in Lunenburg, not all of them were from Riverton, when all of those examples were brought forward, let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, the members of the Third Party when they sat on that side kept telling us as the Official Opposition that's not a big issue, why do you keep bringing that issue up. Well, history has proven them wrong and maybe that's why they're not over there and they're over here because they haven't dealt with the issue. They haven't dealt with this issue along with other issues.

I've seen the maps that represent problems of ownership in coastal communities across this province and let's be clear on this. For the members who are coming in on the debate, we are talking about assessments ,we're talking about Bill No. 40, we're talking about a piece of legislation that in some ways is going to be quite controversial as assessments continue to jump, in some cases by skyrocketing amounts. It's not just salt water, it's water; it's parts of the lake system of this province. There are rivers. There are after all the Bras d'Or Lakes and, of course, salt water and the Bras d'Or Lakes and the beautiful areas that are there. There are areas, and as it has been brought to my attention by the member for Cape Breton Nova, 1,400 square miles of coastal properties on the Bras d'Or Lakes.

Mr. Speaker, the concern, of course, comes down of Cape Bretoners being able to afford that land with assessments continuing. More importantly, will Cape Bretoners be able to have the opportunity to pass this land on to their children, to pass their lands on to their children so they can keep it within the tradition of that family, that family who has lived there, perhaps settled there many hundreds of years before.

[Page 2126]

So, Mr. Speaker, as I wrap up my comments, I'm looking forward to seeing this piece of legislation go through to the Law Amendments Committee. I've said it personally to the minister, I say it to him again publicly, I thank him for bringing this legislation forward. We're looking forward to the response at the Law Amendments Committee and I encourage all members of this House to stand in their place and have their say on this very important piece of Nova Scotian history as we look at an issue that must be dealt with today, during the next few weeks and hopefully brought back to this House and become law in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it's with privilege I stand to speak on this very important bill. It had to be very difficult for the government to draft this bill because there has to be a balance between the revenues that the municipalities need to have to do the important work that they need, such as roads, infrastructure, and maintaining all the things that they have to maintain through the process and at the same time provide the balance so people can afford to stay in their homes, homes that sometimes their families have lived in for 200 years or 300 years in this province or families that have saved and worked all their lives to build a home and put everything they have into it, and find out that because of assessment increases and tax increases, they find that the home that they've planned to be their ideal dream home to retire in, they can no longer afford to live in.

I have several examples of that, and I would like to cite one of a very good friend of mine, who lives in a beautiful home, I will admit, but in the last five years the assessment has gone up every year approximately $50,000. That's a tremendous increase in assessment. That's a $0.25 million increase in assessment in five years. Now, the individual I'm talking about is on a fixed income, a pension income, and simply cannot afford to stay in his home anymore. That is outrageous as far as I'm concerned. There's no way that the cost to the municipality has gone up that much on that particular property to justify that kind of a tax increase on that particular property.

I think the bill is a beginning to work with, that we might be able to get some things in place that will help Nova Scotians stay in their homes, because I think that's the intent of this bill. Hopefully, with some amendments to it, I think there's going to have be some pretty serious amendments to the bill to make that happen. As my honourable colleague from our caucus has already indicated, there needs to be some flexibility. There needs to be some flexibility for municipalities. Every municipality isn't the same, and every municipality has to do something differently, and not all of the assessments are going out of sight in all the municipalities throughout Nova Scotia. I think that has to be considered.

I'm concerned about the lack of detail in the bill. Again, there's too many things left to the Governor in Council, and there's too many things left to regulations. I think those things on tax assessments are very important factors, and it's very emotional for people when they talk about their homes, and the possibility of not being able to live in their homes if their

[Page 2127]

assessment has gone too high or if their tax bill, because of assessment, has gone too high and they can no longer afford to live there or are approaching that.

We have a lot of families in this province that are struggling, especially in the rural areas, in the areas where there are no employment opportunities for people to pay higher property taxes. But, again, I have to stress, at the same time, the municipalities need the funding to do the important work they have to do, when they have to replace a street or repair a street, when they have to provide lighting for security, add firefighters, add police officers, whatever the case may be. That's up to each individual municipality to have to decide and set their priorities to do that.

Again, I don't think this bill addresses that whole issue, and it's an issue we really have to carefully consider before this is put into law and may not be able to come back to this Legislature for many years to get it corrected down the road. Look at the way the assessments are going to be done, and the intent, I think, is excellent but the approach is a little bit off the mark. Ideally, from what I understand from the bill - and the minister can correct me if I'm wrong, and I wish he would, as we go through the debate here - it appears that if you had a property in your family for say 50 years or something and you apply under this Act, and the Act indicates that you're going to get a credit on your assessment which will indeed put your property taxes down, which is all positive, but someone next door moves in, buys a house of equal value, they pay $200,000 for this house and your house is still valued at $100,000, $110,000, as the property next door to them was prior to the sale of the property, and this one goes for $200,000, now this neighbour is paying $200,000 assessment tax rate and the one next door to them is paying $120,000 assessment tax rate.

So when you put those together, it's not going to be very long before neighbours are going to be fighting with neighbours. Neighbours are going to be calling up the assessment people, and I can't imagine what they're going to be telling them, it won't be very pleasant. I don't think that's correct. It's going to set inequities up in place. But then, at the same time, you have to hit that balance, you have to make sure that people can afford to stay there. Maybe the people at the lower assessments are on a fixed income, retired, whatever the case may be, it doesn't matter, a fixed income, maybe they're not.

I have some neighbours, I have one neighbour who has built a gorgeous home and his assessment has gone right through the roof, and his property taxes are probably edging up to about $8,000 per year. There is no sewer, no sidewalks, no curbs, no water, none of those things. He says to me, I can afford to build a house, I can afford to pay the taxes, he doesn't mind. The problem for him will be when the day comes and he is not going to be able to pay those taxes anymore when he retires if his income is fixed or he has a problem with his pension income.

[Page 2128]

[11:30 a.m.]

We need a delicate balance with this bill. We have to make sure that we look at this, and its easily understandable by the general public. I can tell you reading through this bill, this is really complex, or difficult to understand how it is actually going to be implemented. You see some of the changes that are going to be made here, I think some of them are very positive, I think some of them shouldn't be changed, probably the way they are, and I look forward to the clarification by the minister when he speaks on this thing to clarify some of these things, and maybe address some of these questions.

It also raises an issue of properties because it covers all properties. It's not just the property you live in, but it covers all properties that you own that are one unit or bare land, whichever the case may be. So in other words, you could have a cottage, you could have a single-dwelling home and have several hundred acres or 1,000 acres of property, and you can apply for all this tax reduction, which I think is quite positive. Your neighbour all of a sudden didn't have funds to buy these things, or his family wasn't fortunate enough to get these important assets over time, so they were fortunate enough to acquire these things over the period after this assessment was put in place.

Then you are going to see the assessment again, higher on this property, the tax bill higher. Then the person here has been having them for a long time. Again, it is a matter of equity. It has to be done in a way that those who can afford to pay the taxes pay the taxes, and those who can't afford to pay the taxes don't have to pay them to a point that they have to sell their properties or move from their ancestral home, or their homes that they have struggled to buy, maybe over 20 or 30 years when they are looking forward to retirement.

Some of the municipalities, I know, the Halifax Regional Municipality has a tax credit program for people with $26,000 per year income or less. I think that works very well. It identifies people. It doesn't ask them if they are on a fixed income, if they are working poor, or what the case may be. At least it gives a tax break to people that have an income of $26,000 per year or less. I think that's important. It identifies a particular group of people in the community that definitely need help.

If they are fortunate enough to be able to have a home, it's nice to think that through some innovative programs that are available through the municipality, and hopefully this will be an innovative program when it is finally passed, will allow these people to stay in their homes, and allow them to enjoy having their own property and building the equity that comes with that over time and hopefully help their family when the time comes to sell that property and allow their family to continue living in a property.

I can remember when I bought my first home, and I think it was $14,000, and that was a long time ago. It was a real battle raising the money to buy that home. I can tell you I did, paid the mortgage off quite quickly, and was very fortunate that I had a good job and

[Page 2129]

could do those things, and looked forward to buying another home, which I did do. A lot of people aren't that fortunate, don't have those kinds of assets, and don't have that available to them. If this doesn't address the issue of people on fixed incomes being able to stay in their homes, I think we are missing the biggest problem we have with the assessments.

If that isn't done, isn't addressed by this bill, we are not going to accomplish what this province needs to have done. There is nothing better than trying to keep a senior in a home the government keeps saying. All of us as politicians, all Parties, say that seniors should stay in their homes as long as they possibly can, I don't think anyone in the province argues with that. If you property tax them to death, you maintenance cost them to death, and everything else that people have to pay for in their property, all of a sudden that wonderful ancestral home that they had for maybe 100 years, or whatever the case may be, is gone. And they have to move to an apartment, a senior's apartment, or some other place, it really doesn't help their lifestyle, doesn't help them live a healthier happier life, and it is very negative, when you have a senior going into that situation.

I feel that this bill has got to address that issue. It has to address that issue in a major way, not just indicate that this is going to affect everybody. There are some people who have properties and complain they can't afford to pay the taxes but yet they're driving a really fancy car. So it makes you wonder if that's legitimate. I'm not going to say that if someone drives a nice car, it's because they are not paying their property tax or anything like that. But the point I'm making is, there are all kinds of choices you make in life and some of them are better than others and, hopefully, the one to stay in your home is one of the positive ones you make.

Now, another issue I have on the assessment process is that during the last government's tenure here in running things when downloading on the municipalities came, the cost of assessments went to the municipalities. Several million dollars, which affected the property tax rates for the property owners. So that meant in a lot of communities the property taxes had to go up to pay for the new downloading from the provincial government and that's unfortunate. That's another way that has created problems for people living in their homes.

A home is a very special thing and anything that negatively affects you living in that home that the government does at any level, I think is regressive taxing of any type. It should be very affordable for people to live in their homes and stay in their homes as long as they possibly can. If we don't set the avenues in place to have that happen, we're doing a serious injustice to our total society. We're looking at our families, our own personal families, all the families of all Nova Scotians, when I say that if a senior can't stay in their home, we're all going backwards in our society. We're all falling backwards. This bill does not address that issue at all. It is an issue that has to be addressed here.

[Page 2130]

When I say a senior, I'm talking a husband and wife combination, or a husband or a wife, who may not have the other one left, unfortunately, to live with them. In that case, it's even more difficult for them to stay in their homes. If I can afford to own a $500,000 home and I'm working today, I can afford to pay the taxes. If I can't afford to pay the taxes, I should get a hold of my municipal councillor to make sure that they keep the tax rate down so I can afford to pay it. That's lobbying I should do as an individual to make sure the property taxes stay down. I can tell you as a councillor and as an MLA, as years have gone by with this assessment thing, every time the assessment comes out, your phone never stops ringing, because they have gone up substantially in a lot of cases, especially in my area, the assessment rates have gone right through the roof. We've seen some of them as high as 40 per cent or 50 per cent. In my own case, I had a 300 per cent increase in assessment in one year; a 300 per cent increase in one year in assessment.

So it begs the question, is this going to address some of these problems? I think the way it's written, it may. I think there are many changes that have to be made here to make sure it does affect those things. Now, if my property has gone up, at my age, 300 per cent, that's fine, I can sell and get my money back and buy another property, I have no problem with that. But if my next door neighbour is a senior, which they're not by the way, because I don't want to identify my next door neighbour as being a senior or anybody that doesn't want to be identified that way, if they can't stay in that home because they are a senior and their assessment has gone up 300 per cent, ultimately their tax bill has gone up 300 per cent or more if the general tax rate has gone up in the municipality that year, how can they stay in their home? The answer is, they can't. They just simply can't. Then you add all the extra fees, all the extra user fees that we have just seen introduced recently, all the fees for the Pharmacare Program and everything else, if you take someone on the income of $12,000 a year, a fixed income of $12,000 a year, you take $50 a year from that person and that's a serious impact on their lifestyle.

Now, that doesn't sound like much, $50 a year to any of us sitting in here, $50 a year is nothing, in real terms it's nothing, it's probably a tank of gas when we're travelling around and doing the things we do every day. But to someone on a fixed income of $12,000 a year or less it's a serious issue. So the choice comes. Do I pay my property taxes, do I get the drugs I need, do I go to the grocery store or do I get my car fixed because I need it to go to doctor appointments and if I don't get it fixed I can't go to doctor appointments and I'm going to be sicker than I am today if I am indeed sick. You make all those choices and you lump all those choices together and then at the end of the day something is lost and something that is maybe badly needed for the senior, and you go and you look at the issues that they deal with every day and you see the things that are so badly needed in the community. Seniors are driven away from our communities, and they don't have the ability to interact with the community and the valuable resource and their expertise that's in that community from all the things they're seem and all the things they've made happen is gone. Our community loses big time and it's something you can't replace, it's something you can't do a study on and put back in place again. You've lost part of the culture in the community,

[Page 2131]

you've lost part of the people in the community that really have made a difference, a difference, I believe, is important for us to preserve and a difference that we've go to make sure we maintain these people and listen to their requirements and help them stay in their homes as long as we possibly can.

Then you have another group of people on a fixed income of one type or another. You have someone on workers' compensation possibly that's been injured at work, someone else on Canada Pension disability, whatever the case may be, and their incomes again are very low and fixed, they go up with the cost of living, maybe one or two cents. I was talking to a gentlemen the other day and he got his cost of rate living increase in his workers' compensation cheque and it was a whole 65 cents. So 65 cents doesn't do anything to help pay your property taxes, if your property taxes are going up $150 or $200 this year; they don't do a thing, or if your cost of heating oil has gone way up this year, and will probably continue to go up. These things aren't easy to contend with.

Typically, if you have a senior, someone on disability of some type or another, they can no longer do the maintenance around their own home, so therefore it's another cost incurred; a deterrent for people being able to stay in their homes. All these things have to be added together and we have to look at these things as legislators, then make sure that we take all these things into consideration before we negatively affect people's lives, and the things that people do in life, and they should have the right to continue doing. If you're looking at a senior that can no longer have their family over for turkey dinner at Christmas time, because they can't afford to buy a turkey, who's at wrong here? Tell me. I will tell you, if we don't correct these sort of things and address these sort of issues in this bill, we're doing a serious injustice to the people of our province.

I think this has to be done, and at the same time, we have to make sure that we have the balance, the balance has to be there, because the municipalities need the resources to do the things that they have to do to make sure we have better communities, safer communities to live in, but at the same time we have to make sure that the people who live in these homes can afford to maintain them and stay in them at a reasonable living standard and not live in adverse poverty because they are being taxed to death by inadequate legislation and people not willing to listen to change and ideas that would make it possible for people to live.

I just spoke a few minutes ago about the user fees, you look at user fees on everything, and user fees are fine if they're necessary, but you look at a senior who has to have a car, well the price of gas has gone up and if they're a rural senior they have to have a car, there's no transportation, even in my area there's no reliable transportation outside of a very small section of my riding and I live in regional municipality, in an area that is very affluent. I was to a meeting yesterday with the Prime Minister and a group of health professionals that came together and said, how can we help the people of Nova Scotia? Everyone around the table agreed, affordable, reliable transportation, because people can't afford the expensive vehicles, if you need Access-A-Bus or a van that you have to go in a

[Page 2132]

wheelchair; a senior who needs help with a walker or a wheelchair or someone with a disability or is ill. Getting back and forth to doctors appointments. It's a long and trying operation.

So if you add that cost into a fixed income, someone with a fixed income, you've again negatively impacted them. Then you put your property taxes up because your assessments gone way up, you're negative. So, you add all these things together and all of a sudden you get a situation that's untenable for people to live in. I ask the minister and the government to really consider these issues, because these are issues that are important to Nova Scotians, important to people who want to live in their homes and stay in their homes and can afford to do that.

[11:45 a.m.]

It's difficult to imagine someone living in their home and a tax bill comes in and the discussion around the dinner table that evening is, after they've seen their assessments go up or the tax rate go up, where are we going to move to? The only place we can afford to move to is low-cost housing. Low-cost housing and seniors' apartments aren't easy to get into, there's not enough of them, and the government has had $7 million from the federal government put in for low-cost housing - we have seen nothing happen there. Those things have to be taken into consideration too, and I would encourage the government to move on those more quickly and make sure those things are put in place so the people can afford to stay in their own home, or have an alternative that they can go to with low-cost housing so people can go there and live in it in a reasonably good lifestyle that they've been accustomed to.

I'm not talking about the people that maybe haven't contributed a lot to society over the last 50 or 60 years in their lifetime; I'm talking about people who have worked hard all their lives and contributed to the community, have always been there to church suppers and always been there helping the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides and all the other organizations. They can no longer do that. They can't do it.

I think that has really got to be addressed in this bill as a small step to show these people in that situation that we're listening to them and we're trying to help them as well, and work it so it's not negatively impacting the municipalities.

If this is put in place the way it is, I think it would probably have a negative impact on the municipalities in the long term. The formulas to figure this all out are really complex - too complex. We need to see more detail in the bill of how an increase is going to be put on your assessment. If the assessment roll goes up by 50 per cent on someone's home, how is it calculated back to an amount that is realistic for the homeowner, and how it could be put in place to make sense for everybody?

[Page 2133]

It has to be laid out in the bill. I can remember one time I had a serious fire in my business years ago. I found out quite a while after we were doing repairs - we were still using the building, but only part of it, we had several thousand dollars worth of damage - I found out through the grapevine that, lo and behold, I could have had my business occupancy tax eliminated on the part of the business for the time that I wasn't operating that business out of there because it was impossible to work out of there with the repair crews working in there, and it was several months. So I called the director of assessments and said, my business hasn't been operating in this portion of my building - and it was a big portion of my business and it made a big difference in my property taxes that year - the answer I got back was, it says in the Act you have to notify us by registered letter within 30 days and we'll initiate this process. I said, look, it was on the front page of the newspaper - I sent them a copy of the front page of the newspaper - no, that's no good, we haven't been notified, we don't know anything about the fire.

Then I get a letter from the fire department and it said yes, the fire was at this time and this place, but the law said it had to be a registered letter at that time to the director of assessments. So I did send it the day I found out about the letter and I get a month or so break on my taxes, and then I sent them another letter when we were back in operation to let him know we were back in business. But it shows how important it is to have the right things in the Act.

That was a detriment to my business, and probably to every business in the province that didn't realize that happened. We were paying the business occupancy tax, which was quite substantial - very substantial, actually - every year and a significant business cost when you looked at operating a business that was competing with people all over the world. These negative things in bills affect the cost for individuals, for businesses - and I realize this is not a business Act, but it's the same scenario. Anything that overall negatively impacts our society here in Nova Scotia has a long-term impact on our overall economy.

You've got to keep that in mind. If we don't look at our overall economy and things we can do to address that, we're never going to see a better place to live in Nova Scotia and I can tell you in the last three or four years things have sure got negative. We've got higher taxes. We are now talking about dropping the income tax break we had and user fees have gone up. Everything under the sun has gotten more expensive. You see the price of gasoline going through the roof, heating fuel going through the roof and you look at these things and you talk to the average person, one time property taxes were an issue for seniors, but now if you talk to average people, a person who works five days a week and comes home with a paycheck, a reasonable paycheck, I'm not talking someone who works seasonally or anything like that, but someone who has got a 5-day a week job, 52 weeks of the year, then comes home who would normally be able to plan a vacation, maybe not too far but somewhere in the province, eliminating their vacations, sitting again around the kitchen table with the wife at suppertime and the family and saying, look, I don't know if we can afford to stay in our

[Page 2134]

home any more because it costs too much to heat it. It costs too much to pay the property taxes on it. The maintenance is too high. We just can't afford to stay here any more.

What's the alternative? Not good. The alternative is you sell your home. You move to an apartment building and, lo and behold, you don't have the high fuel costs any more although you pay it in your rent. You don't have the high property taxes. You pay that in your rent and you don't have maybe the high electrical bill because it's a smaller place you have and not the cost to it, but rent goes up all the time and your family keeps going backwards and backwards of your total income. So the income to the average Nova Scotian is getting less and less and less that they can spend on the things that they need to spend it on. Never mind the things they should be spending it on by trying to save funds up for education for the children to go to university or community college, but everything is interconnected and if we don't have these things rectified through fair taxation, this is serious.

I go back to seniors again. What about the senior who can't stay in their home. Maybe they're fortunate enough to have a daughter or a son, or in-laws, or whatever the case may be, who will say, look, we will pay the property taxes on your home. We will help you do the maintenance work. We will do all these things to help you stay in your home, but at the end of the day, that can only last so long and not everybody can afford to do that and not everybody has the time, resources or expertise to do the repairs on the home, maybe doesn't have the extra money to help pay the taxes or the heat bill because they're struggling to keep their own home, and that's what this all comes down to.

I think the basis of the bill is good. I think it's way too convoluted for anyone to understand what the benefit of it is going to be. I truly believe it has to be rewritten in a lot simpler way and a lot more things have to be laid out. For instance, if there's going to be a maximum rate increase for the people described in this on assessment, I think the formula has got to be laid out in the bill, not left behind for some director of assessment to set it or some regulation to set it that can be shuffled and moved around and manipulated to suit whatever the needs of the particular time is or whoever is lobbying the most. So I think that has to be put into the bill and I would ask the minister to consider doing that. We also have to put something in this bill to make sure that seniors and individuals on fixed income are addressed in this bill. It's very, very important that that's the case and I don't see it here. I really do not see it here.

So I think we have to consider all those things, but all of these things we're considering, we must keep the family unit in mind because a home is a sacred thing. It's a sacred thing to all Nova Scotians. It doesn't matter if you live in a home that's worth $20,000 or $2 million, it's a sacred thing to that family and a home is a home. If you don't set the structure in place so people with low income or fixed incomes are going to be able to stay in those homes and make sure that they can afford to stay in those homes, again as a society, we haven't done the thing that we should be doing. We have to help people do that and I balance it again with the fact that the municipality has to have the services to make sure that

[Page 2135]

those people when they're staying in their home, do they have fire protection, police protection they need, and all the other services that the municipalities provide to do these things.

Again I would ask the government to keep those things in consideration. I would like to hear the minister's responses. Unfortunately, he's not here right at the moment, but (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member knows he's not allowed to indicate the presence or absence of a member of the House. Because of the hour, I would ask the honourable member if he would like to move adjournment of debate, please.

MR. COLWELL: Yes, I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is adjourn debate on Bill No. 40.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Just before I go to the Government House Leader, I would call on the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the House and to the Deputy Speaker, who was in the Chair at the time. I have been made aware of the fact that the words spineless and gutless are inappropriate. I would say that they are lacking in courage, to be replaced, and if Hansard could take that under advisement, I would appreciate it.

I apologize to the House and to you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I appreciate the member retracting the statement. Obviously it's already recorded in Hansard, so I don't think it's possible to remove it, however, I appreciate the member's apology and retraction.

The honourable Government House Leader for the hours and business for Monday.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on Monday we will meet at 4:00 p.m. and sit until 10:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading. We will continue on with Bill No. 40, the Assessment Act, and when we have completed that, we will go to Bill Nos. 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50, all for second reading.

[Page 2136]

Mr. Speaker, I hope everybody has a pleasant weekend, and I move that we now adjourn to meet again on Monday.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion is carried. The House is adjourned until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 11:57 a.m.]

[Page 2137]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 870

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards were established on a voluntary and non-competitive basis in the mid-1950s and divided into three categories - Bronze, Silver and Gold - to challenge young people between the ages of 14 to 25 to reach their highest potential; and

Whereas to receive the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, each participant must complete four components: physical activity, skills development, service to the community and finally, outdoor expedition. To receive the Gold award, participants must also meet the residential component where they are required to spend four nights, five days in an environment where they are unfamiliar; and

Whereas Emily Reid of Kingston has completed the five components necessary to be awarded the Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award by volunteering in the Kings West High School kids help phone school canteen, peer educator, Heartwood Institute volunteer, 240 hours; jazz dance, ballet, swimming, hiking throughout the Cape Breton Highlands;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ms. Reid for this tremendous accomplishment and wish her every success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 871

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas each year the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia recognizes Nova Scotians who go beyond the call of duty in assisting visitors to this province with its annual Pineapple Awards; and

Whereas one of the latest recipients of this award is a 14-year tourism industry veteran from Yarmouth who went out of her way to see an American couple reunited with their lost camera; and

[Page 2138]

Whereas Claudette Tufts works as a tour guide for the Rodd Grand Hotel in Yarmouth and is an excellent ambassador for the Province of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Claudette Tufts on receiving the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia's Pineapple Award for her efforts that exhibit the generosity for which Nova Scotians are famous.

RESOLUTION NO. 872

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Atlantic Plumbing and Heating in Head of Jeddore is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Atlantic Plumbing and Heating in Head of Jeddore for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 873

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Barry's Septic in Lake Charlotte is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

[Page 2139]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Barry's Septic in Lake Charlotte for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 874

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Big Shot Lanes Ltd. in Musquodoboit Harbour is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Big Shot Lanes Ltd. in Musquodoboit Harbour for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 875

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Coastal Roofing in Jeddore Oyster Ponds is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Coastal Roofing in Jeddore Oyster Ponds for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

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RESOLUTION NO. 876

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Cousins Service Centre Ltd. in West Chezzetcook is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Cousins Service Centre Ltd. in West Chezzetcook for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 877

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas the Municipality of the District of Guysborough was established in 1879 with the passing of the County Incorporation Act; and

Whereas the municipality has experienced much change - where fishing and farming were once the main industries in the area, today the municipality calls itself the natural gas capital of Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas this year the Municipality of the District of Guysborough will celebrate its 125th Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in extending our best wishes to the Municipality of the District of Guysborough in recognition of its 125th Anniversary.