The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04-31

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 23, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1045, Fin. - Can. Soc. Transfer: Gov't. (Can.) -
Equalization Formula, Hon. P. Christie 2543
Vote - Affirmative 2544
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1046, New Waterford Credit Union: Safe Grad - Sponsorship,
Mr. F. Corbett 2544
Vote - Affirmative 2545
Res. 1047, Yar. HS - Veterans Commitment: 440 Productions -
Congrats., Mr. Michel Samson 2545
Res. 1048, Townsend, Michael - CBC Backyard Rink Faceoff,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 2546
Vote - Affirmative 2547
Res. 1049, Canfield, Jack: Death of - Tribute, Mr. J. MacDonell 2547
Vote - Affirmative 2547
Res. 1050, Atl. Burn Camp: Work - Recognize, Mr. Gerald Sampson 2548
Vote - Affirmative 2548
Res. 1051, Guys. Reg. Dev. Auth.: Guide Book - Release,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 2548
Vote - Affirmative 2549
Res. 1052, Symphony N.S. - Adopt-A-Musician Prog., Mr. H. Epstein 2549
Vote - Affirmative 2550
Res. 1053, Glace Bay Lions Club: CBRP Teddy Bear - Drive,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2550
Vote - Affirmative 2551
Res. 1054, Thorburn/Trenton FDs: Rescues - Tribute Pay,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 2551
Vote - Affirmative 2551
Res. 1055, Seniors - Nursing Homes: Med. Fees - Elimination Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 2551
Vote - Affirmative 2552
Res. 1056, Reid, Emily - Duke of Edinburgh Award (Gold),
Mr. L. Glavine 2552
Vote - Affirmative 2553
Res. 1057, S. Shore Health Services Fdn.: Efforts - Thank,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2553
Vote - Affirmative 2554
Res. 1058, Gully Lake/Eigg Mtn.: Wilderness Protection Area -
Designate, Mr. C. Parker 2554
Vote - Affirmative 2554
Res. 1059, N.S. Fed. of Agric.: Food Bank Donations - Recognize,
Mr. S. McNeil 2555
Vote - Affirmative 2559
Res. 1060, Sherman, Tom - Bell Canada Award (2003), Hon. K. Morash 2555
Vote - Affirmative 2556
Res. 1061, Gosley, Syd: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Ms. M. More 2556
Vote - Affirmative 2556
Res. 1062, Gidney, Paul - Powerlifting Medals, Mr. H. Theriault 2557
Vote - Affirmative 2557
Res. 1063, Naugler, Helen - Bridgewater Rep. Vol. (2004),
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2557
Vote - Affirmative 2558
Res. 1064, 3 Dolphins - Anniv. (10th), Mr. W. Estabrooks 2558
Vote - Affirmative 2559
Res. 1065, Steele, Judy - Hfx. Club: Pres. - Appt., Ms. D. Whalen 2559
Vote - Affirmative 2560
Res. 1066, Borgersen, Susan/Barton, Russell -
Vacation Writing Workshop, Hon. K. Morash 2560
Vote - Affirmative 2561
Res. 1067, Cavalier Dr. Sch. - Skipping Team Championship,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2561
Vote - Affirmative 2562
Res. 1068, Jefferies, Jonathan: Commun. Service - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 2562
Vote - Affirmative 2562
Res. 1069, Health: Romanow Report - Implement, Hon. A. MacIsaac 2562
Res. 1070, Drake, Sarah: Soccer Career - Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 2563
Vote - Affirmative 2564
Res. 1071, Econ. Dev.: Prov. Nominee Prog. - Fund,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2564
Vote - Affirmative 2565
Res. 1072, Wournell, Doris Rose: Vol. Service - Recognize, Mr. J. Pye 2565
Vote - Affirmative 2566
Res. 1073, Glace Bay Radio Club: Fundraiser - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2566
Vote - Affirmative 2566
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 941, Estimates: CWH on Supply - Referred, Hon. P. Christie 2567
Mr. G. Steele 2567
Ms. D. Whalen 2573
Referred 2581
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1077, Yar. HS - Veterans Commitment: 440 Productions -
Congrats., Mr. Michel Samson 2581
Vote - Affirmative 2582
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Apr. 26th at 2:00 p.m. 2583
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1074, Bruce, Cst. Charles: Commun. Service - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 2584
Res. 1075, Atkinson, Dr. Anthony/McIntyre, Mary - Asthma Studies,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2584
Res. 1076, Hfx. Int'l. Airport: ACIA Award - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 2585

[Page 2543]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 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

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 1045

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

2543

[Page 2544]

Whereas Atlantic Canadian Governments are already struggling to keep pace with the level of essential services provided by our nation's wealthier provinces; and

Whereas all Canadian provinces pay into the equalization program which is indeed intended to provide comparable levels of service at a comparable level of taxation, a constitutional commitment; and

Whereas that commitment also needs to include sustainable, enhanced funding for health care to assist in meeting rising costs, as well as adequate funding to meet growth and social programs under the new Canada Social Transfer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send a letter of unanimous support urging Ottawa to restore the 10-provinces standard within the equalization formula, given the widening disparity between provinces under the current five-provinces standard, and call for full inclusion of all revenue sources in determining the level of transfers under the program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1046

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

Whereas we are coming to the end of another school year very soon; and

[Page 2545]

Whereas many of our students will be graduating from high schools right across this province; and

Whereas Safe Grad is a major program that is used to keep our grads safe and to make sure that they have an eventful and fun-filled evening;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the New Waterford Credit Union for sponsoring their fourth annual Safe Grad Auction which raised over $8,700 for a total of $38,000 and recognize the hard work of all the employees at the New Waterford Credit 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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1047

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

Whereas for the past 11 years, hundreds of students from Yarmouth High School have honoured the sacrifices of World War II veterans through music, video and stage shows under the banner of 440 Productions; and

Whereas George Egan, the Director of 440 Productions, has encouraged young people to achieve their highest potential while making a personal connection with our veterans: and

Whereas 440 Productions is planning a tour of Britain where they will act as ambassadors, sharing wartime songs and stories with veterans;

[Page 2546]

Therefore be it resolved that the students and organizers of 440 Productions be congratulated for their commitment to our veterans and that the Government of Nova Scotia join the British High Commission, numerous Royal Canadian Legion Branches and others in extending financial support for their planned British tour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1048

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 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently sponsored a contest entitled, the CBC Backyard Rink Face-off; and

Whereas Michael Townsend of Little Harbour, Shelburne County constructed a 55 foot by 35 foot in his backyard by cutting down a plum tree and using lobster crates from one end to the other; and

Whereas Michael's backyard rink was chosen as the best in Nova Scotia and one of the 10 best across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that Little Harbour, Shelburne County resident, Michael Townsend, be congratulated this morning by all Members of this Legislative Assembly, and for his design and passion in constructing the best outdoor rink in Nova Scotia, and one of the 10 best anywhere in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2547]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1049

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 late Jack Canfield was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame on February 7, 2004; and

Whereas he was a founding member of the Atlantic Motorsport Park in Shubenacadie and also of the Atlantic Motorcycle Competition Racing Association; and

Whereas Mr. Canfield was a champion who raced throughout Eastern Canada and the United States, and has ensured that his legacy lives on through the involvement of his whole family in racing in Shubenacadie;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly acknowledge with pride the accomplishments of the late Jack Canfield, and extend its condolences to the family of the champion racer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

[Page 2548]

RESOLUTION NO. 1050

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

Whereas being a burn victim is a painful and traumatic experience especially for children; and

Whereas Atlantic Burn Camp is a program free of charge designed for children from the Atlantic Provinces who have received burn injury; and

Whereas the camp is staffed by well-trained professionals including firefirghters, police and medical personnel;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the important and courageous work of the Atlantic Burn Camp and encourage them to continue their excellent service to these children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO.1051

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

Whereas the Guysborough Regional Development Authority has launched a plan to promote outdoor recreation opportunities in the county; and

Whereas the authority has released a detailed guidebook identifying pristine opportunities available in Guysborough County; and

[Page 2549]

Whereas the book consists of 120 pages, identifying places for everything from diving to canoeing, while ranking each location with a degree of difficulty;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend the executive and the staff of the Guysborough Regional Development Authority for their creativity in attempting to promote Guysborough County as an excellent outdoor location for tourism.

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. 1052

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

Whereas Symphony Nova Scotia, Mobil Exxon and the Halifax-area Schools Music Program have joined together to introduce the Adopt-A-Musician Program; and

Whereas the Adopt-A-Musician Program teams members of Symphony Nova Scotia with elementary school students in Grades 4, 5 and 6; and

Whereas in Halifax Chebucto, Symphony Nova Scotia's first violinist, Jennifer Jones, will be visiting young musicians at Westmount School for a six-week period to encourage the students to compose their own music for a performance concert to be held this month at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the participating members of Symphony Nova Scotia, the Halifax-area Schools Music Program and Exxon Mobil for the introduction of this innovative teaching initiative to Halifax classrooms, and congratulate the young musical composers who, through hands-on training, are benefiting from the Adopt-A-Musician Program.

[Page 2550]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[9:15 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1053

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

Whereas being a victim of crime or to be in an accident is a terrifying experience for anyone but especially for children; and

Whereas like many police departments across North America, the Cape Breton Regional Police use a teddy bear or stuffed animal to soothe frightened children; and

Whereas the Glace Bay Lions Club's recent campaign to collect stuffed toys has been such a huge success, with over 100 toys being collected, that they've decided to make this an ongoing endeavour;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Glace Bay Lions Club on the success of this collection, and wish them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2551]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1054

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

Whereas the Thorburn Fire Department, during February's difficult and deep snow period, used their rescue sled to assist the Trenton Fire Department in an important lifesaving rescue; and

Whereas the rescue became necessary after a man, driving a snowmobile, ended up buried in deep snow and could not get out; and

Whereas the Thorburn Fire Chief, Dave Sponagle, said his department travelled nearly a mile into the woods to do the necessary rescue and evacuation;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs pay tribute to members of the Thorburn and Trenton Fire Departments, ready to assist in whatever rescue is necessary at any given time of the day.

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. 1055

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

[Page 2552]

Whereas seniors, their families, local seniors' clubs and seniors' councils have worked hard since September 2002 to end the unfair impoverishment of nursing home residents; and

Whereas many individuals made the difficult choice to make their personal situation public in an effort to end those shameful and unfair fees; and

Whereas the Premier heeded the strong message from Nova Scotians in favour of ending those unfair fees for medical care now, without further undue delay;

Therefore be it resolved that this House salutes the seniors of Nova Scotia, the friends and loved ones of all long-term care residents, for the love, commitment and persistence with which they successfully gained unanimous support in this House for an end, this fiscal year, to the use of seniors' life savings to pay for their health care in nursing homes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1056

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

Whereas the 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 and five days in an environment where they are unfamiliar; and

[Page 2553]

Whereas Emily Reid of Kingston has completed the five components necessary to be awarded the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award by volunteering in the Kings West High School Kids Help Line, the school canteen, peer educator, Heartwood Institute volunteer for 240 hours, jazz dance, ballet, swimming, and 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.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1057

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

Whereas community fundraising is important to assist health districts deliver high-quality programs and services; and

Whereas the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore has pledged nearly $270,000 towards the creation of a dedicated respiratory department at the South Shore Regional Hospital; and

Whereas the department will house an expanded sleep disorder laboratory and a lung function testing unit;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House express our appreciation to the members and staff of the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore for their continued efforts to help improve health programs for patients at the South Shore Regional Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 2554]

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. 1058

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

Whereas this government in their Throne Speech has promised to designate both Gully Lake and Eigg Mountain as wilderness protection areas; and

Whereas a recent poll commissioned by the Ecology Action Centre and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society show that Nova Scotians overwhelmingly support more protection for wilderness and our native wildlife; and

Whereas preserving nature for now and for future generations makes biological as well as economic sense;

Therefore be it resolved that this government proceed as quickly as possible to designate Gully Lake and Eigg Mountain as wilderness protection areas.

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 Annapolis.

[Page 2555]

RESOLUTION NO. 1059

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture has recently launched a campaign to contribute surplus beef, due to the U.S. border closure and the BSE situation, to the Metro Food Bank Society; and

Whereas the food banks from Yarmouth to Sydney are members of the Metro Food Bank Society and will benefit from this program; and

Whereas the families who use the service of the food banks are not in a financial position to purchase fresh or frozen meat on a regular basis and these donations will be a tremendous asset to the nutritional well-being of these families;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the generous donation made by the farmers of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1060

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

Whereas the Canada Council for the Arts and Bell Canada awarded artist and writer Tom Sherman the 2003 Bell Canada Award for outstanding achievement in video art; and

Whereas on March 30, 2004, Mr. Sherman received this $10,000 prize from the acting chair of the Canada Council, Nalini Stewart and Bell Canada Executive Vice-President, Terry Mosey, at a ceremony in Toronto; and

Whereas Mr. Sherman and his wife, Jan Pottie, spend their summers living in Summerville, Queens County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Tom Sherman on winning this prestigious award from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 2556]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1061

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

Whereas volunteers add immeasurable value to our communities through their contributions; and

Whereas Syd Gosley has volunteered with the Dartmouth Museum Society, the Dartmouth Historical Association, the Dartmouth Heritage Advisory Committee, the Dartmouth Rotary Club and the Woodlawn Kiwanis Club and other worthy organizations and causes; and

Whereas Mr. Gosley was recently recognized at Nova Scotia's Provincial Volunteer Day Awards ceremony for his volunteer efforts that span more than 30 years;

Therefore be it resolved the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Mr. Syd Gosley for his volunteer efforts and wish him well in his future volunteer efforts.

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.

[Page 2557]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1062

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 Paul Gidney has been powerlifting since 1994; and

Whereas on March 21st he entered a powerlifting competition in Kitchener-Waterloo; and

Whereas Paul Gidney came away with both gold and silver medals, walking away with the Canadian National Bench Press title by bench pressing an amazing 391.5 pounds;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Paul Gidney and wish him every success in the future.

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 Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1063

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

Whereas Bridgewater resident Helen Naugler is a dedicated community volunteer who has spent a great portion of her life serving many organizations in her community; and

[Page 2558]

Whereas Ms. Naugler was instrumental in establishing the local chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society, she is a volunteer for the Hillside Pines Home for Special Care, a committed fundraiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and has served in many capacities with the Bridgewater Curling Club; and

Whereas Ms. Naugler was selected as Bridgewater's 2004 Representative Volunteer for her many volunteer efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Helen Naugler on being named the Town of Bridgewater's 2004 Representative Volunteer and extend to her our thanks for her many years of service to her community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1064

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

Whereas the 3 Dolphins is celebrating 10 years of business in the St. Margarets Bay area; and

Whereas the 3 Dolphins owners, Kathy MacLean and Hal Underwood, have made valuable contributions to our community; and

Whereas the 3 Dolphins' professionalism serves as an important example;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the 3 Dolphins on its 10th Anniversary with best wishes in its future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2559]

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.

Order, please. The honourable member for Annapolis on a Resolution No. 1059, which he read a few minutes ago.

MR. MCNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask for 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. 1065

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 Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia have honoured Judy Steele, CA, with the 2003 Ross L. Towler CA of the Year award, which was established to honour a CA with a commitment to their community; and

Whereas Judy Steele has served as National Chair of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, is a past board member of Bryony House, Metro United Way and numerous charities, where her professional experience and desire to give back to her community have made a significant contribution; and

[Page 2560]

Whereas Ms. Steele has consistently shown her will to help others, it is this determination that has given her the distinction of being named the first female President of the Halifax Club;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Judy Steele for this recognition.

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. 1066

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

Whereas a creative writing vacation package known as Writing the Historical Novel, being offered in Liverpool in June, has made the pages of one of the world's most respected newspapers; and

Whereas Susan Borgersen, a resident of East Port Medway, Queens County, and co-founder of Creative Holidays Nova Scotia with Russell Barton, a teacher from Chester Basin, said she was taken aback, when she picked up her telephone one morning to find a reporter from the United Kingdom's Observer asking questions; and

Whereas Ms. Borgersen and Mr. Barton are astonished with the calls they have been getting from places as far away as Israel and Holland;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the creative minds of Susan and Russell and wish them 100 per cent success with their vacation writing workshop.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2561]

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. 1067

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 Cavalier Drive School in Lower Sackville has a long tradition of active and successful participation in all areas of sport; and

Whereas the Cavalier Drive School skipping team Jump-2-It, along with coach Mary Dunn and assistant coach Leanne Macleod, qualified in the provincial competition on April 3, 2004 to advance to the nationals; and

Whereas the Cavalier Skipping Team will be competing in the Canadian Rope Skipping Federation National Championships being held May 21st to May 23rd at Acadia University in Wolfville;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the team members and coaching staff of Jump-2-It from Cavalier Drive School on reaching the National Rope Skipping Championship, and wish them success on their bid to be national champions and represent Canada at the world competition being held this summer in New Zealand.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[9:30 a.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2562]

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. 1068

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

Whereas since 1977, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition has been created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, and Constable Jonathan Jefferies' name has been added to this wall.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Jonathan Jefferies and honour his service to our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1069

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

[Page 2563]

Whereas the needs of our aging population are a significant factor in the rising health care requirements of our system in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas not only has funding for our health system risen significantly over the last several years to meet such needs - DHAs have also been given the security of a commitment of $124 million through multi-year funding over the next three years; and

Whereas the Romanow report specified that the federal government should increase funding from 18 per cent by increments of 1 per cent until it reached one-quarter of health care funding in our province.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House speak with one voice in support of our province's unique circumstances with regard to health care and encourage the federal government to move quickly on the recommendations adhering to the true intent of Romanow's findings and becoming a real partner in health funding.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1070

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

Whereas Sarah Drake, former UCCB soccer star, had her No. 5 raised in the rafters of the Sullivan Field House and only the fourth jersey retired by the University College of Cape Breton; and

Whereas in her first year with the Capers in 1998, she was selected the Atlantic University rookie of the year and first team all-Canadian; and

Whereas in her last year, 2002-03, she was selected Atlantic University Player of the Year, first team all-Canadian, Canadian Inter-university Sport Player of the Year and the Atlantic Sport BLG award nominee;

[Page 2564]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislative Assembly congratulate Sarah Drake for her distinguished varsity soccer career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1071

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 August 2002, the province signed an agreement with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to establish a Provincial Nominee Program - this program allowing the province to participate in the selection of immigrants who would be issued certificates to settle in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas when employees of the Nominee Program appeared before the Economic Development Committee in November 2003, they reported that they had issued only 16 nomination certificates with 10 more pending final approval and as of February 2004, the total number of certificates issued still remains under 30, being a 7.5 per cent success rate; and

Whereas almost two years after the announcement of this program, the province has not used this tremendous opportunity to have 400 new immigrants living in Nova Scotia or destined for Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister assure the necessary resources will be directed to this Provincial Nominee Program to guarantee the province remains competitive.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2565]

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. 1072

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

Whereas volunteers, who give so generously of their energies, skills and family time, are the unsung heroes and the backbone of our communities; and

Whereas April 18th to April 24th is National Volunteer Week, a week dedicated to honouring many volunteers who are the key to community success; and

Whereas Doris Rose Wournell was recognized at the Provincial Volunteer Day and by the Halifax Regional Municipality for her many efforts in the community, including organizing the Harbourview School Breakfast Program, the Holy Trinity Church Clothing Depot, Christmas hampers, parish council, Brownie and Guide Leader, District Nine Neighbourhood Watch, Vice-President of the North Dartmouth Newspaper Society and much more;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize the important role volunteers play in our lives, and pay tribute to Doris Rose Wournell for her outstanding volunteer services which have contributed to the well-being of the Dartmouth North community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2566]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1073

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

Whereas the kitchen party has been a long-time tradition throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas on May 1, 2004, the Glace Bay Radio Club will hold a kitchen party fundraiser with a number of musicians and singers donating their time and talent in support of various community organizations; and

Whereas this event is open to anyone who wishes to attend and will be more than welcome to step up to the microphone or pick up an instrument;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Glace Bay Radio Club for the work they do in the community of Glace Bay, and wish them every success with their fundraiser.

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 2567]

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 941.

Res. No. 941 - Estimates, CWH on Supply - Referred - notice given Apr. 20/04 (Hon. P. Christie)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview. You have approximately 51 minutes.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise today to continue the debate in reply to the budget. Members will be relieved to know I don't intend to repeat what I said yesterday. Somebody said to me yesterday, or they asked me if it was an NDP budget. This House should be so lucky that it would be an NDP budget. In last summer's election, the NDP went to the people with seven key commitments. This budget addresses two and a half, maybe three of them, so, by no means is it an NDP budget.

The government does get full marks for resolving the long-term care issue. We talked about that yesterday. Not every question has been answered, not every detail is known. There are some issues that we need to find out the details of in the course of the Budget Debate and in the weeks and months to come, about how we go from this transition of considering assets and income up until December 31st and then not doing any of that after January 1st. It creates some incentives and disincentives for families to act in certain ways. It may give families, for example, an incentive to keep loved ones at home longer than they should.

It is appropriate that, of course, that Nova Scotians be cared for at home, for as long as is reasonably possible, but that depends on appropriate home care being available. It's not entirely clear that that can be the case, to the extent that we all wish that it could be. There are a number of issues over the transition, but let's give the government full marks. If we're talking about the NDP seven key commitments, that is one commitment that this government has delivered on.

The seventh key commitment that we made in last summer's election was to deliver on our commitments within a balanced budget. I will give the government almost full marks on this one, almost full marks. The budget is balanced according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, but, as usual, Mr. Speaker, there's been a bit of fancy dancing, there's been a bit of shuffling things around, taking things that are being done later this year and allocating them back to the previous year, there have been some changes in accounting policy,

[Page 2568]

which, like all changes in accounting policy that the government has adopted, ultimately work to the government's benefit.

The debt of Nova Scotia is still growing, so we know we still have an issue. As long as that debt is growing, we're facing the growth in interest payments on the debt and, after all, that is the prize at the end of all this belt-tightening, to allocate less of our provincial budget to interest on the debt. We must never forget that is the objective of all this belt-tightening.

It's going to take a lot of commitment from whoever is on the government side of the House, because if we pay down $100 million of the debt, it frees up only $7 million in the following budget year, on average, in interest payments. So you pay $100 million and you get a $7 million return. Now, of course, the key is that $7 million is freed up forever, each and every year following, so you have to have a government that is willing to look 14 years down the road for the payoff. There are very few governments that this province has had that have looked past 14 weeks or 14 months in the future, never mind 14 years, because that's the real payoff, when you free up that $7 million each and every year forever.

I won't give the government full marks on the balanced budget because this government still has a problem in being forthright with Nova Scotians. Last November 14th, the Auditor General issued an extraordinary special report in which he quite rightly spanked the government, this Finance Minister and the last Finance Minister for laying on the table misleading and incomplete financial information. That is what the Auditor General said, that's not me saying it, that's not our caucus saying it. The Auditor General of Nova Scotia said that the government laid financial information on the table that was incomplete and inaccurate and potentially misleading. That included information in last year's budget document. So part of our task here in the Opposition side of the House is to examine this year's budget document to make sure that we understand all the implications, to make sure that we don't let the government off the hook if they've tried to bury some bad news. So, we'll give them almost full marks for achieving our key commitment in the last election, which was to deliver on our key commitments within a balanced budget.

On waiting times, Mr. Speaker, I think, at best, half a point, for at least addressing it, for at least having something to say about it. The steps the government's taking on waiting times are small and tentative but at least they're there and they're facing the right direction. As I said yesterday, this government has shown time and again, nowhere more so than in the long-term care issue that where they're not willing to lead, they can be pushed. This government can count on the fact that on the issue of waiting times for medical care, we are going to push them and we are going to push them hard, because that is a priority of Nova Scotians.

[Page 2569]

More resources for the classroom was another one of our key commitments and I think, Mr. Speaker, again, we'll give the government half a point for this, at best. There is a lot more information that we need about what the numbers in yesterday's budget mean for the education system. There is this question of, for those of us who represent Halifax area ridings, supplementary funding. City council, HRM Council, has fought back a little bit from the relentless downloading from this government and they've said that if there is more downloading, it's going to be cut from supplementary funding. It's a very controversial thing, but what it means, the signal that they're sending is that they wanted a dialogue with the provincial government, they don't want to be told what to do, they want to be a partner in education funding. It's not clear today to anybody in the education system how that's all going to play out, because the budget documents, such as they were, were vague and not as clear as they could or should be on this very important point. It is something that I know our Education Critic, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, and our caucus will be looking for answers on.

[9:45 a.m.]

It's very good, Mr. Speaker, to see a bit more money allocated to tuition agreements. Two of the most difficult individual cases that I've ever had to work on in my time here as an MLA have involved precisely this issue; students who for very personal reasons do not fit into the regular school system, could not fit into the regular school system. Both of them it so happened took advantage of the Thomas Aquinas Centre, an alternative school over in Dartmouth, and both of those families were told that the government would not fund it because although there was this kind of fiction out there that tuition agreements could be funded in principle, the hard reality was that the Halifax Regional School Board never approved them, would never approve them, because they always said that the regular school system could deliver a program to those students even when it was obvious to everyone in the schools, in the family, that that was not the case. It was a fiction that was played upon these families.

Mr. Speaker, it's good to see the government addressing that even if it is in a small way, but we need more information and I know that my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, will be doing that. He will be digging, he will be ferreting out the information. It is a very, very important issue for those families that are affected by it.

The government is tackling the class size issue and you know, Mr. Speaker, my oldest son is one of the beneficiaries of the class size initiative because he's in Primary this year and this is the first year that class sizes have been capped at 25 for Primary and as he marches through the school system, he will continue to benefit from the expansion of the class size cap as he works his way through the system, but even that isn't as simple as it sounds because it was only fairly recently that I discovered that the class size cap isn't really a class size cap after all. Why is it that there can't just be a simple answer to some of these solutions so that when the government says that class sizes are capped at 25, they just mean it and we know

[Page 2570]

that we could not visit any Primary classroom in Nova Scotia with more than 25 students in it? Why can't they just do that, because it's not entirely the case.

I only discovered this recently. Actually it was in the constituency of my colleague across the way, the member for Halifax Clayton Park, which is a growth area of HRM, that I discovered that the class size cap only applies until September 30th every year. Then it comes off and the class can grow to whatever size it has to grow to accommodate the students. You know there are a lot of people transferring into Clayton Park, and to a lesser extent in Fairview, over the course of the year and there is no class size cap after September 30th.

So it creates a perverse incentive for school principals to do a bit of fancy dancing around class size numbers, to maintain the fiction that classes are at 25 until September 30th, and then they can do whatever they want. So if a member of this House were to go out to certain schools, certainly in the Clayton Park area of Halifax, and I'm sure in other areas of HRM and around the province, they could walk into Primary classes that have more than 25 students in them. So even that promise is not as simple as it sounds and that's the kind of detailed information that the government should be delivering to us in this Legislature and delivering to the people. It should not be the kind of thing that we have to ferret out on our own.

Mr. Speaker, those are the things on which I will give the government marks. That's why I say that no one could call this an NDP budget because it delivers on only two and a half, or maybe three, of our seven key commitments. There is nothing in the budget, of course, on auto insurance but, to be fair to the government, that's not a budget issue. It's not a budget issue and you wouldn't expect to see anything in the budget on auto insurance, but anybody who thinks the auto insurance issue has been solved is kidding themselves. It has only been delayed to this Fall when the freeze comes off and then we're going to be right back at it - what are we going to do about skyrocketing auto insurance rates because they're coming back. They're coming back. Just wait until the Fall, it's going to be right back near the top of the political agenda.

No marks to the government on providing relief on the essentials of living, one of our commitments in the last election. The HST is not a fair tax. It is a regressive tax. It hits people in the lower end of the income scale harder than those at the upper end and yet we tax things that are a necessity of life like home heating fuel.

I'm sure that Nova Scotians have their own ideas about what the necessities of life are but we have to do something about the fact that we impose a regressive tax on a necessity of life like home heating fuel. No marks to the government about that, there's nothing in this budget to provide that kind of relief.

[Page 2571]

I'm sorry to say there are no marks to the government on post-secondary tuition. There is nothing in this budget for students, and I was very sorry to hear David Hare, the President of Canadian Federation of Students, saying last night that there's nothing in this budget for students. Tuition fees at the post-secondary levels are going up again. There is nothing in here to stop it, no hope that they'll be stopped and nothing to deal with debt relief for students.

I was disappointed to hear Sean Riley, the President of the Nova Scotia Association of University Presidents, saying that the government keeps talking about making universities a priority, but never in actual, practical fact do it. We've got a problem, Mr. Speaker, we've got a big problem looming in our universities and no marks to the government on that score.

So that's why I say that although we very much like and we very much support and congratulate the government for the move it has made in the long-term care issue, no one should mistake this budget for an NDP budget.

Mr. Speaker, on some other issues that I'll mention briefly that I, and my colleagues, will be examining over the course of the estimates debate which will happen in this House over the next two and a half weeks, the intensive line-by-line, item-by-item, program-by-program examination of the budget, these are some of the things that we're going to be looking at.

Yesterday, Thursday, was Budget Day but when I think of Thursday I think of something else. Thursday is also food bank day in my constituency. The West End Ecumenical Food Bank serves a large area of west end Halifax, covering almost all of my constituency of Halifax Fairview, a good chunk of Halifax Clayton Park, and a good chunk of Halifax Chebucto. I often go to the food bank - I work there on a Thursday and I'm not going to say that it's for altruistic reasons that I do. They don't need me, they functioned perfectly well before I started working there and they'll function perfectly well if I never show up again. One of the things that it does for me is it reminds me every single week what it is I'm doing here. If the government's budget doesn't impact positively that food bank and the people who have to take advantage of it, then we have the wrong priorities.

I don't work there on Thursdays when the House is sitting, but when I go back after the House rises I don't expect there to be any change in the numbers of people who have to take advantage of that food bank, because I don't see anything substantive in the budget for those people.

So for some people, yesterday, Thursday, was Budget Day. For me, it is, and always will be, food bank day at St. John's Anglican Church at the corner of Dutch Village Road and Joseph Howe Drive in my constituency. It is only when they see their numbers go down that I'll know the government is really addressing - and that I am addressing - the issues that really matter.

[Page 2572]

Municipalities today are either disappointed by the budget or mystified by it. They have a lot of questions about how the changes in the budget will affect them and so that's one thing I know our Municipal Affairs Critic and others interested in municipal issues will be looking for answers for. What exactly does this mean for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality? What does it mean for the Halifax Regional Municipality? What does it mean for the 53 other municipal units? We could read the budget and municipalities could read the budget and still have no idea.

It's good to see that the government has not chosen layoffs or wage freezes, or contract extensions, or any of those methods of attacking the Civil Service in order to balance the budget. If there are any layoffs flowing from the budget they will be very few and I'm glad to see that the government, this year at least, is respecting the bargaining process and has allocated some money towards that - and how much we don't know and that's fair enough. The governments have a right to put in their restructuring fund an allocation for wage settlements and not have to reveal to the parties on the other side of the bargaining table exactly how much they have set aside. Let's hope there's a fair settlement, a reasonable settlement. It's good to see that the government is not going to force us to go through the pain and the difficulty that Newfoundland and Labrador is going through right now.

It is disappointing to see nothing in the budget about the environment, nothing connecting the environment to health and health promotion. We must never forget the environment as one of our priorities, something that needs to be addressed explicitly and progressively; disappointing to see nothing on that.

As I said yesterday, it was disappointing to see a budget with no mention of Cape Breton in it, no mention of economic development. We live in a relatively small province of under 1 million people and it is a shame, but it is a fact, that we have to deal with, that we don't just have one economy in this province. The economy in Halifax is going okay, I would never say it's going great because, you know, when we have provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan competing with Alberta for the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at around 5 per cent, I don't think we should be content with an unemployment rate around 7 per cent or 8 per cent.

Cape Breton can only dream of an unemployment rate of 7 per cent or 8 per cent. There is a totally different economy there, only exacerbated by yesterday's announcement by Stream in Glace Bay. The government has to come to grips with that and I see nothing in the budget to do that.

Then, there is the economy of the rural mainland, very different from the Cape Breton economy, very different even from the HRM economy. Really what is happening is that the HRM economy is basically growing to include anybody within any kind of a driving distance of Halifax. Now the HRM's economy is extending way out to Hants County, way down to

[Page 2573]

the South Shore, way up the Eastern Shore, even into Pictou County, and I'm sure there are even some people up in Colchester County.

I know that in Colchester County but maybe even as far as Cumberland County where they have to come here for work, they have to come here to make a living for their families.

This government has to come to grips with that, and I don't see anything in the budget that says that they understand that.

Mr. Speaker, those are the kinds of things that we're going to be looking at, those are the issues that we will be taking time to consider in detail, that's our job now. We have two jobs: one is to go out and consult widely with Nova Scotians and say, does this budget meet your priorities, is it enough, is there enough there that you think we should support the budget, or does it not meet your priorities and is a better budget possible? That is our first job, to go out and consult with people, and our second job is right here in the Legislature, line by line, page by page, to understand every detail of the budget, to understand every implication of every dollar, and when we've completed those two jobs, then and only then will we be in a position to tell this House and to tell the people of Nova Scotia how we intend to vote on the budget. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's my great pleasure to represent my Party today, the Liberal Party, as we go into the budget debate. I say this, because it is the Liberal Party who has held this government accountable for their fiscal mismanagement. It is the Liberal Party who told the government that the tax cut was premature and it was the Liberal Party, and I might say the Liberal Party alone, that took the courageous step of opposing the tax cut in the last election and in the last session of this Legislature. We campaigned on a responsible platform that included freezing user fees, freezing corporate taxes, and holding the line on personal income tax.

[10:00 a.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, we're facing a budget which has jacked up user fees by $12 million, increased corporate taxes by $17.5 million and, finally, has grudgingly faced reality and taken away the tax cut that was offered to Nova Scotians only last January - new taxes, higher personal taxes for some, and a reversal in a key political election platform. What is so disturbing about this budget and the choices presented to Nova Scotians by this government is that it all could have been avoided. It could have been avoided if the Premier had faced reality and swallowed his pride sooner. If the Progressive Conservatives had put people ahead of politics, we would be looking at a very different budget today.

If the NDP had placed aside their political ambitions, Mr. Speaker, if they would truly become active (Interruptions)

[Page 2574]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

The honourable members allowed the previous member of the Official Opposition the opportunity to respond to the budget and I would ask the honourable members to give the honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park the same response.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, if the NDP would truly have acted on behalf of Nova Scotia's working families, instead of simply using them as a campaign slogan, we would be looking today at a very different budget. If the NDP had joined us and forced the government to rescind the tax before it ever came into effect, I repeat, we would be looking today at a very different budget. (Applause) These opportunities to do what was in the best interests of Nova Scotians were squandered by the government and by the NDP and that is unfortunate.

The announcement made by the Premier on Tuesday was an admission that, in fact, Nova Scotia could not afford his tax cut and that steps had to be taken to rescind at least a portion of it. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I would contend the government knew all along that the tax cut could not be afforded. They knew, as did the NDP, that the tax cut was not affordable. Unfortunately, much damage has been done. Many of the concerns that we are facing here today could have been avoided if only the government had acted responsibly and not spent needed resources on a premature tax cut and the most disturbing aspect is the Premier's criteria for bringing back the tax cut.

The Premier has indicated that the minute the federal government puts more money into health, the tax cut is back on. Has this government learned nothing? Federal money for health is intended for health, not for a tax cut. Taking provincial money out of health the minute federal dollars come in is irresponsible and in some ways it is immoral. Ottawa is giving the provinces more money for health, not more money so that provincial governments can play political games.

The budget presented to us, I would contend, Mr. Speaker, is a budget of desperation as opposed to preparation. The choices made in this budget do not reflect well-thought-out policy. They do not reflect consultation with stakeholders in health, education and various other areas. This is, in fact, a budget of self-inflicted wounds. What we see in this budget are decisions based on financial hardships, hardships brought upon this government, not by Ottawa as the Finance Minister would like us to believe, but rather by his own and their own mismanagement. As a result, the government has been forced to make decisions that are difficult for Nova Scotians. Decisions to scramble to find more revenues for the province in order to balance the budget and have enough money left over so that the Minister of Health can make an important investment in health that has been a long time in coming.

We are finally going to see the health care costs of seniors in nursing homes covered by the government. That is something we support, now that we can afford it. Health care, Mr. Speaker, is facing a crisis in Nova Scotia. Last Fall, courageous nurses from the QE II took

[Page 2575]

matters into their own hands and drew the attention of all Nova Scotians to the unacceptable conditions facing their patients at the emergency room. The government in their typical fashion gave the nurses a lot of words, a glossy brochure and very little action.

As my colleagues, the members for Glace Bay and Kings West would be able to tell you, Mr. Speaker, it is not just the QE II that is facing these challenges. As part of the Roundtable on Health Care Wait Times, my colleagues have toured health care facilities across Nova Scotia. They have spoken to health care providers and administrators, and finally they have spoken to people across Nova Scotia who are trying to access the system.

The money announced in this budget is a step in the right direction. More money is needed in health care, but this money requires a plan. As Roy Romanow told the federal government and all governments in Canada, pouring good money after bad won't fix the problem.

Nova Scotia needs an investment in the future. It needs a shift to new approaches in the delivery of health care services. Health care can't continue with a business as usual approach. The time has come to embrace new technologies, new efficiencies which will allow the government to provide better health care more effectively. New technology like the telehealth initiative, brought forward by the former Liberal Government can help us bridge the gap between health care provided in Middle Musquodoboit, Florence, Liverpool, and Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, it requires a significant investment. The investment of $230 million in health that was announced in the budget is a welcome addition; however, we feel some areas of vital importance may have been overlooked in this budget. The government is investing a sum of less than $10 million to address wait times. Although we do believe that a better information system and a better collection of wait times data is important, just as important is the need to invest in human resources and improved facilities.

Mr. Speaker, home care is another avenue that has been chronically underfunded by this government. We see very little investment in this area of health care. Home care not only provides an essential service for those individuals who may be able to recover at home rather than in their hospital beds, it also helps to free up more acute care beds and improve the situation with regard to wait times. We are happy to see money being put back into the number-one priority of Nova Scotians, but we will be happier when we see the detailed plan on how the government intends to make strategic investments so that Nova Scotians can see improvements in the access to the system.

Mr. Speaker, two years ago the Liberal Party pressured the provincial government to put in place the Office of Health Promotion. I am happy to say they have done that, but that is all they have done. They did not give the office the money it needs to do the job it was created to do. In this budget we are seeing a continuation to that lack of commitment.

[Page 2576]

Although the minister may rise and say the government has increased the budget by what would appear to be a large per cent, the fact of the matter is that the budget has increased by only $3.6 million. This is woefully inadequate in a province that has some of the worst health indicators in the country.

We believe that the investment in health promotion should equal the revenue expected this year from the recent cigarette tax hike. That would put more than $20 million alone into the Office of Health Promotion. The programs required to educate Nova Scotians and to assist Nova Scotians in living healthier lifestyles requires an investment of time and resources. This government has not come forward with the resources. They have only scratched the surface in the area of health promotion, an area that will pay tremendous dividends in the future, through a healthier, more active society. The government's shortsighted decision to underfund the Office of Health Promotion will cost us significantly in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take an opportunity to talk a little bit about what is not in the budget. I know this may be a little bit unusual, but I feel it is vitally important. I feel it is important because we have a serious problem in Nova Scotia which is getting worse, year by year. The longer we go without fixing it, the harder it will be to fix. I am referring, of course, to the economic divide which currently exists between our rural communities and those communities that are within an hour's drive of Halifax. The lack of mention about rural economic development is troubling indeed. The fact that the economy of Cape Breton has also been ignored in this budget is even more troubling. (Interruptions)

Rural economies in Nova Scotia and the communities which support them are struggling to survive. Although the Premier and the Minister of Finance like giving speeches proclaiming increased jobs for Nova Scotia, the reality is those new jobs just don't extend to rural Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame.

MS. WHALEN: For example, Mr. Speaker, since June 2003, the reality for Nova Scotia has been a dramatic loss in jobs. Since June 2003, the very month that saw $155 pre-election cheques go out in Nova Scotia, the unemployment rate has risen in the Annapolis Valley by nearly 1 per cent, a loss of 800 jobs. In the North Shore region, the unemployment rate has gone from 9.7 per cent to 10.4 per cent, representing 2,900 lost jobs. In southern Nova Scotia, unemployment has gone up an alarming 1.6 per cent, now at almost 12 per cent, and 3,800 jobs were lost. And finally, in Cape Breton, the official unemployment has gone up by almost 1 per cent to 16 per cent, which means 3,900 fewer jobs. (Interruptions) A shameful record indeed.

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What is the government's response to these job losses? This budget raises corporate investment taxes, which discourages business expansion and job creation. It increases user fees, which hurt all Nova Scotians and introduces a new top-end tax rate. This government has the audacity to talk about competitiveness and keeping Nova Scotia competitive, when clearly they don't know the meaning of the word in today's globalized economy.

Mr. Speaker, in preparation for the budget, I've travelled to communities across Nova Scotia to meet with business and municipal leaders. The recurring theme of these talks has been the need for a regional approach to development that will recognize the unique challenges and opportunities that exist in all parts of our province. Not every community has the same needs, and the approach from government should recognize this. (Applause)

In Cape Breton, as in other parts of the province, the loss of population is a key concern. People leave when there are no jobs to sustain them, when the infrastructure has been allowed to deteriorate, when the community services and government services are closed or moved elsewhere. Rural economic development has to be addressed on a region-by-region basis.

In Yarmouth and Sydney, there is deep concern about maintaining their regional airports. The southern part of the province lacks regional government services that have been located in Kentville or Bridgewater, rather than Yarmouth, Digby or Shelburne. This part of the province is served with unfinished provincial highways, and they face long distances to access services. Everywhere that I visited, there was concern for rural roads that are so vital in keeping communities economically vibrant. Amherst is wondering when government will get serious about making the Moncton to Halifax economic corridor something other than the barbell that it is today.

Mr. Speaker, government has a responsibility to cultivate an environment that will grow our economy. It's alarming to see, in this budget, the continued decimation of the Office of Economic Development. Government has an important role to play in attracting jobs and new investment to our rural communities, and that means both commitment and money. The Liberal Party has listened to the concerns of rural business, and we understand the frustration they feel with crumbling infrastructure in rural Nova Scotia. It places an unfair burden on rural business, and in many cases discourages investment in the first place.

We believe, Mr. Speaker, the backbone of any growing economy is the transportation system that will serve the needs of the people. For too long our roads have been made to suffer in the name of fiscal restraint, while our rural economy suffers as a result. This government said, in their 1999 blue book, that they would present a comprehensive, non-partisan, multi-year plan for secondary road improvements, but we have yet to see it. (Interruptions)

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Government has an opportunity to send a strong signal to rural business, once and for all. Allocating the gas tax paid at the pumps back into the roads of this province, another past promise of this government. Now, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works may try to tell you that, in fact, they already do this. No, the proof of this government's inaction on roads is as glaring as the pothole in front of your door and the bumpy roads across this province, from Cumberland County to Richmond County and all parts in between, the roads of this province have been neglected.

[10:15 a.m.]

Nova Scotia's rural communities need a clear indication from government that they have a vision. The lack of vision for rural Nova Scotia is apparent. The silence from this government in this budget speaks volumes.

Government also has a role to play in attracting new investment and giving rural entrepreneurs access to financing and venture capital. But our financial institutions have shown little support for rural economies. Government has a responsibility to fill that gap, to provide the resources required by the talented men and women in rural Nova Scotia who want to grow a business and employ people in their own communities. I have spoken to successful Nova Scotians in rural communities who have been denied financing despite having perfect payment records and excellent balance sheets. This government has abandoned rural Nova Scotia, from Britex to Avon Foods, the government has no solutions to the problems and this budget, Mr. Speaker, will do nothing to change that.

The Department of Economic Development has been downgraded to an office of Economic Development, with about as much ability to effect change as the Office of Health Promotion, none. Name plates on doors, Mr. Speaker, have made great window-dressing for this government. Giving offices and ministers titles and flashy job descriptions, with no ability or resources to do their jobs is the trademark of this Progressive Conservative Government.

Rural Nova Scotia is hurting, Mr. Speaker, and this budget does nothing to help. But saying the government has done nothing on economic development is too harsh. We've seen some initiatives in economic development in this budget, but those measures are regressive. I'm referring, of course, to the increases to the capital tax. If the Minister of Finance wants to talk about moving our economy forward and making Nova Scotia competitive, why have they increased taxes for the very businesses who are employing thousands of Nova Scotians?

I've had an opportunity to listen to a cross-section of the business community, and I can tell you that major employers support many of our smaller communities. In particular, I would like to tell you about my experience in talking to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association here in Halifax. Their message to me and the same message to the provincial government was crystal clear, get rid of the large corporations tax, because it's killing investment in Nova Scotia and it's killing job creation in our province. Not only has

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this message been ignored, but the tax has been increased. Increased because of the fiscal mismanagement of this government and I'm afraid this tax will cost Nova Scotians jobs.

Mr. Speaker, in the area of education, we feel that the public school system has received very little in this budget. We see it as basically keeping pace with the cost of living increases, the salary increases to teachers and expected increases for teacher assistants but very little more. It is worth mentioning, however, that the tuition agreements are a very good idea, we're glad to see some movement on that. But the question we have on the tuition agreements is what will happen for the 125 students who are presently at Landmark East, Bridgeway Academy and the Thomas Aquinas Centre. Those students require this assistance too and it's unclear whether or not that will cover them or only students that are currently coming out of the public system. So we don't see much in the way of public school assistance and as I said earlier today, it really looks that although Nova Scotians have two priorities: health and education, this budget has really only responded to the first, to health and not to education.

Mr. Speaker, our province is very fortunate to be home to some of the finest post-secondary institutions in North America. These institutions give Nova Scotians the opportunity to stay at home and to receive a world class education. They also attract the best and the brightest from across Canada, North America and indeed the world to our great province.

Nova Scotia has benefited many times over from the investments government has made in these institutions over the years, but those investments are gone. In my own riding of Halifax Clayton Park, Mount Saint Vincent University alone injects $75 million into the local economy. Their direct expenditure is $30 million, while university employees spend another $27 million and the students at the university spend another $14 million directly into our economy. In order to remain competitive and continue to attract top students and faculty, universities like Mount Saint Vincent need government support. This government's underfunding of universities and community colleges has left these institutions with no choice but to shift the burden to the students.

Just this month we've seen some dramatic increases in university tuition and fees. The realities of a student in Nova Scotia today are 7.25 per cent tuition increases and $50 per course fees, for deferred maintenance on university campuses. They are realities because the government has refused to invest in higher education. Mr. Speaker, our university students have heard the message from government in this budget. It clearly is, you're on you own. We all know how important post-secondary education is in today's economy. Our economy depends on an educated workforce and the only way to attain education in Nova Scotia, is through massive debt loads.

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Mr. Speaker, I was speaking to my colleague, the member for Kings West yesterday and he told me of a young woman graduating this year, and her debt load is $70,000. In order to finish her education, she has had to resort to living on a line of credit. Now I admit this example is not the norm in Nova Scotia, the average debt now per student is a little over $30,000. Thanks to this government though, more and more students are unable to complete their education.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk a bit about the supposed balanced budget. Claiming a great victory because of a $2.1 million surplus on a $6 billion budget, is nothing short of absurd. One need only look at some of the forecasts and you begin to understand the whole story. Revenue projections are, at best, optimistic - many would contend they're even stretched. It's a great game the government has played every year, overestimate revenue, underestimate costs, adjust accounting rules in the last three months of the fiscal year and poof, a balanced budget.

Look at the estimates for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation estimates are up 9 per cent for this year alone. (Interruptions) One wonders what this is based on. The minister may be hoping for an extended Stanley Cup playoff to promote beer sales. Look at the estimates for retail sales. Forecasted two years ago at less than 1 per cent, this government now estimates retail sales will grow at over 4 per cent this year. I wish I could share their optimism.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, since coming to power in 1999, the Tories have had reason to be optimistic. They have enjoyed the benefits of our growing economy and, in turn, they have had $1 billion more to spend than the previous Liberal Government had available. (Interruptions) It's true. The sad part of this story is that $1 billion extra in the coffers has still not solved our health and education problems.

This government has not restored our roads and infrastructure. The truth is, they continue to blame others for their lack of self-reliance in good economic times, when our own revenues, from within the province, have grown dramatically. But, Nova Scotians are not fooled. They are not fooled because they can see that our debt continues to grow, year by year. This year, the debt will reach $12.3 billion, it amounts to $13,000 per person and this year alone it has grown by $120 million.

Nova Scotians know the money that we spend servicing the debt also continues to grow year after year. Over $1 billion of hard-earned taxpayer money will go, not to providing services for Nova Scotians, but into the pockets of Bay Street and Wall Street bankers.

Probably most troubling to me, with respect to this balanced budget, is the fact that the district health authorities that account for a large share of the provincial budget have still not had their business plans approved - not that we should be surprised, it took the government three-quarters of a year last year to give that approval. No, Mr. Speaker, the

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business plans have not yet been approved and when we asked a departmental official about that yesterday, he told us there are still a few issues we will continue to have some discussions about.

Well, when it comes to health care, issues usually mean money and I very much doubt that the supposed surplus can withstand too many health issues. Even a blip in these budgets could blow the meagre $2.1 million surplus out of the water. Without a doubt, the budget surplus that is forecast this year is tiny, it is tenuous, and it is likely to be transient as well.

Unlike their rhetoric, the legacy of this government will be its financial mismanagement. This budget is the result of many years of fiscal mismanagement and it is a budget of self-inflicted wounds. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Estimates are referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, could I have with the permission of the House, unanimous consent to revert to Notices of Motion?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1077

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, based on some discussion, a small revision - if I could read this resolution once again for the consideration of the House.

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

Whereas for the past 11 years, hundreds of students from Yarmouth High School have honoured the sacrifices of World War II veterans through music, video and stage shows under the banner of 440 Productions; and

[Page 2582]

Whereas George Egan, the Director of 440 Productions, has encouraged young people to achieve their highest potential, while making a personal connection with our veterans; and

Whereas 440 Productions is planning a tour of Britain where they will act as ambassadors sharing wartime songs and stories with veterans;

Therefore be it resolved that the students and organizers of 440 Productions be congratulated for their commitment to our veterans, and that the Government of Nova Scotia join the British High Commission, numerous Royal Canadian Legion branches and others in considering financial support for their planned British tour.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 on an introduction.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I'd like your leave to introduce a group of students, who have come to visit the Legislature under the leadership of their teacher, Jane Geldart, from the Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre. If you'd like to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on Monday at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The House will sit from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The order of business following the daily routine will be Committee of the Whole House on Supply. In this Chamber we'll be starting with the estimates of the Department of Health, and in the Red Chamber we'll be starting with the estimates of the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Following the four hours of Supply, we will continue with Public Bills for Second

[Page 2583]

Reading and we will be dealing with the adjourned debate on Bill No. 48, then proceeding numerically through the remainder.

Mr. Speaker, with that information, I move the House do now rise and adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is the House do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We're adjourned until 2:00 p.m. Monday.

[The House rose at 10:30 a.m.]

[Page 2584]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1074

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977 the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Charles Bruce's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Charles Bruce and honour his service and pride he brings to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1075

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

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

Whereas research and studies conducted by our health professionals are critical to improving health care in this province and around the world; and

Whereas the director of the South Shore Health's Community Asthma Care Centre, Dr. Anthony Atkinson, and registered nurse and asthma educator Mary McIntyre will make a presentation at the American Thoracic Society's 100th International Conference; and

Whereas Dr. Atkinson and Ms. McIntyre will present Esophageal pH Probe Monitoring in a Community Asthma Care Centre at the Florida conference on May 4th;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dr. Anthony Atkinson and Mary McIntyre on their excellent work that has drawn international attention and wish them much success at this conference.

[Page 2585]

RESOLUTION NO. 1076

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

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

Whereas in a survey conducted annually by the International Air Transport Association and co-sponsored by Airports Council International Halifax, has been chosen first overall in passenger satisfaction for airports worldwide handling less than 5 million passengers annually; and

Whereas in being selected first in overall passenger satisfaction, Halifax was measured in 23 separate elements of passenger journeys and exactly how Halifax International satisfied their expectations; and

Whereas Halifax will be presented with this particular award at the Airports Council International annual world conference in Lisbon, Portugal in October;

Therefore be it resolved that all legislators applaud staff for making Halifax International such a significant entity on the world level.