The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04-40

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

THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS & OTHER PAPERS:
Rept. of the Superintendent of Pensions on the Administration of the
Pensions Benefits Act, Hon. K. Morash 3255
A Guide for Private Well Owners, Hon. K. Morash 3255
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Hum. Res.: Performance Pay - Reporting Policy, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3255
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1434, Educ. - Int'l. Students: Gov'ts. (N.S./Can.) - Agreement,
Hon. J. Muir 3258
Vote - Affirmative 3258
Res. 1435, Lydon, Bill: Death of - Tribute, The Premier 3259
Vote - Affirmative 3259
Res. 1436, Mental Health Wk. (05/03-05/09/04) - Recognize,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 3259
Vote - Affirmative 3260
Res. 1437, Health - Cameroon: Rotary Int'l. - Donations,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 3260
Vote - Affirmative 3261
Res. 1438, Educ.: Lunenburg Acad. - Celebration of Learning,
Hon. J. Muir 3261
Vote - Affirmative 3262
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 71, Theatre Nova Scotia Incorporation Act, Mr. J. Chataway 3262
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1439, Rebels With A Cause Awards: Recipients - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 3262
Vote - Affirmative 3263
Res. 1440, Hines, Tanya - COGS: Graduation - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 3263
Vote - Affirmative 3264
Res. 1441, Bannister, Roger/Teammates: Athletic Achievement -
Applaud, The Premier 3264
Vote - Affirmative 3264
Res. 1442, Caldwell Rd. Elem. Sch. - DARE Prog. Mr. K. Deveaux 3265
Vote - Affirmative 3265
Res. 1443, Bentley, Sandy: Vol. Awards - Congrats., Mr. L. Glavine 3265
Vote - Affirmative 3266
Res. 1444, N.S. Forest Prod. Assoc.: Redcliff Sch. - Tree Planting,
Mr. B. Taylor 3266
Vote - Affirmative 3267
Res. 1445, Tomlinson, Joan - CNTA Awards, Mr. J. MacDonell 3267
Vote - Affirmative 3268
Res. 1446, Creighton, Wilfrid - Birthday (100th), Mr. Gerald Sampson 3268
Vote - Affirmative 3268
Res. 1447, Group of Nine: Seniors Representation - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 3269
Vote - Affirmative 3269
Res. 1448, McNamara, Shawn: Fundraising - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 3269
Vote - Affirmative 3270
Res. 1449, Prem.: VLT Increases - Explain, Mr. R. MacKinnon 3270
Res. 1450, CBC: Hfx. Explosion Web Site - Webby Award,
Hon. E. Fage 3271
Vote - Affirmative 3271
Res. 1451, Environ. & Lbr. - Bio-Solids: Regs. - Design, Ms. J. Massey 3272
Res. 1452, Maher, Allison/Norman, Mary & Brian: Mother's Day -
Congrats., Mr. L. Glavine 3272
Vote - Affirmative 3273
Res. 1453, Boyd, Dan: Com. Service - Commend, Hon. R. Russell 3273
Vote - Affirmative 3274
Res. 1454, Ryan, John: Vol. Efforts - Commend, Ms. M. More 3274
Vote - Affirmative 3275
Res. 1455, Flynn, Jimmy: Entertainment Bus. - Anniv. (30th),
Mr. K. Colwell 3275
Vote - Affirmative 3275
Res. 1456, Doucet, Gerald: Autobiography Release - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3275
Vote - Affirmative 3276
Res. 1457, Hadassah-Wizo Bazaar (Sydney) - Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 3276
Vote - Affirmative 3277
Res. 1458, Metropolis Ctr.: SMU/Dal. - Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 3277
Vote - Affirmative 3278
Res. 1459, Wolfville Mayor/Council: Smoke Free By-Law - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Morse 3278
Vote - Affirmative 3279
Res. 1460, Scott, Spencer - Mainland North Drug Awareness
Poster Contest Winner, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3279
Vote - Affirmative 3279
Res. 1461, Homburg Int'l. Mobility Awards: Establishment - Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 3279
Vote - Affirmative 3280
Res. 1462, Antigonish: Political Landscape - Contributions,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 3280
Vote - Affirmative 3281
Res. 1463, TPW - London Bridge Story: Min. - Familiarize,
Mr. C. Parker 3281
Res. 1464, Conrad, Terry G.: Lunenburg & Dist. FD - Retirement,
Hon. M. Baker 3282
Vote - Affirmative 3282
Res. 1465, Health - DHAs: Palliative Care - Funding, Mr. G. Gosse 3282
Res. 1466, Sports: Stanfield, Jon - Hockey Award, Hon. J. Muir 3283
Vote - Affirmative 3284
Res. 1467, Sports: McRae, Lloyd - St. Margaret's Hockey League,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3284
Vote - Affirmative 3285
Res. 1468, CKBW - Medallion for Excellence in Journalism,
Hon. M. Baker 3285
Vote - Affirmative 3285
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 406, Energy - Heritage Gas: Hook-up Arrangement - Effects,
Mr. D. Dexter 3286
No. 407, Prem. - Gas Suppliers: URB - Appearance Require,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3287
No. 408, EMO: Disaster Relief Plan - Flaws, Mr. D. Dexter 3288
No. 409, Prem.: Bill No. 17 - Failure Admit, Mr. D. Graham 3290
No. 410, Health: Palliative Care - Implementation, Mr. D. Dexter 3291
No. 411, Health - CBRM Addiction: Problems - Address,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 3293
No. 412, TCH - New Castle Hotels: Employees - Benefits,
Mr. D. Dexter 3294
No. 413, Health - Soldiers' Mem. Hosp.: Downsizing - Plans,
Mr. S. McNeil 3295
No. 414, Health: Fabry's Disease - Dept. Measures,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 3296
No. 415, Environ. & Lbr. - C.B. Nova: Coal Dust - Problem Correct,
Mr. G. Gosse 3298
No. 416, Sports - Daniel Canning: Funding - Denial Explain,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 3299
No. 417, Com. Serv. - Income Assist. Regs.: Educ. Progs. -
Correlation, Ms. M. More 3300
No. 418, Educ.: S. Shore Dist./Tri-County Sch. Bds. -
Governance Structure, Mr. L. Glavine 3301
No. 419, TPW - Bridge Replacement: Policy - Explain, Mr. C. Parker 3303
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1465, Health - DHAs: Palliative Care - Funding, Mr. G. Gosse 3305
Vote - Affirmative 3305
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Ms. J. Massey 3305
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3309
Mr. W. Dooks 3313
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:47 P.M. 3317
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 3317
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
TPW - Hwy. No. 103/BLT Rails to Trails: Overpass - Construct:
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3318
Mr. J. Chataway 3320
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:20 P.M. 3322
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:18 P.M. ~ 33^ 22
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 62, Financial Measures (2004) Act 3323
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3323
Mr. H. Theriault 3326
Hon. P. Christie 3330
Vote - Affirmative 3330
No. 61, Theatres and Amusements Act 3330
Ms. J. Massey 3330
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3331
Ms. J. Massey 3333
Vote - Affirmative 3333
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., May 7th at 9:00 a.m. 3333
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1469, Los Primos Soc.: Work - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 3334
Res. 1470, McNutt, Billy: ACAA - Rookie of Yr., The Speaker 3334
Res. 1471, McMillan Family: Springhill Com. Ctr. - Contribution,
The Speaker 3335
Res. 1472, Ross, Rev. Charlotte - Mayflower Medal, The Speaker 3335
Res. 1473, Porter, Lillian - RCL Aux. (40 Yr. Pin.), The Speaker 3336
Res. 1474, Phinney, Audrey - RCL Aux. (30 Yr. Pin), The Speaker 3336
Res. 1475, Pettigrew, Clara - RCL Aux. (25 Yr. Pin), The Speaker 3337
Res. 1476, Purdy, Edith - Cumb. Mun. Vol. of Yr., The Speaker 3337
Res. 1477, Sports: Parrsboro Zellers Hockey Team - Congrats.,
The Speaker 3338
Res. 1478, Perrin, Luke: Powerlifting Medal - Congrats., The Speaker 3338
Res. 1479, Perrin, Luke: Powerlifting Achievements - Congrats.,
The Speaker 3339
Res. 1480, Kidson Excavation: Contribution - Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 3339
Res. 1481, M&G Sons Auto Salvage: Contribution - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3340
Res. 1482, Manny Baker Carpentry: Contribution - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3340
Res. 1483, Narrows Point Const.: Contribution - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3341
Res. 1484, Periwinkle Photographic Services: Contribution - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3341

[Page 3253]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2004

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre:

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works make a proper overpass a part of Highway No. 103 twinning where it intersects with the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Rails to Trails.

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

As well, before we begin the daily proceedings, I would like to bring to the attention of the House someone who is in the Speaker's Gallery today. Mrs. Betty Adams, who is from Southampton, Cumberland County, is visiting the Legislature for the first time. Betty is a well-known volunteer throughout the County of Cumberland and in fact this year she was one of the nominees for the Cumberland County Volunteer of the Year. So Betty is here today to watch the proceedings of the House. She is with her son, Mr. Gordon Adams, who is with the Public Service Commission for the Province of Nova Scotia. I would ask Betty and Gordon to please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

Thank you, Betty. We certainly hope you enjoy the proceedings today.

3253

[Page 3254]

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I stand either on a point of order or information for the House. I guess you will have to declare which it is. Yesterday, in Question Period, I was asked about a meeting with CFIA, HRM and my department over the infested area here in HRM. I am pleased to inform the House that my department has been very forthright in meeting with the other jurisdictions on this to try to come to a conclusion. I'm here to inform the House that the meeting will take place today, here at the Legislature in the Uniacke Room, at 3:30 p.m. and I invite the member from the NDP caucus and I also would like to invite a member from the Liberal caucus to join us at that meeting at 3:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I wish to do an introduction. I would like to draw to the attention of members of the House that in the gallery opposite me is a great friend of the Province of Nova Scotia, Dr. Sheila Brown, who is the President of Mount Saint Vincent University. I would ask Dr. Brown to rise and receive the greetings of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Dr. Brown to the House today.

We will begin the daily routine.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on an introduction.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the west gallery. We have Carla Mansfield, Blair Mansfield and Evelyn Williamson. They are with Fabry's Information and Support Group. They are here to listen to some of the proceedings today. I would like all members to give them a warm welcome today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's on an introduction.

MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate this opportunity to introduce in the Speaker's Gallery, people who are members of Theatre Nova Scotia. I would specifically ask of Christopher Shore and Jolene Pattison, if they could stand, we would very much appreciate that. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I will be introducing a bill and Theatre Nova Scotia is very knowledgeable of it. It's the dedication these people and their colleagues have and that's why it is so good in Nova Scotia. Thank you.

[Page 3255]

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS & OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report entitled, Report of the Superintendent of Pensions on the Administration of the Pension Benefits Act for the year ended March 31, 2003.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, as this is National Safe Drinking Water Week, I beg leave to table the document entitled, A Guide for Private Well Owners, which is a new education guide to help well owners protect their water.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

[12:15 p.m.]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to make a statement about the government's policy regarding the public reporting of pay-for performance for senior officials within the Government of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's important for the House to understand what performance pay is and how it is used in our Civil Service to reward the superior performance that ultimately ensures Nova Scotians receive high-quality government programs and services. It is a fact that most provincial governments have some version of management-level performance pay. At the deputy level, a pay-for-performance system is used in three provinces, two territories and the federal government. Performance incentives are also common in the private sector.

Performance pay is seen as a key tool to help government attract and retain senior employees. Pressure to recruit and retain management staff is increasing in all sectors, as Canada's aging workforce moves through to retirement. We promised Nova Scotians in 1999 that a portion of compensation for senior officials would be based on performance.

[Page 3256]

That commitment was fulfilled in 2002, with the introduction of two separate performance pay plans. One program is for employees in the management classification plan, MCP, as it is known. It is administered by the Public Service Commission. This is designed to ensure that management employees move through their salary scales in a way that is comparable to unionized employees, who get regular step increases according to their collective agreements. The other program is for senior officials, mainly deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers, and is administered by the Treasury and Policy Board. This plan has slightly different criteria that factors in an individual's personal performance and that of the department and government as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, that brings me to the issue at hand. As you know, government reports salaries of all civil servants in the Supplement to the Public Accounts every year. The public can see the total amount earned by any individual in any given fiscal year. This includes their salary, acting pay and any performance-based pay. We are fully accountable to the public in this way. However, we recognize that there is an interest to know the performance-based amount of this total. Government has received several requests for this information from Opposition members and others.

Therefore, I wish to announce that, effective immediately, it will be the policy of this government to provide individual pay-for-performance amounts for senior officials, on an annual basis, in the Supplement to the Public Accounts. This information will also be provided for executive assistants, who are contract employees - not civil servants. In addition, individual amounts paid for the last fiscal year, 2002-03, will be compiled and provided as soon as possible.

Mr. Speaker, we do this for the sake of openness. Although we must recognize that at the heart of this issue is the need to compensate all employees fairly. To keep the best possible leaders in our system, we must offer a competitive compensation package. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, when people do the right thing, it's important to recognize that. Without referring to the motivation for today's decision, I want to recognize the fact that this minister has finally done the right thing. The minister talks about fairness to staff, ensuring access to these bonuses. What was missing for the last few months and the past five years has been fairness to taxpayers. Our caucus does not disagree with this concept of performance incentives or bonuses where the criteria is clearly spelled out. We also believe that the civil servants have a responsibility to be accountable, and a part of that accountability deals with compensation.

[Page 3257]

Mr. Speaker, the step taken today by this government is a positive measure, but it's still only a partial solution. Until all bonuses for government staff, senior officials, political staff and anyone on the public payroll, are disclosed the government cannot make claims to be open and accountable. We must remember that this government was given the Cone of Silence Award by the Canadian Association of Journalists - and we shouldn't forget that this government has been taken to court for access to information more than any other government in recent memory.

While I support this small step forward, I find it unfortunate that it takes pressure from the Opposition, the media, the public and even the courts to make this government accountable. I think all Nova Scotians look forward to a day when their government is proactive about releasing information instead of dragging, kicking and screaming to do so.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I guess, in short, I'm almost at a loss for words what we have witnessed here today. It's a complete conversion on the way to Damascus. Again I quote from the Tory blue book and the commitment by the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, now Premier, in 1998, "Nova Scotians expect their government to conduct the people's business in the open and to provide the public with effective opportunities for input. We expect our elected officials to be accountable to their constituents, ensuring that decisions are always made in the best public interest."

Mr. Speaker, what we have seen here over the last several weeks is a government that hides under the veil of secrecy and it was only by public embarrassment to the Premier yesterday, during Question Period, that he finally had a break of conscience on what his government was attempting to do. Providing in public the bonuses for some public officials, but not others, raises the question of the integrity of this government and that speaks to the very heart of what the Premier says he stands for as Premier and Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, and I say shame that it had to come to this level. Yet the minister who just spoke, her own admission is that we have to still go and ferret out as to where this information is, despite the fact that the Minister of Finance in his submission before estimates the other day indicated that some 200 members of the Public Service are receiving bonuses - or whatever term you want to use - they're receiving salary enhancements, and then refused to release the names and the amounts that they received.

So I would say we welcome any step towards making the decision in the right way, anything, but it's almost unbearable to think that this Premier and this government have slipped that much on what they said they stood for when they first got elected.

[Page 3258]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1434

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to read this resolution and in so doing, the Premier introduced Dr. Brown and, of course, she's the President of Mount Saint Vincent University who has a very strong international connection. As I mentioned in the House the other day, indeed, her Faculty of Education is providing training for all of the school principals in the Country of Jamaica.

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

Whereas the province and the federal government have signed an agreement to enable international students who graduate from Nova Scotia's universities and colleges to live and work in our province for a second year; and

Whereas this agreement will enable international students to increase their work experience with Nova Scotian employers and also help narrow the skills gap by meeting the needs of our labour market as part of Skills Nova Scotia; and

Whereas an extra year of work in the province will result in stronger ties to communities and further increase the likelihood that the graduates will settle in Nova Scotia, increasing our population and helping to grow our economy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the importance of this agreement and how it will help narrow the skills gap and grow our economy.

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 Premier.

[Page 3259]

RESOLUTION NO. 1435

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

Whereas this Spring our city lost an individual who has made a lasting impression on the landscape surrounding us, that is Bill Lydon; and

Whereas Bill was a principal architect with Lydon Lynch Architects, a firm he established with Andy Lynch in 1979 through which his designs focused on encouraging community participation and uplifting community spirit; and

Whereas Bill's inspiration touched and improved landmarks such as St. Mary's Basilica, the new Celtic Cross in St. Patrick's Green, Toronto's harbourfront and the restoration of Halifax's Historic Properties and his advice and work also reached across this country and abroad;

Therefore be it resolved that this House salute the tremendous life and the lasting contributions of Bill Lydon and express its sympathies to his wife, Rosalee and the legacy of which he was most proud, his son, Chris.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1436

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

Whereas May 3rd to May 9th is Mental Health Week all across Canada; and

[Page 3260]

Whereas one in five Canadians are affected by mental illness in their lifetimes and most Nova Scotians will be indirectly affected by mental illness through relationships with friends, family members and co-workers; and

Whereas each year the Canadian Mental Health Association provides direct service to more than 100,000 Canadians through the combined efforts of more than 10,000 volunteers and staff in locally run organizations in all provinces and territories and branches in more than 135 communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize May 3rd to 9th as Mental Health Week and acknowledge the work done in this province to combat mental health problems and emotional disorders.

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 Community Services on an introduction.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, friends of this province, but specifically friends of children and families in this province are here in the gallery. Specifically, I make reference to Heather Hansen Dunbar and her assistant, Michelle Morash with Kids 'R Kids Day Care and also with the Private Licensed Administrators Association are here with us in your gallery. I'd ask them to stand up and accept the warm greetings from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We appreciate our visitors in our gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1437

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

[Page 3261]

Whereas on May 1st, two 40-foot containers filled with medical equipment and supplies arrived in the African country of Cameroon through Rotary International's Lend A Hand project; and

Whereas organizations, hospitals and individuals from across the province - from Cape Breton to Yarmouth - donated these pieces of equipment and supplies; and

Whereas for the sick and ailing of Cameroon, clean birthing beds will replace rusting, aged equipment, mechanical beds will add comfort for patients and newborn babies will have a new baby warmer station;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the generosity and contribution of individuals, hospitals and communities across the province who have given the gift of better health care.

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1438

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

Whereas Lunenburg Academy is holding a two day Celebration of Learning this week; and

Whereas the Celebration of Learning displays talent and school projects of the Primary to Grade 12 students in Lunenburg schools; and

Whereas the community pride for its school students and for the 109 year old Lunenburg Academy was well demonstrated last evening when the Celebration of Learning attracted over 300 visitors;

[Page 3262]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Primary to Grade 12 students in Lunenburg, their administrators, teachers and classroom assistants and the Lunenburg Academy School Advisory Council for another very successful Celebration of Learning.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 71 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 99 of the Acts of 1951. An Act to Incorporate the Nova Scotia Drama League. (Mr. John Chataway)

Mr. Speaker: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

[12:30 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1439

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 Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia is a non-profit organization established in 1982 to work with women in conflict with the law and those at risk of coming into conflict with the law; and

Whereas this Saturday evening, May 8th, the Elizabeth Fry Society is celebrating National E-Fry Week, holding its 6th annual Rebels with a Cause event to honour five outstanding women who have championed issues of human rights and social equality; and

[Page 3263]

Whereas the worthy recipients of this year's awards are East Preston community worker, Rose Mary Brooks; children and women's advocate, Cathy Love; social worker, MLA for Halifax Needham and NDP caucus colleague, Maureen MacDonald; educator and social justice advocate, Sister Mary Morris; and community development activist, Philippa Pictou;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend sincere congratulations to this year's Rebels with a Cause, Rose Mary Brooks, Cathy Love, Maureen MacDonald, Sister Mary Morris and Philippa Pictou, as they are honoured this Saturday night for their advocacy work on behalf of women, children and families in 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. (Applause)

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1440

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 Annapolis Valley Campus of the Centre of Geographic Sciences held their Spring Convocation on Saturday, May 1, 2004; and

Whereas the Governor General's Academic Medal is awarded to a graduating student of a College Diploma Program who has achieved the highest academic standing; and

Whereas Tanya Hines, a graduate of the Cartography Digital Mapping Program was the recipient of the Governor General's Academic Medal;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Tanya Hines and all graduates of this fine Nova Scotia institution.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3264]

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 Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1441

THE PREMIER: 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 recognizes Roger Bannister for his running of the first under 4-minute mile 50 years ago, a monumental athletic achievement, which many believed would never be achieved; and

Whereas we recognize his teammates Chris Brasher for pacing the first half and Chris Chataway for pacing Bannister in the last half of the first under 4-minute mile; and

Whereas we request Chris Chataway to give some encouragement and advice to his Canadian relatives (one is an MLA) so they can increase their own speed when they are running;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly applaud the dedication and extensive training that went into achieving this wonderful athletic achievement by one of the last century's most accomplished athletes and his teammates.

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 3265]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1442

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 Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program, or DARE, provides students with a knowledge base on the effects of drug abuse that goes beyond the physical ramifications and extends to emotional, social and economic aspects of life; and

Whereas DARE builds decision-making and problem-solving skills and strategies to help students make informed decisions and resist drug use, peer pressure and violence and provides students with alternatives to drug use; and

Whereas Caldwell Road Elementary School's Grade 6 students will celebrate the completion of their project DARE Program on May 19th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Principal David Naugler, Vice-Principal Ann Ring, Grade 6 teachers: Evelyn MacMullen, Patricia Sanford, Michelle Bedard; RCMP Constable Peter Marshall and all the Grade 6 students at Caldwell Road Elementary on their successful completion of the DARE 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.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1443

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

Whereas Sandy Bentley was chosen Volunteer of the year for Berwick; and

[Page 3266]

Whereas while many organizations benefited from Sandy's involvement, it was Berwick and Kings County Guiding, the Block Parent Association and the Berwick Diabetes Support Group that were major recipients; and

Whereas Sandy wore four hats for Girl Guides as a guider with 1st Berwick Brownies and 1st Berwick Sparks, Deputy Kings 1 Area Camp Advisor and District Commissioner;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to Sandy Bentley on not only being Berwick Volunteer of the Year but also for her recognition through Sport and Recreation Nova Scotia at this Year's Annual Volunteer Awards Ceremony.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1444

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

Whereas the forest industry is the backbone of Nova Scotia's economy with a trade balance of $1.1 billion while employing more than 18,000 people both directly and indirectly; and

Whereas it is such a pleasure to see elementary school students learn about this vital industry as part of National Forest Week; and

Whereas yesterday, Mr. Warren Murley, President of the Nova Scotia Forest Products Association and I had the pleasure of attending, with 52 Grade 4 and Grade 5 students from Redcliff Middle School, a ceremony to plant red and white spruce seedlings in the children's special forest, situated behind the Forest Products Association office in Hilden, Colchester County, which resides in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley;

[Page 3267]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly compliment the Nova Scotia Forest Products Association for their sincere expression of interest in today's youth, while also commending the participating students from Redcliff Middle School and their teacher, Mr. Owen Ferguson who took part in yesterday's planting ceremony.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1445

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

Whereas tourism in Nova Scotia is a billion dollar industry; and

Whereas the first impression that tourists get of Nova Scotians should be one of helpfulness and friendliness from the front desk workers in the tourism industry; and

Whereas on April 30, 2004, Mrs. Joan Tomlinson of Minasville, was awarded the Superhost Customer Service Award by the Central Nova Tourist Association at their awards banquet for her excellence in dealing with the public in the Maitland Information Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mrs. Tomlinson on winning the Superhost Customer Service Award and for presenting the best of Nova Scotians to visitors to our fair province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3268]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1446

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

Whereas public servants are the unsung heroes of government activity; and

Whereas Dr. Wilf Creighton, a career civil servant who served this province for many years as a forester and, for two decades, as Deputy Minister of Lands and Forests, celebrates his 100th birthday today; and

Whereas Dr. Creighton, who did so much to manage our forests, has expressed concern about the overuse of clear-cutting, concerns that have been largely ignored by the Department of Natural Resources;

Therefore be it resolved that this House honour the service of Dr. Creighton by acknowledging his concerns about the state of our forests and assuring him that members of this House will place forest management on a high priority.

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.

[Page 3269]

RESOLUTION NO. 1447

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 Group of Nine Nova Scotia's coalition of seniors organization recently wrote to the Prime Minister with a copy to all three Party Leaders in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Group of Nine told the Prime Minister that it was, "extremely disappointed" with Ottawa's budgetary response to the Romanow report; and

Whereas the Group of Nine also noted that, "the March 2004 budget failed to allow for any concrete new health care initiatives" and that, "the Romanow Report has been before the federal government with no substantive action";

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Group of Nine for so forcefully representing the interest of Nova Scotia's seniors by telling the Prime Minister "The federal government's inaction to date has not gone unnoticed by Nova Scotia's 130,000 seniors."

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. 1448

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

Whereas Shawn McNamara of Pictou has been the driving force behind the Rebecca Gillis Trust Fund, which last year raised more than $20,000 to assist this six-year-old child and her family to defray costs during her heart operation in Toronto; and

[Page 3270]

Whereas the committee in their promise to help the community have now turned their efforts to raising money for the IWK Hospital; and

Whereas Shawn and his team of volunteers have been busy over the past few weeks with community auctions, breakfasts, boot drives, recycling collection and other fundraising;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature thank Shawn McNamara and his team of volunteers for all their hard work in supporting the children of our communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1449

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 1998 there were 3,234 video lottery terminals in use in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in 2004 there are 3,800 video lottery terminals in use in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in June 1998 the member for Pictou Centre was successful in having his Private Member's Bill, the Video Lottery Terminals Moratorium Act, passed, claiming his bill would "place a freeze on video lottery terminals currently in place in Nova Scotia.";

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Pictou Centre, now Premier of Nova Scotia, explain the wide gap between his words and his actions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3271]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1450

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

Whereas the Webby Awards, honouring people for their creativity in digital media while uniting members across the world for a dazzling celebration of the best and brightest; and

Whereas the original Webby Awards, of which there are 22 categories, first took place in 1999, in San Francisco, with 3,000 attendees and another 115,000 participating by voting on-line; and

Whereas the CBC Halifax Explosion Web site has been nominated for a Webby Award in 2004, in the Education category;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs congratulate and recognize the significant creativity and talented individuals at CBC, here in Halifax, in putting together the Halifax Explosion Web site which has attracted attention from around the world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 3272]

RESOLUTION NO. 1451

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

Whereas the Department of Environment and Labour recently extended a moratorium on the spreading of bio-solids in Nova Scotia after much public outcry; and

Whereas the process used to stabilize the sludge to produce the bio-solids only reduces the pathogens present in the sludge; and

Whereas there is much concern and controversy surrounding this issue, since we will be growing our food crops in bio-solids;

Therefore be it resolved that this government go back to the drawing board and design regulations, instead of only guidelines, for the spreading of bio-solids.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1452

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

Whereas Allison Mahar was a former student and used her capable writing skills to enter a Mother's Day contest on the Live with Regis and Kelly show; and

Whereas this entry lovingly expressed what Mary Norman meant in her life as a 15-year-old friend of her daughter, Karen. In her words she was a mentor, helping her through many personal challenges; and

[Page 3273]

Whereas the producers of Live with Regis and Kelly were so touched by Allison's letter they hired Canadian decorating guru Debbie Travis as a consultant on the $50,000 kitchen renovations, as a winner of the Mom's Dream Come True Celebration;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to Allison, Mary and Brian Norman for a special Mother's Day, May 9, 2004.

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. 1453

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's volunteer firefighters are a crucial component of our emergency response team; and

[12:45 p.m.]

Whereas as a volunteer with the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department for 18 years, Dan Boyd, has responded to every conceivable call, any time of the day or night; and

Whereas Dan, a familiar person to many in this House, having worked with the PC caucus for the past 14 years, has always served simply because of a strong sense of duty to his community without ever expecting as much as a thank you for his actions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Dan Boyd on his years of service to his local community which have come to a close - offering emergency response for almost two decades, and thank his wife and daughter for sacrificing those precious hours lost at any hour of the day or night when the beeper went off.

[Page 3274]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1454

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 John Ryan has volunteered with the Canadian Cancer Society, Victoria Order of Nurses, Atlantic Seniors Health Promotion Network and the Nova Scotia Citizens Health Care Network, the Nova Scotia Medication Awareness Committee, Canadian Pensioners Concerned and other worthy organizations and causes; and

Whereas Mr. Ryan was recently recognized by the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Province of Nova Scotia during Volunteer Week for his volunteer efforts that span more than 30 years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate John Ryan for his significant volunteer efforts, and wish him well 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 3275]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1455

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

Whereas August 2004, will mark 30 years for Mr. Jimmy Flynn, as being an ambassador of good cheer for all Canadians; and

Whereas Mr. Jimmy Flynn acquired his first professional job in British Columbia, after playing and singing all the way across Canada; and

Whereas he has grown over the past 30 years to be a very respected entertainer in the entertainment business while maintaining his deep family roots;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Jimmy Flynn and wish him every success with his career 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 Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1456

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

[Page 3276]

Whereas the honourable Gerald Doucet, who served as a dedicated MLA for the constituency of Richmond, was at Pier 21 last night, May 5th, releasing a book he has authored titled, Acadian Footprints - The Roots and Reflections of Gerald (Gerry) Doucet; and

Whereas his autobiography recounts his upbringing in Grand Étang, Cape Breton, his education at St. Francis Xavier University, his career in the field of law, his election and appointment as Minister of Education, his return to law and expansion into consulting and business development; and

Whereas Mr. Doucet offers his personal opinion of Acadian history throughout his years as a Nova Scotian, which is particularly relevant in light of this year's 2004 Congrés Mondial Acadien;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge and congratulate the honourable Gerald Doucet on this achievement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1457

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

Whereas the 36th annual Hadassah-Wizo Bazaar, was held Wednesday, May 5, 2004 at the Temple Sons of Israel Synagogue, Sydney, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this event is the sole public fundraiser taken on by the Jewish community; and

[Page 3277]

Whereas each year the proceeds go toward youth programs in Israel and a portion goes to a local charitable organization, this year the Almost Home Shelter will benefit;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the Legislative Assembly congratulate the Hadassah-Wizo Bazaar committee and volunteers, on their successful 36th annual Hadassah-Wizo Bazaar.

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. 1458

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 Metropolis Centre has been established to study diversity issues and immigration throughout Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas this project is set up to develop and encourage partnerships among government, non-government and academic institutions to promote policy and research relating to immigration, cultural diversity, in addition to population migration; and

Whereas Saint Mary's and Dalhousie are both partners, along with St. Thomas and Université de Moncton in the Metropolis project, which will be linked to Metropolis Centres from across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Saint Mary's and Dalhousie for taking this step to promote diversity throughout Atlantic Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3278]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1459

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

Whereas the Canadian Cancer Society bestows a national award to an individual or organization on behalf of the Canadian public and people living with cancer, for public policies that will prevent cancer, and help those touched by cancer; and

Whereas the by-law the Town of Wolfville recently adopted to make the town 100 per cent smoke-free will play a significant role in the health of this popular and picturesque university community, its citizens and anyone who visits it and studies there; and

Whereas the Canadian Cancer Society has chosen the Town of Wolfville to receive this important national award to express their gratitude;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Mayor Bob Stead and the Town of Wolfville Council for being the first to implement a 100 per cent smoke-free places by-law in Nova Scotia, and for receiving the Canadian Cancer Society's national recognition for this measure.

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 3279]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1460

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

Whereas Spencer Scott of Brookside Junior High was announced as the winner of the Mainland North Drug Awareness Poster Contest yesterday, here, in our Legislature; and

Whereas this Grade 6 student won a bicycle for his efforts; and

Whereas Spencer's poster demonstrates originality and artistic flair;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Spencer Scott and all Brookside Junior High students, for their contributions to this poster contest.

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. 1461

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

Whereas in January of this year, Richard Homburg, Chairman and CEO of Homburg Invest Inc., announced a $1.5 million donation to establish the Homburg International Mobility Awards; and

[Page 3280]

Whereas up to eight awards will be presented to students for international exchange, educational activities over the next five years; and

Whereas this will provide Saint Mary's students with an enhanced global experience needed in today's economy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the generosity of Homburg Invest Inc., and Richard Homburg.

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. 1462

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

Whereas John MacDonell, President of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party, is a native of Mariner Drive in Antigonish; and

Whereas Mr. John Arthur Murphy, President of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party, is a resident of Beaver Meadow, Antigonish County; and

Whereas Mr. David Cameron, President of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, is a native of Lochaber, Antigonish County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the enormous contribution that Antigonish makes to the political landscape of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3281]

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. 1463

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

Whereas there are 200 substandard bridges in Nova Scotia, many built in the era of the horse and buggy; and

Whereas when questioned on his government's plan to address this issue, the minister stated we shouldn't be concerned with the age of our bridges; and

Whereas the minister went on to cite older bridges in Europe, specifically London Bridge;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister brush up on his children's songs and familiarize himself with the story of London Bridge before he cites it as a glowing example of bridge architecture.

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 Minister of Justice.

[Page 3282]

RESOLUTION NO. 1464

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 members of our volunteer fire departments make a valuable contribution to the communities they serve; and

Whereas Terry G. Conrad, retired Chief of the Lunenburg and District Fire Department, has been committed to serving the people of Lunenburg and area for 30 years; and

Whereas Mr. Conrad is retiring from the Lunenburg and District Fire Department this year after 30 years of dedicated service; (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very difficult for the Clerks to hear the resolutions which they need to for the recording.

MR. BAKER: Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly thank Mr. Terry G. Conrad for the dedicated service he has provided to his community as a volunteer firefighter over the years and express our sincere appreciation for his efforts on our behalf.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1465

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

[Page 3283]

Whereas the palliative care team includes doctors, and nurses who specialize in the field of end-of-life care, family physicians, volunteers, social workers, spiritual counsellors and pharmacists; and

Whereas, as a team, these people strive to relieve pain and improve the quality of life for people who are living in advanced stages of illness and to provide bereavement support services; and

Whereas DHAs in their budgets have raised concerns about the lack of palliative care services;

Therefore be it resolved that during this week of National Hospice Palliative Care Week, the government listen to the concerns raised by DHAs when they say they need funding for palliative care services.

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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1466

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

Whereas Jon Stanfield was named playoff MVP in the Labatt West Colchester Commercial Hockey League; and

Whereas Jon Stanfield led the System Care Silver Bullets to its first Labatt West Colchester Commercial Hockey League title; and

Whereas Jon Stanfield scored the first goal in the seventh and deciding game in which the System Care Silver Bullets defeated three-time defending championship, Hero's Pub;

[Page 3284]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jon Stanfield on being named 2004 Playoff MVP in the Labatt West Colchester Commercial Hockey League and also recognize him and his teammates on winning the Labatt West Colchester Commercial Hockey League championship.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1467

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 St. Margaret's Masters Hockey League is celebrating its 10th Anniversary; and

Whereas league statistician and legendary old timers hockey player, Lloyd McRae, has compiled a history of this league; and

Whereas this league portrays the true spirit of old timers' hockey;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize Lloyd McRae for his efforts and congratulate the members of the St. Margaret's Bay Masters Hockey League on its 10th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3285]

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. 1468

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

Whereas local radio station CKBW began broadcasting to residents of the South Shore over 56 years ago; and

Whereas CKBW is counted on by its listeners to keep them informed about what is going on in their community and the province; and

[1:00 p.m.]

Whereas CKBW has been recognized for its new coverage of a police chase and standoff which occurred in the Bridgewater area and has been awarded a Medallion for Excellence in Journalism from the Atlantic Journalism Awards held recently in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate CKBW on being awarded a Medallion for Excellence in Journalism and thank them for continuing to provide quality information to South Shore listeners.

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 3286]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 1:01 p.m. and end at 2:01 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

ENERGY - HERITAGE GAS:

HOOK-UP ARRANGEMENT - EFFECTS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Premier. Heritage Gas officially hooked up the first residential natural gas customers in Dartmouth last January. At the kick-off of the event, the Premier made the following statement: How many homes sign up will ultimately be determined by the competitive nature of natural gas. The Premier's statement couldn't be more true, allowing Nova Scotia businesses a chance to compete in offering these services will encourage more people to look at natural gas as an alternative. The problem is that Heritage Gas is poised to make an announcement next week that they will have a preferred arrangement with a national company to hook up gas lines to residential customers. My question is, will the Premier tell this House what effect he believes this announcement will have on Nova Scotia businesses?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Acting Minister of Energy.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member has stated, Heritage Gas has been awarded the commercial franchise to distribute gas here in Nova Scotia. Certainly the market-driven model is the one that Nova Scotians and this government prefer. Consultations on what form that will be delivered and how fast that will be rolled out will be announced by the company in due course as they continue to develop their business model and the roll-out plan.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this development will come as a significant disappointment to the many small businesses in this industry. Many established local companies have been planning to expand into the residential natural gas heating through Heritage and others have started up expressly for this reason. But next week's announcement is going to make that prospect much less attainable for many small businesses that rely on this industry. Anyone who studies gas distribution and installation will know that national suppliers are not known for buying local services or products. The benefit may be clear from Heritage's perspective, but it's not at all clear what benefit Nova Scotia businesses will see from this arrangement. So I'd like to ask the Minister of Economic Development, why is your government prepared to allow Heritage Gas to proceed with an arrangement that may put Nova Scotians out of work rather than creating jobs?

[Page 3287]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again the member is speculating on the announcement and what the content will be. I certainly think it's important to allow Heritage latitude to explore all the possibilities with local companies and opportunities here in Nova Scotia. It's up to Heritage Gas to make their announcements.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Heritage Gas has been holding round table discussions with small businesses in the gas installation and distribution sector over the last year. At every turn, they have said that they support small business. We know that the businesses involved with this industry have the expertise to deal with the demands that residential gas service will bring and since Nova Scotia Business Inc. is supposed to be supporting and promoting local businesses, I'd like to ask the minister responsible, what support will you provide as a government and through NSBI to local businesses that want to offer these services, either individually or as a consortium?

MR. FAGE: As the honourable member knows, Nova Scotia Business Inc. and the Department of Energy, Department of Natural Resources and other government departments

are here to promote and support business and business opportunities for Nova Scotia companies. That has been done in the past, and we will ensure that that continues in the future.

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

PREM. - GAS SUPPLIERS: URB - APPEARANCE REQUIRE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Premier. Yesterday Nova Scotians were shocked by the dramatic rise in gas prices across the province. In most areas across Nova Scotia, the price of gas is reaching almost $1 per litre. To compare this to New Brunswick, which does not regulate gas prices, the price of gas in Moncton this morning was 73.9 cents per litre. Nova Scotians have reason to suspect that oil companies may be taking advantage of them with predatory pricing. My question to the Premier is, will he require the gas suppliers in this province to appear before the URB, so that Nova Scotians can find out, once and for all, if gas companies are taking advantage of them?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there probably is not a single MLA in this House of Assembly who is not receiving comments from constituents about the current price of gas at the tank. The government will be coming forward with an approach in which we can, as far as possible, protect consumers here at the gas pump. What we will not be able to protect them from is the effect of the world price of crude, which, unfortunately, is now just under $40 and is predicted, perhaps, to go as high, this Summer, as $45. But what we can do is protect Nova Scotians from the issue that the member opposite brings to the floor, and as well, some of the other pricing policies that are occurring across the province that are angering Nova Scotians.

[Page 3288]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I guess the world prices apply in Nova Scotia but not in Moncton. That's what the Premier has just said. He has no responsibility for that, it's world pricing. There are few constants in Nova Scotia. In the Spring, you can expect rain, and when the sun shines, you can expect gas prices to again go through the roof. The rain ended on Tuesday and gas prices went up Wednesday. High gas prices hurt all Nova Scotians, and they can push rural business to the brink of bankruptcy. There is a major problem in this province, and the Premier seems content to think about it and hopes the prices will go down, out of the goodness of the oil companies' hearts. My supplementary to the Premier is, again, will the Premier do the right thing and demand that oil companies come before the URB and justify the predatory pricing here in Nova Scotia, in gas prices?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite is aware that the current price of gasoline is hurting almost every Nova Scotian. The government is looking at this, we have been looking at it, actually, for many weeks, and we will be coming forward with a suitable approach to do our part to protect the Nova Scotian consumer. We will do that as early as next week.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's amazing, on a question that begs an answer, we still get this we're looking into or we're doing this or we're going to do that. It's amazing that the Premier hasn't figured out a way to blame Ottawa for this. He's blaming them for everything else. The Premier has a responsibility in this province to ensure that Nova Scotians get fair treatment from the oil companies in this province. Again, my final supplementary to the Premier is, why won't he demand that the oil companies come before the URB and explain why the prices of gas are going through the roof in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is an issue of great concern. Nova Scotians are hurting because of the current price of gasoline. This government cannot control the world price of crude, but there are other issues around gasoline pricing that we can become involved in, and we will.

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

EMO: DISASTER RELIEF PLAN - FLAWS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Hurricane Juan destroyed the dream home of Brian and Darlene Inglis. Their story is a true tragedy. This family started building their home last Summer. They tried to insure their home while it was under construction, but were misinformed and were told they could not be insured mid-construction. Thinking they had no choice, they decided to wait until construction was finished. The home was almost finished when Hurricane Juan struck, completely destroying the house. I would like to table a photograph. To make matters worse, this family has recently found out that they don't qualify for disaster relief because, according to the EMO, they could have been insured. My question

[Page 3289]

to the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act is, will you now admit that there are major flaws in your disaster relief program?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, this is indeed an unfortunate situation. Certainly with disaster relief it's a federal designed program, which the province cost shares in and signs on so that there is federal cost sharing. One of the tenets of the program is that if private insurance was obtainable, then it's not covered. Certainly, this government and I are concerned about some of the inflexibility surrounding those federal guidelines and to that end we have initiated discussions with the federal government, looking at ways that that program can provide more flexibility to cover people hurt by natural disasters in this province and in other provinces in Canada.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, many people read about this family's tragedy when it hit the front page of The Chronicle-Herald on October 4th. I, and others I'm sure, assumed that there would be some kind of help for this family who had lost everything in this natural disaster. Instead the family faced confusion - through their application they spoke to no less than 10 different people before their application was rejected. They were shocked to find out that their appeal took place over the phone, and again they were denied. My question for the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act is, will he take it upon himself to see to it that this family receives some help?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I answered in the first question, clearly this particular case is a sad case. Under the guidelines, which are federal guidelines, one of the prerequisites is if it's an insurable loss, then the federal government will not cost share in that program. As we all know, over a couple of million dollars, it's 90 per cent federal compensation and 10 per cent provincial. We're endeavouring to do everything we can to have the program's flexibility expanded, and we will continue to do that so that in situations like this, where it is a tragedy, there is flexibility in the guidelines. On a future day, hopefully, there could be something done.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister's answer just doesn't cut it. He's the person responsible in this province for the Emergency Measures Organization, he's the one that people look to for leadership in this regard. I want to ask the minister again, will he take responsibility to ensure that this family gets the help they need?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, this government always takes leadership. In dealing with Hurricane Juan, because there was no flexibility and because the fishing industry, the forestry industry and the farming had so many problems and certainly so much disaster, the province initiated a resource program on their own. So certainly the province is prepared to take leadership. In this individual case, if the member opposite wants to supply me with the material, I will certainly have a review conducted and it would be my pleasure.

[Page 3290]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

PREM.: BILL NO. 17 - FAILURE ADMIT

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday I asked the Premier some questions concerning video lottery gambling in Nova Scotia. I acknowledged that he was the person who came forward in a minority situation to introduce Bill No. 17; it placed a moratorium on the increase in number of VLTs in this province. It was sponsored by the Premier and at that time he was prepared to take action. Yesterday he reiterated his concerns for the issue concerning people addicted to video lottery terminal gambling. Back in 1998, on June 29th, he said in this House that we have to look at whether we are fuelling the gambling addiction by the kind of VLTs that we have. Well, today in 2004, there are more than 300 new VLTs, according to the Gaming Corporation, since this bill was passed, 300 more. My question for the Premier is, would the Premier agree that Bill No. 17 has, in fact, failed to accomplish its main goal?

[1:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what Bill No. 17 did is exactly what was intended at the time and that was to limit the off reserve number of VLTs in the province and that number is 3,234, if memory serves me correctly. It did not address the issue of the number of machines on reserve because there were certain commitments made at that time, by the previous government, that would preclude the legislation applying in that particular regard. We continue to have negotiations with leaders on reserves to come up with a suitable approach to the number of machines on reserve.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I think it is noteworthy that that contract that he referred to that was signed by the previous government was just renewed this past March 31st I believe. On June 24, 1998, the Premier said in Hansard, "Are we, by providing this kind of video lottery terminal, not catering to gambling as an entertainment, but are we catering to the addict . . ." Evidence is starting to accumulate that we have the most addictive VLTs that are available." That was six years ago and since that time, we have introduced bill exchangers to Nova Scotia machines. Bill exchangers are the items that allow for us to insert paper bills so that we get coins out and somebody doesn't have to leave the machine and actually exchange the money with a human being. My question for the Premier is, in an attempt to help the thousands of people addicted to VLT gambling, will he agree today, now, to remove bill exchangers from VLTs in Nova Scotia?

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

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises one of the issues that came with some of the machines and one of the new features. What he failed to mention and what he didn't ask is what about the time-out features, what about the limiting

[Page 3291]

of play features? Those are features on the new machines that are put in there to remind people and to give people the opportunity to be more responsible. It's part of the whole process.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, if that minister understood fully what those features that were introduced two years ago actually accomplished, he would realize that they are retroactive to the people who are suffering from gambling addictions. They didn't work. They are not working now. This government can't hide behind this issue. Thirty-eight cents out of every dollar that Nova Scotians put into video lottery terminals never comes back. I go back to a quote that came from the Premier regarding Bill No. 17 on June 29, 1998. He said, this bill "isn't perfect and it is not going to end here . . ." He said to The Chronicle-Herald: Even though I don't have the answer on June 18, 1998, to the revenue shortfall, I don't think that precludes us from starting to analyze what we are doing. New Brunswick had a plebiscite. They let the people decide. My question for the Premier is, will the Premier commit to a plebiscite for the removal of VLTs?

THE PREMIER: What the Premier will commit to, Mr. Speaker, is to go forward with a very progressive approach to regulated gambling.

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

HEALTH: PALLIATIVE CARE - IMPLEMENTATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER; Mr. Speaker, during the last election, the Premier made this promise in his blueprint. Based on recommendations from working groups currently examining rural palliative care, we will identify and fund the next steps to expand access to end-of-life care. Given that this is National Palliative Care Week, it would be a good time for the government to make good on the promise of expanded services for the end-of-life care. I want to ask the Minister of Health the questions that the Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association asked the Premier, in March, and I will quote them, because they put it very well: When will the promises and the planning stop and the action and implementation begin? Your campaign platform promised palliative care services to Nova Scotians. When will this happen?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Was it meant for the Premier or the Minister of Health?

MR. DEXTER: The Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Health.

[Page 3292]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is talking about an approach with respect to health care that we are very much involved in within the department. We are now working with our partners to develop the service delivery guidelines that would be used right across the province with respect to the provision of palliative care. It is our intention, when those guidelines are developed, to move forward with the approach regarding palliative care in this province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it was the Premier who travelled around this province with the blueprint making these promises. I'm going to table a copy of a chart that was provided to the Premier by the Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association. It's an inventory of the funded palliative care services in Nova Scotia. The chart shows that there are 10 funded palliative care beds for the whole province. None outside of the HRM.

Mr. Speaker, hospice palliative care can relieve the pressure on acute care beds. Groups like the VON and Kings Hospice Foundation are willing to help the government meet these needs if the government is only willing to work with them. My question to the Premier is, the Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association is asking the government to support funded and sustainable palliative care services in Nova Scotia, will he make that commitment today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings an excellent topic to the attention of the House, and that is the topic of end-of-life care. What we have seen across the province is a number of models that are being used in the various regions. In my own particular area, we have one of the most progressive approaches to palliative or end-of-life care that exists in the province, thanks to the leadership of Dennis MacDonald and those who work on his palliative care committee, and it is working extremely well. We are looking to provide province-wide, a level of service that is equivalent to one that we enjoy in my particular area.

There are other models that are before government and the member opposite mentioned the hospice approach, it is one that I am interested in, that the government is looking at, and it is one that may well prove to be the model that other regions may wish to follow, once we have the wherewithal to move full bore ahead on end-of-life care. What I can say is that the issue is one that must be addressed by government because of the rapidly aging population that our health care system must now be in a position to serve.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the Premier's remarks, and he must know that four provinces have designated palliative care as a core service under the provincial health plans. Unfortunately, Nova Scotia is not one of them. I'd like to ask the Minister of Health, how can he possibly justify the continued inequity, and will he commit today to designating palliative care as a core service, and allow Nova Scotians to die with dignity, regardless of where they reside?

[Page 3293]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as the Premier indicated in answer to the previous supplementary, we are in a process of establishing a standard approach across this province finding the best services that we can provide. When they are identified and we are satisfied in collaboration with our partners in the delivery of health care, this government will move forward with the palliative care program in this province. It is a priority with respect to moving forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - CBRM ADDICTION: PROBLEMS - ADDRESS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In keeping with the recurring ministerial theme of ignoring issues until there is a crisis, I would once again remind the minister that the devastating effects of OxyContin in the Cape Breton community have not gone away. Direction 180 in Halifax is a methadone clinic, and it's an excellent example of a community-based addiction service provider that exists because needs are not being met. Many would say that needs are not being met in Cape Breton, as well. My question to the minister is, given that this successful model exists, why is there such a distinct lack of forward-looking thinking when it comes to tackling addiction problems in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the question, when it is brought forward, is always focused on the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, because there is a real problem there that needs to be addressed. That is why, under the leadership of the district health authority, there is a local community initiative that is dealing with this. I'm told that they continue to meet. As a result of that initiative, the local medical practitioners in the area have indicated their desire to become involved, the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the province have responded by reminding all of their colleagues in their membership of the need for them to be vigilant with respect to prescriptions. The Minister of Justice has indicated that we are prepared to work with the Cape Breton Regional Police in terms of establishing a greater police effort in this matter.(Interruptions)

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, this government loves to pit one area of the province against another. At some time, it's just going to have to stop. Wait times at this clinic in Halifax, two months and, interestingly enough, there are 14 people from Cape Breton who are either currently receiving support or waiting to get into that Halifax clinic. My question for the minister is, given that you have this excellent community-based model and the fact that Direction 180 is servicing clients from Cape Breton, doesn't it seem logical that this type of clinic be made available in an area that is currently struggling with OxyContin abuse problems?

[Page 3294]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I did reference the community initiative that is involved. We look forward to the recommendations from that community initiative. I would anticipate that their recommendations would include a wide range of measures that would be appropriate with respect to the situation in Cape Breton, and I look forward to those recommendations.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I'm talking about people who are crying for help now. I'm talking about people who need help right now. I'm talking about people who have died, who were crying for help. In this case, and note with interest that the former Minister of Health - remember her? - provided funding for the Halifax methadone clinic to the tune of $240,000, and funding is available again this year. My question for the minister is, please, tell me why is this government funding a methadone clinic in Halifax and will not fund a methadone clinic in Cape Breton?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we will take seriously the recommendations that come forward. (Interruptions) The honourable member doesn't add anything whatever to the approach that's required here for us to bring resolution to this very difficult situation. We will take seriously, and we will respond appropriately to the recommendations that we receive from the local initiative that is addressing this. There has been no refusal on our part with respect to anything that would come forward. We will take all recommendations seriously and they will be based on far better professional (Interruptions)

[1:30 p.m.]

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

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

TCH - NEW CASTLE HOTELS: EMPLOYEES - BENEFITS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in 2002 the province signed an agreement with New Castle Hotels to manage its three signature resorts. Staff at these resorts who were employees of the province were initially seconded to the new company, receiving the same benefits and pay levels. That arrangement will end in August of this year and so will the provincial pension plans, the medical benefits, the pay levels, all of that will come to an end - long-term disability benefits, I should say, perhaps not the pay levels. I ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, what is being done to protect the benefits these employees have worked for years to attain?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member reflects on the private sector management contract which we signed with New Castle a few years ago. We did move forward with regard to putting in place a framework with respect to some of those employees and I believe that we treated them in a fair and equitable manner.

[Page 3295]

MR. DEXTER: That's right, Mr. Speaker, the arrangement made kept in place their contracts. The change that's about to take place will affect about a dozen long-time staff with less than five years to go until retirement. The loss of benefits in August would mean that some staff will face reduced pensions while others will have to postpone their retirement for years. The company managing the resort is quite willing to extend the agreement for this handful of employees so that they don't lose their benefits. My question to the minister is, will the department extend provincial benefits for the employees closest to retirement to prevent this hardship from occurring?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member brings up a good point. We have treated the employees fairly in the past and should we be able to afford an initiative that continues to be fair to those employees, we will.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the minister's attention that the cost of extending the provincial benefits to the longest-serving employees would be minimal. The precedent has been set with the transition of staff in other provincial institutions such as the QE II Health Sciences Centre. So my question to the minister is, will you agree to meet with the employees' representatives to work toward a solution to this situation?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, certainly I will have the appropriate staff within the department do so, but I also want to point out to the House that when we came into office, with respect to the resorts, this province was losing over $1 million a year when that crew over there was looking after the resorts. We are fortunate now to be making millions of dollars in capital investments in those resorts and we are now bringing a profit to the people of Nova Scotia instead of losing money.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

HEALTH - SOLDIERS' MEM. HOSP.: DOWNSIZING - PLANS

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The challenges currently facing Queens General Hospital in Liverpool have the people of my constituency of Annapolis wondering what the future holds for Soldiers' Memorial. An anaesthetist is leaving Queens General. Soldiers' Memorial lost a surgeon last year. Sterilization equipment is being transferred from Queens General to the South Shore Regional. Sterilization equipment is being rumoured to be transferred from Soldiers' Memorial to the Valley Regional. There seems to be a pattern developing here. My question for the minister is, could the minister please elaborate, given the loss of the surgeon and the rumour of relocation of sterilization equipment, whether it's his plan to downsize Soldiers Memorial Hospital?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, those plans are not plans that are made by the Minister of Health, they're made by the district health authorities.

[Page 3296]

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the people of Annapolis are still wondering about what the role is for Soldiers' Memorial Hospital. If this minister is truly committed to a strong regional health care system, strong community hospitals like Soldiers' Memorial have to be given a clear indication of the role they will play in the acute care health care system. My question is, will the minister commit today that he will contact the DHAs to express his commitment to a strong rural health care system and request that no further services be removed until there's a full discussion as to the future role of community hospitals?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what we do commit to with the district health authorities across this province is that they will have our support to provide the very best medical services that they can provide given the resources that are available.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, a little over a year ago the surgery theatre at Soldiers' Memorial was renovated. Now it is being underutilized. Surgeons at Valley Regional are crying for OR time and wait lists are growing. My question to the minister is, will he commit today to a dialogue with the appropriate parties to develop a plan to use the extra available OR time at Soldiers' Memorial for additional day surgeries in order to reduce wait times and pressures on Valley Regional?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have provided Valley Regional with $1 million to do just that - to plan for how they are going to use the facilities that they have more effectively and what it is that they need to do in the future with respect to sustaining that more effective use of their facilities. That is the process that is ongoing.

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

HEALTH: FABRY'S DISEASE - DEPT. MEASURES

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Health. Fabry's disease is a genetic disorder which seriously affects the kidneys, the heart, the brain, and the nervous system. A new enzyme replacement therapy is offering the first measurable relief for people suffering from this rare disease, but these patients have been informed that the trial period is over and the supply of this medication will soon come to an end. My question is to the Minister of Health. What are the measures is your department taking to address this pressure situation for Fabry's disease patients, some of whom are in our gallery today?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question, and indeed the honourable member is addressing a matter that is of very significant concern to the sufferers of that disease. Currently, the drugs in question are before the Canadian Expert Drug Advisory Committee, and we expect recommendations from that committee in July - before we can take any decisions, we have to receive those recommendations. In the meantime, arrangements have been made for the drugs that are

[Page 3297]

currently under use to continue until August 1st. There was some question with respect to one of those suppliers - we have received a commitment from them this week that those drugs will continue to be available until August 1st.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): These problems experienced by the Fabry's disease patients securing accessible treatment programs raises a bigger issue, Mr. Speaker. Pharmaceutical companies, anxious to recover their research and development costs quickly, price new treatments far out of the reach for most patients. This is a major issue for patients and governments across this country. I ask the minister what action is this government taking on the provincial and federal fronts to ensure new drug treatments are kept accessible for patients who so desperately need them?

MR. MACISAAC: I thank the honourable member for the question. Indeed, he puts his finger on a matter that is a very significant challenge, not just for this government but for all governments across Canada. It is something that we are addressing with all of our other jurisdictions across the country and we will continue to address that. However, it is very accurate to say it is a very significant challenge for all of us.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Fabry's disease patients are understandably anxious as they watch the clock tick down towards the end of this trial period and the end of having their treatment covered. With this enzyme replacement therapy, these Nova Scotians have improved their conditions, living their daily routines, and their ability to cope with this disease. So I ask the minister, will he commit today to meet with the Atlantic Fabry's Information and Support Group and keep the lines of communications open to address their fears of potentially losing access to this treatment?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I'm not certain that I clearly understood everything that the honourable member was asking but I will say that we are doing our best. I know that we're in contact with Dr. West who is on a continuous basis. We're kept up to date by him and we keep him up to date with respect to what's going on in our discussions with the companies involved.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps if the members would provide just a bit of latitude relative to the time here because it is very significant - it was my understanding that there is a line of communication that takes place, and if there isn't I'll see that one is established.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 3298]

ENVIRON. & LBR. - C.B. NOVA:

COAL DUST - PROBLEM CORRECT

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Black coal dust continues to blanket my community. A few months ago the Minister of Environment and Labour met with members of my community and assured them that this coal dust problem would be under control because the proper mechanisms were in place. The coal dust problem is no longer under control. Today I've been contacted by residents who've had enough of this black dust everywhere they turn. My question for the Minister of Environment and Labour is, we're dealing with health hazards throughout my community for over 100 years, when are you going to fix this problem?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, certainly the matter has been brought to my attention and we've asked staff to look into this. It's our intention to correct this problem and ensure that the air remains clean for the residents in the area.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, Kendra Christie is fed up with the continual blanket of coal and petcoke. There's black dust on the windows, in her pool, inside her home, everywhere. Mrs. Christie can't seem to get rid of this dust. She worries about the effect it is having on her health, the health of her 13-year-old son. Her son can't breathe properly, he suffers allergies. Mrs. Christie says the dust can only be making this worse. My question for the Minister of Environment and Labour is, clearly the control measures aren't working - what steps are you going to take to bring this problem under control?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we certainly are reviewing the situation. We've certainly listened to the complaints and we will be doing everything we can to evaluate the control measures and ensure that they are adequate to take care of the problem.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, coal dust has been a problem in my community for years. There's no excuse. Coal dust can be controlled, it just simply takes a little more effort. I have no doubt that the residents of Halifax wouldn't tolerate this problem and my community shouldn't be forced to either. My question to the minister is, how can you possibly justify the levels of pollution that my community is forced to live with every day?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about this issue the same as the member opposite, and that's the reason that I travelled to Cape Breton and viewed one of the sites with the member opposite. We looked at the control measures. We tried to identify what the issues were, where there could be improvements, and we will continue to do that. We will continue to work with the community to ensure that the problem is resolved.

[Page 3299]

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

SPORTS - DANIEL CANNING: FUNDING - DENIAL EXPLAIN

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission. Daniel Canning from Middle River in Victoria-The Lakes, Cape Breton, won the silver medal at the Canadian National Powerlifting Championships in March. We honoured that young man here (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Daniel Canning from Middle River, Victoria-The Lakes, Cape Breton won the silver medal at the Canadian National Powerlifting Championships in Ontario, last March. Mr. Canning is a 16 year-old elite athlete and he will be representing Canada in South Africa this September. Ironically enough, the boy's hero is Arnold Schwarzenegger and South Africa is where Mr. Schwarzenegger won his world championship and this is what this young man will be competing for in September. He has been denied funding by the minister's department, and so my question to the minister is, why is Mr. Canning being denied funding to represent our province and Canada in South Africa?

[1:45 p.m.]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member for the question. Through the program which is in place for our elite athletes, there are certain parameters around specifically what athlete and what level is eligible for assistance with regard to the criteria.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable minister knows of this case and I was under the understanding that you had to win the Canadian champions before you could go and receive funding. Well, this boy has done that. I am quoting from a letter here, "The Allocation Committee carefully considered your application and is unable to offer you financial assistance at this time . . . I wish you the best as you pursue your sporting activities." Well, I would like the minister to intervene personally and why will the minister not provide funding as requested by Daniel Canning?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly review that particular file with staff. I guess since we're talking about Mr. Schwarzeneggar, "I'll be back" with an answer.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, in response to the honourable minister being back, I'm already back, and there's a letter going to your office today from my office requesting reconsideration. It would be a travesty and an embarrassment to this athlete, to

[Page 3300]

Victoria-The Lakes, to the province and to this government if Daniel Canning cannot afford to go to South Africa to represent this province. If this young student athlete who's a model for today's youth, instead of being involved in criminal activities, which would cost community and government a lot more money, if we can't fund this individual, who can we fund? Why won't the minister fund this very deserving young athlete when he represents the province in September?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I certainly recognize the member's concern with respect to this particular athlete and all our athletes. We do provide a great deal of funding with respect to our Canada Games and a number of other areas, including for elite athletes. But I will review this file with our staff to ensure that the appropriate measures were taken to check on eligibility.

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

COM. SERV. - INCOME ASSIST. REGS.:

EDUC. PROGS. - CORRELATION

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. I would like clarification on what the Minister of Community Services meant yesterday when he said he didn't agree with my assumptions regarding single parents being excluded from university. The minister might have been referring to the concept that we honour our mothers, on Mother's Day in particular, for their love and sacrifices or perhaps he was questioning his department's policy, which forces mothers off social assistance into further poverty if they wish to attend university or any post-secondary program longer than two years. So my question for the minister is, which indefensible position of his department was he defending?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing that question forward today. As she will recall, it was at the end of Question Period yesterday and I had eight seconds, so that was the best I could do at the time, but today I get a chance to embellish.

First of all, I would like to make the point that this is about single parents; there are some single mothers and there are some single fathers. But with regard to her specific question, what I would like to point out is the supports that are in place for single parents, such as - let's say a single parent with a family of two, they get the National Child Benefit, that is worth $6,000 a year, after tax, to pay for the cost of food and clothing. They're eligible for public housing, that could easily be worth $8,000. Subsidized childcare spaces, that would be worth another $8,000. That, in itself, is $22,000 worth of after tax income to support them. We do a great deal for single parents.

[Page 3301]

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that the policies of the Department of Community Services keeps single parents impoverished. A single person might be able to barely survive on a student loan, but single mothers cannot support themselves and their children on student loans. So this policy puts university out of the reach for these single parents. The statistics are clear, that a woman's best chance at a reasonable income is to have a university degree. I ask the Minister of Community Services, knowing that women with a university education are more likely to break the poverty cycle, why does his department continue this defeatist policy?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, following up on my previous response, again, we've identified, in this case, a single parent with two children would have approximately $22,000 worth of after-tax income, which is basically a grant to support them, and in addition to that the Student Loan Program is an income-tested program, it's interest free, and goes for two years beyond graduation. Really, there's a tremendous amount of support that is there to assist, not only single parents but all students to better their education and have a good career.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, doctors, nurses, teachers and speech pathologists are in short supply in this province, and all of these careers require university training beyond the two years funded by the Department of Community Services. Even the Advisory Council on the Status of Women advised the department not to further reduce educational opportunities for women. I ask the Minister of Community Services, why not offer single mothers on social assistance a Mother's Day present and remove this discriminatory policy?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that the department does support single parents, social assistance recipients, to go back to community college. They can get up to two years with complete support, room and board, and that is a substantial investment by society, by this government, and that is the right thing to do, to give them a chance to develop a meaningful career.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC.: S. SHORE DIST./TRI-COUNTY SCH. BDS. -

GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Four years ago this government divided the Southwest Regional School Board into two boards with limited authority, the South Shore District board and the Tri-County District board. A provincially-appointed superintendent reported directly to the Minister of Education, controlling finances, human resources, busing, school maintenance and operations. This model does not give these boards the same autonomy as other regional boards across the province, and it simply has not functioned well. In a few months, this model will expire, and the government must propose a new structure.

[Page 3302]

Unfortunately, it appears that they are determined to do this without regard to the wishes of the members of those boards, and they are proposing a shared-service unit model. That would continue to restrict the powers of these two boards. My question to the minister is, why is this government determined to treat the South Shore District board and the Tri-County District board differently than all the other regional boards in this province?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The question the honourable member put before the House is partially in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill (Interruptions) Order, please. And the second part of it is part of a bill that's before this House - it is. So to the honourable member, I would have to ask him for the second question, please.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I cannot understand why the government is proposing a solution that does not take into account the input of people who would be directly impacted by the proposal and who understand the situation best. In fact, I understand members of the boards attempted to solicit the support of the four government members in their regions, with apparently little success. My question to the minister is, why is the minister not taking into account the wishes of the South Shore and Tri-County school boards?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. It's hard to differentiate. If the honourable Minister of Education would like to answer in regard to the policy of government as opposed to the Financial Measures (2004) Bill, or specifically the question - policy only.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, when the pilot structure was set up, the legislation had a sunset clause, and it happens to be this year, therefore new legislation was drafted. I will be making some reference to that in my summation at the close of estimates for the Department of Education, but I want to tell the honourable member that the pilot governance structure, there was an independent committee that reviewed that structure and made recommendations about where to go, whether to continue the pilot structure or to go back to individual boards. The decision was to go back to individual boards and we have done that. I'm quite prepared to table the report on the assessment of Pilot Structure 2003.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, DHAs participate in a number of shared services both in clinical and support services and also at one time, financial. Apparently, in August of this year, DHAs 4 to 6 moved to remove financial services. The model being proposed removes the crucial role of financial management from the individual boards and requires the two boards to agree on any financial or judiciary disputes. How this will work remains very unclear. The word on the street is that the government is taking a 'well, we'll work it out as we go along' approach. This simply is not good enough. My question to the minister is, will the minister consider introducing separate legislation on this issue to allow the matter to be properly discussed and debated and to allow those most affected by the matter to make representation before the Law Amendments Committee?

[Page 3303]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there is legislation dealing with the restructuring of those two boards. It's before the House now and that legislation will continue through the process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TPW - BRIDGE REPLACEMENT: POLICY - EXPLAIN

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, last week I asked the Minister of Transportation and Public Works about the 200 bridges in Nova Scotia that are considered substandard. He admitted that many of these bridges were built in the era of the horse and buggy. People today don't use horse and buggies - they use cars and trucks and buses - and many of those bridges have weight restrictions because of their poor conditions. People rely on these bridges every day so I ask the minister, how does he honestly think replacing only 66 out of the 200 bridges is going to solve the problem?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the situation with the steel-truss bridges is not safety, it's simply the fact these bridges were built back in the days of the horse and buggy, as the honourable member just said, and not built for modern standards and heavy trucks. Consequently, many of the bridges have weight restrictions on them.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, it is about safety. I want to tell you about the Durham Bridge which crosses the West River in Pictou County, it's considered substandard. ATV News had a story last night showing the rusty holes and the drooping girders on the Durham Bridge. Residents are very worried - not only about their own safety, but the safety of the school children who cross that bridge every day. So my question to the minister is, since we've had bridges that fall down in this province already, how much longer is this government going to gamble with the safety of residents who cross these bridges every day?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't have any history of bridges falling down in this province. I know of bridges being damaged by vehicles crossing them which have caused bridges to collapse, but that can happen to any bridge. The honourable member is referring to the Durham Bridge and that bridge is safe. It does require some repairs, those repairs are being carried out. That bridge is due for replacement in 2005.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, the minister has suggested that we not worry about the age of our bridges. Recently you cited bridges in Europe like the London Bridge as an example, I hate to break this news to the minister, but London Bridge did fall down and so will several bridges in rural Nova Scotia if this government doesn't speed up its plans to repair and replace them. Mr. Minister, you're gambling with people's safety so I ask him, if he won't replace the Durham Bridge until 2005, will he at least instruct his staff to repair it on an urgent basis?

[Page 3304]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many times I have to tell the honourable member that our bridges in Nova Scotia are safe. Our bridges are inspected on

a regular basis. If a bridge is judged to be unsafe, that bridge is closed and it is repaired, or if it is beyond repair, it is closed. Mr. Speaker, there is no way that this government, the Department of Transportation or Nova Scotians will tolerate unsafe bridges, and certainly as Minister of Transportation, I will not do so.

[2:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis. You have about 15 seconds.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Give us your best 15. (Laughter)

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Haven't got time, Chris, I'll get you tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Time allotted for Question Period has expired.

At least the honourable member didn't invite him outside. (Laughter)

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations on an introduction.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to bring to the attention of the members of the House in the east gallery, a constituent of Sackville-Cobequid, and a friend of mine, Stephen Hyland. If I could get the members to give him the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to our guest in the gallery today.

Order, please. There is a request to revert to Notices of Motion under Orders of the Day, so the "Therefore be it resolved . . ." can be re-read.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, just the "Therefore be it resolved . . .", please.

[Page 3305]

RESOLUTION NO. 1465

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Therefore be it resolved that during this National Hospice Palliative Care Week the government listen to the concerns raised by DHAs when they say that they need funding for palliative care services.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I thank everybody for allowing me to stand here and speak today. It's been a couple of very hectic weeks here, and I have to say that I was struggling to come up with something to talk about for 15 minutes - after listening to a couple of weeks of the budget debate - trying to find something insightful to say. However, I think I got my spark back the other morning at the Human Resources Committee meeting when the members from the Progressive Conservative Party were questioning the Halifax Regional School Board on some of the issues that they had come forward to speak to us about, looking for help for the children and youth in this province.

[Page 3306]

I think today, Mr. Speaker, I will bring forward some of the issues that have come forward in my community. . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member of Dartmouth East has the floor.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, right now, my constituency office has over 65 clients. These are people that come to my office looking for help, because they cannot find it anywhere else. They don't want to come to my office, they'd like to get the help they need from their government. Just in the last three weeks, in fact since we have been back here, my office has taken on 10 new cases, and this is probably from about three days ago, and we have probably more since then.

People come to my office because their income assistance is not enough. They come to us looking for assistance, because they are not finding it at Community Services. People are falling behind on their bills. They have to decide and and make decisions on whether or not they will buy food or keep their lights on, or their heat on. People continue to call my office for help. They don't have enough money, the issues that we're seeing on a daily basis in my office are calls from people saying that don't have enough money to survive. There is no support out there to help them learn how to live cheaply when they lose their job, or if it's a single mum, or student, whatever, they're chronically juggling which bills to pay. Sometimes they cannot pay the bills. We have people coming - last week in fact two constituents called on the day that Nova Scotia Power had designated as their cut-off day. This week, already we've had two calls and their power will be cut off tomorrow, Friday. We have had people not being able to pay their home heating fuel bills over the winter, and if not for the help of community, or other people, they would not have had heat.

Mr. Speaker, I have a constituent with a teenage daughter who needs dental work. She has been rushed to the hospital on numerous occasions. She now has eating problems, stomach problems, and is missing school because of this issue. The government is not providing the services that are needed for our children and our youth in our community. We have people coming to us - and these cases that I'm going to talk about just came in in the last couple of weeks, because I obviously can't go through 65 - who do not have the money to pay for eyewear, we have people coming in who cannot pay for their prescription drugs, and I'm continuously hearing stories of seniors who cannot pay their car insurance. It's a struggle. They're on fixed incomes. Their home insurance is taking a hit and that issue has continued to stay with us.

Mr. Speaker, I actually have people calling my office because they're having problems with custody cases, and we know this is not something an MLA or constituency office should be dealing with. However, this is the state that we have brought people to when they have to call an MLA or constituency office when they're dealing with these issues and they shouldn't have to. We have a crisis in our housing. We have people who are calling in about mouldy

[Page 3307]

buildings and, as I said, heating problems during that cold snap, there were people with no heat at all and there were some who luckily were provided with space heaters. Unfortunately, there are people who are afraid to complain at all about the poor conditions that they are living in, because of fear of retribution by their landlords. Sometimes when people call, they won't even tell us their names - they're that afraid. They call just wanting to let us know these are the issues they're facing and there's a sense of hopelessness.

As I said, we have a lack of affordable housing. We have got an issue with unsafe neighbourhoods, a lack of facilities for people to access to go and get services, a lack of transportation, and a lack of safe playgrounds. I recently had a lady call who would like to - well, she doesn't really have any choice - give up her job to stay home and look after her mom with Alzheimer's. She was hoping that the government had something in place that would help her do that. We are trying to help this person. She has had a couple of weeks off for compassionate leave but, to my knowledge, there's nothing out there to pick up where that's going to leave off, and I do believe we should be able to keep our parents at home with us and look after them there if at all possible.

Home Care Nova Scotia continues to be an issue. There are continuous cutbacks in the amount of time that home care is giving to our people who need home care. We have people with disabilities and progressive diseases who should actually be seeing their home care level rise, not fall. The $50 fee for cancellation is a concern to these people.

These people already feel that in a certain way they are trapped in their homes because they are at the - not the beck and call, but they have to keep a tight schedule when they're waiting for home care to come into their home and address their needs. If they want to get out into the neighbourhood, like we do, they have to phone and arrange for an Access-A-Bus, well in advance, close to two weeks in advance. Now we're telling these people that if something comes up and it's an emergency or perhaps somebody calls and offers you a couple of days away or something, that would be wonderful that you'd be able take advantage of that, they can't, because they're afraid they're going to be hit with a $50 fee. As we know, many of these people are on low income already. So these people are facing a loss of independence in their own homes, in their own neighbourhoods.

The assessment method that the government is using has been described as humiliating and degrading and I don't think that's the way we should be treating people who need our help in this society. The assessment method does not ask the home care recipient for input. There is an issue right now with home care, a lot of these recipients would like to go into an independent self-managed home care program. As we know, there are nine people in that pilot project now and they would like to see that extended and they do feel that it's cost effective and gives them more independence in their life.

[Page 3308]

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to mention some concerns that exist in Dartmouth East. I've heard concerns from constituents and especially recently at a public community meeting at Prince Andrew High School, there was a large turnout of neighbours from that neighbourhood who were very concerned about the use of drugs, the increasing number of break-ins in their community. I know that the police are trying to do everything they can, but I have heard from them and they have the issue of when they do come on their shift, they're so booked up, they have scheduled things that they have to take care of, and the patrol time that used to exist doesn't exist now in HRM.

Mr. Speaker, there's the issue in many of my schools in regard to the maintenance of the schools, the maintenance of the playgrounds and in some cases, the non-existence of playgrounds throughout HRM. There's a lack of resources being put into our schools and I'll speak about that later. There's a lack of busing. We have many people who are working at minimum wage jobs and it's a real hassle to try to get to work, right now, in HRM. I actually see people getting off the bus and hopping into a taxi because there's just no bus that's going to get them home. Some of the routes stop running at a certain time and we have young people who are trying to put themselves through some sort of education and they're working at jobs that end late in the evening and they basically have no means of transportation to and from.

Mr. Speaker, recently I had a town hall meeting and today I would like to go over some of the issues that were raised. There was an issue revolving around businesses in Dartmouth East, and I'm sure in all of HRM, that the cost of insurance was skyrocketing out of control. One business in Dartmouth East had their insurance rise from $11,000 to $33,000 in one year, and this business does not have the same increase in clientele so I don't know how we expect these businesses to stay in business and, therefore, take part in the things that happen in our community. Also mentioned at that meeting was that the non-profits were taking a massive hit in increases and that that was a concern that a lot of these organizations that work for the less fortunate and advocate for people perhaps are going to have to shut down.

[2:15 p.m.]

I continue to receive calls about, as I said, insurance rates rising. People phone and they just don't understand why that is happening. They thought what the government did was going to stop that from happening and I am in the unfortunate position of telling them, no, it did not.

User fees, there was an issue with user fees not being based on income or the ability to pay. People had brought up issues of the lack of investment in our universities, in our infrastructure and that the federal and provincial cutbacks to funding were never going to come back once they were lost. The lottery revenue was brought up. Pots of money going into the government's general revenue and no accountability or breakdown of that funding.

[Page 3309]

There was some talk around the lack of a community centre in Dartmouth East. Dartmouth East has a rising population. We have to travel outside of our community to get to the Sportsplex or Cole Harbour Place and we feel that the dollars are leaving our community and we should be able to keep those in our community.

Mr. Speaker, I know I'm running out of time and I thank you for listening to me today and, hopefully, at another time, I'll continue. Thank you.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to join the debate today going into Supply. I would like to talk for a few moments about the health care system in this province and, more specifically, the health care system as it affects a certain community in Nova Scotia, namely New Waterford and the people who work at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, in our health care system we greatly depend on our medical practitioners in every role they play. In fact, we often hear the Minister of Health commending the great efforts and work done by those medical practitioners when hit with health crises in our province. It's these professionals who come to our aid and yet, who is willing to come to their aid when they're facing their own crisis. Who is taking care of them during their time of turmoil? It's certainly not this Progressive Conservative Government.

Right now in New Waterford, Mr. Speaker, dozens of health care workers are facing a battle for their livelihoods. The majority of these sick people are off work, struggling to pay for treatment to continue to raise their families. They are doing it all on their own. There is no question that these people are sick. You only need to look at the metal toxicity of Lindsay MacMullin, a baby in her first year of life who was born with these toxins in her system from her mother working at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. The reference range for the amount of arsenic that could possibly be found in a man in his late 30s should be 0.0-20, Lindsay MacMullin has arsenic levels of 186.9. There's no denying that this little girl is very sick. Dr. Lesbia Smith, the expert in environmental occupational health, even though she's only listed with the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons as a general practitioner, stated that the illnesses found in the patients were likely the result of their lifestyles. How ridiculous a statement to be made by a lady who is not an expert in her field, when everybody knows, who has anything to do with this case, that that is simply not the case.

Shawn MacMullin, father of Lindsay, has gone to great lengths to disprove this theory. He had himself and his eldest daughter tested for metal toxicity and thankfully their results showed normal levels of metals tested. This basically blows Dr. Smith's theory out of the water. How, I ask, can Shawn and his daughter, Leah, be absolutely fine when his wife and newborn baby are sick with high levels of metal toxicity. As Shawn explained to the

[Page 3310]

media late last week, we live in the same house, eat the same food, breathe the same air, how can Dr. Smith defend her theory that it is lifestyles that caused their illnesses?

The fact is the lady in question worked at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. Sherri MacMullin was pregnant with Lindsay while she was employed at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. She was working alongside other sick patients, such as Dr. Duncan MacIntyre, Deanna Bray, Joanne Gillis, Cathy Spencer, and Darlene McKenzie, just to name a few. The problem is these people are stuck in purgatory while the government wastes time researching the issue of whether or not they are really sick. These people are suffering each day, their families are suffering, and they are getting no support from this Progressive Conservative Government.

Mr. Speaker, I thought that in Nova Scotia we had universal health care, that health care was available to people who need health care, and health care was being provided for the people of Nova Scotia who need it. This is not the case here. The government states that they are unsure of whether or not chelation treatment is the proper treatment for patients with high levels of metal toxicity. Well, what is? Why isn't this government searching for options for these people? Why are they letting Nova Scotians resort to their own resources to get necessary medical treatment that should be paid for in a universal health care system?

We pride ourselves, all the time, Mr. Speaker, the fact that health care in this province is a right for everybody. It's a right for everybody. So why is it not a right for these people who are sick because of their employment in the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital? Even if the case was made that somehow they got sick somewhere else, which is a ridiculous premise, they should still have their health care costs covered by this system here in Nova Scotia. Why should these people have to pay out of their own pockets for medical treatment that you and I, Mr. Speaker, and members opposite, members on this side and all Nova Scotians feel is part of the health care system in this province and should be provided?

These patients, Mr. Speaker, have sought various treatment options and spent thousands and thousands of dollars, because they are getting absolutely no direction from this government. As a matter of fact, each time this question is raised in the House, each time this question is raised in the media, each time this question is debated on the streets of New Waterford or other areas in Cape Breton and, indeed, throughout Nova Scotia, the question always comes up, how did these people get sick? The question also comes up, and I think there's a general feeling that we know how these people got sick, they got sick because they worked in the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital.

You can't tell me that dozens of people are sick with the same disease and all worked in the hospital and the hospital is not responsible for it. What kind of ridiculous statement is that for anybody in the health care field or anybody else who should know what they're talking about be allowed to make? Where they got sick is obvious. But even for one moment, if there's any shred of evidence that says that's not the case, if you take a long stretch and say

[Page 3311]

that that may not be the case, the problem is that these people are still sick, and are having to pay for their treatment out of their own pocket in a government-funded health care system in this province.

That is not only an indictment of this government in dealing with this case, that is a tragic circumstance in this province, because it could happen again. The next group of people that happen to get sick in the workplace, are they going to be treated in the same way, if the government does not feel that the public should pay for their medical treatment? We keep talking about universality in health care, but is it only when it suits the parameters of the Department of Health, or whether or not they agree, because of, perhaps, legal liabilities, that if they do pay that they might be stuck with some costs down the road?

Mr. Speaker, it's not credible for this government to keep making the statement that they're studying this issue. What they don't have to study is that these people are sick. We know that. Hard evidence supports that. So, if they're sick, they should be given more consideration by this government than given money for a taxi to get to a clinic, which is what happened in the early stages of this problem. As I said earlier, these people have spent thousands of dollars, some of them out-of-province, they have travelled down to the States, to Ontario, to other places, seeking some remedy, a remedy that should be available here in Nova Scotia.

These people need assistance from the public health care system of this province. They don't need platitudes. They don't need a response from the Minister of Health that will say we're putting another committee together, another study together. You don't have to study the fact that these people are sick. We know they're sick, and we know they've got bills. What we're asking for, and what we've been continuing to ask for, Mr. Speaker, is why won't the government of this province pay these medical bills for these people who are sick? There should be no discussion, no waiting around.

Two things have to happen here, Mr. Speaker. These people have to be directed to the proper place by this government, this health system, where they can get better, where they can have their anxiety of their illness removed by having the illness removed. That's the responsibility of the public health system in this province. The second thing that we should be doing is immediately telling these people that we're going to look after the costs they've already incurred and the costs they are going to continue to incur in the future. It's a tragedy, that here we are in this day and age in this province debating endlessly whether or not we're going to pay health costs for people who are sick in Nova Scotia. It's not right and it's an indictment of the health system under this Progressive Conservative Government.

Again, Mr. Speaker, there should be no question about where the liability lies here. The health system in this province has to take care of people who are sick. There are people telling me that they can't believe the government is denying any responsibility in this matter and continuing to put studies in place that are going to continue to decide whether or not,

[Page 3312]

through various studies, these people are deserving of public support. What they can't deny - the Health Minister can talk, he can wax eloquent all he wants about what they're doing here, but the fact of the matter is - these people are sick.

Mr. Speaker, if you're sick or if I am sick today, we go to the hospital and we get treated. What is so different about this group of people who contracted their illnesses by working in the public health system? I know the people working in this public health system, I know them. They are people who are dedicated to their jobs, and they're devastated that because of this illness they can't work in their professions.

We have a doctor, Dr. Duncan MacIntyre, who was absolutely revered in our community as one of the finest doctors and specialists who ever practised in that hospital, and that doctor today is sick and the very people he has been looking after over the years, the very health system that he has been supporting, has turned its back on this doctor and all the other people who work in his office and other offices in the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, this cannot be allowed to continue. This is a travesty of justice here that has been allowed to continue by an uncaring Health Minister and, obviously, an uncaring Department of Health in this province. I urge the Department of Health and its ministry, particularly the minister, to do the right thing here and at least acknowledge that the bills from these people should be paid; the tremendous amount of bills that have been paid by these people should be covered by the public health system. Secondly, I believe there should be a public inquiry held as soon as possible to determine what actually happened in the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. What happened to allow this situation to get to the stage where it is today?

Mr. Speaker, we keep hearing about new cases. People are continuing to be tested. So the list is growing. Is it a situation where the government and the Department of Health do not want to accept liability here because of what may happen in the future in terms of litigation? Is that the problem? Are the spin doctors, are the lawyers telling them, don't admit anything here because if you do, it will come back to bite us?

[2:30 p.m.]

Well, I'm talking about doing the right thing for these people who are sick. I'm talking about a caring attitude instead of a legal attitude towards this situation. These people are sick, we know how they got sick, we know that they're spending thousands of dollars of their own money, we know that some of them can't work and are unlikely to work for some time. All they're asking for is to be treated the same as other people in Nova Scotia who fall ill either through environmental illness or any other type illness that they may have contracted in the workplace or otherwise.

[Page 3313]

We sometimes feel that the health care system is going to be there for us no matter what. We feel that because it's a universal health care system. Well, the health care system has let the workers of New Waterford Consolidated Hospital down. They're feeling that. They're feeling they've been disowned by the system and left to their own resources. That is a tragic indictment of that minister and that Health Department in this province in this day and age. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis on an introduction.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the members' attention to the west gallery. I want to introduce from my riding, from the Middleton area, Archdeacon Eric MacDonald, Vera Errington and Sylvester Atkinson. They've all been tremendous community organizers and they're here today to have a meeting hoping to get some support for a nursing home in the Middleton area. Just as a side note, Vera's daughter, Lori, works for the New Democratic Party in the caucus office as a researcher. I'd like everyone to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, before I start my comments today, I must say that by surprise I am not the scheduled speaker going into Supply this afternoon. I'm filling in for the good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. Because of certain business, he's unable to speak just now, but I can tell you that on Monday, going into Supply, he will be bringing his interesting comments about his constituency and the important things that he would like to share with his constituents and the rest of the people of Nova Scotia.

We stand here today, almost on the eve of the anniversary of when we gathered here as the Progressive Conservative Government to take on the very responsible role of governing this province. I want to tell you that I can remember it quite well. At that particular time we arrived here and things were new to us. The process and the procedure of this House was exciting and challenging. But I can tell you now as we have become somewhat veterans of this House we now can act and perform in a more relaxed nature.

The process of this House is a very important process which we've been afforded, under the guidelines of democracy. It is very important that the people of Nova Scotia can go to the polls after making a final decision on who they should have represent them in their government or representatives of their community. Once that person takes on that responsibility they must realize quickly the responsibilities that come along with this job.

[Page 3314]

There are a number of responsibilities. Number one, as we stand here in this House, we must address and be a part of this process. This process gives us an opportunity to talk about the things that are important to us, the things that are important to our constituents. If you happen to follow this on the local TV channel, you will notice that on this side of the House would be the government, on that side of the House would be the Opposition. Quite often you will see in Question Period or in debate that the Opposition members have ample opportunity to stand in their place and question the government about certain things that the government wants to be part of, or certain things that the government wants to go forward with.

The members of the government, such as the backbenchers, are not afforded that opportunity in the same way. Probably someone would challenge that comment because we know we do have the right to stand, and quite often members will stand on certain issues in this House, but it's the practice of the government members to raise their questions in caucus. I want to tell the viewing public that just because they're not seeing their members of the Progressive Conservative caucus challenging the front benches, I want to assure you tonight that there are very capable representatives on this side of the House who pose their questions in caucus, and I want to tell you that I thank this government for the support that they give the backbenchers and their colleagues in this government.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you today that it's without question the greatest gift that we have, the ability to come to this House and bring our concerns and have our concerns addressed. I could stand here this afternoon and talk for hours. As a matter of fact, as I said earlier, I didn't realize this morning that I was going to speak, but I did have an opportunity to be passed some notes - but I'm not going to speak from the notes, I'm going to talk from my heart, there's no doubt about that. I could stand here in this House and talk about the benefits that this government has given to the people of the Eastern Shore for many hours. I want to tell you and make clear some of the things that I stand for. I stand for the premise of democracy; I stand for the right to be able to come in here and gather the constituents' concerns and bring them to this government. I want to tell you, without a doubt, my main concern, my priority in this job is to be able to bring those concerns to this government, and I've been very successful.

We talk about issues in here such as who believes in the Senate and who does not believe in the Senate. We talk about issues in here, Mr. Speaker, about what Party Leader would do the best for governing Canada or governing the province, but I want to tell you, the advantage of coming here is that you can allow all those barriers and hurdles to be moved aside and talk about the very personal things that are important to our constituents.

Mr. Speaker, I could stand here today and tell you about the roads and the road improvements of the Eastern Shore; I could stand here and talk about our new schools that have been placed or will be placed on the Eastern Shore; and I can talk today about our hospital and how important our hospital is to the people on the Eastern Shore. I can tell you

[Page 3315]

that this government has assured this member that this hospital in Musquodoboit Harbour, the Twin Oaks Hospital is safe and it is secure and the emergency facilities are there. I want to tell the people of the Eastern Shore that they can feel confident that this government has allowed this hospital to remain open, even though the budget restraints of health care are certainly a serious issue that we address daily in here as we hear Opposition members talk and speak to government.

I want to assure the people of the Eastern Shore that they are not to worry about their hospital. I want to tell the people of the Eastern Shore that the roads are improving. I want to tell the people of the Eastern Shore that this government knows that education is important and we're addressing those concerns. I want to tell the people of the Eastern Shore that tourism is important on the Eastern Shore. As a member I recognize that, and I speak to the Minister of Tourism and Culture often about things and improvements, and about things that I'm able to bring home to benefit the people and the economy on the Eastern Shore.

I know, Mr. Speaker, that I've stood in my place here many times and I've talked about the Eastern Shore not having great economic generators, but the generators of the Eastern Shore are the people themselves. People have the responsibility to look after themselves on the Eastern Shore. It's sort of a bedroom community, but I want to tell you that, with the movements and the advancements that have taken place on the Eastern Shore, there's going to be a bit of a turn there and I know that great things are to come, great things have been happening and great things are coming to the Eastern Shore.

I also want to make my stand clear on Ship Harbour Long Lake. I know the people in this House have challenged me often in conversation. I want to make sure that that particular area is there. I want to make sure that particular area is kept clean and healthy so that the people not only of the Eastern Shore, but the people of the province can enjoy it. The Ship Harbour Long Lake, Mr. Speaker, is something that I'm very proud of, that I've been very involved in, and we're going to make sure that it's there for a long time for people to enjoy.

I stand here and talk about the good things of the Eastern Shore but, not unlike any other riding, we have some concerns. Yes, we do have some bridges, Mr. Speaker, that need repair. There's no doubt about that. I can stand here today and talk about the Candy Mountain Road Bridge where we're having difficulties with that. I know right now, because of the effects of Hurricane Juan, that the people are struggling to get rid of their brush, and we talk daily about burning bylaws. I know also, I can stand here and tell you that I am an MLA in the HRM, and I will tell you that sometimes can be challenging. I used to represent, in my last mandate, from Ecum Secum to Porters Lake and Lawrencetown, and I want to tell you that the people were not so very happy when the decision was to join the HRM. At that time, I can remember stating clearly that some day we will be adopting the rules and the policies of the core area or their urban area. (Interruptions)

[Page 3316]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The members of the House accorded courtesy to the last two members to hear them and their statements. I would ask the honourable members to accord the same courtesy to the member on the floor at the time.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore has the floor.

MR. DOOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Like I said, we could stand and talk for hours about our ridings. I want to tell you, we are a part of the HRM and that's what we're faced with. From time to time there's controversy between the province and the HRM. I stand here in my place and say that should not be. I stand here today and say that I cannot believe that certain people of the HRM are having difficulty with some of the policies that have been laid down with this government. As you know, I was a part of that HRM. At that time, even though I had difficulty with becoming a part of the core unit, once there I had to make sure that I worked in a fashion that was appropriate, a fashion that was beneficial to the people of the Eastern Shore. I just want to say that I cannot believe the controversy that takes place between the province and the HRM. I suggest that there should be a more co-operative, I guess, movement to work together and for us to enjoy all the benefits of our great province and within our great HRM.

Mr. Speaker, I talked about the good things, starting to talk about some of the stands that I believe in. I know that when we start talking about the HRM that we have to talk about the situation regarding roads. We have to talk about subdivisions, which all people who are within the core area are having difficulty. There soon has to be a movement to resolve the situation of subdivisions. Who owns the subdivisions - the province or the HRM? Who maintains the subdivisions - the province or the HRM? I believe it's necessary for us to sit down soon at the table with HRM and clear up the controversy that surrounds the subdivisions. I say that these bylaws that are in place from time to time will hurt the rural people. Just because we are part of the HRM does not necessarily mean that we should be governed by all core or downtown policies, and I say that in fairness. So I guess I would like to have more support in that area.

Mr. Speaker, you know, it's a great opportunity to stand here to talk about your riding. One issue we have as rural representatives is communicating. Our areas are very large, unlike some urban areas, and quite often the only opportunity we have to communicate with our constituents would be through a newsletter which you send out monthly, or the local paper which is sent out monthly, or sometimes we have to call emergency meetings. I want to tell you that I would ask the constituents of all rural areas of all ridings in Nova Scotia that if they have issues that they would like to address, or questions they would like to have answered, the most appropriate way to do that would be to call the MLA and ask directly the question they would like to have answered. I want to tell you, I've been in this House for close to five years now and I know they're very confident and competent MLAs in this House on both sides, and I will say that. I know that it's the wish for each MLA to make their riding a good riding, to bring home good gifts for the people they represent regardless of the Party.

[Page 3317]

Now, some of the Party philosophies that we share may differ, there's no doubt about it. I would say the people sitting on this side of the House would have generally the right philosophy, I would say that, and I believe that. I would say the people on that side have a fair philosophy sometimes on certain issues. Quite often they do shine, from time to time, on certain issues, and I'll give them that. I know they like to stand up and talk about things that are important to them. The issue is, we're all elected officials, we all have a job to do, and I believe that we all try to do our best.

[2:45 p.m.]

If, Mr. Speaker, you want to be an MLA, if you are not serious about being an MLA, if you do not want to work on behalf of your constituents, I can tell you the constituents will soon tell you that you are not in their favour. It is a demanding job and from time to time, we feel hesitant to defend ourselves, we feel that we should not tell the constituents about the responsibilities that we have and I think that's wrong. I think as representatives we should take great pride in the job that we are doing.

I believe my time is up, Mr. Speaker. I do thank you for the time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:47 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. James DeWolfe in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: We've reached the moment of interruption.

[Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works make a proper overpass a part of Highway No. 103 twinning where it intersects with the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Rails to Trails.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

[Page 3318]

TPW - HWY. NO. 103/BLT RAILS TO TRAILS:

OVERPASS - CONSTRUCT

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I've had the opportunity to introduce this resolution and I look forward to comments from all members of the House, because of course we're addressing a very important issue and that is a possible conflict between an important recreational facility in the growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect and the highway that is being twinned from Exit 3 through to Exit 5.

I would like, first of all, to bring to the minister's attention - and table it for members opposite - a letter of March 26th that I wrote to the minister in which I include:

"Dear Mr. Minister: On Thursday, March 25th, 2004, I attended a community meeting at which concerns were expressed about the proposed overpass across the Rails-to-Trails adjacent to Cranberry Lake."

I'd like to table that letter if I may. I did not receive a response to that letter so I took the opportunity - because I'm aware of the fact the minister and his staff, of course, have many other commitments - to fax the letter again on April 1st and I received a handwritten note on the bottom of the reply in which it said, "MLA Estabrooks:" - handwritten and signed by a member of his staff - "Your inquiry will be responded to shortly."

I still have not received a reply to this issue.

I want to give you a quick geography lesson, as I used to be a history teacher. Highway No. 103 is being twinned down the South Shore highway and it's going along at a very good pace. The concern we have is that we have a Rails to Trails that we have invested many dollars in, and received support from Sports and Recreation, and the trail currently crosses under Highway No. 103, adjacent to Cranberry Lake.

That current overpass is a correct, proper overpass, but what is being proposed is a tunnel, an underpass - if the terminology is correct - that would be 60 feet long and would have no lights. In fact, we were creating a major problem along the BLT Rails to Trails. If you've ever been on one of these Rails to Trails, the Rails to Trails in which I am fortunate enough to be involved is a piece of wonderful sidewalk - almost - it has crusher dust on it, people take their strollers out, you have people on bicycles, you have hikers and, since it is a multi-purpose trail, you also have ATV use.

I can bring an example of a young woman who used to teach in the school system - Rhonda Lynch. I met Rhonda and her daughter out the other day as I was coming down the trail and she and her young daughter were out on the trail just after Highway No. 103 crosses the Rails to Trails and they were biking out towards Sir John A. Macdonald High School. If a tunnel is put there, one of these huge culverts that's going to be 60 feet long - 20 metres I'm

[Page 3319]

told - that will be a dangerous place that Rhonda and her daughter will never want to go through again. It will be a hang-out for teenagers - unfortunately - I don't want to give a bad name to all teenagers, but there will be part of the community that will absolutely not use this part of the Rails to Trails. It will stop. It will become a dangerous area and people are extremely concerned about the plans that the Department of Transportation has.

Mr. Speaker, I have the opportunity to be served by the Masthead News. In this edition of the Masthead News - and I will get a copy of this and the Page can deliver this in just a moment - the headline says "Estabrook [sic] Wants Overpass Across Trail". This is in the Masthead News that has been published today. In it I ask for members of the community to contact the Transportation Minister, or to send e-mails, letters or faxes to me so that I can bring them to the minister's attention.

I've heard many times how important it is to keep young people physically active. I've heard how it's important to have them involved in recreational facilities. Let me tell you, this is a wonderful facility. It's a hiking trail, and if you want to shut down that hiking trail, if you want to shut down the community's sidewalk that goes through Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea out to the Lake of the Woods, out to Sheldrake Lake, you put a tunnel there, which is what is currently proposed, not a proper overpass, not where you have proper lighting, not where you're going to have a place that's going to be nothing more than a hangout, you are going to have a real lack of use of this important trail.

Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister is aware of the fact that he will be receiving follow-up information, he will be receiving contacts. There will be people from the community who'll be expressing their concern about this issue.

I understand it could come down to a matter of dollars and cents. I'm also aware of the fact that when a tender is called for a section of a twinned highway, there's no question the twinned highway is badly needed. It's just as important that our recreation facilities - in this case a hiking trail - continues to receive the proper use which it is continuing to receive each and every day. I'm aware of the fact that there are hikers and walkers, that there are people who have said that under no circumstance will we go through a 60-foot tunnel with no lights and a tunnel that could be dangerous to young men and women, seniors or other people who are travelling through that portion of our trail.

I understand that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has some tough decisions to make when it comes to looking at different projects throughout the province, but I think it's of real importance that we understand that we are not just concerned about getting to and from metro, we're also concerned when we live in the community we want to have the recreational facilities at hand.

[Page 3320]

Currently, HRM is doing a review of facilities across HRM, the municipality. They're doing this review across the municipality, they're looking at facilities and how this growing community needs more indoor facilities, it needs more attention to fields, it needs more attention to basketball courts, and, of course, skateboard parks and things like that. If you look at the most used recreational facility that we have in the growing communities that I represent, we will turn to our Rails to Trails project. Our Rails to Trails, whether it's from the Lakeside Coca Cola plant all the way through the communities of Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea, out past Lewis Lake as far down as to where the Margaret's Bay Rails to Trails begins. I think it's of real importance that we understand that this is a recreational opportunity for our community. We use it all the time, we use it for all kinds of great ways and all kinds of great reasons. I think that, hopefully, I will have the support of the member for Chester-St. Margaret's on this issue. I hope that I will have the support of the Minister for Transportation and Public Works, and our community will have a trail which we'll be able to continue to use in a safe manner.

At that stage, Mr. Speaker, I want to particularly thank the efforts of Catherine Klefenz, Catherine and her husband Erich have been monumental in their work on the BLT Rails to Trails. Sue Mathieu has been also their complement in the St. Margaret's Bay Rails to Trails. If you want to shut down and trail, if you want to shut down a wonderful recreational facility, what you do is you put a poorly lit - no lights at this stage from what we understand tunnel under the Highway No. 103 section that's going to be twinned, you don't have a proper overpass and I will tell you we will have a recreational opportunity that will be shut down. I look forward to support from the Minister of Transportation and Public Works on this issue. The members opposite are aware of the importance of this topic to the people of Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea, and Tantallon, Lewis Lake, et cetera. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the late debate. Basically, of course, I think it's everybody that lives along the South Shore, or Chester-St. Margaret's, or Timberlea-Prospect, basically Nova Scotia, is about the same, well, 10 years ago we counted all the people living in Nova Scotia. I think in 2002, we've come up with about 30,000 more, or something like that, I don't know exact numbers, about the same size. Anybody who lives in the area where the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, or I live in, we do know something is different.

Many people have moved and many people have moved to live there and there are new and numerous residential places. So the world is changing and it's very, very important that - of course everybody has to go to work but at the same time - everybody has to have a nice, enjoyable area. There are some challenges to meet, that's for sure, and I feel very proud of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and this side of the House, at any rate I think everybody is, and that is on improving Highway No. 103. Many people have

[Page 3321]

talked about it, and talked about it, but now finally in the budget right now is $19 million more to improve Highway No. 103, that is twin it, from Exit 3 to Exit 5. It isn't just a patchwork going up the next day, it's a $19 million job and it is certainly going to have everybody in the area, I think, finally realize they're doing this for everybody here and it's a good idea.

Of course, the member for Timberlea-Prospect has talked about safety as being a number one issue. That's correct. Another one, of course, he mentioned are some examples of all the people getting out to use the trail, very important too, and the idea is, of course, that there are trails, Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Rails to Trails, and then you get into the Head of St. Margaret's Bay Rails to Trails, and then you get into the Aspotogan Trail, because everybody realizes you just can't live in an area that this all work and no play, no enjoyment, recreational - is certainly adding to it and you certainly should be doing what we can do to make the area very pleasant.

Certainly we are doing that. Of course, I think many people realize that the trails, what used to be the old rail line and is now the property of the Department of Natural Resources and, of course, any design of anything under, or over Highway No. 103 will have to be okayed by the Department of Natural Resources. So, basically, what's going on, the Department of Transportation and Public Works is looking at twinning the highway from Exit 3 to Exit 5. Of course, I think everybody realizes too that many people who work for the Department of Transportation and Public Works are, indeed, engineers and they're not just naive people, fresh out of college, or anything like that, or just starting an engineering degree. They have some good input on what can be done, facing various challenges.

I understand that some people have brought to the attention of the Department of Transportation and Public Works that the tunnel under Highway No. 103 would be long and dark. Well, I hope those people also realize that we do have 24-hour lights if we want them. We do have various challenges like this throughout the world and they would be all well aware of it, or at least study it. If this was a problem in another place, they would have a solution and I'm sure they are studying that solution. I think it's very, very wise that people - before something is done, they've said, here, we don't want it this way, we don't want it that way, we don't want it like this - and I understand they've made their points of view known to the Department of Transportation and Public Works who will take their expertise, indeed they do have expertise, and do a good study on it.

I think the other thing is, in fact, if I have time I can go on and I'm very, very thrilled to hear our Minister of Transportation and Public Works tell about what we've got and the challenges we have and how we're meeting them. We haven't met them all, but we're going in the right direction. Now, this year, $112.8 million is for improving our roads. When we started in 1999, the capital budget was $38 million. We're going in the right direction, you're darn right we are. I think everybody should appreciate, too, that if you put a tunnel down, the cost is - this is not a specific number, it's a ballpark figure - at least $0.5 million. The minute

[Page 3322]

you decide to go and fix an area and bring an overpass over something else - minimum cost $1 million. Then, if you say, oh my goodness, we should have an interchange and all that good stuff, as they are repairing on that road too, that's at Exit 5 to make it more adequate to handle the traffic that do have.

[6:15 p.m.]

At any rate, to build one of those, an exit is between $5 million and $10 million. We have to make sure that anything that is done has to meet the needs, and we also have to watch the cost too. We are not in a position, because of the great costs that we will have in the future, we can't just waste money. We have to spend our money as wisely as we possibly can. It's got to be cost-effective. Basically, I think they will look at that very much. I think it's very wise that people use the trail on a regular basis. I know the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect pointed out many people who use that. They should certainly be listened to. Many people want to use the trail. Yes, that's the number one thing everybody wants, to use the trail.

In the same area somebody wants to go out to work and travel along the Highway No. 103. Many people want to do that and they will do that, so we have to have a compromise to do this as it should be, cost effective. Of course I know that the people here on this side of the House realize - I think everybody's aware - that about 1999 or just before that, there was a plan. Various bureaucrats who work for the Department of Transportation and Public Works said, okay, if money was no object, we wouldn't need to make effective roads in Nova Scotia, repair the ones we have, not so many new ones but improve to the point of being as good as when they were built. We have a deficit in this regard, we have a $3.5 billion deficit. We don't have that sort of money, but we are going in that direction so we have to be very cost effective when we do that.

Mr. Speaker, I can't go on, but I think we can settle any concerns about this first, make the trail continuous from Beechville, Lakeside, Timberlea to the St. Margaret's Bay trail, and I'm sure people will live through it and do well in it. I think we can solve that problem, because it's certainly a very important thing to do, but it's got to be done cost effective. The best thing is - if the plan is for a tunnel of 60 feet in length and flood lights in it, I don't think that's the end of the world. I think we'll live through it.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

[6:20 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Ms. Joan Massy in the Chair.]

[7:18 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

[Page 3323]

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

THE CLERK: That the Committee has met and made progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 62.

Bill No. 62 - Financial Measures (2004) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I know that we've had quite a few people speak on this bill, the Financial Measures (2004) Bill, but I wanted to have an opportunity to say a few words before I relinquish the floor.

I know that members here and probably some people at home who are watching will know that the Financial Measures (2004) Bill is a piece of enabling legislation that accompanies the budget, which we haven't yet finished examining and haven't reached the point where we're ready to determine what will happen with the provincial budget.

The Financial Measures (2004) Bill has a lot of components to it that will give the budget effect. Concerns have been expressed of some aspects of the Financial Measures (2004) Bill in conjunction with the budget, namely, I think, the increase in the 500-and-some- odd user fees that have been announced by the government, which are a piece of the Financial Measures (2004) Bill.

Mr. Speaker, I know that probably you in your constituency, just as I in my constituency, have heard from people who are concerned about the rising user fees that are attached to so many government services. The fact is that increasing user fees is a very

[Page 3324]

regressive approach to raising revenue in this province because, after all, a person pays the same fee for a service whether they have a very high income or a very low income. Essentially they're charged the same amount of money and it's a regressive form of revenue generation and it's something that certainly we need to be very concerned about.

We've seen, I think, this government's approach over the years to user fees as one that's quite liberal, Mr. Speaker, if you want to use that label. A liberal use of user fees by the John Hamm Progressive Conservative Government in generating revenue. So much so that some of these user fees now are being conceded as being really an increase in taxation and not only about paying for the services that are associated with the service under question. You know I was quite surprised to find out that people who go to the Family Court, or the Unified Family Court now, I guess it is, to make an application to have their maintenance enforced have to pay fairly hefty fees.

In some cases those fees will be waived but, Mr. Speaker, for some people, you know, it's a humiliating process to have to stand in front of some stranger and say, look, I really need to make this application to get the maintenance enforced so I can feed my kids, buy them school supplies, send them on the class trip and those kinds of things but, you know, I don't have the $35 that you require in order for me to make this application.

There was a time not so long ago, Mr. Speaker, when these fees did not exist. The access to the courts, for example, in instances of maintenance were certainly not a feature of trying to get maintenance and to enforce maintenance. So I think we all know, because most of us have regular dealings with the government in our lives, you know, getting birth certificates, getting marriage licences, paying motor vehicle registrations, these kinds of things, and we know that the fees are sometimes substantial and for people with better incomes this is not perhaps an issue, but certainly for people with fixed incomes. Which brings me to the group of people who speak the most to me about user fees and increasing costs through user fees and it's seniors, and the Premier won't find that to be a surprise. I think, you know, for every younger person who talks to me about user fees, I can probably point to five or six seniors who talk to me about user fees and it's very, very clear that the seniors who have fixed incomes and a limited ability to grow those incomes are the people who are often the hardest hit by increases in user fees.

Certainly in my constituency seniors are not at all happy about this government's approach to providing public services. It's interesting because it's often seniors who have a longer view of time and they can remember a time when you had to pay fees for all kinds of things, including medical services. They remember that, and then they remember when government became a more compassionate government and used the income tax system to collect revenue, and provided services based on income tax. Now they see some erosion of that approach. So you see this, and seniors certainly appreciate what's going on.

[Page 3325]

One of the concerns that has been expressed about the Financial Measures (2004) Bill that I think is worth noting is how much of this bill has nothing to do with financial measures and the budget. I think that there are parts of this particular piece of legislation that deal with the Education Act, and the questions have been asked but I don't believe they've been answered. Why are amendments that essentially change the features of our education infrastructure imbedded in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill? Why weren't those introduced as a separate bill that would give members of this Assembly an opportunity to debate them in the context of the area of government in which they properly belong, and allow organizations and people from our communities to come forward and to speak to those concerns? This is a concern that I've heard others raise and it's a concern that I have, but we haven't had any answers here from the minister on this.

This bill refers to the termination of the pilot project in the Tri-County School Board, yet I don't think we've had any report back from the government, from the Minister of Education, that told us what the results of that pilot project were. I think that this is a government that likes to talk a lot about making decisions based on evidence, yet they certainly haven't provided any evidence to the House with respect to that aspect of the pilot project and how that actually went. We would like to see that information, we would like to know where the study is, where the results are, and whether or not the community was consulted in this process.

Mr. Speaker, there are other provisions in this bill that have raised concerns here in the Official Opposition. Last night the Leader of the Official Opposition, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth Cole-Harbour, spoke at length about the concerns that we have about the elimination of the grow-in provisions for pension benefits. We still haven't had an adequate accounting of why this category of benefits is being eliminated. Pensions are very important for people. In my constituency, I see people all the time who, again, are retired, they are increasingly facing incomes that are stagnant, particularly if they were involved in pension plans where annual increments depend on how well the investments from those pension plans have done. I know that there are many seniors who are struggling because what are fairly meagre, modest pensions have seen no growth because of what's happening in the stock market in the last little while.

It's important, certainly, that we protect pensions for our seniors, and we protect the pension rights for workers. This particular provision, as I understand it, has the potential of eliminating benefits for a lot of people if they get into the situation where the business that they're in is no longer in business and they, at some point, require pension benefits. So this is of concern, it's not something that we should take lightly. I would like to see us be able to improve on pension programs and policies and expand the pension system, not shrink the pension system, not reduce public pensions, private pensions or other forms of pensions.

[Page 3326]

Mr. Speaker, those are some of the concerns that I have. There are probably one or two other things, but I'm happy, as are members of our caucus, to have this legislation go to the Committee on Law Amendments and hear from members of the public and see if there is an opportunity then to improve on the Financial Measures (2004) Bill. We will do our best to make sure that Nova Scotians get the best deal we can give them. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise and speak to the Financial Measures (2004) Bill. As per usual, this bill enables government to implement a large number of mostly unrelated financial measures, and some which are not related to finances at all. This bill includes everything from a debt retirement fund to a change in the governance structure of the school boards. What is different this year is that the defeat of this bill is possible, and that could trigger the fall of this government.

Mr. Speaker, it's important for members on the government side to recognize that if the budget passes that this government is not out of the woods. If anything is hidden in the budget that is not disclosed by government during estimates, we will get a second chance at this bill. I urge government members to take this in consideration when being probed on the estimates.

This bill represents an admission by the government, it means, on a simple level, that some of the 560 fees announced earlier were in fact taxes and not user fees. The Finance Minister, in particular, has not been co-operative. He has held very superficial meetings with Opposition Parties but has revealed nothing of importance to either Party.

In the Fall we received a preview of the Public Accounts and a preview of the forecast update. On both occasions we did not get full disclosure. Mr. Speaker, what is worse is that the government failed to disclose measures which added $500 million to the debt. With that, we now have a $12 billion debt in this province, and a lot of people in this province don't really know how much money that is. That amounts to every man, women and child in this province owing the bank at Bay Street $12,000 a piece. A young married couple with two children owe a debt in this province of $48,000 to the banks. Yearly, this family is paying $4,000 to service or pay the interest on this debt, and it's still growing.

Mr. Speaker, again, with this bill we have demonstrated proof that government is not being upfront with the people of Nova Scotia and where we stand on our debt. We urge the government to immediately start a more open dialogue, rather than paying lip service to Opposition demands or enquiries and take a firm stand on debt reduction. The pain now will only make this province stronger in the long run and people will understand.

[Page 3327]

Mr. Speaker, one of the prominent features of this bill is the creation of the fund of the $6 million to help stop debt from growing. We believe there are much better ways to help stop this debt growing, and that is to promote economic development in this province. The debt will only start growing in three more years if everything goes to plan. We need to find better ways of creating growth through economic development which will create jobs and much-needed tax money. The problem with this so-called debt retirement fund is that it does

not seem like anything has changed. We will be shortchanging other programs yearly trying to find debt reduction money which we have to.

The trick is to earn money for debt reduction through job creation of economic development. In fact, the only difference is that management was changed to retirement and the minister has to deposit another $6 million in another year without knowing where this will come from. This seems on the surface to be a PR exercise to make people believe we are reducing the debt without a plan for next year's payment.

The reality is, the government will have to attain surpluses big enough to offset the borrowing for tangible capital assets such as roads, schools, et cetera. We have already taken maintenance money from schools - will we take it from the roads for next year's payment?

In 2007 the government projects that the debt retirement fund will contain $106 million. If you believe that, again, that's a big if, the fund will result in a real surplus of maybe $19 million. So, government is projecting that it needs another $100 million in the fund in order for it to hit $106 million. Is that realistic? I hope I'm wrong, but it's highly doubtful that the debt retirement management fund will ever hit that amount without a plan for more income for this province. My father always told me, son, if you want to spend more, you have to earn more, not borrow more. That's how a properly run business has to be and that goes for government business also.

Secondly, the borrowing for tangible capital assets - roads and schools - will be $86 million in 2007. That means at the very least, government will need to have $86 million surplus in order to stop the debt from growing. Is that realistic? Is it possible to have an $86 million surplus by 2007? Again, I hope I'm wrong, but is government being honest when they say this is possible?

The truth is, the government is not looking beyond the Spring session. They're buying time and that is why this plan is being put into place. Again, the reality is that surpluses are very doubtful without a plan for creating more financing for this province. Remember, this is the same government who said we could afford tax cuts when we really couldn't. A tax cut is premature until we start to attack the debt. We are talking about a $12 billion debt - over twice the amount of our budget. Will we be any further in our goal with this bill?

[Page 3328]

What is possible? That is what government should ask before any bill is put forward. As I have said, government will need at least $86 million to stop the debt from growing. Whether that comes from the management fund or surplus, we will have to wait and see. But we are doubtful of a surplus without a plan to create it or other programs suffering.

Another part of this bill is making it increasingly difficult for government to attain a surplus. The only way government will be able to achieve a surplus is to grow the economy and that is the way it should be. Putting people to work, paying taxes into the system is just good, common sense, but there is nothing in this bill that will help grow the economy. We should be putting all of our energy and resources into this, especially into our rural areas. In fact, portions of this bill will slow the economy, in particular, the large corporations' capital tax. Will this deter businesses from coming to this province? Has any thought been put into this?

Mr. Speaker, our Party does believe in tax cuts but only when they are affordable. They are not affordable now and we never wanted to see the tax cut implemented - not with a growing debt. Tax cuts will not be affordable for some time. We have added $1 billion to our debt in this past five years. At the same time our Party never wanted to see taxes go up. The corporation capital tax is a tax increase, pure and simple, and that might do us more harm than good. We opposed new taxes in the election and we are not pleased with this tax measure.

Mr. Speaker it is easy for government to increase this tax. The NDP won't oppose it because they don't understand economics - they must not if they can't see that this debt is growing to $12 billion - plus. It's an easy hit and probably politically popular but this tax is a job killer. This tax will not help government achieve a surplus in the long run. We don't need a job killer in this province - we need a job maker. As jobs are created, taxes will come down and being a person in business all my life, that sounds like a better idea to me.

Speaking of ideas, there are lots of ideas. In the Digby-Annapolis area there is a great potential for economic growth it just needs promotion. We have an airport in Digby and in a 500-mile radius of that lives 15 million people. According to statistics over 2 per cent of these people have access to small airplanes and they like to get away for the weekend. That's 300,000 people with airplanes that travel over 100 miles an hour - New York to western Nova Scotia in the time it takes for me to drive to this city. I can see a busy airport in Digby, why doesn't Nova Scotia Tourism see this? There is a lot more potential around this province also.

Mr. Speaker, another part of this bill indicates who it thinks is rich. This government is adding a fourth tax bracket. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the new tax bracket starts at $93,000. New Brunswick implemented a fourth tax bracket some time ago, but they set their final tax bracket at $107,000 to $160,000. For most people in Nova Scotia, $93,000 is a lot of money - no question. Undoubtedly doctors, engineers and others might be lost to

[Page 3329]

New Brunswick, because our highest tax bracket is $14,000 less than New Brunswick. That's well worth moving on.

Mr. Speaker, every tax bracket is lower in Nova Scotia. The basic personal exemption is the lowest in Canada. The reason is inflation (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis has the floor.

MR. THERIAULT: I got them all worked up, Mr. Speaker.

The reason is inflation and the failure of this government to index tax credits to inflation. Tax increases every year to this province through the back door. Again, government should freeze taxes, not decrease them - and not increase them. Every year taxes are going up because of inflation and Nova Scotians are none the wiser. Even if a small tax cut remains in place for Nova Scotia, making under $29,000 they will see their tax cut disappear. Low-income Nova Scotians are not protected from inflation and the tax cut is an illusion. Government protected the tax cut for low-income Nova Scotians temporarily, but it will disappear with inflation. Let us make it clear that taxes have to be stable until we can afford a reduction - and it will be a long time considering the challenges we face in terms of debt and increasing health costs.

Mr. Speaker, another part of this bill, with regard to pensions, is necessary but could have been avoided - increases in the amount of 1per cent be made to the Teachers' Pension Fund and Public Sector Fund. The Public Sector Fund was over 100 per cent funded three years ago and the Teachers' Pension Fund was at 90 per cent.

[7:45 p.m.]

The question is, what happened? How do you go from 100 per cent funding to a little over 76 per cent three years later? The markets were down, but why were risks being taken over 100 per cent funded? I believe that the true nature of pension loss requires further disclosure on the part of government. We will have other opportunities to discuss this bill clause by clause, but I wish to make some comments on the increases in taxes for registering an unlimited liability company. This measure will bring in $1.6 million for the province as long as Nova Scotia is unique as the only Canadian jurisdiction that currently provides this service.

Mr. Speaker, not only does registering these companies bring in money for the province, the registration process involved in setting an unlimited liability company provides work for our legal accounting professionals. The concern is that increases in fees will chase business away from local lawyers and accountants. Government is increasing their fees because they think that Nova Scotia is the only jurisdiction, but it should be noted that

[Page 3330]

Alberta is ready to allow unlimited liability companies to register in Alberta. If Alberta's fees are lower, there will be no unlimited liability companies registering in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to say again that we are uncomfortable with some of the tax measures. We are alarmed that the government tried to pass off fee increases as cost recovery when they were really taxes. We are very concerned that the debt management plan is unreachable and that it is designed to just get this government past this Spring. This bill demonstrates a lack of vision by the government. This could do us great harm in the future, financially. We believe this bill confirms that the government does not have a plan beyond this Spring.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Finance, it will be to close debate on Bill No. 62.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all the members for their contribution to the debate during second reading. With that, I move second reading of Bill No. 62.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 62. 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. 61.

Bill No. 61 - Theatres and Amusements Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to stand to talk on Bill No. 61 for second reading. As everyone here probably knows by now, my soon-to-be-famous son, if he isn't famous already, Sean Massey, is the person I owe this bill to. If it was not for him going into a video store, a retail store, and purchasing a game rated "mature, for 17 years and older" when he was only 14, I would not have come up with this fantastic idea to move this legislation.

[Page 3331]

Seriously though, we must take steps to control the violence that our children are seeing, the same way we do when we go to the movie theatres. However, unfortunately, there is nothing in place now to restrict access to violent video games in Nova Scotia. I know none of us here want our children playing violent video games at a young age. All we need to do here is have our legislation catch up to the technology that's available today for our children and our youth. Therefore, we do need to enforce age restrictions on the rental and purchase of video games in this province and we must give businesses the legal authority they need to enforce this restricted access. I know in Nova Scotia we all feel that families are very important and this is one way that we can lead the way in protecting our children.

Mr. Speaker, this bill would amend the Theatres and Amusements Act and it would establish a definition of video games. It would set the ESRB rating system as a provincial standard, while allowing for the provincial Cabinet to make regulations, adding further standards or classifications if it was necessary. It would ensure that retail outlets sell only games that have been rated by the ESRB or some other classification that may be adopted by these regulations.

Mr. Speaker, when this issue first came forward to me, I did a little bit of research. Studies in the United States show that 78 per cent of stores do allow unaccompanied minors to purchase these games that are rated for mature audiences. In fact, the State of Washington Legislature found that there had been an increase in studies showing the correlation between exposure to violent video games, computer games, with various forms of holistic and antisocial behaviour.

Our current situation here in Nova Scotia is that the stores are not able to enforce the ESRB rating system that they voluntarily use. Stores currently do not have to display the mature or adult-only video games in a separate area. They do not have to display the rating system at all in the stores for parents, children or youth to see. Our provincial and federal Justice Ministers have agreed that a rating system for video games is necessary to reduce children's exposure to violent media. British Columbia already has plans in place, and they have had to make it illegal to sell certain games in that province. The goals of our Justice Ministers (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would like to say that bullying and violence in our schools and in our communities is a growing problem. While the NDP agrees that a national uniform approach is a positive idea, we must forward on our own and take this important first step now, here in this province. We cannot wait for a national working group to protect our own children. I will leave it at that. I move second reading.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of this particular piece of legislation. (Applause) I believe that any piece of legislation that has merit

[Page 3332]

in supporting and protecting children from a lot of the ills that are before them in today's society is a welcome and a positive measure. I think it's fair to say that over the years, and in particular the last 20 years, the culture within society has changed quite dramatically, within the family institution, within the schools, within the community in general. I believe that somehow we seem to always come to this point where we're always suggesting that somebody else should accept the responsibility on many of the social problems that are before us.

It's refreshing when you hear, through the minds and mouths of young people in Nova Scotia, such as the young gentleman who was referenced, to see things as they really are. Mr. Speaker, as you know, I've always been a strong advocate of the young people in Nova Scotia, insisting that government give a greater voice to the young people in Nova Scotia, whether it be through the Youth Secretariat, whether it be through the advisory boards, the boards of governors in universities, or whether it's more active participation, as I've suggested on a number of occasions, and outlined the fact that I, myself, started a mentorship program for university students back in 1989 in my constituency, to help educate young people to become better informed on how to become very positive and proactive citizens.

So what we see here, through this piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that we have a young person coming to some of the - well, it's as I've always suggested, that this is the forum of last resort of any justice you're going to get in the Province of Nova Scotia. If the young people come and ask for the help then we owe it to them to do something about it, and this legislation speaks to that. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, as a father of three and I'm sure as many in this Legislature have had the experience of being a parent and in some cases grandparent, or a guardian to children, you see the many different ways that young people grow and develop into the future of tomorrow. As I've always said, the youth of today are the guardians of tomorrow's prosperity.

Mr. Speaker, all too often, as has been suggested, young people can get into liquor stores with fake IDs. All too often young people can get into bars with fake IDs. That's not necessarily a negative on the individual young person, but it's a fact of a young person developing into an adult and they challenge society in so many different ways. We as leaders and legislators have an obligation to allow those young people to grow, make mistakes but help them and to put the legal framework in place. This legislation helps to do that on this particular topic.

With that, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Liberal caucus, we will be supporting this particular piece of legislation as I know all members of this Legislature will support any youth initiative that's before this House. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable member for Dartmouth East it will be to close the debate on Bill No. 61.

[Page 3333]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 61.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 61. 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, I move the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit for approximately four and a half to five hours in time to get four hours in on estimates and then we'll adjourn for the weekend.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 9:00 a.m.

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 stand adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 7:57 p.m.]

[Page 3334]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1469

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Los Primos Society is a not-for-profit association, started by a group of Nova Scotians, that delivers band instruments to Cuban schools and sponsors trips to Canada for young Cuban musicians; and

Whereas since its inception in 1996, they have delivered 180 band instruments to Cuba and sponsored trips to Canada for three Cuban bands; and

Whereas the Los Aragoncitos band is a group of 12 students from the Benny More School of Art in Cienfuegos, Cuba, and will be touring Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island from May 10th until May 30th, giving numerous concerts for local schools and for the public;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend a warm welcome to the Los Aragoncitos musicians and their chaperones and wish them every success with their musical tour and honour the Los Primos Society for their wonderful work.

RESOLUTION NO. 1470

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Billy McNutt, a former Oxford Regional High School Golden Bear, continues to win basketball accolades; and

Whereas Billy, who now attends the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, was named the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association's Rookie of the Year; and

Whereas Billy, an 18-year-old in his first year of the four-year Bachelor of Science program, was also named All Conference All Star for 2003-04;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Billy McNutt on being named the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association's Rookie of the Year and wish him continued success in the future.

[Page 3335]

RESOLUTION NO. 1471

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas members of the McMillan family have long been supporters of activities in the community of Springhill where they have lived and operated their family business; and

Whereas the McMillans have now shown their commitment to the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Centre project; and

Whereas the McMillans have committed $25,000 to the project and have planned a host of fundraising events within their operation to help them reach their goal to see the Springhill Community Centre become a reality;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the McMillan family on the generous contribution to the Springhill Community Centre and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1472

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Reverend Charlotte Ross was recently presented with the Mayflower medal; and

Whereas the presentation was made to Reverend Ross for giving 35 years of service to her church, community and the Guiding movement; and

Whereas Reverend Ross was presented with the medal at a ceremony held at Christ Church in Amherst during Scout/Guide Week;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Reverend Charlotte Ross on receiving the Mayflower Medal and wish her continued success in the future.

[Page 3336]

RESOLUTION NO. 1473

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Lillian Porter received an anniversary pin at a celebration of service evening held by the Ladies Auxiliary of Branch 45, Royal Canadian Legion in Parrsboro; and

Whereas the pin was presented to Lillian for 40 years of dedicated service to the Ladies Auxiliary in recognition of very important and selfless work; and

Whereas the pin was presented during the Auxiliary's 55th Anniversary Charter Night Dinner;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Lillian Porter on receiving this pin of appreciation for all of her years of dedication and hard work and wish her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1474

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Audrey Phinney received an anniversary pin at a celebration of service evening held by the Ladies Auxiliary of Branch 45, Royal Canadian Legion in Parrsboro; and

Whereas the pin was presented to Audrey for 30 years of dedicated service to the Ladies Auxiliary in recognition of very important and selfless work; and

Whereas the pin was presented during the Auxiliary's 55th Anniversary Charter Night Dinner;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Audrey Phinney on receiving this pin of appreciation for all of her years of dedication and hard work and wish her all the best in the future.

[Page 3337]

RESOLUTION NO. 1475

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Clara Pettigrew received an anniversary pin at a celebration of service evening held by the Ladies Auxiliary of Branch 45, Royal Canadian Legion in Parrsboro; and

Whereas the pin was presented to Clara for 25 years of dedicated service to the Ladies Auxiliary in recognition of very important and selfless work; and

Whereas the pin was presented during the Auxiliary's 55th Anniversary Charter Night Dinner;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Clara Pettigrew on receiving this pin of appreciation for her years of dedication and hard work and wish her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1476

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Edith Purdy was honoured with an award for Volunteer of the Year by the Municipality of Cumberland at the Truemanville Fire Department on April 7, 2004; and

Whereas Edith has campaigned for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Kidney Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society for the last 28 years in her local area, has volunteered with the Joggins Legion Ladies Auxiliary for over 20 years and for the last five years has been an active member of the Ladies Auxiliary Patriarchs Militant and the Church of England Guild where she serves as treasurer; and

Whereas Edith was widowed early and raised her six daughters on her own but felt that when her children had grown and were on their own that she wanted to use her time towards any worthwhile cause that could use her, so in the past two years she has become active in the local Senior Citizens Association;

[Page 3338]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Edith Purdy on receiving this well-deserved award and for her many years of unselfish giving to so many worthwhile causes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1477

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Parrsboro Zellers hockey team claimed the bantam championship at the 5th annual C.E. Harrison's Minor Hockey Tournament; and

Whereas Justice Brown turned aside all shots to earn the shutout and Travis MacMillan scored what proved to be the winning goal; and

Whereas Sebastien Bergeron added an assist on the MacMillan goal and Luke Welton, assisted by Brad Wood, iced the victory for Parrsboro when he scored into an empty net with 42 seconds to play;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all the members of the Parrsboro Zellers hockey team and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1478

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas training, eating right and avoiding major injuries has propelled Springhill's Luke Perrin to national prominence; and

Whereas Luke was crowned the Canadian Power Lifting Union 75 kilogram-and-under champion during the National Championships in March; and

Whereas Luke's total for the three-discipline event was 495 kilograms, including squats, bench press and dead lifts, which resulted in winning the gold medal from Waterloo, Ontario;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Luke Perrin and wish him continued success in all of his future endeavours.

[Page 3339]

RESOLUTION NO. 1479

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Luke Perrin, a 19-year-old high school student from Springhill has collected a number of trophies and medals with his latest achievement, a record-setting bench press that raised the bar for other power lifters in his age group in the province; and

Whereas besides lifting 286 pounds, Luke also set the provincial record for total lift weight which measures the combined weight of three lifts with 1,036 pounds being the total lift weight that qualified him for the nationals; and

Whereas Luke's two years of dedication and hard work have paid off and he met his destiny at the National Power Lifting Championships in Waterloo, Ontario;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Luke on his outstanding achievements and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1480

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 Kidson Excavation in Lake Charlotte 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 Kidson Excavation in Lake Charlotte for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

[Page 3340]

RESOLUTION NO. 1481

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 M&G Sons Auto Salvage in Lake Charlotte 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 M&G Sons Auto Salvage in Lake Charlotte for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1482

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 Manny Baker Carpentry in Oyster Pond 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 Manny Baker Carpentry in Oyster Pond Jeddore for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

[Page 3341]

RESOLUTION NO. 1483

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 Narrows Point Construction 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 Narrows Point Construction for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1484

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 Periwinkle Photographic Services 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 Periwinkle Photographic Services in Musquodoboit Harbour for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.