The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04-45

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 13, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Bill No. 62: Clause 46 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 3639
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
AgraPoint International Business Plan, Hon. C. d'Entremont 3640
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1676, Petroleum Prod. Pricing: Select Comm. - Establishment,
Hon. B. Barnet 3640
Vote - Affirmative 3641
Res. 1677, Wright, Jane: Restaurant Success - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3642
Vote - Affirmative 3642
Res. 1678, Comeau, Maurice: Community Involvement - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 3642
Vote - Affirmative 3643
Res. 1679, Scottish Parliament - Anniv. (5th), Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3643
Vote - Affirmative 3644
Res. 1680, Justice: Officer Safety Instructor Course - Grads. Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 3644
Vote - Affirmative 3645
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 79, Petroleum Products Pricing Act, Hon. B. Barnet 3645
No. 80, Gasoline and Diesel Oil Fair-marketing Practices Act,
Mr. D. Dexter 3645
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1681, White, Jeremy - Cadet Boxing Medal, Mr. J. MacDonell 3645
Vote - Affirmative 3646
Res. 1682, Robichaud, Marc - WVDA Innovation Leader of Yr.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 3646
Vote - Affirmative 3646
Res. 1683, Young, Ada R. - Birthday (75th), Mr. W. Dooks 3647
Vote - Affirmative 3647
Res. 1684, Environ. & Lbr.: Protected Areas Identification -
Process Develop, Ms. J. Massey 3647
Res. 1685, Hyslop, Don: Gaelic Culture - Advancement, Mr. L. Glavine 3648
Vote - Affirmative 3649
Res. 1686, Kentville Advertiser/Reporters: CCNA Award - Nomination,
Mr. M. Parent 3649
Vote - Affirmative 3649
Res. 1687, Romanow Recommendations: Fed. Parties - Implement,
Mr. D. Dexter 3650
Res. 1688, Sports: Sackville Blazers/Verran, Jason -
Hockey Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3651
Vote - Affirmative 3651
Res. 1689, MacKenzie, Milton - Birthday (100th), Mr. C. Parker 3651
Vote - Affirmative 3652
Res. 1690, Millenium Scholarship Fdn.: Students - Discuss,
Mr. L. Glavine 3652
Res. 1691, Com. Serv.: Protesters' Pay Docking - Condemn,
Ms. M. More 3653
Res. 1692, Com. Serv.: Women's Ctrs. CONNECT! - Consult,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3654
Res. 1693, Newpark Drilling Fluids: Mulgrave Terminal - Welcome,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 3655
Vote - Affirmative 3655
Res. 1694, Group of Nine - Romanow Recommendations: Efforts -
Commend, Mr. J. Pye 3656
Vote - Affirmative 3656
Res. 1695, McRuer, Jeff - E. Hants Mun. Award, Mr. J. MacDonell 3657
Vote - Affirmative 3657
Res. 1696, Westville PD: Efforts - Applaud, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3657
Vote - Affirmative 3658
Res. 1697, RCL Br. 12 Ladies Aux. - Anniv. (50th), Mr. G. Gosse 3658
Vote - Affirmative 3659
Res. 1698, Rainbow Riders Gymnastic Team: Medal - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 3659
Vote - Affirmative 3659
Res. 1699, Pothier, Eric/Sobeys Tantallon: Commun. Serv. - Thank,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3660
Vote - Affirmative 3660
Res. 1700, Gniewek, Larry: Vol. Work - Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 3660
Vote - Affirmative 3661
Res. 1701, Tri-County Women's Ctr. - Staff/Vols.: Efforts - Commend,
Ms. D. Whalen 3661
Res. 1702, Sutherland, Ruth Anne: Zambia Work - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3662
Vote - Affirmative 3663
Res. 1704, Dart. HS: Model Parliament - Students Congrats.,
Mr. J. Pye 3663
Vote - Affirmative 3664
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 459, Ins.: Ind. Pressure - Capitulation, Mr. D. Dexter 3664
No. 460, TPW - Hwy. No. 101: Cost-Sharing - Details, Mr. W. Gaudet 3665
No. 461, Ins. - Legislation: Allstate Response - Gov't. Reaction,
Mr. D. Dexter 3667
No. 462, Com. Serv. - Affordable Housing: Cost-Sharing - Details,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3668
No. 463, PC Caucus Chair. - Comments: African-N.S. Sch.
Bd. Members - Apology Offer, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3669
No. 464, TCH: Reg. Tourism Ind. Assoc. - Role, Mr. S. McNeil 3671
No. 465, Com. Serv.: Soc. Assist. - Cutoff Policy, Mr. D. Dexter 3672
No. 466, Com. Serv. - Income Assist. Workers: Caseloads - Reduce,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3673
No. 467, Educ.: C.B. Teaching Positions - Cuts, Mr. G. Gosse 3675
No. 468, Econ. Dev. - TrentonWorks: Jobs - Protect, Mr. C. Parker 3676
No. 469, TPW - Hwy. No. 101/Ben Jackson Rd.: Cost Study -
Results Release, Mr. L. Glavine 3677
No. 470, TCH - Arts & Culture Partnership Council: Chairman -
Resignation, Mr. G. Steele 3679
No. 471, TCH - Min.: N.S. Arts Comm'n. Executive - Meetings,
Mr. S. McNeil 3680
No. 472, WCB: Chairman/Stakeholders - Min. Alignment,
Mr. F. Corbett 3681
No. 473, Gaming Corp. - Chairman: Bonus - Confirm, Ms. D. Whalen 3682
No. 474, Environ. & Lbr.: WW II Weapons Disposal - Details,
Ms. J. Massey 3683
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 1:44 P.M. 3684
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 1:46 P.M. 3684
CWH REPORTS 3684
HOUSE RECESSED AT 1:47 P.M. 3685
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 2:00 P.M. 3685
HOUSE RECESSED AT 2:01 P.M. 3685
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 3:37 P.M. 3685
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 3686
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., May 14th at 9:00 a.m. 3686
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1704, Comeau, Tina: CCNA Award - Finalist, Hon. R. Hurlburt 3687
Res. 1705, Lun. Co. Information/Referral Line: Partners -
Acknowledge, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3687
Res. 1706, Fishing Season: Anglers - Success Wish, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3688
Res. 1707, Loonie Lunches: Value - Recognize, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3688
Res. 1708, Slack, Douglas Roy: Masonic Lodge No. 48 - Dedication,
The Speaker 3689
Res. 1709, Police Wk.: Support - Offer, The Speaker 3689
Res. 1710, Harbour Rentals & Marine Ltd.: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3690
Res. 1711, Chickadees for Family Dining: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3690
Res. 1712, D&L Leslie Electrical: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3691
Res. 1713, The Marine Drive Publisher: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3691

[Page 3639]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 13, 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 Halifax Fairview:

Therefore be it resolved that the government stop delaying the construction of the new residential care centre in Cossitt Heights, Sydney.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 49 members of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, the operative clause which reads as follows, ". . . we, the undersigned, call on the Hamm government to withdraw Clause 46 of Bill 62 in favour of an extensive round of discussions with NSGEU and CUPE that will conclude by the end of 2004 about longer-term solutions to the funding problems of the Plan and the possibility of joint governance or trusteeship." I have affixed my signature to the petition.

3639

[Page 3640]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Business Plan for AgraPoint International for the year 2004-05.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1676

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

Whereas a Select Committee on Petroleum Product Pricing is to be formed based on equal representation from each Party;

Therefore be it resolved that:

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 Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

[Page 3642]

RESOLUTION NO. 1677

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

Whereas The Coast magazine has just released its 3rd annual Best of Food Readers' Survey; and

Whereas this year's Best New Restaurant and Best Brunch Winner is Halifax's Jane's on the Common; and

Whereas the idea for Jane's on the Common hatched from a single mother of two who wanted to be able to reconnect to her neighbourhood and family - a former NDP researcher who, in a previous life, spent many a day and evening working at this Legislature;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jane Wright on the success she has attained to date in what is a very competitive business, and wish her all the luck as she continues to provide hearty, home-cooked meals at her Halifax eatery.

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1678

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

Whereas Maurice Comeau, an employee with the Department of Natural Resources, has used his training and experience as a forestry technician to initiate several projects in the Digby County area; and

[Page 3643]

Whereas most recently, as President of the Digby Elementary Home and School Association, Maurice brought together government organizations to establish an educational woodlot that will be a tool available for teaching our children about different forest management techniques; and

Whereas Maurice has worked on other projects, such as the construction of a bird-viewing platform at Mavillette Beach, and he has participated in National Forest Week school visits, is a Beaver Leader and a volunteer firefighter in the community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize and congratulate Maurice for his active involvement in his community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

[12:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1679

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

Whereas Scotland was ruled by the British Parliament since the 1707 Act of union; and

Whereas Scotland voted to have their own Parliament in 1999; and

Whereas Dr. Winnie Ewing, the oldest member of the Scottish Parliament, declared on May 12, 1999, "the Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on March 25, 1707, is hereby reconvened";

[Page 3644]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the important ties that Nova Scotia has with Scotland, and congratulate the Scottish Parliament on its 5th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1680

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 Department of Justice sponsored a training program for 18 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the military, the Department of Natural Resources and municipal police from Truro, New Glasgow, Cape Breton Regional Municipality and Springhill; and

Whereas this train-the-trainer program supports the safety of law enforcement officers and the general public in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas these trainers will receive their certificates tomorrow, after two weeks of intensive training;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the graduates of the Officer Safety Instructor Course, and thank them for their public service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3645]

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. 79 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Price of Petroleum Products. (Hon. Barry Barnet)

Bill No. 80 - Entitled an Act Respecting Fair-marketing Practices in the Sale of Gasoline and Diesel Oil. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1681

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

Whereas amateur boxing is a sport which promotes self-discipline, health and self-assurance; and

Whereas Nova Scotians have long distinguished themselves on the national boxing scene; and

Whereas on May 2nd, Mr. Jeremy White of Kennetcook won the gold medal at the 2004 National Cadet Boxing Championships in St. Catharines, Ontario, in the 60 kilogram class;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Jeremy White on his gold medal victory at the National Cadet Boxing Championships and for upholding the proud tradition of Nova Scotia boxers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3646]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1682

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

Whereas the Robichaud family have, for several generations, through their company, Robichaud Building Supplies, been active participants in the business community of Meteghan; and

Whereas the current co-owner, Marc Robichaud is a highly-respected programmer, inventor and entrepreneur; and

Whereas the Western Valley Development Authority has recently presented Marc Robichaud with the Innovation Leader of the Year Award during the 2004 Innovation Summit held at Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Marc Robichaud on his outstanding achievement and wish success in all of his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3647]

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1683

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

Whereas a 75th birthday is a date that should not go unrecognized; and

Whereas Musquodoboit Harbour resident, Ada R. Young, was 75 years young on April 26th of this year; and

Whereas family and friends gathered at the Chezzetcook Lions Centre on April 25th to celebrate this important birthday;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Ada R. Young on the occasion of her 75th birthday.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1684

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

Whereas 80 per cent of Crown land is not designated as protected; and

Whereas in 1992 a network was to be established to represent 80 distinct natural regions of Nova Scotia; and

[Page 3648]

Whereas only a fraction are represented in the province's protected areas system and nothing new has been added since 1997;

Therefore be it resolved that this government develop a clear process to identify and establish new protected areas, starting by keeping the promise made in June 2003 to designate Gully Lake and Eigg Mountain/James River as protected wilderness areas.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1685

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

Whereas Gaelic Heritage Night was held at Pine Ridge Middle School in Kingston on May 7th under the direction of Don Hyslop; and

Whereas in its six-year history, support has come from Lewis MacKinnon, President of the Nova Scotia Gaelic Council; the then Minister of Tourism and Culture, the Honourable Rodney MacDonald; Hector MacQuarrie; Barry Shears; Beth and Jamie MacNeil; and Mary Jane Lamond; and 14 Wing Greenwood Pipes and Drums; and

Whereas Don Hyslop and the Grades 6, 7 and 8 choirs have raised over $4,000 to support the Nova Scotia Highland Village as they entertained and promoted the cause, Cum Gaidhlig Beo! (Keep Gaelic Alive);

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Don Hyslop for this advancement of Gaelic culture, music, dance and piping, and wish him the best in retirement after his 30-year teaching career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3649]

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1686

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

Whereas Kentville's Advertiser has recently been nominated for a Canadian Community Newspapers Association General Excellence Award; and

Whereas the nomination recognizes the Advertiser as one of the three best newspapers in Canada in its circulation class; and

Whereas Advertiser reporters John DeCoste and Kirk Starratt have also been nominated for individual awards;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Advertiser on its recognition from the Canadian Community Newspapers Association as one of the best three newspapers in its circulation class in Canada, and John DeCoste and Kirk Starratt on their nominations, and wish them all the best at the awards ceremony in June.

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 3650]

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1687

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

Whereas even in the final stages of the pre-election campaign the federal government is not committed to fulfilling the Romanow Commission recommendation that Ottawa provide 25 per cent of health care funding; and

Whereas Medicare was established on the basis of 50 per cent federal funding; and

Whereas Nova Scotia health care would receive another badly-needed $250.9 million in 2004-05 to reduce wait times and improve people's health if the Romanow target had been reached;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge all federal Parties to commit themselves to implementing the Romanow recommendations for a renewed Medicare program, including 25 per cent federal cost sharing that is dedicated to changing health care for the better.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Order, please.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to do an introduction before I read my resolution. I want to draw the members' attention to the west gallery where we have Jennifer Taylor who is the Executive Director of the Evangeline Trail Tourism Association, as well as Derek LeGard, who is the new President as of last Tuesday, May 11th. Derek also operates the Falcourt Inn, which happens to be in my riding, and he resides in Nictaux. I would ask you both to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our guests to the gallery today.

[Page 3651]

The honourable member for Annapolis on his resolution.

RESOLUTION NO. 1688

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 Don Johnson Cup, the Atlantic Championships for the Junior B Hockey League were recently held in Antigonish; and

Whereas the Sackville Blazers were successful in winning their second consecutive title; and

Whereas Jason Verran, a Bridgetown resident, was named the Most Valuable Player with 11 goals and eight assists in 17 playoff games, again leading the league as the top scorer in the regular season;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jason Verran and the entire Sackville Blazers team on their victory.

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. 1689

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

Whereas Milton MacKenzie of Scotsburn, Pictou County, celebrates his 100th birthday on May 20, 2004; and

[Page 3652]

Whereas Milton was a farmer all his life, and he and his wife still reside on the family farm; and

Whereas there is no nobler calling than being a farmer and providing food for your fellow man;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Milton MacKenzie on his 100th birthday and wish him continued good health and happiness.

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. 1690

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

Whereas the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation was in Halifax yesterday to hold discussions with students, parents and financial aid administrators, in order to receive advice about revamping their program; and

Whereas this province has once again boasted a balanced budget, all the while failing to disclose that they balanced their books on the backs of students who can least afford it; and

Whereas the provincial government still will not admit to causing students in this province extreme duress by cutting the $6 million Loan Remission Program when it received $9 million from the Millennium Foundation in 2000; the province only replaced the money, or to be precise, 50 per cent of the money, once the Millennium Foundation threatened to pull the scholarship fund out of Nova Scotia;

[Page 3653]

Therefore be it resolved that the government listen to the students of the province during discussions with the Millennium Scholarship Foundation, and provide our leaders of the future with the respect they so much deserve.

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.

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

Whereas Ron Fielding was named to the Honour Roll of the Truro Sport Heritage Society for excellence in hockey; and

Whereas Ron Fielding, following an outstanding career as a minor hockey player, was a member of the 1949-50 and 1950-51 Halifax Saint Mary's junior team, which won the Maritime Junior Title and competed in the Memorial Cup playdowns; and

Whereas Ron Fielding, following an outstanding career as a . . . Mr. Speaker, I apologize, I'm going to have to read this again.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1691

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

Whereas social workers are obligated to lobby on behalf of their clients; and

Whereas when child protection workers came to this Legislature two years ago today to protest high workloads and unfilled positions, the government rewarded their dedication by docking a day's pay; and

[Page 3654]

Whereas members of the NSGEU's Community Services Working Group are coming here today to mark the anniversary of that less-than-auspicious event;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the draconian and unwarranted actions of the Department of Community Services against 12 dedicated and caring child protection workers May 13, 2002.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1692

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

Whereas today at the Community Services' Committee meeting, representatives of Women's Centres CONNECT! confirmed that homelessness was a major issue of concern for many of the 15,000 clients they serve annually; and

Whereas government officials overseeing the federal-provincial affordable housing agreement of $37 million needs the input of all major stakeholders on the issue of homelessness, particularly Women's Centres CONNECT!; and

Whereas Women's Centres CONNECT! representatives have also confirmed the provincial government has not consulted with their organization in any way on ways to best achieve affordable housing;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services consult with Women's Centres CONNECT! on how to best spend the $37 million committed to affordable housing.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3655]

[12:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1693

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 provision of drilling fluids and related technical engineering is a core service required by offshore exploration and development companies; and

Whereas Newpark Drilling Fluids of Houston, Texas, has announced that they will be establishing a drilling fluids facility at the Superport Marine Terminal in Mulgrave; and

Whereas Newpark is an internationally recognized oil and gas industry service provider and its decision to locate in Mulgrave will aid in the development of a supply base operation in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in welcoming Newpark Drilling Fluids to the Superport Marine Terminal in Mulgrave and to Nova Scotia and wish them much success in this new enterprise.

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 3656]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1694

MR. JERRY PYE: 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 is a coalition of nine seniors organizations in Nova Scotia with close to 100,000 members; and

Whereas in June 2002, the Group of Nine appeared before the Romanow Commission on health care calling for changes to protect our national Medicare System; and

Whereas the Group of Nine has written to Prime Minister Martin, urging the federal government to act now to implement changes recommended by the Romanow Commission;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislative Assembly (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North on the therefore be it resolved, please.

MR. PYE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you kindly.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislative Assembly commend the Group of Nine for their determination to hold the federal government accountable and support them as they press for real progress in implementing the recommendations of the Romanow Commission on health care.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 3657]

RESOLUTION NO. 1695

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

Whereas volunteers are always needed to take positions of responsibility as directors on boards of organizations; and

Whereas the District Health Authorities are the bridge between the public and the government; and

Whereas on Volunteer Awards Night, April 24, 2004, Mr. Jeff McRuer was honored by the Municipality of East Hants for his work with the District Health Authority;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank Jeff McRuer for giving of his time and abilities to contribute to the important job of health care delivery.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1696

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

Whereas the Westville Police Department and their officers will do anything for their community; and

Whereas the officers are always involved in learning or teaching new techniques whether it is on bike safety or Neighbourhood Watch; and

[Page 3658]

Whereas the Westville Police Department sponsored an exceptionally successful Police Emergency Expo, which brought in emergency personnel from all over Pictou and Antigonish Counties;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of the Westville Police Department as they undertake tasks in their daily lives, while also ensuring a safe community for residents and taxpayers of Westville.

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. 1697

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

Whereas on March 25, 1954, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 12 of Dorchester Street in Sydney, applied for their charter and received it on June 10, 1954; and

Whereas the Ladies Auxiliary of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 12, celebrated their 50 years of service to their Legion and community on Saturday, May 8, 2004; and

Whereas Ann Spears, Marjorie Graves, Mildred Huntington, and Ruth MacIntyre, who are the original surviving members received their 50th year pins for their service;

Therefore be it resolved that the member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly recognize and honour the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 12 Ladies Auxiliary on their 50 years of service and congratulate Ann Spears, Marjorie Graves, Mildred Huntington, and Ruth MacIntyre for their 50 years of outstanding dedication and service to Branch 12.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3659]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1698

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 Eastern Canadian Trampoline and Tumbling Championships were held May 1 and 2, 2004, in Montreal; and

Whereas the Rainbow Riders Gymnastics Team of Greenwood represented Nova Scotia with pride and skill, and returned home with a bronze medal; and

Whereas the members of this team are Ashleigh MacGregor, Johanna Wamboldt, Abbie Hankinson, Cassie Odegard, Victoria Kennedy, Brittany Blinn and Hailey Reagh;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all the members of the Rainbow Riders Gymnastics Team on a job well done.

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.

[Page 3660]

RESOLUTION NO. 1699

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

Whereas Eric Pothier has made a valuable contribution to our community as the Manager of the Tantallon Sobey's; and

Whereas Mr. Pothier and his staff have continued to serve the area during the renovations and addition to the store; and

Whereas Eric Pothier always greets his customers with a smile and a helpful hand;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank Eric Pothier and the staff of Sobey's Tantallon on their service.

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. 1700

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

Whereas volunteers play a very integral role in our community, contributing significantly to the quality of life in our communities, by providing outstanding volunteer service beyond the call of duty; and

Whereas Larry Gniewek, one of those unsung heros, be it through his tireless hours with the Mercer Fuels Flames hockey club, the Pier Aces softball team, and the Saint Michael's Polish Benefit Society, among others; and

[Page 3661]

Whereas Friday, May 14, 2004, Larry Gniewek, volunteer extraordinaire, will be celebrating his 50th birthday;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the Legislative Assembly congratulate Larry Gniewek for his outstanding volunteer work and for always being there to answer the call for his community, without reward or gain.

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. 1701

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

Whereas on April 28, 2004, the Minister of Community Services was pleased to announce that he was funding a new women's centre in Yarmouth; and

Whereas the Tri-County Women's Centre opened its doors in Yarmouth on April 2002, due to the efforts of women for community economic development in Southwest Nova, and with a funding partnership developed with HRDC; and

Whereas this year will be the first full year since the centre opened that financial support will be provided by the Department of Community Services;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the perseverance of the staff and volunteers of the Tri-County Women's Centre in its long road to provincial recognition, and wish them well in the times ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3662]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Premier on an introduction.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw to the attention of the members of the House a visitor in the Speaker's Gallery. We have with us today a devoted Nova Scotian, a long-serving member of the local school board, and recently-appointed manager of the Cape Breton Cabinet Office, Mr. Keith Bain. I would ask Mr. Bain to rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guest to the gallery today and hope he enjoys the proceedings.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1702

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

Whereas Ruth Anne Sutherland of St. Luke's United Church in Tantallon travelled recently to Zambia to learn about the impact of HIV and AIDS; and

Whereas Ruth Anne travelled with 14 other women from across Canada under the sponsorship of the Beads of Hope Campaign; and

Whereas this dedicated member of the United Church will use this knowledge to gain greater support for this campaign;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank Ruth Anne Sutherland for her good work in Zambia and in our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3663]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: If I might be permitted to do an introduction as well. This resolution goes concurrent with the introduction. Mr. Speaker, I am I'm very pleased to stand in this Legislative Assembly today and bring to the attention of the members of the Legislative Assembly, the students of Dartmouth High School. The students of Dartmouth High are students who have been involved in the political science program, their teacher, Don Houle, is present as well. Mr. Speaker, yours truly happened to be the Deputy Speaker at one of those sessions of Model Parliament. I would like the students to rise and receive the warm graces of this Legislative Assembly.(Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to the students to the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North on his resolution please.

RESOLUTION NO. 1704

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

Whereas Model Parliament offers students the opportunity to participate in a forum of parliamentary debate; and

Whereas this process leads to a better understanding of how the democratic process works in Canada; and

Whereas more than a hundred students of Dartmouth High School were involved in this learning experience by creating and supporting their own political Parties, each with different ideologies on how to govern;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the students who participated in this year's Model Parliament at Dartmouth High, and thank their political science teacher, Donald Houle, who assisted in the education of politics, thereby ensuring there will always be candidates offering for political office.

[Page 3664]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:43 p.m. and will end at 1:43 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

INS.: IND. PRESSURE - CAPITULATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the close relationship between the government and the insurance industry is now a matter of public record. A freedom of information request we received this week shows just how cozy the relationship is. Here's the timeline; at the end of October the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals passed legislation they said would get tough on insurance companies. Through correspondence with the Premier, we say that insurance company after insurance company complained about the definition of a minor injury, and in less than a month, the government caved in and introduced regulations and the Liberals went along for the ride.

My question to the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act is, why did you cave in to the industry pressure?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the simple answer is that we put through this House legislation that effectively gave back to the consumers of Nova Scotia $55 million over the past six months.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, there is a pattern here that cannot be ignored. In October, the government introduced legislation that they said would be tough. The industry complained, and by the end of November, the government had introduced regulations to change the definition. In November Aviva complained that the May 1st rate freeze was unfair and on December 19th the province changed the definition of the rate freeze to allow them to

[Page 3665]

retroactively increase rates. In February ING asked the April deadline to end facility rate discrimination to be extended, and in March, the minister agreed.

My question is, after all these facts, how can you prove that the industry just doesn't say jump and you simply say, how high?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday and the proof is in the pudding, the people are satisfied with the rates they're getting, and the people of Nova Scotia, the drivers of Nova Scotia, at the present time have the second lowest rates in Canada.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that's nonsense and the minister knows it's nonsense. Insurance companies in this province are laughing all the way to the bank, taking money out of the pockets of consumers and the injured, the injured in motor vehicle accidents. These companies made $2.6 billion last year thanks to those guys and to those guys. My question to the minister responsible for insurance is this, what makes you think the insurance company needs any more help?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if we had followed the direction put forward by that Party across the way, we would now be about $0.25 billion in debt setting up a public insurance company. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

TPW - HWY. NO. 101: COST-SHARING - DETAILS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Premier. On April 29, 2004, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, in response to a question from the member for Digby-Annapolis, said, ". . . we will continue to press the federal government for cost-sharing dollars to complete that section of Highway No. 101."

Well, I would like to table a letter dated February 26, 2004, from our Finance Minister to the federal Finance Minister. That's two months previous to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works' response. This letter is to inform the federal Finance Minister that Nova Scotia can no longer participate in federal-provincial cost-sharing programs. My first question to the Premier is, will the Premier tell this House why his Minister of Transportation and Public Works misled the member for Digby-Annapolis into believing that his government was interested in cost-shared programs with Ottawa?

[Page 3666]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, we are encouraging the federal government every step of the way to become involved in cost-sharing arrangements, unlike some other provinces that found themselves in dire straits that have actually indicated to the federal government they will not be participating in those kinds of programs, but it is the intention of this government to continue to encourage Ottawa to provide programs that we can participate in.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I've tabled the letter, I just want to read one line in it for the record. This letter is signed by the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Finance for the province. It says, ". . . we cannot afford to participate in any more federal initiatives proposing a 50-50 federal/provincial cost sharing effort,". I've tabled a copy of that letter.

Mr. Speaker, cost-shared programs are a great way for Ottawa to have accountability for the money that they send to the provinces. As we know, accountability is something that this government avoids at all costs. Maybe this letter should come as no surprise. So, again to the Premier, is it his government's position that they only want federal money if they can spend it on things like a tax cut?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, we want federal funding. We want federal funding for health care. We want federal funding to help us with infrastructure programs. We need a better deal with Ottawa and we will continue to stress with Ottawa the need for a more equitable sharing of revenue generation in this country. There's a fiscal imbalance in this country that we cannot solve, other provinces cannot solve. We can only solve it in consultation and in collaboration with Ottawa and we will continue to press Ottawa for that collaboration.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this government continues to mislead the people of Nova Scotia. They did so when they said we could afford a tax cut. They did so when they said education was a priority for the budget and again they're trying to do so now with their Ottawa campaign, when the fact is they are telling Ottawa in writing that they don't want their money. So again to the Premier, do you want Ottawa's money or not? Which one is it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, very definitely, we want Ottawa's money. We wanted the money that was in equalization in John Manley's budget a year ago, which disappeared last Fall; we want Romanow money, which a year and a half ago was recommended by Roy Romanow and still not accepted by the Government of Canada; and we want more money for the offshore, which is what the Campaign for Fairness is all about. This is what we want Ottawa to do. We would like the federal cousins or the federal brethren of the Liberals in Ottawa to work in the interest of Nova Scotians and demand they give us their share. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 3667]

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

INS. - LEGISLATION:

ALLSTATE RESPONSE - GOV'T. REACTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, when the insurance companies ask, this government just says how much and when. I would like to quote from some of the letters before the definition of the minor injury was changed. The President of Allstate wrote to the Premier, "While I understand that work is underway to consider regulatory change 'in hindsight' to this now official legislation, I trust you understand we have little time now, and even less tolerance . . .". The president went on to say that he hoped they could address these items in this poorly crafted legislation and return the balance, and they told that to the Liberals as well. My question for the Premier is, can he explain the government's willingness to accept this arrogant disdain of this legislation of the House?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, you know it is interesting that you have one side of the House promoting an insurance scheme that even by the most conservative estimates is going to cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia $100 million, and we came up with a program that delivered into the pockets of the taxpayers $55 million. Do you want to spend $100 million or do you want to have $55 million coming to the taxpayers? We will take the $55 million going into the pockets of the taxpayers.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier knows that most recent reports have said it would cost not a penny to the consumers and reap great benefits, public insurance. Before the Premier allowed insurance companies to retroactively increase their rates in December, the President of Aviva wrote to the Premier, on November 13th, "We urge you to create a fair playing field by allowing the affected companies, including Aviva, to use the rates filed with the UARB prior to May 1st as the starting point for the 20% rollback mandated by Bill 1." On December 19th, Aviva was allowed to retroactively increase their rates. So my question to the Premier is, can you explain your actions?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia are not interested in what happened December 19th, what they are interested in is what happened the day they got their rebate cheque back. That's the day they are interested in.

MR. DEXTER: Well, what happened on December 19th, Mr. Speaker, allowed the insurance companies to continue to gouge many consumers in this province, but it didn't stop there because the Facility Association was supposed to stop basing its rates on discriminatory factors, but in a March letter from the Atlantic President of ING, which was forwarded to Minister Russell from the Insurance Review Board, ING said they couldn't meet these deadlines and they wouldn't stop using discriminatory factors, asking the minister to give them seven more months - and guess what happened? They caved. My question to the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act is, can you explain your actions?

[Page 3668]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I like the legislation and I like it so much that we are going to continue using it.

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

COM. SERV. - AFFORDABLE HOUSING:

COST-SHARING - DETAILS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Time and time again this minister has publicly claimed that this government is committed to the federal-provincial Affordable Housing Agreement, although in the first two years of the program, it has contributed a mere $138,000 of its $18.6 million commitment, to create 15 spaces of the 1,500 promised. The minister repeated this claim on at least five occasions in April in response to questions in this House. My question to the minister is, was he aware at the time that his colleague, the Minister of Finance, with the full support of the Premier, had rejected federal cost-sharing dollars two months earlier?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would advise the member opposite that some of the numbers that he has mentioned there are wrong and if he would go back and double check them, I think he would take some comfort in that. Thank you.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, first of all the minister didn't come within light years of answering what I asked him but he made a comment about my figures being wrong. The fact of the matter is there is nothing going on in this province with affordable housing, he can talk about figures all he wants. This minister is not aware of anything, not the least of which is the problem he is having with affordable housing. I don't know how many times it has to be said to get that minister to pay attention. There is a housing crisis in this province, believe it or not. He, as the minister, is supposed to care - but he doesn't, and neither does this government.

My first supplementary is, will the minister tell this House what steps, if any, he took to plead his case for affordable housing to his Cabinet colleagues before they made this outrageous demand of the federal government?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is asking questions of the Minister of Finance and so I would refer this question to him.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad the honourable member tabled the letter so we can share some more of the contents that he failed to share. What the letter said is that since Ottawa is not doing its share of the federal government money for health care, ". . . we cannot afford . . . any more . . ." - and it says "any more" - programs. The programs of housing, the programs of health care and equalization, we expect them to do their part. We

[Page 3669]

can't continue to go onto programs when they fail us on those programs they are already sharing.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is, there has only been 1 per cent of the money that was dedicated to go to affordable housing in this province spent. Now the minister can refer all the questions he wants to the Minister of Finance, who has totally rejected any federal financing for housing or anything else in this province, and will not admit to that. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, this minister owes Nova Scotians an apology because of his policy regarding affordable housing in this province . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, affordable housing in this province is not available because of the actions of this minister who has an I don't care attitude about people in this province who need affordable housing. I want to ask this minister, is he going to tell Nova Scotians that affordable housing is important in this province and get on with the job of providing it?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his passion. I share that passion about those who are in need of affordable housing in this province and, in fact, that is why we are targeting our resources to those lower-income Nova Scotians in need of affordable housing. But with regard to some of the member opposite's concerns, it was interesting with regard to the delays, that the federal Liberal Secretary of State and the former Secretary of State responsible for the Affordable Housing Program and Central Mortgage and Housing, Hon. Steve Mahoney, during the recent announcement at Creighton-Gerrish, was commending the approach that we had taken.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

PC CAUCUS CHAIR. - COMMENTS:

AFRICAN-N.S. SCH. BD. MEMBERS - APOLOGY OFFER

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. African-Nova Scotian educators from around the province, including the elected African-Nova Scotian school board members, are meeting today and tomorrow to evaluate what progress is being made for Black learners in Nova Scotia. I can only imagine that the topic of discussion will be the May 10th fax sent by the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to Mr. Raymond Tynes, who's the African-Nova Scotian member of the Chignecto board. I'll table that fax.

[Page 3670]

In it, the honourable member in question responds to a letter from Mr. Tynes written earlier and I'll quote what he says to Mr. Tynes, "Mr. Tynes, your May 8/04 missive is both offensive and despicable. You should be clearly ashamed of yourself for including Dr. King's . . .", Dr. Martin Luther King's ". . . statements in your left-wing drivel. Please be accountable and give-up on the race-card." Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier, will he apologize to Mr. Tynes, indeed apologize to the other African-Nova Scotian board members, for the inappropriate comments of the Chairman of his Party's caucus?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I presume that's being tabled so I can have a look at it. I will have a look at it and I would hope that the member opposite is not lifting this issue out of context, but I'll comment when I am more familiar with the correspondence.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, earlier this week we saw the painfully unfunny joke told publicly by another member of the Premier's caucus. Today we have these insensitive and inappropriate comments from the chairman of the Tory caucus to an elected official of another level of government in this province. The Premier made a big deal about his Cabinet having to be subjected to a code of conduct. So I want to ask the Premier, will he institute a code of conduct for members of his own backbench?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the whole issue of conduct is something that is a very broad subject. We certainly have brought in a code of conduct for members of the front bench of the Government of Nova Scotia. I think it was the right thing to do. The conduct of all of us in this House is something that we should look at from time to time, you know, the conduct of the way in which members speak about each other. I'm looking at this - I only have one piece of documentation in front of me, and it sounds very much that it is of the level of the kind of comment that we hear on a regular basis in this House. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the members of the public in our province, particularly those who are subject to racism, ageism, sexism, et cetera, they expect a higher level of conduct from all of us here. This display from members of the Premier's Party this week, I think leads the public to question what the Premier is prepared to do. My final question is to ask the Premier, are you prepared to have members of your caucus on the backbench participate in gender and race sensitivity training?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the deeper question that lies behind the question the member opposite asked is the whole issue of the conduct of all of us as MLAs. We are subject to a higher standard. All of us from time to time - all of us from time to time - don't meet the standard. When we don't meet the standard, we expect to come under considerable scrutiny and criticism.

[Page 3671]

What I can say, Mr. Speaker, is the commitment of this government is to serve the people of Nova Scotia, to serve them effectively and to serve them with dignity.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

TCH: REG. TOURISM IND. ASSOC. - ROLE

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. There seems to be some level of disconnect between the Regional Tourist Associations and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. These RTAs respond to the industry needs in their communities, while bureaucrats seem to want them to follow a plan that differs from the industry demands. My question for the minister is, what does he see as the role of the Regional Tourist Associations?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. Indeed, the Regional Tourist Associations of our province play a vital role. They are at the ground level for us. We work collaboratively with them, with respect to fee for service arrangements, as well as operating our local community visitor information centres.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, there also seems to be some concern around funding, and I'm pleased that the minister raised it. For instance, some RTAs serve only one county and receive $18,000, while the Evangeline Trail Tourism Association, which serves four and a half counties, receives $23,000. The Evangeline Trail attracted 450,000 visitors last year, and generated $162 million in revenue, ranking third in the province, behind Halifax and the Cape Breton region, yet this government has failed to fully recognize its contribution and respond to its quest to get a management agreement to replace the current fee-for-service contract. My question is, can the minister explain how these organizations are funded, and why there is this inequity?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in fact, I guess it was about three or four weeks ago that I met with the presidents, with respect to each Regional Tourist Association, just across the road. This was one of the points of discussion which we did have. What the member is suggesting is that we review the fee-for-service arrangements, and we are doing so. But I would suggest that every part of our province plays a vital role in growing tourism. We have to take a look at that with respect to the funding arrangements we do have.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I couldn't agree with the minister more. What they're looking for, though, is equity from one region to another. The value of tourism to the eastern trail area is a total of $24 million in federal/provincial/municipal taxes. In a meeting earlier this year, you indicated to those members that your contribution was so valuable you committed to writing a letter of support to municipal governments. I'm asking you if you've written that letter, and to whom and when and at what time?

[Page 3672]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in fact, I signed the letters last night, and they're going out today.

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

COM. SERV.: SOC. ASSIST. - CUTOFF POLICY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, now we're going to have a little opportunity to contrast the treatment that big insurance companies get to those people in Nova Scotia who have to receive services through the Department of Community Services. In 2001, the department instituted the Employment Support and Income Assistance Program, claiming it would help Nova Scotians. The reality we have seen is this, it's a backward system of punitive measures, backward policies and no second chances. Just take this example of the unjust system, the practice of cutting people off social assistance for withholding information about their income before they've even had a chance to defend themselves. My question for the Minister of Community Services is this, he says people are guilty until they're proven innocent, how does this help Nova Scotians?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing up that question. First of all, we work with people who are in need of assistance in this province, we've invested millions of dollars to do that. In return, we expect them to work with us. But if the member is suggesting that we discover that people have misrepresented the facts in their application and that we cut them off arbitrarily like that, what I would suggest to him is that there is an appeal process in place. My understanding is that most of the time, when the appeal is put in, the payments are continued until such time as they hear the appeal.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is displaying an astoundingly incomprehensible misunderstanding of the way his own department operates. All it takes is a recommendation from the eligibility review officer to a supervisor, and the client is cut off assistance and Pharmacare benefits immediately. This all takes place before the client has had a chance to explain the situation before an independent arbitrator. So my question is, how can he justify cutting people off before they even get a chance to have their say?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, what the member opposite is referring to is the role of the eligibility review officer. Basically, these officers are there to safeguard the system, to make sure that it is being carried out with integrity, both in fairness to the clients and to the taxpayers. In some cases, unfortunately, they discover that the facts have not been stated appropriately to the caseworker, and in some cases they discover more things could be done for the clients so you have to take this in the balance. It's not always just one way, it goes both way.

[Page 3673]

MR. DEXTER: It's hard to explain that balance to people who don't have anything to eat, to people who are being thrown out of their apartments because they haven't received their rent. Mr. Speaker, that's the difficulty, there is no balance in this system. It can take months for people to be reinstated. The department, on the other hand, faces no repercussions whatsoever, while that person ends up with a black mark on their . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, while the minister and the department faces no repercussions whatsoever, these people end up with a black mark on their reputation, and maybe kicked out of their apartment for not paying their rent. So I want to ask the Minister of Community Services why you don't change the policy and continue payments until your investigation process is complete, and give people the benefit of the doubt, don't assume they're guilty until they're proven so.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, then that gets it to the appeal process. If somebody feels that they have been hard done by, by a decision within the department, they have the right to request an appeal. First of all there is an administrative appeal and, failing that, if they're not satisfied with the outcome they can launch a formal appeal. In my personal dealings with the local department, the supervisor, long before I was the minister, I always found them to be eminently reasonable and would often leave the income assistance benefits in place until the hearing of the appeal.

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

COM. SERV. - INCOME ASSIST. WORKERS:

CASELOADS - REDUCE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. About two years ago, income assistance workers paid a visit to Province House to express their frustrations over caseload and how the volume of this caseload greatly hinders their ability to provide much-needed services to people. As you are aware, the minister, time and time again has sent mixed messages out in regard to this problem. My question to the minister is, could the minister please outline what specific action he plans to take to reduce caseloads and improve the work life for workers who provide services to our most vulnerable citizens, including those with dependent children?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing this up, because as I covered in the estimates, with the drop in caseloads in Community Services - over the last four years there has been a 16 per cent reduction in the caseload, but yet there are still 235 income assistance caseworkers, so therefore, in fact, the caseload has been

[Page 3674]

dropping and many good things have been happening within the new Employment Support and Income Assistance Program for the clients and their caseworkers.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's easy to reduce the caseload by 16 per cent when you arbitrarily cut people off, and coincidently with that, the food banks are growing in Nova Scotia, so the social assistance department is cutting them off and they're going to food banks. That's what happening in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, calls to my constituency office can only lead me to make one conclusion. This department has to hire more social workers and less bill collectors and people who are bean-counters to try to save money in that department instead of looking after the very people in our society who need the help of this government.

My supplementary question is, Mr. Speaker, could the minister please indicate whether or not income assistance and employment support workers will be involved in any review that's supposed to be taking place by that department to improve the lives of the most vulnerable citizens in our society?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think, actually, it is those caseworkers that can receive a lot of credit for the new system that merged the former municipal Social Assistance Program with the old Family Benefits Program. In talking with caseworkers, they take pride in the positive developments that have come with the new program that has empowered people who previously, for all intents and purposes, were prevented from pursuing a career and getting back into the workforce and all the good things that come with that. They clearly are very, very pleased with many of the recommendations that have shown up in the new program and clearly we continue to rely on their feedback as we guide the further development of the program.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's ironic that in this House the Minister of Community Services can stand in his place and tell Nova Scotians that he is proud of the fact that they're saving money in that department when the most vulnerable people in this province are suffering. They're suffering because of the policies of that minister and that department.

In regard to the child welfare system, Mr. Speaker, there was a need determined by the Children's Aid Societies and the minister is well aware of that need. My final supplementary, could the minister please indicate whether child protection workers were consulted for input in the review and, if not, will they be consulted for input prior to any changes being made in decisions in your department?

[Page 3675]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has provided me with quite a menu of things to respond to, but one of the things I want to point out, as I have many times before, is that over the last few years, even though with the reduction in caseload, again 16 per cent in the Department of Community Services, we're very pleased that we have basically maintained the same level of support to the Employment Support and Income Assistance clients. This is a good thing for the clients. People are being able to work their way off the system. It's good for the community. We have increased the amount of support for the average client.

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

EDUC.: C.B. TEACHING POSITIONS - CUTS

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, we have been told that the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board will have to cut more than 40 teaching positions to meet its budget. We've also been told a majority of these cuts will be covered through attrition. Residents in the area are concerned because they have lost more than 100 teaching positions since the year 2000. My question to the Minister of Education is, can you confirm if, in fact, more than 40 teaching positions will be lost in Cape Breton and what you plan to do about this?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I have not heard that there were 40 positions to be cut in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. I do know that the population right across the province is lessening. Part of the funding formula is population based and, to be quite frank, I suspect that the population in that section of the province is decreasing more rapidly than in other sections. This is not the first year that has happened and it has happened in every school board across the province.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, the residents of Cape Breton have been told that the province plans to review the funding formula for school boards, but this offers cold comfort to an area losing its young people and now its teachers. We know there is going to be a shortage of teachers in a few years. We also know that more and more young people are leaving the province for training. My question to the Minister of Education is, how do you plan to lure young teachers back to the province when our boards are forced to cut so many positions?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the fortunate thing is, I guess, if you can look at it as being fortunate, you know, clearly we would like our school population to be increasing and, therefore, the numbers of teachers would be increasing, but the good thing right across the province, despite the fact that there will be less teaching positions in 2004-05 than there were in 2003-04, is there should not be any people losing jobs because the number of teachers who are going by retirement is far greater than the number of positions that will be eliminated.

[Page 3676]

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board recently announced that they are poised to cut 24 teaching positions. We have been told that the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board plans to cut 40. My question to the Minister of Education is, what are you going to do this year to address these cuts?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education has increased funding for public education once again this year and I guess we're all faced with the issue of rightsizing, whether it's in the Chignecto-Central, School Board or the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. When the number of students goes down significantly it does make for good management to reduce the number of people who are serving those students.

No question, Mr. Speaker, we'd like to be able to increase the number of teachers, but we have to be realistic too; if the population goes down, then we would expect the number of teachers to go down as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ECON. DEV. - TRENTONWORKS: JOBS - PROTECT

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Economic Development. TrentonWorks is an important part of the community and the economy of Pictou County. They've been in business for more than 100 years and there are many third generation steel workers there at that plant.

On April 29th of this year, employees were informed that the forge would be closed unless a buyer could be found. This closure will mean the loss of 42 good jobs in a region that cannot afford this kind of economic blow. Since then, Mr. Speaker, we've heard nothing from this government about working to save these jobs. In fact we're told that over $2 million worth of work contracts recently have been cancelled and employee morale is low. Mr. Minister, what concrete steps is your government taking to keep these jobs at TrentonWorks?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, last week I believe the member heard the responses, but I will certainly reiterate them to him. In dealing with the company, certainly there is room and the employees affected with a forge are going to be re-employed in other divisions. This government is much more concerned that they would like to see that forge continue to run. As I told the honourable member last week, staff has contacted the management of TrentonWorks, and we are working with them as well as other private companies who may be interested in purchasing that forge. Those discussions at work continue.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, the TrentonWorks factory contains the largest open die forging press in Canada, and the second largest on the continent. Actually there are two parts to the TrentonWorks operation, the forge and railcar plant. Not long ago when the railcar

[Page 3677]

market was sluggish it was the forge that paid the bills and helped keep the railcar plant viable. Now, when there are orders coming in and certainly lots of potential for the forge, the company is prepared to shut it down.

Mr. Speaker, despite claims to the contrary, this government is abandoning workers in rural Nova Scotia. I'd like to ask the Minister of Economic Development, why is the government prepared to lay out incentives to attract shorter-term jobs, like call centres, but refuses to act to save these long-standing jobs at TrentonWorks?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite raises some good points. In his absence from the House during the last administration, certainly the car works did have some employment problems. I'm proud to say it was this government that worked very closely with TrentonWorks, and enabled them to receive contracts, to keep TrentonWorks, the rail division, working, and the opportunity to get more contracts where they are reaching the benefits. Currently we are working with management, as I pointed out, to see that all opportunities are explored to keep the forge working.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, during my absence when the Tory member was here, things were down and now there's all kinds of potential that things are coming back.

Mr. Speaker, the employees of TrentonWorks, they're hard-working people. They aren't asking for charity; they aren't asking for special treatment. All they want is to keep working hard every day to earn their paychecks. We know the employees there right now are appealing to the board of directors of Greenbrier, to keep the forge open. My question, has the minister approached the board at Greenbrier about saving these jobs and if so, what was their response?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly state to the House, as I did last week, and I hope the honourable member did hear my comments last week, that we have approached the management at TrentonWorks and are working closely with them to see that all possible avenues are explored to keep the forge running, whether it's a new owner or the present condition. Certainly I want to state that clearly for the record so the honourable member will remember that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

TPW - HWY. NO. 101/BEN JACKSON RD.:

COST STUDY - RESULTS RELEASE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. A highway planning and design group proposes that a study be commissioned to perform traffic modelling and a cost-benefit analysis be completed on all three alternatives that are presently being considered to replace the existing at-grade

[Page 3678]

intersection on Highway No. 101 at Exit 8A, the Ben Jackson Road. My question for the minister is, once the cost-benefit study is complete, which is due this month, does the minister plan to take these results and release them to the community for their input?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the results of the study will certainly be evident to all concerned.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the reason I asked the question is that the minister's track record in responding to repeated requests from the community has been very poor. Although members of his department did conduct a public presentation in the community, there was no opportunity for public input. My question for the minister is, will the minister make the commitment before a decision is made on this very important intersection that the members in the community - such as the mayor and the warden of Kings County, in fact all people in these rural communities - the businesses that operate in these communities, the individuals who operate emergency response vehicles through this intersection, all who will be greatly affected by this intersection change have an opportunity to contribute and shape the final decision?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, a very long question and the point of the matter is that the Ben Jackson Road intersection was put in many, many years ago when Highway No. 101 first went through. It was a mistake when it was put in there. The government under Gerald Regan recognized it and were going to close it, but because of popular demand, he decided to leave it open. That particular intersection has seen more than its fair share of accidents over the years - many, many very serious accidents, I might mention. That problem has to be resolved and I'm committed as Minister of Transportation and Public Works to resolving it.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, to the minister, will you make contact with the mayor of Hantsport and the more than 1,000 members in this community who have signed a petition concerning the Ben Jackson Road interchange and include them in the important decision affecting their community?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'll have the honourable member know that I meet with Mayor Folker on numerous occasions and whenever he wants to contact me, he knows my telephone number and he does contact me. I met with his council just very recently and we discussed highway matters. So, there's no shortage of flow of information between Mayor Folker and myself.

[Page 3679]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

TCH - ARTS & CULTURE PARTNERSHIP COUNCIL:

CHAIRMAN - RESIGNATION

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. Yesterday the chairman of the Arts and Culture Partnership Council resigned, denouncing what he described as insufficient support, inadequate consultation and ministerial indifference. The former chairman states that the minister met with the council board only twice since its creation and one of those times was a social function. My question to the minister is, why did the minister bother creating a replacement for the former arm's-length Arts Council he disbanded if he had no intention of working with the new body?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the member for the question. Mr. Gillespie did put a great deal of time and effort into the council during the past year. I accepted his resignation on April 28th. On May 1st, the council appointed a new interim chairman until their next annual meeting. As well, they also put on the record disassociating themselves with the content of Mr. Gillespie's letter.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the evolution of this new partnership council seems to be fulfilling the prophecy the arts sector made when the arm's-length Arts Council was put to an untimely end by this minister. The former chairman, who was in a better position than any other member of the board to see the attitude of this minister on a day-to-day basis, has made some serious allegations of political interference by departmental staff, a total lack of consultation with the new council on culture initiatives and the inability of the new council to connect with the arts community. So my question to the minister is, why did the minister choose to exclude the partnership council entirely from the process of creating the $3 million music sector strategy?

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, the Partnership Council has done a tremendous amount of work, and I will table a progress report as of April 30, 2004, with respect to many of their accomplishments.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the suggestion has been made that the reason the minister didn't consult with the Partnership Council is because he has his own ideas about what he would like to do with that $3 million. This minister may or may not agree with Mr. Gillespie, but the fact of the matter is, the arts community has always had its doubts about the new council, preferring the old arm's-length organization. My final question to the minister is, given the public concerns over how the council is operating, will the minister take yesterday's suggestion from the Leader of the Opposition and have this matter referred to a committee of this Legislature for a public airing?

[Page 3680]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I will say is that individuals such as Terry Kelly, individuals such as Paul Gallant, individuals such as Joella Foulds, individuals such as Ken Schwartz, individuals such as Laura MacNutt deserve to be recognized for the work they have done in the past year, both by the NDP and as well by the people of this province. They will continue to do that valuable work for this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

TCH - MIN.: N.S. ARTS COMM'N. EXECUTIVE - MEETINGS

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. This government put in place the Nova Scotia Arts Commission, replacing the very highly regarded Nova Scotia Arts Council. At that time, the minister said the commission would work closely with the government and the minister to ensure that decisions were made based on the best interests of the arts community and the long-term viability of the industry. So my question for the minister is, how many times did he meet with the executive of the commission over the past 12 months?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there are two specific meetings which come to my mind, but I can certainly get the exact dates and get back to the member with respect to the dates.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the chair of the Arts Commission resigned yesterday, as was stated earlier, and he's blaming the government for not consulting with the commission. The minister seems to be claiming that, in fact, the commission was being consulted by the government. Will the minister tell this House what input into the cultural spending decisions outlined in the recent provincial budget, including the plan to put $750,000 towards this Summer's Acadian celebrations, the commission and its executive had?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I just tabled and the member and all members of the House have an opportunity to take a look at, the variety of the achievements and activities which are both completed and underway by the council, I can tell you that the $750,000 we are investing in the Acadian celebrations, as well as the $750,000 we are investing in the music strategy are good strong investments. We work with the council, but we also work with such groups as the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia and La FANE.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the arts community deserves to have a voice when it comes to the spending decisions made by this government on cultural issues. My question is, what steps is the minister taking to ensure that the Arts Commission begins to have input in funding decisions made by his government?

[Page 3681]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Arts and Culture Partnership Council meets on a monthly basis, and it is really a true partnership. In fact, if any group in this House should recognize the value of a partnership, it should be the Liberal Party who did establish the Tourism Partnership Council. That was a wise move at that time, and I believe the creation of the Arts and Culture Partnership Council was also a wise move.

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

WCB: CHAIRMAN/STAKEHOLDERS - MIN. ALIGNMENT

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Last week the Minister of Environment and Labour said that he thought the consultation process on the changes to WCB was a good process, and he didn't have any concerns about the objections being raised by labour and injured workers during his announcement last week. I'll quote what the injured workers are saying and then I'll table it, "The draft regulations mirror the proposal put forth by the Workers' Compensation Board and totally ignore the opinions and needs expressed by the stakeholders of the workers' compensation system, that is, injured workers, labour, and the employers . . . Although we do not agree on every issue, stakeholders are . . ." willing to co-operate more and more. I'll table that. That's what they're saying. Yet, this minister decided his best place was toadying up to the chairman of the WCB. I want to ask this minister why do you find it more comfortable toadying up to the chair than the stakeholders?

HON. KERRY MORASH: I'd like to say that there was very valuable consultation during this process. The Workers' Compensation Board held meetings, and certainly there were members of my staff who held meetings and received very valuable information from injured workers and from all parties who were involved, and all that information was taken into consideration before a decision was made.

MR. CORBETT: If the backbenchers over there are expecting a home run, in that vernacular, the minister just balked at the pitch, Mr. Speaker. This is a board where the chairman likes to conduct meetings from conference calls in Florida. That is who this minister is taking his lead from. This minister is ignoring everything that's being told by stakeholders. They told him, do not implement the AMA 5th edition, but go by way of the MLDA, but he ignored that. I want to ask him, why aren't doctors who represent workers in Nova Scotia good enough for this board?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, we certainly were committed to the consultation process, we selected a system which we believe is fair and reasonable after extensive consultation, and we know that it will work in the future.

[Page 3682]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I'm trying hard to not get too exercised about this, because this minister knows absolutely nothing about it. This minister knows that this is going back to court, all the offending sections of Section 10 are going to be back in the federal court, you've chosen to ignore that, but you're going to go because your buddy says don't worry be happy. People are injured, people are being forced back to work because they don't have enough revenue coming in. I'm going to ask you one more time, minister, why don't you listen to the good doctors who represent injured workers and not the ones that toady up to the board?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I announced the process that would put $168 million into the pockets of injured workers who had chronic pain and had not been treated fairly. I believe that's fair, I believe the system we picked is fair, and I'm sure that it will work.

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

GAMING CORP. - CHAIRMAN: BONUS - CONFIRM

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. One of the justifications to legalized gambling is to get some control over it and to minimize the known social harms. Since 1995 the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation has been responsible for the business of gaming in our province. My question for the minister is, can the minister confirm if the CEO of the Gaming Corporation was paid a bonus in the most recent year available, and if so, how much, and on what basis would the bonus have been awarded?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: The honourable member had an opportunity to be at the Public Accounts Committee to speak with the Chairman of the Gaming Corporation yesterday, and the information that the chairman provided was that there was a bonus for the year, 2002-03, and it was approximately $9,000, and it was based on the performance of the corporation, based on responsible gaming and based on achieving the objectives of all of the divisions of the Gaming Corporation.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Minister, you've confirmed the bonus scheme that's in place, and the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation clearly has a conflict of interest in trying to balance its mandate and mission statement to provide responsible gaming and to hit revenue targets. My question to the minister is how can the minister expect a CEO to reduce addiction to gambling when in fact she is paid a generous bonus based on continued VLT use and profits?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member mentions only a small portion of the challenge that the president of the Gaming Corporation has, there are a lot of different divisions and a different program, but as the president said yesterday, there are a lot of initiatives that they take in terms of educating people in terms of responsible gambling and in terms of finding machines and finding games and things that will enable people not to become

[Page 3683]

addicted. It's a big corporation and people in these corporations have to be able to meet their objectives and targets.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Premier. At the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, the CEO did provide the information that 10 of 159 suicides in 2002 had problem gaming as a contributing factor. Obviously, the problems of gaming in our province are widespread. My question to the Premier is, would you not admit that your policy to reduce gambling addictions in Nova Scotia is failing?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the questioner has a good point. We are, as a government, disturbed at some of the statistics that are coming forward and we have asked the Gaming Corporation to look at those statistics and come forward with some initiatives that will provide a more responsible approach for government to take. When that information is available, we will act on that information.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East, you have about one minute.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: WWII WEAPONS DISPOSAL - DETAILS

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, after World War II large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons were disposed of at sea and we know that some of these munition dump sites are off the shores of Nova Scotia. My office filed a freedom of information request looking for any information that the Department of Environment and Labour had on these sites and we were told they had nothing. To the Minister of Environment and Labour, what is it going to take for his department to recognize that this is a serious situation and what is he going to do to investigate this?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour, you have about 15 seconds.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I guess I would suggest that perhaps the member opposite contact the Department of National Defence or Department of Fisheries and Oceans and find out what they have documented with regard to these sites. It would be their responsibility.

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley on an introduction.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce five members of the NSGEU Community Services Working Group who are in the east gallery. They're here to recognize the 2nd Anniversary of retribution by the Department of Community Services

[Page 3684]

against 12 child protection workers for doing their duty. I would like them to rise as I read their names - Wanda Pulsifer from the Cumberland office of the Department of Community Services; Karen Peters-Newell from the Shelburne office; Blair Pellerin from the Guysborough office; Christine Pynch from the Hants-Kings-Annapolis office; and Joanne MacAdam from the New Glasgow office. I ask my legislative colleagues to extend a warm welcome, please. (Applause)

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

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 the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

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

The motion is carried.

[1:44 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. James DeWolfe in the Chair.]

[1:46 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 67 - House of Assembly Act.

Bill No. 68 - International Interests in Mobile Aircraft Equipment Act.

[Page 3685]

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could have the agreement of the House for approximately a 10-minute recess?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The House will resume at 2:00 p.m.

[1:47 p.m. The House recessed.]

[2:00 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The House had agreed to recess until 2:00 p.m., and it will now recess to approximately 3:30 p.m. We will ring the bells to call the members back to the House. There will not be a late debate this evening.

[2:01 p.m. The House recessed.]

[3:37 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll call the House back into session.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the permission of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 3686]

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

Bill No. 26 - Health Protection Act.

Bill No. 46 - Public Service Act.

Bill No. 48 - Education Act.

Bill No. 61- Theatres and Amusements Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit from 9:00 a.m. until approximately 1:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Third Reading, Committee of the Whole House on Bills and Public Bills for Second Reading.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise.

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 House is adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

[The House rose at 3:39 p.m.]

[Page 3687]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1704

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas Yarmouth Vanguard reporter Tina Comeau has been named an awards finalist for the Canadian Community Newspaper Association's annual awards; and

Whereas Ms. Comeau was selected as a finalist for her series that examined eight high-profile, unsolved crimes; and

Whereas the winners of the CCNA's awards will be announced at the organization's annual convention in Gatineau, Quebec, on June 5th;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Tina Comeau on being named a finalist for the Canadian Community Newspaper Association's annual awards and wish her much success in her future journalistic endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 1705

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

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

Whereas Nova Scotians have said they want easy access to useful information to help them improve their personal health; and

Whereas the Lunenburg County Community Health Board has partnered with the South Shore Regional Library and the Nova Scotia Health Network in piloting an information and referral line; and

Whereas this pilot project will begin in the Spring of 2004 and serve the residents of Lunenburg County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the efforts of the Lunenburg County Community Health Board, the South Shore Regional Library and the Nova Scotia Health Network to assist community members in improving their health and wish them much success in this pilot project.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1706

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's sportfishing season is now open and being enjoyed by more than 100,000 Nova Scotians; and

Whereas anglers will once again have the opportunity to register the "Big One" in the Nova Scotia Fish Registry; and

Whereas members of the Pictou County Rivers Association are having a grand time including Richard Kellock and Bob Ferguson, Bob incidentally owns Ferguson's Sports Shop in Westville which supplies a lot of the necessary gear needed for fishing;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly wish all anglers a continued successful season while many prepare for the annual Nova Scotia Sportfishing Weekend coming up June 5th and June 6th.

RESOLUTION NO. 1707

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas the Springville United Church Hall was the scene of a recent Loonie Lunch hosted by the East River Valley Explorers; and

Whereas the Loonie Lunch is held annually to learn more about the lives of other people living around the world; and

Whereas at this year's lunch, a great deal was learned about the Bhil people of India which is one of the major tribes with each tribe having millions of people in it and the tribal groups living in rural areas, mainly in hilly and less fertile regions of the country;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly recognize the value of these Loonie Lunches sponsored annually as we learn more about world culture.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1708

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Right Worshipful Brother Douglas Roy Slack, born in Amherst on September 9, 1923, was honoured by his Lodge Brothers as he stepped down as Secretary of Lodge No. 48, Widow's Son after 33 years of service; and

Whereas Brother Douglas Slack joined the Masonic Lodge No. 48 Widow's Son in 1955 and held such positions over the years as Senior Warden, Worshipful Master, District Deputy Grand Master and is currently on the Investigating Committee; and

Whereas Douglas also is on the committee that raises funds for the local high school scholarships and is involved in many other community activities as well as being a lay minister with the Church of England;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Douglas Roy Slack on his dedication to the Widow's Son Masonic Lodge No. 48 since 1955 and wish him continued success in all his endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 1709

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Police Week in Nova Scotia is being recognized across the province from May 9th to May 16th; and

Whereas various police agencies from across the province are working together to strengthen the co-operation between themselves and the communities they serve with dedication; and

Whereas police forces along with community groups have arranged special activities and displays that promote enhanced public safety and security;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer their continued support for all the police officers, departments and services and to the families of police officers who continue to serve our communities and province with dedication and wish them continued safety and success.

RESOLUTION NO. 1710

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 Harbour Rentals and Marine Ltd. in Musquodoboit Harbour is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1711

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 Chickadees for Family Dining in Head of Jeddore is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1712

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 D&L Leslie Electrical in Head of Chezzetcook is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing D&L Leslie Electrical in Head of Chezzetcook for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1713

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 The Marine Drive Publisher in West 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 The Marine Drive Publisher in West Jeddore for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.