The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04-49

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

WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 3949
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Bill No. 62: Clause 46 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 3950
TPW - Ben Jackson Rd./Hwy. No. 1: Interchange - Support,
Mr. C. Parker 3951
Bill No. 62: Clause 46 - Withdraw, Mr. R. MacKinnon 3951
TPW: Crouchers Point Rd. - Pave, Mr. J. Chataway 3951
TPW - Williamswood: Roads - Upgrade, Ms. M. Raymond 3951
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1900, Sackville Rivers Assoc.:Cdn. Environ. Award - Nomination,
Hon. K. Morash 3952
Vote - Affirmative 3952
Res. 1901, West. Area Showcase Concert: Participants - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 3952
Vote - Affirmative 3953
Res. 1902, N.S. Const. Safety Assoc. - Anniv. (10th), Hon. K. Morash 3953
Vote - Affirmative 3954
Res. 1903, Pictou Co. Farmers Mutual Fire Ins. Co. - Anniv. (100th),
(by Hon. D. Morse), The Premier 3954
Vote - Affirmative 3955
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 85, Legion-Huston Property in Tatamagouche Act, Mr. W. Langille 3955
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1904, Webb, Marion: Astral Dr. Elem. Sch. - Retirement,
Mr. K. Deveaux 3955
Vote - Affirmative 3956
Res. 1905, Gardiner, Tyrone: World Boxing Hall of Fame - Induction,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3956
Vote - Affirmative 3956
Res. 1906, Canso - Birthday (400th) Celebrations: Vols. - Acknowledge,
Mr. R. Chisholm 3956
Vote - Affirmative 3957
Res. 1907, Urban Farm Museum: Members - Congrats.,
Ms. M. Raymond 3957
Vote - Affirmative 3958
Res. 1908, Gas Economy: Speed Reduction - Cost Savings,
Mr. H. Theriault 3958
Res. 1909, Frank H. MacDonald Elem. Sch.: Heart & Stroke Fdn. -
Fundraising, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3959
Vote - Affirmative 3959
Res. 1910, Smith, Corey/Gormley, Deirdre/Bate, Harvey -
Pictou Acad. Athletic Awards, Mr. C. Parker 3960
Vote - Affirmative 3960
Res. 1911, Family & Children's Services (Anna. Co.):
Accomplishments - Recognize, Mr. S. McNeil 3960
Vote - Affirmative 3961
Res. 1912, CN Shunt Rail Service: Retention - Support, Mr. B. Taylor 3961
Vote - Affirmative 3962
Res. 1913, Community Links: Health Prom. - Funding, Ms. M. More 3962
Vote - Affirmative 3963
Res. 1914, Crowe, Dawn/McGrath, Tony: Marriage - Best Wishes,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3963
Vote - Affirmative 3963
Res. 1915, Subtotal POS: Founders - Success Wish, Mr. M. Parent 3964
Vote - Affirmative 3964
Res. 1916, Bourgeois, Mary: BIANS News - Anniv. (50th),
(by Mr. K. Deveaux), Mr. D. Dexter 3965
Vote - Affirmative 3965
Res. 1917, Foote, George: Kings Co. Vol. of Yr. - Nomination,
Mr. L. Glavine 3965
Vote - Affirmative 3966
Res. 1918, Murray, Bruce: Death of Tribute, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3966
Vote - Affirmative 3967
Res. 1919, Flemming, Paul: Bridgeview - Contribution Acknowledge,
Ms. D. Whalen 3967
Vote - Affirmative 3968
Res. 1920, Walker, Marti - Maritimer of Wk. Award, Hon. M. Baker 3968
Vote - Affirmative 3969
Res. 1921, Opposition Leader: Bill Support - "Flop",
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 3969
Res. 1922, Taylor, Wade - Truro Sport Her. Soc. Merit Award,
(by Hon. C. d'Entremont), Hon. J. Muir 3969
Vote - Affirmative 3970
Res. 1923, Liberal Statements/Promises - Trustworthiness, Mr. G. Steele 3970
Res. 1924, NDP - Opposition Status: Retention - Reasons,
Mr. Michel Samson 3971
Res. 1925, Sutherland, Dustin - Trampoline & Tumbling Championship,
Hon. M. Baker 3971
Vote - Affirmative 3972
Res. 1926, Dockrill, Michelle: Candidacy Rejection - NDP Congrats.,
Mr. Michel Samson 3972
Res. 1927, LeBlanc, Monsignor Gerald: Prelate of Honour - Appt.,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 3973
Vote - Affirmative 3973
Res. 1928, Liverpool Int'l. Theatre Fest.: Vols. - Applaud,
Hon. K. Morash 3974
Vote - Affirmative 3974
Res. 1929, Nat'l. Gun Registry: Opposition MLAs - Oppose,
Mr. B. Taylor 3974
HOUSE RECESSED AT 2:45 P.M. 3976
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 2:50 P.M. 3976
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1930, Day, Matthew: Commun. - Contribution - Thank,
The Premier 3976
Vote - Affirmative 3977
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 490, EMO - Natural Disaster: Nova Scotians - Bankruptcies,
Mr. D. Dexter 3978
No. 491, Prem. - Gas Price Increases: 48 Hrs. Notice - Effects,
Mr. W. Gaudet 3979
No. 492, Health - Services: Privatization - Details, Mr. D. Dexter 3980
No. 493, Prem. - Gas Price: Reduction - Provide,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3982
No. 494, Nat. Res. - Nictaux River: Clear-Cutting - Details,
Mr. J. MacDonell 3984
No. 495, Energy - Dep. Min.: Search - Refusal Explain,
Mr. Michel Samson 3985
No. 496, Educ. - Chester Dist. Sch.:Parents Meeting - Details,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3986
No. 497, Health - OxyContin Addiction: Treatment - Prioritize,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 3988
No. 498, Justice - Prov. Jail Policy: Elizabeth Fry Society -
Provision, Mr. K. Deveaux 3989
No. 499, Com. Serv. - Com. Supports For Adults Prog.: Review -
Effects, Ms. M. More 3990
No. 500, Justice - CBRM: RCMP - Funding, Mr. Michel Samson 3992
No. 501, Health - System: Lyme Disease - Treatment Prep.,
Mr. D. Dexter 3993
No. 502, Health: Universal Newborn Screening Prog. - Implement,
Mr. D. Graham 3994
No. 503, Health - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Detox Prog. - Action,
Mr. G. Gosse 3995
No. 504, Educ. - Funding Formula: Necessity - Recognize,
Mr. L. Glavine 3996
No. 505, Environ. & Lbr.: Upper Northfield Quarry - Operating Hours,
Ms. J. Massey 3998
No. 506, Educ. - School Funding: Adequacy - Confirm, Mr. K. Colwell 3999
No. 507, TPW - Ben Jackson Rd./Hwy. 101: Tunnel Plans - Revisit,
Mr. C. Parker 4001
No. 508, Com. Serv.: Co-op Housing - Takeover Confirm,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 4002
No. 509, Health Prom. - Gaming Fdn.: Warning Advertising -
Funding, Mr. D. Graham 4003
No. 510, Aboriginal Affs.: Treaty Discussions - Effects,
Mr. H. Epstein 4005
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 76, Health Services and Insurance Act 4007
Ms. D. Whalen 4007
Hon. A. MacIsaac 4010
Ms. M. More 4013
Mr. D. Graham 4016
No. 53, Gaming Control Act 4020
Mr. S. McNeil 4020
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4022
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 4023
Mr. J. Pye 4027
Mr. D. Graham 4031
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 4035
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Environ. & Lbr.: Private Land Stewardship - Encouragement:
Hon. K. Morash 4036
Ms. J. Massey 4038
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4041
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., May 20th at 12:00 noon 4044
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1931, Eagle, Herbert - Birthday (90th), Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 4045
Res. 1932, Powell, Larry - Newspaper Award, Mr. M. Parent 4045
Res. 1933, McNamara, Karen - Newspaper Award, Mr. M. Parent 4046
Res. 1934, Knowles, Alan - Newspaper Award, Mr. M. Parent 4046
Res. 1935, Starratt, Kirk - Newspaper Award, Mr. M. Parent 4047
Res. 1936, Clarke, Bill - Newspaper Award, Mr. M. Parent 4047
Res. 1937, MacKenzie, Claudette - Newspaper Award, Mr. M. Parent 4048
Res. 1938, CAN-U Network: Graduates - Congrats., The Speaker 4048
Res. 1939, Sports - Curling: Martin Rink - Championship, Mr. M. Parent 4049
Res. 1940, Belliveau, Susan - Newspaper Award, The Speaker 4049
Res. 1941, Pictou Advocate - Newspaper Award, Mr. J. DeWolfe 4050
Res. 1942, Glen Haven Manor - Transport. Workshop:
URB Participants - Thank, Mr. J. DeWolfe 4050
Res. 1943, N.S. Safety Coun.: Motorcycle Safety Courses - Pictou Co.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 4051
Res. 1944, Pictou Co. CC Bus. Directory: NSCC (Stellarton Campus) -
Update Applaud, Mr. J. DeWolfe 4051
Res. 1945, Pictou Area Girl Guides: Participants - Applaud,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 4052
Res. 1946, Coffill, Carroll - Mainland North Vol. Recognition Award,
Ms. D. Whalen 4052
Res. 1947, Croox, Jocelyn: Commun. Contributions - Acknowledge,
Ms. D. Whalen 4053
Res. 1948, Dickey, George - Maskwa Aquatic Club: Contributions -
Recognize, Ms. D. Whalen 4053
Res. 1949, Smith, Mary: Commun. Commitment - Acknowledge,
Ms. D. Whalen 4054
Res. 1950, Photopoulis, Christopher: École Rockingham Poster Contest -
1st Place, Ms. D. Whalen 4054
Res. 1951, Hacquebard, Luke: Duc d'Anville Elem. Sch. Poster Contest -
1st Place, Ms. D. Whalen 4055
Res. 1952, Black, Kelsea: École Grosvenor-Wentworth Pk.
Poster Contest - 1st Place, Ms. D. Whalen 4055
Res. 1953, Fitzpatrick, Jennifer: Springvale Elem. Sch. Poster Contest -
1st Place, Ms. D. Whalen 4056
Res. 1954, Dean, Kaylin: Fairview Heights Elem. Sch. Poster Contest -
1st Place, Ms. D. Whalen 4056
Res. 1955, Williamson, Andrew: École Burton Ettinger Poster Contest -
1st Place, Ms. D. Whalen 4057
Res. 1956, Delory, Emma: Park West Sch. Poster Contest - 1st Place,
Ms. D. Whalen 4057

[Page 3949]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2004

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, I would like to bring to the attention of the members present some special guests who are in the east gallery today. We have members of the 1859 Springhill Army Cadet Corps. There are 29 cadets from Springhill . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Springhill. Beautiful Springhill.

MR. SPEAKER: That's right, you heard that, Springhill, beautiful Springhill - 29 cadets and they are accompanied here by four chaperones: 2nd Lieutenant Cynthia Crowe, Captain Stanley Hunter, Captain Drew Steeves, and civilian instructor Robin Steeves. They are here to tour the city and tour the provincial Legislature. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House, please. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: Who's their MLA?

MR. SPEAKER: Their MLA would be the honourable member for Cumberland South. (Laughter) Thank you very much, and I hope you enjoy the proceedings today and I hope you enjoy the tour of the Legislature.

3949

[Page 3950]

Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour:

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs and all Nova Scotians recognize the importance of private land conservation in this province, and the work being done by Nova Scotia Environment and Labour to encourage private land stewardship such as the Panuke Lake Nature Reserve owned by the Bowater Mersey Paper Company and Brothers Islands, off the coast of Parrsboro.

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. (Interruption)

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Recognizing beauty before age, I see, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from 45 members of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union. The operative part 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 this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, before I read my petition, I would beg your indulgence for an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. PARKER: In your gallery, Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce two community members who are fighting for a safer Highway No. 101 and particularly the interchange at the Ben Jackson Road. I would like to introduce Sonja Wood and Christopher Mansky. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

[Page 3951]

Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition, the operative clause of which reads: "I support a full interchange at the Ben Jackson Rd and the old # 1 Hwy connector . . ." This has been signed by 69 additional people in the local area, and I, too, have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with regard to the 1 per cent contribution rate increase for Public Service pensions, with the operative clause: "Therefore be it resolved that 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 100-plus names that are on this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition. This is a letter to support the request by local residents to have Crouchers Point Road paved. There are 26 local residents living along the road who would like this work done. I have signed that, and I certainly would agree that they pave that road.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by some 100 members of my community concerning road conditions and poor maintenance in the Williamswood area, to which I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

[Page 3952]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1900

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

Whereas the active involvement of communities is vital to the protection and preservation of the environment; and

Whereas the Sackville Rivers Association has been a vital force in the rehabilitation of that river system by encouraging local stewardship, promoting proper planning and taking direct action to restore the rivers' ecosystem; and

Whereas Canadian Geographic Magazine has nominated the Sackville Rivers Association for a Canadian Environmental Award, recognizing the association's grassroots involvement in environmental protection;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Sackville Rivers Association for its nomination for a Canadian Environmental Award and wish the association good luck when the awards ceremony is held on May 31st.

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1901

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

[Page 3953]

Whereas last evening, hundreds of enthusiastic and talented young musicians from six senior and junior high schools, along with an amassed Grade 6 band from 12 elementary schools, gathered at Exhibition Park for the 14th annual Western Area Showcase Concert; and

Whereas these students, along with their conductors, Barb Coates, Craig Reiner, Mark Cuming, Bernard Curtis Williams, Susan Mantin, Jeffrey Stern and Tobias Beale delighted a large and appreciative crowd with an evening of fabulous music; and

Whereas for the 14th year in a row, Bill Estabrooks, once again, did a masterful job as master of ceremonies; (Interruptions) Do you want me to rephrase that?

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students, their conductors, the master of ceremonies, and everyone who helped organize last night's wonderful musical event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1902

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association is a non-profit association which offers safety training and conducts audits to promote positive safety culture shift in the construction industry; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association has well-trained and knowledgeable staff; and

Whereas since their inception a decade ago, lost time accidents in the construction industry have declined;

[Page 3954]

Therefore be it resolved that we acknowledge and celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association and commend their efforts to help make the construction industry safer.

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 Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1903

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

Whereas this year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Pictou County Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company; and

Whereas on June 20, 1904, a few farmers got together to form the company to help protect their fellow farmers; and

Whereas a rich history of the company has been compiled and is being printed locally with the aim of having it available for the anniversary celebration on June 18, 2004, which will include an open house in the afternoon and a dinner in the evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge the 100th Anniversary of Pictou County Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company and the origins of the company which rest in neighbour helping neighbour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3955]

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. 85 - Entitled An Act Respecting The Royal Canadian Legion and Philip and Gail Huston Property in Tatamagouche. (Mr. William Langille)

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

[2:15 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1904

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

Whereas Marion Webb has been the secretary at Astral Drive Elementary School for 19 years, providing care and concern for children and their families while functioning as a top-notch secretary to the school and staff; and

Whereas Marion Webb has been active in many school events over the years and has improved the experience at the school for students, parents, staff and the community; and

Whereas Marion Webb is retiring as secretary at Astral Drive Elementary School in June, 2004;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the many years of service provided by Marion Webb as secretary at Astral Drive Elementary School and wish her all the best in her retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3956]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1905

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

Whereas Tyrone Gardiner has been a local boxing icon for many years in Cape Breton; and

Whereas Mr. Gardiner is well respected for his boxing skills and his continued involvement in the sport; and

Whereas Mr. Gardiner is being honoured by the boxing fraternity for his achievements and sportsmanlike conduct;

Therefore be it resolved that Tyrone Gardiner be congratulated on his induction as a member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1906

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

[Page 3957]

Whereas the Town of Canso is proudly celebrating its 400th Anniversary this year; and

Whereas North American historical literature first mentioned Canso in 1604, but it was in the 1700s that Canso gained importance in a dual role, both militarily and in trading as Grassy Island, now part of the Canso Islands National Historic Site, played an essential role as the French and the English attempted to claim land in North America; and

Whereas numerous festivals have been scheduled throughout 2004, including a high school reunion;

Therefore be it resolved MLAs in this House of Assembly acknowledge the tremendous amount of enthusiasm and volunteer effort being put forward by community residents as Canso celebrates their 400th birthday this year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1907

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

Whereas the Urban Farm Museum Society of Spryfield was established in 1996 to commemorate the agricultural heritage of Spryfield, to facilitate food production in the urban area, and serve as an adjunct teaching venue for local schools in natural and social sciences, arts and family economics; and

Whereas the Urban Farm Museum has leased three acres of old pasture from the Kidston family in the heart of modern Spryfield and have worked tirelessly to clear the land; and

[Page 3958]

Whereas the farm museum on Saturday launched its Young Farm Volunteers Program for the summer whereby local teens will act as garden mentors for younger children;

Therefore be it resolved that ths House congratulate the members of the society and wish them a long growing season and much good cheer in the coming summer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1908

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

Whereas gasoline prices have skyrocketed as of late and the people of Nova Scotia have been spending more to fill their cars; and

Whereas this government has done little to help the people so they must help themselves, and one of the ways they can do this is to reduce their speed by 10 per cent; and

Whereas a reduction in speed of 10 per cent will reduce an average person's spending on gas by 18 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that common sense tells us less speed equals more savings.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3959]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1909

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 Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation runs annually an immensely successful fundraiser involving elementary school students across Nova Scotia called Jump Rope for Heart; and

Whereas 287 students from the Frank H. MacDonald Elementary School in Sutherlands River raised an astonishing $9,519, the most ever raised by a school in Pictou, Antigonish or Guysborough Counties over the past 20 years; and

Whereas the school's top four fundraisers were Ashley Hasler, Brooke Taylor, James Lees and Jenna Burns;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs commend the students and staff of the Frank H. MacDonald Elementary School in Sutherlands River for their sensational work for the Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 3960]

RESOLUTION NO. 1910

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation recently held their annual awards luncheon; and

Whereas Corey Smith as male athlete, Deirdre Gormley as female athlete and coach Harvey Bate all from Pictou Academy were appropriately honoured; and

Whereas the athletes received exemplary participation awards and were chosen to attend the luncheon on the basis of their athletic ability as well as their comportment in representing their schools, while coaches received outstanding service awards;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Corey Smith, Deirdre Gormley and Harvey Bate for their athletic contributions at Pictou Academy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1911

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 Family and Children's Services of Annapolis County is celebrating 90 years of service to the community; and

Whereas Family and Children's Services of Annapolis County have a long tradition in making positive changes in the lives of their clients and communities; and

[Page 3961]

Whereas Family and Children's Services of Annapolis County held their annual meeting on May 18, 2004, and will continue to serve the people of this community well into the future;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the hard work and accomplishments of the board and staff of Family and Children's Services of Annapolis County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1912

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

Whereas concern is being expressed by many local businesses about a drastic reduction in Canadian National's shunt rail service; and

Whereas the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce has expressed serious concern about this apparent unannounced reduction of freight service to businesses, which they say is resulting in businesses now being sorely inconvenienced and which are facing financial pressure based on the decline of this service; and

Whereas to make matters even worse, personnel from Canadian National Railways have been unable to answer questions concerning this reduction in rail service;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs support the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce and Nova Scotia businesses using CN Rail in an attempt to have the shunt rail service maintained.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3962]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1913

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

Whereas one out of every three Nova Scotian seniors will suffer a fall this year, causing significant personal, family and economic hardship; and

Whereas a provincial coalition covering many sectors such as seniors, veterans, provincial non-profit organizations and agencies, governments at all three levels, tourism and business have been working together since 2000 to develop and implement a provincial falls prevention strategy and action plan to benefit seniors, veterans and caregivers; and

Whereas Community Links, with its 180-member organizations, has played a key role in building this provincial capacity to take a population health approach to a major health problem;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank Community Links and its many partners as they enter the third phase of their falls prevention initiative with financial support from the Nova Scotia Office of Health Promotion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 3963]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1914

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

Whereas life provides for many of us great opportunities, a few challenges and much happiness; and

Whereas one of the happiest days in one's life is the day two people walk down the aisle as husband and wife; and

Whereas on Saturday, May 22, 2004, Liberal caucus researcher Tony McGrath will marry his best friend, Dawn Crowe, in a ceremony at St. Theresa's Church in Sydney, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature extend their best wishes to Dawn Crowe and Tony McGrath on their special day and wish them many years of joy and happiness.

Mr. Speaker, before I ask for waiver I would like to introduce Tony who is in the gallery here today. (Applause)

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.

Congratulations on behalf of all the members of the House.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 3964]

RESOLUTION NO. 1915

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

Whereas almost five years ago Valley Subway owner Daryl Fraser and computer business owner Mark Connors recognized a need for a specialized point-of-sale computerized cash register at Subway sub shops and teamed up to create Subtotal POS Systems Inc.; and

Whereas today their business employs 12 people and has expanded into markets all across Canada, the United States and Europe and is one of only two approved vendors for Subway sub shop cash registers, thanks to hard work, top of the line customer service support and state-of-the-art equipment; and

Whereas this year this business is expected to earn a profit between $15 million and $20 million and has been so successful that Subtotal POS is in the business of hiring more people to help with their business;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the entrepreneurial spirit and initiative of Subtotal POS founders Daryl Fraser and Mark Connors and wish them much success as they continue to expand their business.

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 Community Services on an introduction.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, two friends of this province who have exemplified themselves in the field of volunteerism are here with us today in the east gallery and the persons are Jim and Laura Shea, and I would ask the Sheas to please stand and accept the warm greetings of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, we certainly welcome the Sheas to the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings.

[Page 3965]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1916

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition,

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

Whereas the mission of the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia is, "to promote and contribute to an environment in Nova Scotia which is responsive to the needs of all persons affected by brain injury and which results in brain injury prevention."; and

Whereas the objectives of BIANS include providing support for people with brain injuries and their families, lobbying on their behalf to governments, public awareness and promoting quality care, rehabilitation, education, research and brain injury prevention; and

Whereas good communication with the public and with members is vital to successful development of any organization;

Therefore be it resolved that Members of the Legislative Assembly congratulate editor Mary Bourgeois on the 50th issue of BIANS News and wish the board, advisers and members continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1917

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 Municipality of the County of Kings has nominated George Foote as its Volunteer of the Year; and

[Page 3966]

Whereas Mr. Foote has given 18 years to the Woodrow Community Centre Group where he has initiated fundraisers to install a wheelchair ramp and elevator as well as coordinated the annual Apple Blossom barbeque; and

Whereas for 27 years, George has served as Chairman of the Cornwallis Square Village Commission working on a variety of committees throughout Kings County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate George Foote for this nomination and acknowledge the contributions he has made to 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 member for Pictou East.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1918

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

Whereas from his job as a newspaper delivery boy at the age of six to his position as President of Advocate Printing and Publishing Company in the 1970s, Bruce Murray devoted his professional energies and vision to the newspaper and printing firm; and

Whereas Mr. Murray passed away suddenly this Spring while on the job surrounded by his beloved newspaper family and his son and daughter who worked closely with him; and

Whereas described by Rob Roy, CEO of the Pictou Regional Development Commission, as a "pillar" and "a visionary, not only with his company, but with the community", Bruce was not only a keen businessman but ensured that his efforts were also used to direct resources back to those in need in the community;

[Page 3967]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House salute the life and work of Bruce Murray and send their condolences to his family who are working hard to carry on his tremendous legacy.

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. 1919

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

Whereas the Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee held its first volunteer recognition May 6, 2004, to honour volunteers who have made a difference in their community; and

Whereas Paul Flemming served as the volunteer manager of Bridgeview's first outdoor skating rink located at D.K. Butler Park on Flamingo Drive, without his commitment of 35 hours a week this project would not have been the tremendous success that it was; and

Whereas the outdoor skating rink was a prime example of how a community can come together, people of all ages were able to enjoy skating in the fresh air and had access to a healthy, fun-filled environment;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge the tremendous contribution Paul Flemming has made to the Bridgeview community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3968]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on an introduction.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, if I could draw the attention of the House to the west gallery. In the west gallery two members from the Elizabeth Fry Society Mainland Division, Laurie Ehler and Donna Phillips, are here to observe the proceedings today, and if they could rise and accept the welcome of the House I'd appreciate it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, and we welcome the special guests to the gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1920

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

Whereas Marti Walker of Lunenburg was awarded the Atlantic Television System's Maritimer of the Week Award; and

Whereas Ms. Walker was nominated for this award because of the endless hours she has devoted to the Canadian Cancer Society over the years; and

Whereas Ms. Walker, a cancer survivor herself, wrote a book about her own experience and donated copies of her book as a fundraiser to other non-profit organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Marti Walker on receiving the Maritimer of the Week Award and thank her for her overwhelming generosity and contribution to society.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3969]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1921

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

Whereas gas prices have hit 99.9 cents a litre in Nova Scotia and the government plans to introduce a bill that will give motorists two days notice if prices will rise; and

Whereas the Leader of the Official Opposition said last week when the minister introduced the bill, that the two days notice was a good idea; and

Whereas the Leader of the Official Opposition then claimed that his Party never said it would support the bill;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House consider what the Leader of the Official Opposition said not as a flip-flop, but as one reporter noted, just a flop;

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 Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1922

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Education, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Wade Taylor received a Merit Award from the Truro Sport Heritage Society for his outstanding contribution to hockey; and

[Page 3970]

Whereas Wade Taylor was on the Board of Directors of Hockey Nova Scotia from 1995 to 2003 and Vice-President of Finance and Administration; and was the finance chair for the Women's World Hockey Championship; and

Whereas Wade Taylor helped prepare the bid to have Halifax and Sydney host the 2003 IIHF World Junior Championships, provided financial leadership and direction to the host organization committee, and worked closely with Hockey Canada to stage the most successful World Junior Event in history;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Wade Taylor on earning a Merit Award from the Truro Sport Heritage Society and thank him for his major contributions that helped bring two world hockey championship tournaments to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1923

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't going to read this resolution but I feel inspired by the member for Glace Bay. I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas a Liberal MLA, who voted against money for seniors and in favour of an immediate election, then told the Cape Breton Post, "I'm glad there isn't going to be an election and to see the seniors get some help"; and

Whereas the Ontario Liberals, who signed a pledge that they would not increase taxes and who promised not to run a deficit, delivered a budget yesterday where they do both; and

Whereas Liberals in this House are fond of saying they want to send a message;

[Page 3971]

Therefore be it resolved that the message is loud and clear: Liberal statements and Liberal promises cannot be trusted under any circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, that is worthy of debate, so I will not seek waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1924

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I've also been inspired to stand following that, and I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas this session of the House of Assembly has been a perfect example of how the NDP and its Leader will do anything and say anything, rather than focusing on sound public policy; and

Whereas the NDP have flip-flopped on the 10 per cent tax cut, the Assessment Act and now the Tories' feeble attempt to give 48-hours notice of hikes in gas prices, which the NDP Leader said was a good plan, echoed by the member for Halifax Fairview and then the member for Hants East, who said the plan was better than nothing; and

Whereas yesterday, the Leader of the NDP ran throughout Province House with arms flailing, trying to convince the media that his Party did not flip-flop on their initial support for the Tories' 48-hour gas plan, to which a member of the media agreed, stating that the Leader of the NDP and his Party had only flopped on the issue;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians remember this session as a perfect example of why the NDP must always remain in Opposition, for their actions have proven that a quick media clip and the flavour of the day will remain the NDP's top priority.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1925

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I have a resolution which is not inspired by the honourable members opposite. I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 3972]

Whereas Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia produces many quality athletes in a number of sports; and

Whereas Dustin Sutherland of Blockhouse is one of those athletes who excels in the field of gymnastics; and

Whereas Dustin won three gold medals recently at the Nova Scotia Trampoline and Tumbling Championship, a first for Nova Scotia, and will represent our province at the national championship that was held in Toronto yesterday;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Dustin Sutherland on his record-breaking performance at the Provincial Trampoline and Tumbling Championship, and wish him continued success as he competes at the nationals in Toronto.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1926

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

Whereas Nova Scotia voters are often accused of having a short memory when it comes to election time; and

Whereas this cannot be said of the New Democratic Party members of the new riding of Cape Breton-Canso, as even they remember the sad legacy of Michelle Dockrill, as her own Party rejected her as their candidate in the upcoming federal election; and

[Page 3973]

Whereas Michelle Dockrill will be remembered for her attacks against job creation in her own riding, a strategy that resulted in her defeat, after one term, by Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner by a mere 12,000 votes;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the New Democratic Party for rejecting the candidacy of Michelle Dockrill, and that this serves as a reminder to their Party that Nova Scotia voters will not soon forget their negative representation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1927

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

Whereas Wedgeport's parish priest has been named a Prelate of Honour by Pope John Paul II; and

Whereas Monsignor Gerald LeBlanc has served the Yarmouth Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church for over 40 years in many different capacities; and

Whereas Monsignor LeBlanc currently oversees the churches in Melbourne, Pinkneys Point, Comeaus Hill, as well as his native parish of Wedgeport;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Monsignor Gerald LeBlanc on being named a Prelate of Honour and wish him much success in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3974]

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1928

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

Whereas in May 1992, the first Liverpool International Theatre Festival was held in Queens County to celebrate the riches of amateur theatre, to provide educational opportunities for students through workshops and to raise public awareness about amateur theatre; and

Whereas this biennial event has attracted amateur theatre companies from around the world, including Romania, Australia and Venezuela; and

Whereas the Liverpool International Theatre Festival will be taking place again this year from May 19th to May 24th, once again attracting an international theatre audience to the South Shore of our province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud all the volunteers for their dedication involved in planning and hosting Liverpool's International Theatre Festival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1929

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

Whereas the federal gun registry is like a horror movie - you want it to go away, but it won't; and

[Page 3975]

Whereas a federal audit that is sharply critical now tells us the federal Department of Justice routinely threw procurement rules out the window when it came to picking contractors to work on the ill-fated gun registry; and

Whereas the audit shows that nearly 99 per cent of the contracts awarded in 2000 by the Canada Firearms Centre were non-competitive;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs on the opposite side of this Legislature take a firm stand just like this side of the House has done and publicly oppose this horrible nighmarish $2 billion boondoggle - often referred to as the National Gun Registry.

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.

Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South on a point of order.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we're going into Question Period and I'm just wondering if the Deputy Premier would inform us, is the Premier going to be here today for Question Period?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, he will be here very shortly and the Minister of Education, I'm advised, is on his way up here now. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have to take exception to the government here today. We have three ministers out today and we have not been informed that any of those people were not going to be here until Question Period. We have a number of important questions today so I would suggest we have a short recess until the Premier - if the Premier is coming - arrives.

[Page 3976]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Normally there is a notice sent of who's going to be absent from the House. I have not received any today. Is he on his way? (Interruption)

Order, please.

The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I think we could maybe recess for about five minutes and I think he should be here.

MR. SPEAKER: We will recess until 2:50 p.m.

Is it agreed.

It is agreed.

[2:45 p.m. The House recessed.]

[2:50 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm asking permission to revert to the order of business, Government Notices of Motion.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request to revert to the order of business, Government Notices of Motion.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1930

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I'm going to read a resolution about a young man who is in the Speaker's Gallery and following the reading of the resolution, I'm going to ask our guest to rise and be acknowledged by the members of the House.

[Page 3977]

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

Whereas 13-year-old Matthew Day of Dartmouth has raised thousands of dollars for local charities and regularly lends his time and talent to numerous community non-profit groups, including the Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation, the ALS Society, and the Parkinsons' Society; and

Whereas this young recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal has not let either dyslexia or cerebral palsy slow him down one bit, as he is also a skilled debater and an avid baseball player, musician and reader; and

Whereas Matthew continues to add to his already long and impressive list of good work as he is presently writing a book on bullying;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge Matthew Day's positive attitude and thank him for his positive contribution to his community and his province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

I certainly welcome Matthew to the gallery today and we may be looking at a future Premier of the province, who knows? Welcome Matthew and congratulations.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries before we go to orders of the day.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'm standing on a quick point of order. I had made a commitment during my estimates to provide an Acadian flag to all members of the House. They're here, they'll be passed out and I just want to present the first one to the Premier. (Applause)

[Page 3978]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:52 p.m. and end at 4:22 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

EMO - NATURAL DISASTER:

NOVA SCOTIANS - BANKRUPTCIES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Last Fall we asked the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act to help Richard Bonner after Hurricane Juan tore the roof of his business. Mr. Bonner recently found out that he doesn't qualify for help because he could have been insured. The problem is, he can no longer afford the extended insurance coverage needed to cover the costs of the hurricane. Now, Mr. Bonner is facing bankruptcy.

Mr. Speaker, for weeks we have been pointing out the problems in the province's disaster assistance program and my question today to the minister is, are you prepared to let Nova Scotians go bankrupt through no fault of their own as a result of a natural disaster?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly this government does not abandon its citizens. The unfortunate case that the member opposite outlined is down to the point whether insurance could have been bought. As the honourable member knows, DFA rules are the federal rules so that cost-sharing occurs and we go to every effort in the appeal with people who have suffered losses under those circumstances to try to encourage the federal government to support that claim.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the province says and of course the minister has just reiterated that Mr. Bonner is bound by the federal rules and in the letter to him, which I will table, they say, "the ability of the province to offer assistance is limited by the rules of eligibility established by the federal government." Yet, the Deputy Prime Minister, in her letter to Mr. Bonner says, "The DFA guidelines do not in any way restrict the design and implementation of provincial and territorial financial assistance programs."

Mr. Speaker, while both parties seem to be pointing their finger at each other, no one is helping Mr. Bonner. So my question to the minister is, what specific steps in the province are you taking to put in place a disaster assistance program that will meet the needs of all Nova Scotians?

MR. FAGE: The honourable member outlines the critical weakness of the federal DFA program, which this province and other provinces are endeavouring to correct. For six years now we have been in discussions and negotiations with the federal government looking

[Page 3979]

at ways to put more flexibility and allow more coverage for citizens of this province and other provinces across Canada. Until we can achieve a new, more flexible regime with the federal government, we are bound by the present rules.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what the letter underlines is the essential weaknesses in the minister's argument. The letter from the Deputy Prime Minister specifically says the provinces are not bound by the DFA rules. The minister knows that. They are refusing to help Nova Scotians like Diane and Brian Inglis another family who cannot find any help. My question to the minister is, last week you undertook to review the Inglis' file - have you done that and what have you found?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I was provided with the information. I've sent it back to staff and I'm awaiting the analysis of that particular case. Once it is reported back to me, I will report it to the House.

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

PREM. - GAS PRICE INCREASES: 48 HRS. NOTICE - EFFECTS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Crude oil prices have reached record highs. Gasoline has hit, basically, $1 per litre. A long weekend is coming up and there could be another gas price increase. High gasoline prices will hurt our economy. In Newfoundland it was announced on Monday that gasoline would rise by 7 cents a litre. Newfoundland is a regulated market where the price is set each month. In Nova Scotia it's going to be 48-hours. My first question to the Premier is, what assurance can the Premier give that the requirement of 48-hours notice will not create lineups and a gas shortage?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are looking for leadership in terms of doing what can be done on the government side to protect the public. One of the issues that has come forward to the attention of government from the buying public in Nova Scotia is the suddenness of price increases. For that reason, we indicated that if the legislation that we propose goes through the House, it will give us the legislative opportunity to put in place reasonable regulations that will smoothen out the market and eliminate such things as regional discrepancies in price.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, on Monday the former Newfoundland gasoline price regulator, George Saunders, commented on the proposed Nova Scotia solution. He said, "Adopting a policy by which consumers are given 48-hours notice before gas prices increase is dangerous and could result in fuel shortages as people rush to the pumps.".

[Page 3980]

The reality is, no one can stop world prices from going up. No amount of regulation or notice will stop that. What drivers need is relief now. My question to the Premier is, what has the Premier done to ensure that his minister is not proceeding down a path that will hurt Nova Scotia drivers instead of helping them?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the majority of Nova Scotians understand that with world crude oil prices increasing that there will be an overall increase in price of petroleum products here in Nova Scotia. What they can't understand is why the petroleum market and the market at the gas pump is different than other markets. For example, you get the weekly flyer from Canadian Tire and they will guarantee the price of a lawnmower for the next week. They alert Sears what the cost is going to be, but they guarantee the price for a week. We're simply saying that we have to have the same kind of accountability in the petroleum pricing market. We have agreed in the House for a select committee that will come forward with recommendations by the 31st of August. What we need is a piece of legislation that will allow those recommendations to be quickly put into effect.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, basically the Premier can't give any assurance that his proposed cure for gas prices will work. Newfoundland has full regulation and still, gasoline has gone up by seven cents a litre in one day. Only two other jurisdictions in North America have gasoline regulations besides Newfoundland, and that's Hawaii and Prince Edward Island. Nova Scotia seems to be heading towards partial regulation that will satisfy no one. Again to the Premier, instead of tinkering with regulation, why won't the Premier provide gas relief to consumers now, not next week, not in three months, but now?

[3:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for the bill is very anxious to engage the Leader of the Liberal Party in this discussion, and I defer to him.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, our piece of legislation will not only provide consumers with advance notice of increases or decreases in price, but it requires that fuel companies justify increases. This is action not just words. I want to read, to the member opposite, from Hansard, December 3, 1997, "For some time now, staff from our department have been consulting with the industry and consumer representatives over the thorny issue of gasoline prices." I could read on and on. Those are words from the member opposite. In 1997, he talked about it - we did something about it. He talked the talk - we walked the walk.

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

HEALTH - SERVICES: PRIVATIZATION - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, last week we revealed that this government is actively involved in discussions about privatization of government services, or what the

[Page 3981]

government prefers to refer to as alternate service delivery. When we asked the honourable Minister of Health to assure the people of Nova Scotia that he would not privatize much-needed public health services, he replied, we do not have, at this time, any specific plans with respect to further privatization of health care. That's not the kind of answer that gives Nova Scotians much comfort about what this government's real plans for the future of health services are. I want to give the minister another chance today to make a clear statement that there will be no privatization of health services under this government. Will he make that commitment today?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I am prepared to guarantee to the people of this province is that we will continue to do our very best to provide the best medical service that we can provide in this province. When the honourable member made reference to any further privatization, the honourable member should acknowledge that the provision of physician services in this province is provided by private practitioners, that is the context in which that particular statement was made.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, well, the minister's response doesn't do anything to comfort people like Leslie Gratton, whose story with the health care system began two years ago. Ms. Gratton waited for months to see a gynecologist, after a referral from her family physician, with additional weeks of waiting for a recommended procedure. She was told, on one occasion, that the equipment needed to perform the procedure was out of order. She was finally told that the MRI could be fast-tracked for her to get in an appointment in six weeks rather than waiting six months. When Ms. Gratton contacted our office, she wondered what level of physical deterioration she would have to sink to before she finally got the diagnosis and treatment she needs.

I want to ask the Minister of Health, what's your answer to Ms. Gratton's question, how sick does she have to be, and how sick do others have to be on waiting lists for diagnostics and treatment in this province to have the government get up and take notice and do something about it?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, with respect to diagnostic services, we have made great strides in this province. Just recently I was able to participate in the opening of an MRI facility in Sydney. That has greatly relieved the pressure on diagnostic services. We are continuing to look at locations for additional MRIs in this province. We have made considerable progress. I will remind the honourable member that the service we will provide in this province will not result in the dismissal of 250 health care workers, like the Saskatchewan NDP Government did recently.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, because she couldn't count on the system this government has created, finally, Ms. Gratton took matters into her own hands. In an e-mail to us, Ms. Gratton said - and I will table that, Mr. Speaker - "In a probably futile effort to speed things up, I will be doing something that no Canadian citizen should ever have to do -

[Page 3982]

I am having an MRI done privately in Halifax. I am fortunate that I am in a position . . . that will allow me to do this. Many, many of my friends, neighbours and acquaintances are not so blessed."

I'm going to table today the bill she received from the private MRI clinic, a bill for $785. My question to the Minister of Health is, what assurance will he give Ms. Gratton that he is going to fix the system so that neither she nor any of her friends or neighbours will ever have to pay $800 for a diagnostic service again?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I previously indicated, we have in fact added considerably to the level of service - and to the credit of the Government of Canada through money that they provided to us - but we are providing the operational funding for additional MRIs in this province. We have plans for two more to be brought to this province in the near future. That is part of our ongoing commitment to increase our diagnostic capacity for all citizens of this province.

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

PREM. - GAS PRICE: REDUCTION - PROVIDE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Premier. Gasoline prices have reached a crisis in Nova Scotia and there will be serious consequences for the economy. The Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has said that it is far beyond the ability of government to control and influence the price of crude oil; the NDP member for Halifax Fairview has said that nobody should be under any illusion that Nova Scotia can stand as an island isolated from world fuel prices; the Energy Minister has said nothing on this issue. The reality is that there is only one thing government can do to alleviate the high cost of gasoline - government can lower the fuel tax and provide immediate relief to Nova Scotia drivers. My question to the Premier is, why won't the Premier end the charade that he is actually doing something about the high gasoline price and provide an immediate reduction in the price of gas by lowering the tax?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on average, the Province of Nova Scotia takes in on gasoline tax $254 million, all of which goes into the budget of the Department of Transportation and Public Works to pave roads, to fix bridges and to make sure, year-round, our roads are well-maintained. This is marked contrast to the $140 million that Nova Scotians pay in gasoline tax that goes to Ottawa, of which a very, very small amount comes back to be spent on the province's roads. I would encourage all members of this House to encourage the federal government to start returning their gasoline tax to where it will do the most good, and that is to those who use the roads and buy the gas. We are doing our part, we want Ottawa to do its part.

[Page 3983]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Premier, right at this moment we are not talking to them, we are talking to this Premier and his responsibility to the consumers of Nova Scotia - and what he neglected to mention in his answer is that the government is obtaining a windfall because of the increase of gasoline prices in this province, a windfall that they haven't even budgeted for, and it should be returned to the consumers of this province immediately.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, that same Premier said, when he was elected, he would not increase fuel taxes in this province and he has done the opposite. So all I'm asking this Premier to do is to be fair with the consumers of Nova Scotia and give them a tax break on the price of gasoline in this province, which is much too high and there needs to be some relief, and the only way this government can give relief is a direct rebate to the consumers of this province by way of lowering the taxes.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for again reiterating the flexible taxation policy of the Liberal caucus - when they have one view on personal income tax, another view on gasoline tax. You have to be consistent, and the one thing that you can never accuse the Liberal caucus of is being consistent, they are all over the map on taxation.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think the people of Nova Scotia will judge pretty quickly who is misleading Nova Scotians. You know we are talking about a very serious issue here, and the Premier gets up talking about Sears and Canadian Tire in his answer to our Leader a few moments ago.

My final supplementary to the Premier is, the Premier knows and his government knows that they're making a windfall off the increase in the tax at the pump. All we're asking them to do is return some of those profits to consumers. It shouldn't be hard to do. It's as easy to do as the $155 cheques they gave out on the eve of the last election. My question to the Premier is, why won't you return some money to the consumers of this province who are being gouged by unfair prices?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the reason why the suggestion doesn't make sense is because I am not going to go to any MLA in this place and say we're not going to fix your bridges, we're not going to pave your roads, because we're going to divert the money that we now give to the Department of Transportation and Public Works to something else. Car owners and those who buy gasoline want good roads and they want safe bridges, and that's our commitment - good roads and safe bridges.

[Page 3984]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES. - NICTAUX RIVER: CLEAR-CUTTING - DETAILS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, we've just learned that the Department of Natural Resources plans to allow Louisiana-Pacific to cut on Crown land in the Nictaux River area. The Department of Environment and Labour staff are concerned about the impacts on wildlife, the watershed, and local residents. Before the minister stands up and says we need to protect a multinational business with a head office in the United States, I want to stress that this area attracts tourists, supports local business, and is the home of endangered wildlife. So my question to the Minister of Natural Resources. We know that you're allowing Louisiana-Pacific to cut in this area without any public consultation, are you also going to allow them to clear-cut?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, no, we're not going to do clear-cutting, we're going to do selective cutting in the area. That piece of land was burned approximately 50 years ago, I think, and we have been managing the forest in the Nictaux area for a number of years now. We have some growth there that we want to manage and that's what we intend to do.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I remember the minister's definition of clear-cutting was forest management so ,when he says selective harvesting, I think he means he's going to select an area to clear-cut. We've been told that a two-year logging plan has been approved. The Department of Natural Resources is now waiting to hear from Louisiana-Pacific about their plans to build a road into the area. This deal is causing a great deal of concern in the Valley. The Nictaux River area is a spawning area for endangered salmon and the area is a major tourist attraction. Any clear-cutting in this area could cause many problems, as detailed in an internal memo from the Department of Environment and Labour that we received through freedom of information, and I would like to table that to the House. My question to the minister is, you can cut a big area in two years, so how much are you willing to let this company harvest?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, as early as last Saturday, concerned citizens of the area wanted to visit the site with our staff and we did that for the concerned citizens. Those people, to my knowledge, are now agreeing to the process that we're going ahead with, the management of the forest in the Nictaux area.

MR. MACDONELL: Well, that's a big surprise to the warden in the area, Mr. Speaker, because we found out before we left for the House today that he hadn't heard anything about this agreement for the province to allow that cutting to go on. The Annapolis County Council and local residents asked to be consulted before any decisions were made on the future of this area. The area in question sits at the headwaters of LaHave and the Nictaux

[Page 3985]

Rivers. My question for the minister is, will you put these cutting plans on hold until you meet with all the stakeholders involved?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I must say that the honourable member for Annapolis brought this to my attention approximately two weeks ago, and I invited that member also to go to the open house on Saturday. But I will commit to this House, and all members of the Legislature and to Nova Scotians, that before we do anything, before we move ahead, I definitely will talk to the municipality and I will talk to them any day they want to speak to me.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

ENERGY - DEP. MIN.: SEARCH - REFUSAL EXPLAIN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, with the announcement of a new Department of Energy two years ago, the Premier claimed his government took the future of our offshore industry seriously. He has since gone through three ministers in less than two years, and now following an expensive search of up to 160 candidates, the first Deputy Minister of Energy is leaving. This follows the departure of Dr. Tom Ward, Deputy Minister of Health and the Premier's own communication's director. Rather than undergo a new search for a Deputy Minister of Energy or even select someone from the initial 160 applicants, the Premier decided to look in his own political backyard and reward a loyal Tory with little or no experience in the energy sector.

[3:15 p.m.]

Yesterday both the honourable Minister of Energy and the Deputy Premier refused to even touch the issue of the new deputy minister, instead saying it was solely the Premier's decision. My question is, can the Premier tell Nova Scotians why he has refused to undergo a search for a qualified and respected Deputy Minister of Energy to lead this important department such as was done under the tenure of Dan McFadyen?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, two of the challenges right now facing the Department of Energy are number one, dealing with the regulatory overlap that exists between ourselves, Newfoundland and the Government of Canada. The new appointee to be Deputy Minister of Energy actually has extensive experience in dealing with regulatory issues and as well negotiations with Ottawa. Secondly, another of the very important files in the Department of Energy is the Crown share agreement payment and that particular person, who will soon be the Deputy Minister of Energy, has been handling that file since day one, so she's ideally suited to move into that department.

[Page 3986]

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, that's almost as funny as their plan to regulate gas prices here with their 48-hour notice. Nova Scotians are extremely concerned about the future of offshore development in this province along with the unprecedented costs of gasoline. Our offshore has not seen a major development since the Sable project. At a time when our province needs a qualified and respected deputy minister to lead the energy department, the Premier instead decided to appoint an unknown in the energy sector whose main goal will be to cut red tape in Ottawa. Ironically, this is the same individual who was the Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs while the government continues to cry that it can't make any deals with Ottawa. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier today recognize that this was a poor decision on his part and immediately begin to search for a Deputy Minister of Energy who is qualified and prepared to move our province forward?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the individual that is concerned in this debate is a person that has worked directly with me since 1999. She has performed extremely well. She has proven herself to be an excellent public servant and she will do a very good job in the Department of Energy.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that today Nova Scotians are paying $1 a litre for self-serve gasoline in this province. Rather then seeing our offshore industry booming in the search for oil and gas to raise the level of supply, our offshore is almost dormant. Rather than seeking out a qualified Deputy Minister of Energy it appears that the Premier is awarding a loyal soldier before he leaves office. My final supplementary to the Premier. If the Premier will not reverse his decision, will he at least assure Nova Scotians today that the new Deputy Minister of Energy is not in a conflict of interest in this new position?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of any conflict of interest. If the member opposite has information that I don't have, then he should provide it to me. I'm very happy with the appointment and the appointee is going to do a very good job.

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

EDUC. - CHESTER DIST. SCH.: PARENTS MEETING - DETAILS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the honourable Minister of Education. Parents in the Community of Chester are concerned because three very popular teachers at Chester District School have been transferred without explanation. I have personally heard the testimonies of students of these teachers. They will be missed. Four hundred people in this community have signed a petition to bring the teachers back. Some parents are here in the gallery. I know the minister took a quick moment to meet with them. My question however is to the Minister, after your quick chat will you make public what commitments you gave to these parents about their concerns?

[Page 3987]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, no.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Now, there's co-operation in minority government for you. Last week Chester District's Home and School Association unanimously - unanimously, Mr. Speaker - passed a resolution calling for the South Shore board to resign. Now clearly, Mr. Minister, we have a problem. These parents are requesting leadership from this government and from this minister. They say the process has been unfair. These parents will reserve, in fact I will pay the rent for a public meeting held in the community of Chester and I can assure you, Mr. Minister, that it will take that arena in Chester to host the parents who will attend. We will go that far, the parents and this MLA.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Will you or a member from the Department of Education attend such a meeting?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is correct. I did have the opportunity to meet with some parent representatives a few minutes ago and we did discuss the issues. The issue that the honourable member has just put on the floor is a personnel issue and, as I have said on the floor before, and indeed in response to a question from him, the people who are affected, indeed there were four people who were transferred from that school. All four of them are governed by the collective agreement between the NSTU and the government. We have not heard from the union. My understanding is that everything that happened in those transfers is consistent with the collective agreement and I do know that that honourable member would not wish to have a minister interfere in a collective agreement.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the situation in Chester has raised a lot of questions about relationships between the community, its school, the school board and the department. Aside from the personnel and one particular person who did attend a public meeting where I attended, we are now faced with a situation with this board that we are going to have a member who is involved in this process up for a major promotion. That major promotion is a conflict of interest as far as the parents are concerned, as far as the community is concerned, about their school and this particular official from the department. So I would ask, would the minister please undertake for the children, for the parents, for the community of Chester, a full investigation of this situation?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that I would not go so far on the floor of this House to comment on anyone from a personnel matter and he knows that. The issue with those who were transferred, I say all four of them are governed by the collective agreement and if they have difficulty with the protocol, the process that was followed, then they do have an organization that has an established way to deal with that issue. Now fundamentally in my discussions with the parents, it is not just for the teachers. Quite frankly, they have said publically, they are unhappy with some of the decisions of the

[Page 3988]

school board. I did tell the members at that time, the members with whom I met, that there is a process that will take place this Fall in which they can, if they so choose, voice their dissatisfaction with school board members.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - OXYCONTIN ADDICTION:

TREATMENT - PRIORITIZE

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, the CEO of the Cape Breton District Health Authority revealed the real agenda of this government when it comes to addressing the situation, the tragic situation of prescription drug abuse in Cape Breton. Quite frankly, its agenda is delayed. The CEO stated that the job is bigger than he expected and once the group figures out how the wrong people are getting the drugs, then he will look at a way of treating the addicts. People need help today. People are dying. They simply can't wait until the Fall because all of a sudden the problem is now bigger than someone expected. My question to the minister is, why hasn't this minister made the provision of support and treatment of people with OxyContin and other prescription drug addictions his number one priority?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we will be awaiting the report from the district health authority and indeed, if the district health authority feels there is urgency with respect to communicating with us, I'm sure they will. To this point, I have not received such a communication, but when we do receive the communication from that group, we're prepared to work with them.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, a lot of people can't wait. There are people who are crying and begging for help, they have nowhere to turn. People like Mickey Hallett of Glace Bay who can't get help. She can't get help from Direction 180 in Halifax because they're struggling with wait lists. Mickey doesn't qualify for help from addiction services in metro because she doesn't meet the guidelines for acceptance into the program. This 39-year-old woman is crying for help, she's willing to accept help, but she can't find it in her own community. My question to the minister is, will the minister today commit the necessary resources to immediately establish a community-based methadone clinic in Cape Breton which could not only help Mickey but countless others just like her?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we will be receiving recommendations from professionals and the addiction services relative to the reports that will come from that area. We will make our decisions based on the professional advice that we receive.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I don't know what else I can do. I'm begging the minister to help people like Mickey Hallett in Glace Bay who are in danger of dying. Perhaps maybe I could enlighten the minister that this is a problem that is getting

[Page 3989]

out of hand in Nova Scotia because in his own Premier's backyard, a report this past weekend revealed that there are now 80-some people hooked on opiates such as OxyContin in Pictou County. Those people need help as well. So my final question for the minister is, given that the problem is now more widespread than Cape Breton, why won't the minister immediately implement an action plan to provide the much-needed treatment to individuals who are seeking help and that just so happen to live outside of the metro area?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, indeed, we recognize that this is a problem that is not confined to just Cape Breton. There is an initiative underway in Cape Breton, however, and we believe that it's worthy to receive from them the benefit of their analysis. We also have within the department professionals on addiction services who are working toward addressing this on a province-wide basis. I await their recommendations and we have every intention of acting to address this in a very rigorous manner. I'll be making my decisions on the basis of professional advice, not from the catcalls coming across this floor.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

JUSTICE - PROV. JAIL POLICY:

ELIZABETH FRY SOCIETY - PROVISION

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The Elizabeth Fry Society is an advocate for women who are in conflict with the law. For over two years, the staff at the Elizabeth Fry Society in the mainland area have been trying to get policy manuals governing how female inmates are treated at provincial jails. They don't want information - that would be a breach of security. They simply want in writing how prisoners are being treated and how they are to behave while they are in prison. I ask the Minister of Justice, why has his department so far refused to provide these policy manuals to the Elizabeth Fry Society?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I should begin by indicating to the House what fine work the Elizabeth Fry Society does on behalf of inmates. They do a wonderful job assisting inmates integrating back into society and really helping them to turn their lives around.

I can indicate to the honourable member that I appreciate what they are trying to accomplish. I will take it under advisement with staff to determine what the concerns are, and I do know the concerns do centre on the security issues, however, I understand the honourable member's concern and I am prepared to take it under consideration.

[Page 3990]

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to say for the record, I raised this issue in a letter back in 2003, I raised this last week in Supply debate, so this isn't the first time the minister has had a chance to avail himself of this issue and take a look at it. What is particularly interesting is when you compare this to the federal Correctional Service, their policies, their administrative procedures are all on the Web site, accessible to every Canadian, every person in the world, if they wanted to, to take a look at.

Members at the Elizabeth Fry Society are concerned with the present practices of this provincial government with regard to its jails. Prisoners are put in isolation and not permitted hot meals for up to 30 days, every meal they're provided with is nothing but cold sandwiches. That is not the case in the federal prison, where they have an open book with regard to their policies. I want to ask the Minister of Justice, how can the Elizabeth Fry Society volunteers and staff help inmates understand the rules, if nobody knows what the rules are?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the issue here may not revolve around so much what the rules are but what the consequences are for breaking the rules. I indicated to the honourable member that I do understand the nature of his concerns, and I am sincerely interested in trying to find a way that we can assist the Elizabeth Fry Society in dealing with women in institutions.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, protocols such as strip searches, isolation and visitor rights are all a big mystery to both inmates and those who advocate on behalf of them. Correctional Service Canada obviously has no problem being open and transparent with regard to its administrative policies. So I want to ask the minister, will he make a commitment to meet with the Elizabeth Fry Society in the next week, to sit down and work out how these policies can be made more accessible to advocates on behalf of women inmates in the provincial jail system?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I can indicate to the honourable member that I would be pleased to meet with the Elizabeth Fry Society. I obviously won't commit to the exact time, but in the near future.

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

COM. SERV. - COM. SUPPORTS FOR ADULTS PROG.:

REVIEW - EFFECTS

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The Community Supports for Adults Program oversees group homes and small options homes for disabled adults. Right now, this program is under review, and a discussion paper, written on the future of the Community Supports for Adults Program, paints a

[Page 3991]

somewhat fuzzy picture as to the future of small options and group homes. My question is, can the minister confirm whether vacant beds in small options homes are not being filled while this review takes place?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, when somebody requires the services of one of the organizations that provides assistance for people with disabilities, it's done on an application basis. It comes forward and, based on the circumstances, we would determine as to whether they would be accorded a bed.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, a female inmate at the Nova federal penitentiary for women was notified of her parole being accepted in January of this year. She functions at a low-intellectual level, and her counsellors decided she should live in a supervised environment. A group home has accepted her, but because of a freeze on new admissions to the home, she can't access a bed. I ask the minister, why is his department putting the lives of disabled Nova Scotians on hold during the review process?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the chance to clarify the admission process. The admission process is something that's done through the department, so if the department approves that particular applicant for admission to the home, then they would be accepted into the home. It's up to the department staff to make that decision.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, because she can't access a bed, this woman has had to remain in prison, even though she was paroled over four months ago. Group home and small options home operators are telling us they are not allowed to fill vacant beds, but the need is still there. I ask the minister, how could his department allow an intellectually challenged woman parolee to continue living in prison because it can't decide what to do with the Community Supports for Adults Program?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak about the renewal initiative because it is a very positive initiative (Interruptions) and as discussed in the budget we are doing some positive things in that area. (Interruptions) There have been some options that have been brought forward . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable minister has the floor.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there are criteria in place, it is up to the professional staff to measure whether an applicant meets the criteria, and based on that recommendation the decision will be made. But as a result of the renewal initiative, I am looking forward to more options being available for people who might otherwise not meet the criteria. So we look forward to the response from the discussion paper and moving forward.

[Page 3992]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - CBRM: RCMP - FUNDING

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the head of the community task force on prescription drug abuse sent a clear message to this government - they need help and they need it right away. Despite the statements of the Minister of Justice, his support in terms of providing assistance to this problem have been non-existent. As the minister is more than aware, the Province of Nova Scotia has a contract with the RCMP to carry out provincial responsibilities. My question to the minister is, could the Minister of Justice please inform all members of this House exactly how many provincial government police positions in the CBRM are vacant because of the lack of provincial government funding to the RCMP in that area?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the responsibility for policing in CBRM is that of the CBRM. We provide provincial policing throughout Nova Scotia, but the responsibility for policing in CBRM is the responsibility of CBRM.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's always good to know that the Minister of Justice is on top of things in his department. But I can tell you that three years ago there were six provincial RCMP positions in the CBRM and we can assure you, Mr. Minister, there are not six positions there today.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has cut resources out of an area where support is desperately needed to address this serious problem. It would appear that the only contribution this Minister of Justice is willing to provide to solving the prescription drug abuse problem in the CBRM is that of casting aspersions on the chief of police. So, Mr. Minister, quite simply, did you refuse to provide funding assistance for two police officers to work on a joint RCMP-CBRM police operation to address the challenges this area is facing with the OxyContin drug problem?

MR. BAKER: The honourable member seems to be having a difficulty understanding this. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have offered to provide two positions to a four- man task force, and CBRM was asked to provide the other two positions to a joint task force. A joint task force is not a joint task force unless it has two parties. That's the difficulty. The CBRM police refused to cooperate with the joint task force.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we are being told that there was specifically a request from the CBRM for these two RCMP positions and that it was the Minister of Justice who has refused to provide funding for these positions.

[Page 3993]

Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear that this area needs help now. It's time for the Minister of Justice to forget the RCMP-police debate that took place in the CBRM and to move forward from that. Page 6 of a summary report on the White Paper on Policing states that the minister is considering investing provincial resources in policing services that would benefit the whole province, like an organized crime strategy. So my final supplementary is, could the minister please confirm whether this strategy has been developed and, if so, when provincial resources will be available to implement this specific strategy?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is most unfortunate for the people who are suffering in Cape Breton that the Cape Breton Regional Police force will not get over the historic antagonism to joint operations. That is the solution, to work together on what is a scourge in that municipal unit to help make sure that the innocent people who are being victimized by criminals are dealt with according to the law.

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

HEALTH - SYSTEM: LYME DISEASE - TREATMENT PREP.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, five years ago, Kelly Burke was bitten by a tick in New Ross and she contracted Lyme disease. She didn't get a diagnosis right away. In fact, she didn't get a diagnosis in this province at all. Ignored by the medical system here, she travelled to the United States and paid over $5,000 out of her own pocket to get a test which concluded beyond a doubt that she has Lyme disease. So my question for the Minister of Health is this; we already know Lyme disease is present in the tick population in Nova Scotia, so why isn't our health system better prepared to deal with these cases?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very interesting question and I will take that question as notice and get back to him.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, maybe I can inform the minister just a little bit. Kelly Burke was tested with an antibody screening test that came back negative and it turns out that this test which the Department of Health administers is accurate only 65 per cent of the time and doctors are encouraged to look at symptoms as well as tests before ruling out Lyme disease. Lyme disease becomes less treatable over time and Ms. Burke's nearly five-year delay in treatment has resulted in chronic pain which she will likely never escape. I want to ask the Minister of Health, why even after she tested positive for Lyme disease, did Kelly Burke have to fight for months before she received treatment?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, despite the honourable member's preamble, I don't find that I have any more to contribute in terms of an answer now, but I will in fact investigate the situation and I would be very pleased to get back to him.

[Page 3994]

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, I didn't expect wisdom to just kind of spring up from below the minister's feet, but for his edification I will table a document from the QE II from 2002 that states that there have been no cases of Lyme disease acquired in Nova Scotia. This is clearly not true. Health officials in this province need to get their heads out of the sand, Lyme disease is here to stay. My final question to the minister is this, knowing that Lyme disease has been in this province for at least five years and that Ms. Burke is unlikely to be the only case, what steps will his department take to ensure that no other family has to go through the anguish the Burkes have faced?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member certainly describes a situation that's most unfortunate and not something that any of us like to see any individuals endure. Inasmuch as it is appropriate for us to be in a position to respond to this, I will certainly be asking the department to give me a full briefing as to the entire situation and how we can best respond to it so that situations as described by the honourable member would not occur in the future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

HEALTH: UNIVERSAL NEWBORN

SCREENING PROG. - IMPLEMENT

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. As the Minister of Health would know, both New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island offer a universal newborn hearing screening program to all infants born in those provinces. Nova Scotia does not. Early detection results in better outcomes and, obviously, over the long term it saves in costs. The Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centre presented to the minister a proposal called A Sound Strategy. Phase I of this strategy has a price tag of $500,000. Yet no funding was made available in this year's budget. My question for the minister, what will he be doing to respond to what P.E.I. and New Brunswick are already doing and implement a universal newborn hearing screening program?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that one of the things that we are doing and we will do very vigorously throughout the course of this Summer is ensure that we make known to the Government of Canada and all Canadians the need for additional funding for health care so that we are able to address concerns such as this and other very worthy concerns that are brought forward by members from the opposite side of the House.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is responsible for a budget of $2.2 billion. The measures that are being proposed are ones that will save money over the long term. Depending on where you live in Nova Scotia, you may or may not get screening.

[Page 3995]

Each year 30 Nova Scotia newborns are born with a permanent hearing loss - half of them don't get screened. Presently in this province a 3 year old has to wait until they are a 5 year old before they receive treatment and the hours that they require for their therapy doubles over that two years. My question for the minister is, why are we delaying implementing this program?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have indeed implemented a program of cochlear implants in this province. We have a program of early intervention. We would like to be in a position to do a great deal more. The honourable members opposite do a wonderful job of bringing forward those items which we would like to be able to address if we had the resources to be able to do it. Every time I hear them spend another $500,000 or another $3 million I don't hear one suggestion as to what program it is that I should cut in order to be able to pay for that.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the message that appears to be missing is that this is something that over the long term actually saves the Nova Scotia Government money. These are the kinds of initiatives that save people - whether it's ABA therapy or early interventions program or a healthy beginnings program - over and over we see this government going at the repair shop instead of looking for the cure in the first place. You can pay for it now or you can pay later. My question for the minister, in your $2.2 billion budget, why is this government again failing to invest in preventative health care measures, especially for our young children?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are making a very significant investment in preventative health care through the Office of Health Promotion. That's one that addresses the entire population. We do, however, have very specific challenges of people who have unfortunate conditions and these require very specific courses of action. We would like to be in a position to be able to respond to all of those, but it is very difficult when your resources are as limited as they are. We will continue to plan and be in a position to move forward as resources become available.

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

HEALTH - C.B. REG. HOSP.: DETOX PROG. - ACTION

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, yesterday when I asked the Minister of Health about the OxyContin epidemic in Cape Breton, he said that he was anxious to learn from their experiences. I want to tell the minister about an experience of one of my constituents. This man is an alcoholic who's been trying to get into a detox program. Every day he calls the Cape Breton Regional Hospital to see if they can help him and every day he is told there is no bed for him in the detox unit because it is filled with OxyContin abusers. I want to ask the Minister of Health what he has learned from his experience and what immediate action my constituent can expect to help him beat his addiction?

[Page 3996]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the honourable member is that we are very anxiously awaiting the report from the community group. If they feel that their report cannot be forthcoming in the immediate future, then I would want to seek from them an interim report so that if there are identified programs that we could adopt and respond to, we would be in a position to do that.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, in the meantime this gentleman needs help. Since my constituent cannot get a bed in a detox unit, his family has been paying to keep him in a hotel room. He has lost all his money, has no hope to beat his addiction and the minister is content to wait for a report. My constituents can't wait. Yesterday the minister said he wants to find solutions. Today I want to give him one - I want to ask the Minister of Health, given the serious addiction problems that need to be addressed, will you reinstate the 21-day residential treatment program?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the advice that the Cape Breton District Health Authority has received from the professionals in addiction treatment is the advice that they implemented and, what they have done, is taken the resources that were in the 21-day program and dedicated all of those resources to the treatment of addicts in that area.

Mr. Speaker, that's the advice of professionals and there aren't easy solutions with respect to these problems, and we'll continue to address the problems.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, their advice was long before there was an epidemic in Cape Breton. OxyContin is a serious problem in Cape Breton, and the minister knows that. My concern is that others who will also need help are getting lost in the shuffle. I'm asking the Minister of Health for his personal commitment that my constituent will not have to spend another night in a hotel and that he will get the detox treatment he so badly needs. Will the minister make that commitment today?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the commitment I will make is that we will work with the district health authority. We will ask that the work that they are involved in be speeded up where appropriate and where possible, and put ourselves in the position to be able to respond to an interim report while they do and complete their longer-term investigation into that problem. We recognize this as being a very serious problem and we want to work with the community in addressing it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC. - FUNDING FORMULA: NECESSITY - RECOGNIZE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. This past April 25th was a sad day for the future of Nova Scotia. As more and more of our young people leave our province for opportunities elsewhere, we are facing a crisis in being

[Page 3997]

able to support the increase in our seniors population. Yet, instead of taking a proactive approach to this problem, the government is continuing to lack vision by ignoring our education system, the system that is the key to the younger generations' success. My question for the minister is quite simple. How many more programs have to be cut, how many more teacher positions eliminated, how many more rural schools have to be closed before this government realizes that we have an education system that can no longer wait for a new funding formula?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for that question. As he is well aware, the amount of money that has been allocated to public school education and community college and universities is greater this year than it was last year. Indeed, there is a significant amount of additional money that's going into public education.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member mentions the need for a new formula and, as I have said in the House on a number of occasions, that a person has been engaged and is beginning to take a look at the way education is funded in this province and to make suggestions. Indeed, I know he and my deputy met as recently as yesterday to discuss it.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the initiatives for our public school system certainly sound wonderful, but as St. F.X. University president said that, in principle, education is a top priority but in practice it's not. It's one thing to jot down some great ideas in the Learning for Life document but it's another thing to demand school boards to implement these programs with the budget crisis they are facing. For example, CEO Ed Davis of Cape Breton-Victoria last week in the Cape Breton Post said that they will have trouble implementing the PSP in some schools. Carol Olsen of HRSB, appearing before the Human Resources Committee said that they will have insufficient funding for the grade one cap on class size. Dr. Gunn, stated in the Berwick Register that there will be no new initiatives in the coming school year, and Chignecto Central has shaved $2.5 million and have a further $1 million to cut. My question again for the Minister of Education is, yes or no, do you not see the huge disconnect between the initiatives you continue to boast about and the reality of the school board finances and the demise of quality education?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise today to tell the honourable member and all others that we have a very good public education system, an exceptionally fine university system in this province. As a matter of fact, the university system in this province is so fine that we have a net importation of 5,000 students from outside the province, which is 14 per cent of our university population.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, it is frustrating. It is frustrating for teachers, students, administrators and parents to keep getting their hopes up, to continue to be disappointed at budget time. The empty promises are getting tired and frankness would be more welcome from the minister at this time. I quote from Anne Trottier of Parrsboro, who I heard from yesterday, "As a parent of school-age children, I have been made aware that there have been

[Page 3998]

1.5 teaching positions cut at the Parrsboro schools. This is unacceptable. As a result of a flawed, funding formula, my children are not going to receive the education they deserve in their community. The teachers that educate them will become increasingly strained and stressed. How much more can we take? We have been consistently chiselled away at."

My question to the minister is, could the minister please confirm that during the 2004-05 school year, when class sizes in junior high, senior high, are well beyond accepted limits, when teachers and students are without basic texts and insufficient resources, and mentally-challenged students are forced out the door because, on the very day of their 21st birthday an EA will not be provided, will the Department of Education step in with sufficient resources and give adequate funding for these schools to operate?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government had three major commitments. One was to Health, and my honourable colleague, the Minister of Health, has indicated, I believe, there are about $230 million more going to Health; Education, there is $22 million additional going to Education; and also to Transportation and Public Works, those are priorities for Nova Scotians. If we had unlimited resources, then we could be all things to all people. As long as you're in Opposition, you don't have to be accountable, and you can be all things to all people. We've heard examples of that on the floor today. I would go back to some of these questions, the question about the hearing and speech - that government was in power for five years. If it was so simple, they should have done it then. Let's get serious about this thing.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ENVIRON. & LBR.:

UPPER NORTHFIELD QUARRY - OPERATING HOURS

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, there are more than 200 residents in Upper Northfield, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, who are concerned about the operation of a quarry in their community. Last year, the quarry operated at all hours of the night, loud trucks travelled back and forth, and the residents also say that the dust was out of control. They're worried about their health. The quarry is up and running again. All these residents want is for the quarry to operate at reasonable hours, from 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at night. They're asking for some controls to be put in place, but this week they received this letter from the Minister of Environment and Labour, without any commitment to them. My question to the minister is, you have the ability to restrict the hours of operation of this quarry, will you do that?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. Certainly the issue has come before me, and we have looked at that. It is a quarry that is used for road construction and roadwork that will be carried out throughout this summer. We have a very short time frame to get a lot of work done. There may be some inconvenience to some of the people in that area.

[Page 3999]

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the honourable minister opposite would enjoy trucks going by his house all hours of the night, and I'm talking all night long. Whether we need roads or not, there are some 200 people who are very concerned. The residents do not want to go through what they went through last Summer. They've been trying to co-operate with the Department of Environment and Labour, the company involved and their MLA. Unfortunately, their requests have not been listened to. They're very reasonable. They're just asking for the quarry to stop during the night. They're looking for basic environmental controls to be put in place to protect their health, yet the minister is refusing to help them. My question to the minister is, why won't you step in? You have the power to step in and put some restrictions there.

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware that the quarry is being operated 24- hours a day, however, I do know that they keep long hours to ensure that they get the material that is required. I know there has been consultation with the community, with the operator of the pit, the people who are using that material, and there have been discussions that are ongoing. I'm hopeful that they will be able to come up with some type of a solution for the residents in that area.

[4:00 p.m.]

MS. MASSEY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, there are some solutions and they're looking for you to give them those solutions. (Interruptions) These residents lived there before the quarry moved in. I think they have some rights. Last year they couldn't enjoy their properties. They couldn't even sleep at night. They're worrying about the effect that this dust is having on their health. They don't want to endure this same problem again this year. My question to you again is, will you do three simple things: restrict the hours of operation, ensure that some controls are put in place and meet with these residents?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, certainly I know the discussions are ongoing with the community and I'm not aware at this time of what the actual conclusions have been, but I know the people operating the quarry are committed to ensuring good communications and making sure that they can come up with an equitable solution so that people can enjoy their properties and that we can get the work done that we need to get done.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

EDUC. - SCHOOL FUNDING: ADEQUACY - CONFIRM

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. In response to a question from my colleague, the honourable member for Kings West, the minister appeared to indicate that Nova Scotia's schools are being adequately resourced. Indeed, he said there's $22 million in the budget for education this year. My question to the minister is, will he confirm in no uncertain terms that he believes that this is the case?

[Page 4000]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think he asked if there's $22 million more and the answer is yes.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the children in Grade 9 at Gaetz Brook Junior High School do not agree. You will find it very interesting that the students in Grade 9 in the French Immersion Program have a new math textbook that they use. However, the English part of the same program in Grade 9, which is more than one class, has no textbooks to use - none -and neither does the teacher. The teacher has an old out-of-date textbook that cannot properly be used in the classroom. How does the minister expect students to get a proper education with no textbooks? Will the minister stand in this House, today, and provide a guarantee that will personally see the Gaetz Brook Junior High Grade 9 students are provided with textbooks that they require before the end of this year?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would be quite happy, if the honourable member wants to put that down on a piece of paper and give it to me, I would be happy to but, to be quite honest, why he's standing here and giving it to me as opposed to giving it to the principal and the school board, who would then pass it on, I don't know.

MR. COLWELL: From what I understand, the principal and the school board have requested the books and they haven't arrived. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member has the floor and a final supplementary.

MR. COLWELL: Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the Gaetz Brook Junior High School is not alone. Bell Park Academic Centre in Lake Echo is also faced with inadequate and out-of-date textbooks and this minister is not living up to his responsibility to them. The minister indicated just shortly ago that they put an additional $22 million into education. However, he will note that the budget for textbooks by this government has recently been cut in this budget by $0.5 million, from $7.5 million to $7 million. Therefore, how can you expect to put these textbooks in next year if you couldn't supply them this year with a bigger budget.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. COLWELL: My question to the minister is, will the minister do the right thing for Nova Scotia students and provide the much-needed textbooks in time for the 2004-05 school year?

MR. SPEAKER: Just one question.

[Page 4001]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for drawing that to my attention. I'm quite prepared to have staff look into that situation. Clearly the intent is that our students do have appropriate textbooks and despite the fact that there was a slight reduction in that budget, there should be sufficient dollars for textbooks.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TPW - BEN JACKSON RD./HWY. 101: TUNNEL PLANS - REVISIT

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Ben Jackson Road intersection on Highway No. 101 is dangerous and it's been the scene of numerous accidents. The Department of Transportation wants to replace the Ben Jackson crossing with a tunnel but local residents oppose this measure because it will cut off access to Highway No. 101 from that road. They want a full interchange to make it easier and safer to enter and exit the highway. My question to the minister is, will you revisit the plans for a tunnel at the intersection of Ben Jackson Road and Highway No. 101 and consider the community's proposal for a full interchange at that place?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member obviously isn't aware of the whole story. At the present time there has been no decision made as to whether it will be a tunnel or an interchange or perhaps nothing at all.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, this is a real issue of concern for the people who live near there because of this dangerous intersection and they are forced to use it on a daily basis. But residents want an interchange not a tunnel and a financial analysis shows that the interchange would actually be the less expensive option and yet the Department of Transportation continues to push ahead with its plans to construct a tunnel. So my question to the minister is, why is the province favouring the more expensive option when there is a less expensive solution with wider community support?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I had a call yesterday from a resident just off that road who I know very well. He phoned me and he said, while you're making up your mind as to what you're going to do, you should really just say we're going to close it and that's it. I said, no, that's not the scheme, we're going to look at what options are available and we'll pick the one that is the best for the area.

In point of fact, you can't have an interchange every three or four kilometres. It's just not on. Interchanges can be colossally expensive to put in, whereas a tunnel is a cheaper alternative, but it's still a very expensive proposition. The problem will be resolved and it will be resolved very soon. I'm perfectly aware of the problems with that interchange, a level crossing interchange, built by the previous Liberal Government and it's been a problem ever since it was built.

[Page 4002]

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, Sonja Wood, who was in our gallery this afternoon, is a victim of the notorious Highway No. 101. She's been camped out by the highway now for over a month and so far she's collected over 1,000 signatures on a petition to have a full interchange installed at that intersection. My question to the minister is, in a meeting yesterday of the Resources Committee, officials of your department indicated they were willing to sit down with community members to hear their concerns about the proposed tunnel and alternative to that. Mr. Minister, will you ensure that this meeting will take place with your department officials and meet with the community people?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the officials from my department met with the residents from that area some considerable time ago and discussed what the alternatives were for that particular level crossing. The level crossing is out of the question. We just cannot continue with that. We will replace it with something. However, what we will replace it with at the present time we're not sure.

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

COM. SERV.: CO-OP HOUSING - TAKEOVER CONFIRM

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Action taken by the Department of Community Services regarding co-op housing is making many long-time advocates wonder what future there is in co-op housing in the province. In several communities, independent co-op buildings have been forced to amalgamate, rents have been market-tied driving costs up beyond what families can afford. The boards have been rendered all but powerless. My question to the minister is, is his department trying to take over the co-op housing developments and eliminate the local control once enjoyed by these boards?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would appreciate that co-op housing is just that, it's housing that was started up by a group of residents. As a community they bring it together so that they can all have the benefits of affordable housing. I would just say that in that the department has tried to help out in some aspects where perhaps some of the residents were not able to pay the full rental and they might provide a

rent subsidy in some cases. We do work with those co-ops, to try to assist them to be able to run their businesses in a manner that they remain financially viable, and we continue to work with them where they need our assistance.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, in Yarmouth, three buildings were forced into amalgamation and rents were marketized. The biggest problem is that the rent of two buildings is now higher than the surrounding rentals, because they're in a much older neighbourhood than the other building. The whole purpose of co-op housing is tenant participation and providing an affordable housing option for families in Nova Scotia.

[Page 4003]

I ask the minister, if rents at co-ops continue to be unfairly increased, how does this help Nova Scotia families?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as I have already stated in my first answer, it's important to recognize that co-ops are entities unto their own. We do enjoy trying to work with them. Because they are made up, often, of volunteer boards, they sometimes do require assistance. We try to provide that to them, and in some cases we provide rent subsidies to the tenants, where it would be deemed appropriate.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, the minister has said many times, in previous questions that I've rendered to him, that it's an exciting time in Housing. I think this is a great opportunity to get involved with something that many co-ops in this province - the minister knows and I know - that have been successful and have been around for a long time. So in Halifax, tenants at one co-op were threatened with evictions because their rents were inflated so much that they fell behind. In an era where we're supposed to be creating more affordable housing for Nova Scotians, could the minister explain why his department is tinkering with co-op housing to the point that it's driving some tenants away and can't afford the rent they're putting in place?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has put his finger on one of the problems that's encountered by the co-ops. Again, bearing in mind it is the co-op, when a tenant owes money to the co-op and they fall in arrears, that means that all members of the co-op are impacted by this. Ultimately, that may force the co-op's hands in terms of dealing with those tenants. That is always regrettable, but it is the nature of the situation. Everybody's expected to make their contribution.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

HEALTH PROM. - GAMING FDN.:

WARNING ADVERTISING - FUNDING

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my first question is for the Minister of Health Promotion. The minister and his department are responsible for blunt, direct and, I would suggest, effective advertisements concerning the perils of public smoking and smoking in general. He is also responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation. The responsibility of the Gaming Foundation, of course, is to ensure that Nova Scotians are warned . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Citadel has the floor.

[Page 4004]

MR. GRAHAM: The responsibility of the Gaming Foundation is to ensure that Nova Scotians are cautioned against and counselled against the perils of gaming, VLT gaming in particular, and ensuring that Nova Scotians are better informed with respect to the problems of gambling in this province. Two weeks ago, in this House during Question Period, the minister admitted that he has concerns that the Foundation is sitting on millions of dollars that should be used for its original purpose, that is to counsel people or to warn people about the perils of problem gambling. My question for the minister is whether or not he is prepared to direct the Gaming Foundation to ensure that the money that it presently has or at least some of the millions that it presently has goes toward advertisements that are blunt, direct, and offer the same solutions to Nova Scotians that his smoking advertising does?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, I thank him for the question. As I indicated a couple of weeks ago, we're in the process of signing a memorandum of understanding with the Gaming Foundation. There is a significant amount of money there, which has accumulated over time. There are many good proposals moving forward with respect to the Foundation, but we will sign that in the weeks ahead.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is for the Minister of Health. On May 4th, the Minister of Health indicated to Nova Scotians that another study was going to be done concerning VLTs and in particular the connection between VLTs and suicides. On May 12th, before this House, in the Public Accounts Committee, the person responsible for the Gaming Corporation, Marie Mullally, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee and indicated that in 2002 our coroner estimates that 10, a full 10 of the 159 suicides that he was studying, were related to problem gambling. My question for the Minister of Health is whether or not he has, indeed, the answers he was looking for and I ask what is the point of any further study?

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the context in which I made the comments to which the honourable member refers is in reference to what the government's plans were relative to a strategy for gambling in this province so that there is a responsible strategy in place. It was brought forward in a very piecemeal manner. It is now appropriate for government to bring forward a strategy that is related to responsible policies around gambling and it will take in the entire aspect of gambling in this province.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Premier. The Minister of Health just indicated that a further study was going to be done. What was indicated, according to The Chronicle-Herald, was that it was going to take yet another year. Five years ago the Premier, with insight, set forth a process where an all-Party committee studied the problems of VLT gambling in this province.

[Page 4005]

The Minister of Health is now talking about another study that would take a year and just yesterday the Minister of Health Promotion said on this floor, in answer to the question from the member for Halifax Clayton Park, that a report was going to be produced soon. My question for the Premier is whether or not we can finally put an end to duplicating studies from the Minister of Health, the Minister of Health Promotion, the study that you initiated, and finally take action and put the issue to the people of Nova Scotia in the Fall of this year to ensure that there is a plebiscite on the use of VLTs in the Province of Nova Scotia? (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can say to the member opposite and to those who share the government's concern about the difficulties in problem gambling, we expect to be in receipt of information very, very soon which will allow us to enhance the approach of government in the area of responsible gambling.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ABORIGINAL AFFS.: TREATY DISCUSSIONS - EFFECTS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. Late last year the province began discussions with the Mi'kmaq community pursuant to the so-called umbrella agreement to deal with various Aboriginal treaty issues. These discussions will be very helpful in addressing several issues facing the Aboriginal community in this province. My question to the minister is, does the framework for negotiations include a freeze on problematic actions such as cutting on Crown land while the negotiations are in progress?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I appreciate the question from the honourable member. I don't think it's appropriate to disclose all the contents of that agreement until one, of course, is reached. Having said that, I believe that both parties to the agreement recognize the challenge that additional litigation places on the relationship and I believe that the framework agreement will hopefully address that problem.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the negotiations we hope will avoid litigation regarding treaty rights. We know that there have been some very high profile court decisions in recent years dealing with issues such as fishing rights and the harvesting of wood on Crown land. Indeed, there are some court cases outstanding in this province right now. I would ask the minister that given the current climate of co-operation over treaty rights shown by these negotiations, I wonder if his department has tried to negotiate settlements of the outstanding cases rather than to continue to litigate over these issues?

[Page 4006]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the framework agreement that we are negotiating attempts to address many issues, obviously some of the issues that are addressed will be subjects for negotiation. I think all parties have engaged in those negotiations with a very constructive and positive attitude and my understanding is that all three parties - the federal, provincial and Aboriginal negotiators - are satisfied the way that all parties are approaching those negotiations.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, there is another aspect of Aboriginal Affairs that the minister might help us with. There is a population of Nova Scotians largely located in southwestern Nova Scotia who are claiming that they have Métis status. They assert that they have rights based on the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the 2003 Powley case. My final question on this point to the minister is, I know he's aware of these persons claiming Métis status, but could he tell us please what is the current state of their claim within his department?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we are aware of the group of individuals in question. The state of our situation is quite simply that the obligation is on people claiming Powley status to demonstrate that, and until this point we have not seen evidence which would meet the Supreme Court of Canada test.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton South, you have about 15 seconds.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. I would ask the Minister of Health when is he going to do the right thing and pay the health costs of the workers at the New Waterford Hospital who are being denied benefits in this province?

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

Just before we go on to Opposition Members' Business, I'd like to bring to the attention of the House some very important guests who are with us today. They're members of the Oxford Regional High School, 15 Grade 10, Grade 11, History class students. They're here with Mr. Keith Hunter who is their teacher, accompanied by Cathy Bragg-Gilmore, Allison Best and Carolyn Bragg. I would like to point out for the honourable members that Cathy Bragg-Gilmore is the wife of the former MLA Ross Bragg from Cumberland County and his daughter Courtney Bragg is here as well. I'd ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House, please. (Applause) I certainly welcome the guests of the gallery today, I hoped they've enjoyed the tour of the House and the proceedings here and I hope they've enjoyed their stay in Halifax.

[Page 4007]

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 76.

Bill No. 76 - Health Services and Insurance Act.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today and say a few words on Bill No. 76. This bill is the first Private Member's Bill that I've had the opportunity to submit to the House and it's very important to me, really because of the experience I've had in my new role as MLA for Halifax Clayton Park and meeting constituents and understanding some of their concerns. In fact, even during the election this year, I had a call from one of my constituents who has a young son who's about six years old who has autism. Through talking to this particular constituent I became aware of the inadequacies of the system that we have currently in place and how little help is available to her.

I think it's germane to the subject that she's a person who does not have the means to provide private care for her son, and so from the time she arrived in Nova Scotia which was three years ago, he's had no help whatsoever really that's been able to improve his condition. When he was finally able to get some speech pathology, she discovered that he fell into the category of client (Interruption )

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park has the floor.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you. In this particular case the family had moved from British Columbia where the child was diagnosed with autism and where treatment is available. When they arrived in Nova Scotia they discovered there was no treatment available. It took more than a year on a waiting list to get even the speech therapy or pathology that's available. Once they began to get that and actually see some results they discovered that after three months of receiving the speech pathology, you're then bumped aside for three months, in order to accommodate more children.

[Page 4008]

What happens, of course, is that the progress that your child has made during that period of time is lost. They regress during it, so you're really never getting ahead because it's interrupted constantly. Again, some families may have the financial wherewithal to pick up that cost, which would amount to quite a few hundred dollars. I think we worked it out, it's certainly more than $500 to do that, it's more than $100 a session, and they should really be getting it more than once a week. So if you're bumped out of the system for three months, unless you have significant resources available, it's very difficult for a mother, especially a single mother, to find the money to provide that service.

I can tell you just from that one case alone that it's a window into the situation that's facing probably 5,000 parents in Nova Scotia, because that was the estimated number of children who have autism. That's a huge number of children who are being affected. Just imagine multiplying the anguish of this one family by all those others. Even for those with more money, it's extremely expensive to try to provide the level of care and treatment that these preschoolers need in order to really overcome the symptoms that they are struck with.

Again, if we don't move when the children are young then we miss a tremendous opportunity, because the chance to turn around and allow those children to reach their potential and become all that they can be is lost. Really, early intervention is the only thing that's been found to be effective. So, it's so important to raise this issue and to, hopefully, have a good level of debate here today. As I say, I know that all of us have met people, I'm sure, who have been afflicted with this, and it's becoming evermore prevalent in our society. More and more children are being diagnosed and identified with autism or some spectrum of that disorder. It's having a devastating effect on our communities and on our schools, when the children arrive at school and, again, when the key time to help those children has passed. A lot less can be accomplished once they become school age.

I'm very pleased that I was able to submit this bill to the House and we are at least able to discuss it today. Again, what Bill No. 76 is intended to do is simply allow applied behavioural analysis therapy for autistic children six years and under to be covered through a plan approved by government to ensure that it's part of the insured services under the health services we offer. That's really what it does. It's to make it available to all citizens of Nova Scotia who have the need, who are properly diagnosed, for those young children to get the help they need. It's a mechanism that would enable government to do what's right and fair and just for the youngest and most-vulnerable citizens in Nova Scotia.

As many people in the Legislature are aware, ABA therapy is covered, although it's a patchwork of hours and varying funding allotments in virtually every other jurisdiction in this country. At present, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia are the only two provinces in this country who do not provide funding for ABA therapy. So, once again, it's just one more of those measures where Nova Scotia is falling at the bottom of the pack. Once more, not a leader, but one of the last to adopt what should be a right for these children, the right for proper treatment.

[Page 4009]

If any of these children had a physical affliction you can be sure that the treatment would be available, and that's what this mother has said to me, if my son had some other affliction, I wish he had something else because you would help him, but you're not helping because he falls into this category of autism and we don't have the funding or the finances. Really, I hope that by the end of my discussion today that we'll recognize, again, that this is money well spent. If you spend the money early, you'll save it later down the road.

ABA therapy is recognized by all these other jurisdictions in Canada as the best standard that is available. In these other provinces they do provide various forms of help. Certainly, it's not all the same, sometimes it's capped at $20,000 a year, but there's a recognition that ABA therapy is the way to go.

Mr. Speaker, our caucus would like to see the way that we treat children with autism in this province change. I do believe that it was last Fall when this issue was last discussed on the floor of the Legislature. In fact, during that time it was Autism Awareness Month and we had some visitors to the gallery who spoke about autism and who were parents of autistic children. That's very good, to raise the issue, but this is an issue that's affecting families year-round, every day, every month of the year. We haven't provided any help, nothing has really changed, and I'm sure that parents are wondering when, if ever, Nova Scotia is going to begin to respond to their needs.

Here we are in May 2004, and it's the same as it was last October. We're trying to raise the issue, we're trying to look at things in a different way so that these children can be properly attended to and given the help they need. As I say, the stress on families is really immeasurable, particularly the families who cannot afford any help. They're dealing with the knowledge that as every day passes their children are less and less apt to get the help they need to turn around their lives.

[4:30 p.m.]

When the mother who called me during the election - and I've spoken to her since - spoke to me first, she was crying on the phone and said that the only future she saw for her son was that he would live his life in a group home because, once they finish through school and become adults, if they've not received the help they need at the right time that is really the likely scenario. I think she is right, and it hurts you to realize that we're not doing anything and that that is the direction that this family will be headed with their much-loved son.

So you think of the constant daily stresses, they see time ticking away, valuable time when there should be treatment - and it's not just that emotional stress, there are all the other stresses that go with caring for a high-needs and high-maintenance child, a lot of difficulty in the home and stress on the other members of the family, and certainly there's a lot of financial stress as they try their best to provide whatever amount of special help they can get through

[Page 4010]

private clinics and private services. People will do all they can to stretch their finances and provide whatever level of care is possible.

So I think that we have to realize that this goes on all the time. It's great to have a month like October, which was Autism Awareness Month, but we need to remember that this problem hasn't gone away and we have to talk about it all year long and keep pushing forward the idea that this has to be addressed. Again, we've seen a new budget come out from the government. There is a lot of new spending for health care in that budget, but we didn't get this new program in place and we didn't get funding for autism specified in that budget. I, for one, would have felt a whole lot better knowing what the plan was for this additional spending in the budget and that some of that money was going for some of these new programs.

As was mentioned in Question Period today, the program to ensure that all babies in Nova Scotia have their hearing tested when they're born, that again is doing something at the beginning of their lives that can make a huge difference in terms of the treatment and the outcomes for their education and their lives. The same thing goes with autism. When the children are diagnosed, we need to move quickly to provide the services they need, and that will ultimately save us a lot of money, a lot of grief, a lot of suffering, throughout our communities because, again, we have to remember that families aren't isolated units either. When a family is impacted and their family is in trauma, or having a crisis (Interruption) I want to talk about the cost of autism before I'm done.

What we looked at was that if ABA therapy is provided - there has actually been a study done and I want to reference that study first - a study has been done for ABA that says that if you offer ABA in the early years, 75 per cent of the children will experience improvement as a result. In other words, the cost could be reduced from $2 million, which is the lifetime cost of caring for children with autism through their lives, if they're not receiving treatment, and if 75 per cent of those could be turned around, your costs would be significantly reduced. I mean $2 million per child is a lot of money. The cost to provide the ABA therapy would be somewhere between a $50,000 and $120,000 investment for two years worth of ABA therapy - compare that $50,000 to $2 million and just see that the economics are strongly in favour of that.

MR. SPEAKER: Your time has expired.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to thank the honourable member for bringing the bill forward for discussion this afternoon. However, the content of the bill is the first thing I want to reference, and then spend some time discussing the entire problem of autism and the approach we would all like to be able to take to it. Only the services of physicians, the only insurable under Medicare in this province is that of physicians

[Page 4011]

and, as Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy can be administered by qualified persons other than physicians, it would not be covered under the Health Services and Insurance Act.

Having said that, the government wants to provide the best possible services for children with autism and all children with special needs. We value the commitment of families of children with autism and other special needs. We do not take this lightly. We recognize that children with autism and their families certainly face very significant challenges. Within Nova Scotia services for children with autism already exist. We provide a coordinated team approach to offering services for children with autism and their families. The Departments of Health, Education and Community Services work closely together to make this possible.

This government certainly recognizes the need for early identification and treatment for children with autism. Since 2000, the government has provided an additional $2 million each year to support early identification and intervention services. This has helped provide early diagnostic treatment and intervention services for children with autism. This additional funding has helped to add more diagnosticians, speech language therapists, psychologists and others to offer the services needed to children with autism and their families. As well, the additional funding has made it possible to offer services - not just at the IWK, but around the province as close to home as possible.

I would like to add that in Nova Scotia we are very fortunate to have the IWK Health Centre. This facility has a number of experts in the field of autism. This means that children can get services at home in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, there is no one method of treatment that will benefit all autistic children. Each child is unique so treatment programs need to be designed on an individual basis. Often children with autism will need more than one service. In fact, the most effective treatment for a person may be a combination of services.

I've stated on previous occasions there is no question that early, intensive behavioural interventions are effective. What we have been trying to determine is whether early intensive behavioural interventions is the best treatment method to offer in Nova Scotia. If so, how best to offer it in an effective way, ensuring appropriately trained staff who will be accountable to the formal health system. The Department of Health has done its research and collaborated with experts in the field of neuro-developmental disorders to find out the answers to these questions.

One such expert, Dr. Susan Bryson, is an international clinical and research expert in the field of autism. She is very much up-to-date on all diagnostic and treatment issues. The work done by the neuro-developmental delay subcommittee has been crucial in this process. The committee of experts reviewed various treatment options and recommended offering early and intensive behavioural interventions to those who will benefit. The Department of Health accepted the recommendations of the neuro-developmental delay subcommittee and its treatment standards.

[Page 4012]

A new program to deliver early intensive behavioural interventions was developed and put forth for funding consideration. This new program calls for early intensive behavioural interventions to be delivered in an effective way by qualified staff reporting through the formal health system. The program is based on evidence and best practice. This means that we will get the best value for our investment. The cost to sustain this program is estimated to be $3 million a year.

The early intensive behavioural intervention programs would be in addition to the services already offered to children with autism and their families. As you know, this year's budget protected health care, increasing the health budget by 11 per cent. That translates into $230 million new dollars being put into health care. Even with this large commitment of funds, there were difficult decisions to make. We are faced with increased rates of chronic disease. We have an aging population, add these to people's expectations - rapidly growing health costs and reduced federal cost sharing - you can see the challenge we are faced with

in providing the right mix of services for all Nova Scotians.

Our focus for this budget was on maintaining our current level of service. Our ability to add much-needed new programs, such as early intensive behavioural interventions is hampered by the fact we do not have a commitment for sustained continued funding from the federal government. This is something that is being felt not only in Nova Scotia but across the country.

I might add, Mr. Speaker, if I could quote from a speech delivered by another Premier to his nurses earlier this Spring, in April. He indicated, ". . . I am calling on the federal government to address this imbalance, so we can all focus on results." The imbalance referred to was the imbalance between the taxing capacity of the Government of Canada and the spending responsibilities of the provinces of this country. The Premier went on to say, "I do want Ottawa to commit to provide the provinces with adequate, long-term funding." He goes on to say, "We need a new funding arrangement. We do need a new health care deal. We need to act urgently . . ." I would be pleased to table a copy of this. It was a speech delivered by the honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario. He delivered those remarks to the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario on April 23rd of this year.

Mr. Speaker, the challenge is not a challenge that is unique to Nova Scotia, and the need to have the participation of the federal government is not something that is unique to Nova Scotia. On our own, this province is limited in how much it can meet all health needs of Nova Scotians. Our current budget for the Department of Health stands at $2.3 billion. This accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the full provincial budget, but we know we need to do more to make sure that all the health needs of Nova Scotians are met. We know we need to be able to fund new programs in key areas, programs such as early intensive behavioural interventions for children with autism.

[Page 4013]

To do that, however, we need help, we need federal help. This does not mean that we should stop developing programs. It is important to do the things we can do to continue to develop standards and guidelines, to know that the work is done and ready to be launched when funding becomes available. This is the case with offering early intensive behavioural interventions to children with autism. We have the program developed and waiting in the wings. Once additional federal health dollars are made available, funding the early intensive behavioural interventions program for children with autism will be a priority.

Children's needs are a priority for this government, the need of children with autism and other special needs. Our challenge is to make sure that the right balance of programs and services are in place to help all children. To that end, this year, we will continue to see $2 million in funding for early identification and intervention services across the province for children with autism and their families. We will also see improvements to rehabilitation services at the IWK Health Centre, and an expansion to genetic counselling services. We value the commitment of families of autism and other special needs, and we will continue to work with them to identify and put in place the right balance and range of programs and services, and we look to the federal government to respond to our growing health care needs. We need the guarantee of predictable federal funding, not only to offer new needed programs and services, but to sustain what we have now.

[4:45 p.m.]

In Nova Scotia, we spend more than $250,000 each hour on health care. Still, we are unable to fund genuinely needed services and we heard discussions of those services here today, Mr. Speaker. Services that will help our children. Services like early intensive behaviour interventions. We have done the right planning. We need to do the right funding to make a difference in the lives of children with autism and their families.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Time has expired.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to speak to Bill No. 76, An Act to Amend Chapter 197 of the Revised Statues, 1989, the Health Services and Insurance Act. This amendment would ensure that the Department of Health would financially support Applied Behavioural Analysis treatment as an insured treatment for young children suffering from autism.

I'd like to begin my comments by just asking who are we talking about here? Approximately 350 children in Nova Scotia under the age of six suffer from autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder - it's called a disorder because no two children have the same characteristics and they differ in the severity of their symptoms or characteristics. Autism affects how a child sees the world, how they learn from their experiences. They lack the usual

[Page 4014]

desire for social contact. These children have problems making eye contact, they have problems with communication, and they often repeat the same actions over and over again.

Twenty years ago the rates for autism were approximately one in every 10,000 births. Now they appear to be one in 500 or lower. Part of this increase is due to the expanded definition for autism, but it's also possible that something else is going on to increase the number of children who are classified as autistic. Interestingly, four times more boys have autism than girls, and it is found throughout the world in families of all racial, ethnic and social backgrounds.

So what is Applied Behaviour Analysis or ABA, or as the Minister of Health has called it, Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention? It's intensive repetitive one-on-one teaching. That's the heart of this form of treatment. It can be modified to adapt to the needs of any particular child. It is the most widely accepted treatment for autism. There has been actually probably 50 years of research behind this form of treatment. The experts say that preschoolers should have up to 40 hours a week, for at least two years to get the most positive impact.

I'm not going to get into the financial costs, but it's interesting that the Autism Society Canada estimates the treatment could cost approximately $25,000 to $40,000 a year per child. This seems to be a wise investment of intervention money because of the cost savings down the road, over many years. Cost to some people, especially government decision makers may be a barrier. There's also another barrier challenge to this treatment and that's the shortage of trained ABA workers, and this is true in Nova Scotia as well. This is significant, because these workers should have certification standards and licensing so the quality and effectiveness are somewhat assured.

Some parents are actually taking this battle to court and I understand there are some Nova Scotian parents investigating this line of action in our province. The courts have ruled in British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland, that not providing this treatment is discriminatory and in one case it ruled that it's a human rights violation.

So what's happening in the rest of Canada? In summary, all provinces have some form of this treatment except in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, although Saskatchewan does have a two-year preschool program for children that's funded by their Department of Health. In New Brunswick they designated money in the 2003 budget for the treatment and training of ABA workers - approximately $20,000 a year per child. In Newfoundland they ensure 30 hours a week in a preschool program. Ontario provides for children up to the age of six and there's been a court ruling to suggest that cutting off treatment at the age of six is a violation of the rights and freedoms of that child. Other provinces, for example British Columbia, Manitoba and Alberta pay for the treatment, but limit the amount of treatment or cut it off at age six.

[Page 4015]

So Nova Scotia is lagging behind the rest of Atlantic Canada and the rest of the country in the treatment available for children with autism. Here the waiting lists for assessment are up to one-year long. Once the assessment is completed, there are limited services available. In fact, as has been heard from my colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park, parents are actually asked to accept time outs from the treatment for their children. For example, speech therapy might be provided for two or three months and there's a similar three-month time out when that treatment is provided to another child in the province.

These cause negative impacts because early treatment can make a real difference. Parents and researchers and medical professionals often call the early years a window of opportunity. Some parents are forced into supplementing the treatments with additional services that they pay for out of their own family pocket or they're borrowing money from banks or other family members to provide these additional services. They recognize that once the child enters school, the same level of progress will not be expected from these early intervention treatments.

So what has Nova Scotia done to date? The minister has reminded us that $2 million has been put towards reducing assessment wait times and providing early treatment. But we haven't seen any evidence that these additional resources have been provided for treatment. Once assessed, children can qualify for speech therapy for only limited times and there's also the possibility of limited respite. Rural families face transportation challenges - time, distance and financial. As has been suggested, the IWK Health Centre does provide a number of services for autistic children, but that requires a lot of travel for people - especially people from Cape Breton, northern Nova Scotia and the Yarmouth area. Plus these parents and family . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley has the floor.

MS. MORE: So, this causes tremendous financial impact on these families who, in addition to possibly having to provide extra treatment for their own children from their own financial resources, are having to pay these extra sums to travel and take time off work.

This is compounded by the problem that parents face in that the assessment and treatment process is incredibly confusing. They report to us that the services are not coordinated, there are long waiting lists, they don't know from one-quarter of the year to the next what's happening. They experience extreme, incredible frustration as they see these valuable early years and opportunity passing by without the full impact and the full treatment that they know should be available to their children. They're stressed out from the financial pressures, from the additional responsibility, the caregiving duties and the fear of the future for their children.

[Page 4016]

The NDP would encourage the government to provide a continuum of timely and continuing supports for children, including the ABA treatment, or the Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention, I think, is the term being used here in Nova Scotia. We're pleased to hear that there's a plan of action in place, and when the $3 million is available that it will be put into immediate action. We would like to encourage the government to see this as a much higher priority and not wait for another level of government to make the decision or for the courts to make a decision.

These children are very important not only to their families and their communities but to all Nova Scotians. It's been proven time and time again that this type of early intervention has remarkable success, and the investment in the early years means that, later on, these children could become much more productive citizens of this province and they will not have to rely on additional Health and Community Services funding.

So we would like to encourage the government to cover the cost of this treatment and, in the meantime, we would like to encourage the government to look at some of the issues, the challenges facing parents in terms of the transportation to services, the lack of coordination among services, the lack of communication, and possibly set up some additional respite and care giving support to allow them to handle the pressure in the interim.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important and timely issue. Our Party would like to encourage the government to take action as soon as possible and apply resources immediately to alleviate some of the stress and concern that the families have, especially, as I said, in terms of communication and access to continuing services, and, as soon as possible, make the $3 million a year a priority. We would certainly encourage this type of action, and wish the Department of Health all the best in this endeavour. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel. I believe you wish to start with an introduction.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, yes, I would like to start with an introduction. In the east gallery, with us today are two activists with respect to ABA therapy, two people who have tenaciously fought for the identification of this issue and support from the minister. I know that the minister would be familiar with the names of both of these women. Ms. Jo-Lynn Fenton and Ms. Tracy Avery, both of whom are mothers of children who have autistic tendencies or are in the ASD spectrum. I would ask that they please stand and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, it's not commonplace for me to introduce people in the east gallery, so my assumption is that they did indeed rise at the time that you asked.

MR. SPEAKER: They did, indeed.

[Page 4017]

MR. GRAHAM: I would like, at the outset, also to congratulate the member for Halifax Clayton Park for introducing this piece of legislation and for speaking personally about her experience with this. It falls on the heels, last Fall, of the NDP, through the member for Halifax Needham initiating in this House a discussion about this very important matter. I would thank the minister and the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley for their comments already today.

I would like, at the outset, to put this in some context. The context that I would like to sit it in is one with respect to disabilities, generally. It has been said over and over that the measure of a society should be based on how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. To that measuring stick, this Legislature certainly needs to apply itself. The people about whom we speak today are people who are in the autistic spectrum, who are commonly referred to autistic, but we also need to remember on this day those people with physical disabilities, with mental disabilities, with other intellectual disabilities. I'm reminded, when I think of that, of the challenges that face the people in Nova Scotia concerning that.

I'm mindful, for example, that from time to time in this House the issue of respite concerning that. I'm mindful, for example, that from time to time in this House the issue of respite for parents and families with people who have disabilities is raised, and in this province, certainly in comparison to the experience that my family has had, in Ontario there is very little, if any, respite that's provided to families. I know that there is a needs-based program that applies for some people. It's not nearly as universal as it is in many other provinces. I'm aware of the concerns that people raise about technical aids and the unavailability of technical aids for people with physical disabilities in this province, it seems to be a perennial problem with the people who are challenged physically appearing before caucuses and making presentations about the need for greater funding in that respect. Of course, I'm quite familiar with the challenges faced in the special education system.

[5:00 p.m.]

During the Estimates debates I attempted to raise concerns about the challenges in this province concerning special education and how the school achievement indicator program has signalled that, in Nova Scotia, we have perhaps greater challenges in special education than any other province in Canada. Our responsibility is to speak for the people who cannot speak for themselves. I appreciated the comments from the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley indicating the specific application of ABA and describing what it is.

I won't go into it in great detail but essentially, Mr. Speaker, it is, as the minister would acknowledge, something that is, at first, costly, but I would argue over the long term will result in significant cost savings to this province. There is a theme to all of this and it's consistent with the issue of speech language that was raised earlier in this House, and Sport and Recreation that's going to be raised later.

[Page 4018]

At the Public Accounts Committee meeting this morning we spoke about the Healthy Beginnings program. All of this is about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.

In the specific instance of ABA therapy, it is a one-on-one therapy that can take, as the member already indicated, up to 40 hours per week for individual, intensive, handholding, eye-to-eye contact with the people who are affected and, what's most important about it is most effective when it is applied in the early years of somebody's life. This isn't something that for the Fentons, or for the Averys, that we can delay for another five years and they're going to receive an equal benefit from; for every month and certainly every year that passes, when ABA treatment is not available in this province, as one of the only two provinces in the country that doesn't have it, it is the children of the Averys and the Fentons and the children who have come before this House. We have the Dassonvilles, the Youngs - I know that Jim Young has written long letters to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Community Services about these very pressing issues. It is those people and their children, most importantly, who suffer.

In the circumstances of Mr. Young, the minister will recall that he had indicated in his letters back in the Fall that it was costing he and his family in the range of $30,000 annually to ensure that their love for their child is reflected in the investment that they make in ensuring that their child gets the treatment that's actually deserved and needed. ABA is considered to be the most effective treatment for autism.

I know that the minister referred to Dr. Bryson's work and the report that she has produced. My understanding of what Dr. Bryson has come up with is that while the issue of autism is, of course, complex, this report includes recommendations for the province to actually go forward and take the step that the other Atlantic Provinces have already taken. They confirm what has been known for decades and that is that ADA therapy actually works.

The minister lamented that the province could not go forward given the fiscal constraints, blamed Ottawa - and I will deal with that in a moment - for the fiscal constraints that it's under, that it can't go forward with ABA therapy. It's amazing to think that the Province of Newfoundland, with the challenges facing it fiscally, has the opportunity to go forward. I would recognize that the Department of Health has done things over the last period of time. The $2 million investment that the minister has referenced is significant. Dr. Bryson is internationally recognized as a leader in the area of autism but, clearly, more needs to be done. If it's not done by this department, it's going to be forced upon us because, as the minister would know, there is a case before the Supreme Court of Canada that deals specifically with this issue, it is the Auton case.

So what do we do in these circumstances? Are going to continue to wait while the Fentons and the Averys and the many other people, 8,000, as I understand it, in a petition that they are presently circulating, continue to make their case to this government that this is about caring for the people who can't speak for themselves in this province. The minister spoke

[Page 4019]

about the priorities of this government and this current budget. He spoke about the priority of maintaining services. What's notable, with respect to the Health budget this year, is that most of the increase of $233 million has gone to salary increases. Maintaining services is precisely what this government has attempted to do, and he lays the blame at the feet of the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, this was a topic, you will recall, that came up in the Public Accounts Committee this morning, and it was noteworthy to see that according to the calculations that I was able to glean from the discussions this morning in the Public Accounts Committee, it was actually during the 1990s when federal reductions in equalization payments were most severe. It was in the 1990s when the provincial government had the greatest reason to complain for a lack of money coming from Ottawa. This morning, I put on the record my commitment to the importance of addressing the fiscal imbalance that the Premier of Ontario has already spoken about.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Citadel has the floor.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, this is about more than maintaining salaries, this is about more than just maintaining the status quo, this is about more than blaming Ottawa once again. We didn't blame Ottawa in the 1990s to the extent that we do right now. We have more money that we did before. In the year, 2001, as I recall it, $18 billion new dollars were provided to health care to the provinces, and just this past year there was $36 billion additional new dollars, and then on top of that there's $2 billion more, but all that it seems that we hear about is how Ottawa has managed to ensure that the provinces aren't receiving their fair share, blaming Ottawa and not providing the kind of leadership that is needed.

What the families who have children who are dealing with this are looking for is a real concrete response. As the member for Halifax Clayton Park had indicated, this is about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. In her remarks, she indicated how over the period of somebody's lifetime, without some adequate treatment, somebody with the autistic spectrum disorder challenges can cost an additional $2 million to government coffers, $2 million. But with an investment, over time, even for a period of two years, when somebody is very young, we can save up to $1.5 million on that person alone.

This is about the ounce of prevention being worth the pound of cure. This is about recognizing that the people who can't speak for themselves need to have a voice in this Legislature, and for so many other reasons. I'm sure the Minister responsible for the Office of Health Promotion is tired of hearing me say this over and over, we need to invest early to save over a long period of time. It was a year ago when I spoke about the challenges in this province of a government that only focuses on the sick fish that float down the stream instead of going upstream to find out what was causing the problem in the first place.

[Page 4020]

We need to show more vision, we need to recognize that, clearly, we have an opportunity to invest, to save and to improve people's lives over time. This is an issue of great importance. As the member for Dartmouth North would appreciate, this is an issue about people with disabilities. This is an issue that requires people's careful attention, whether it is about speech language therapy, whether it's about healthy beginnings, sport and recreation and, today, ABA therapy. The strength of our society will be measured by the way that we treat our young people, and if we don't act on this important question, then it will be, over time, a measurement that we don't properly live up to.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal Deputy House Leader.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 53.

Bill No. 53 - Gaming Control Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I will share some of my time with my colleague, the member for Victoria-The Lakes. It is a pleasure to speak to Bill No. 53. This significant bill calls on the Nova Scotia Government to commit 10 per cent of lottery revenues to sport and recreation; 10 per cent is a small step but it would show a commitment of a government that they are serious about the health of the population.

Mr. Speaker, in fact, I would like to see the day when that 10 per cent would be increased. This measure will mean approximately $5 million more in the Sport and Recreation programs in Nova Scotia. There has never been a better time to enact this bill than right now, Mr. Speaker. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation is increasing its 6/49 tickets by a dollar later this year. The additional revenue that this will generate will go a long way to fund this bill. I want the government to understand that putting that extra money into larger prizes will be failing the youth of our province. This is a wonderful opportunity to take revenue and pass it onto those organizations that are in desperate needs of funds and allow them to direct it to a target area which would pay dividends down the road. Government must do more to enhance the physical well-being of Nova Scotians. While providing more money is an important first step, what really needs to happen is a complete change of direction.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The members are having a great deal of difficulty trying to hear the speaker, please keep the noise down.

The honourable member for Annapolis has the floor.

MR. MCNEIL: While providing more money is the first important step, Mr. Speaker, what really needs to happen is a complete change of direction. Physical education should not be something that our children participate in once or twice every six-day school cycle, if they

[Page 4021]

are lucky. It should be a mandatory part of the school curriculum. It is time to make physical activity a centrepiece of government policy, both through education and activity promotion. The key to a healthier population involves the promotion of a health and wellness culture. A culture that encourages people to make healthier eating choices, become more active, avoid health risks and stop smoking.

Mr. Speaker, if this government supports those goals of a healthier population, then their first step of making it happen should be with the children of this province. Nova Scotians have the second lowest life expectancy in Canada. We have the highest rate of death from cancer. We have the highest rate of death from respiratory disease. The cost in human suffering is tragic. The cost in economic terms is also unacceptable. These statistics are staggering. Although I realize there is no short-term fix, which will improve these overnight, I believe if we start today toward investing in the health and wellness of our children, we will see a long-term gain for Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, every dollar we spend on healthy living now, will save the health care system down the road. The GPI Atlantic has estimated that premature disability and death as a result of smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and poor nutrition, costs the Nova Scotia economy $700 million every year.

Mr. Speaker, what we are asking for in this bill is 10 per cent of the lottery revenue or $5 million. $5million invested now to start saving on that $700 million. Just imagine if we spent that money in a physical education program, or on smoking cessation programs, nutrition programs, investing toward a healthier lifestyle.

North Karelia in Finland is an example of what can be accomplished. It is one of Finland's 11 provinces which had a population of 180,000 people. It had the lowest socio-economic status in their country. Their primary industry was farming. In 1972 their population had a poor diet, a high rate of smoking, low levels of physical activity and high alcohol consumption. They had the highest record of morbidity and mortality rates of cardiovascular disease in the world, Mr. Speaker. By 1992 the rate of cardiovascular disease and mortality declined by 68 per cent. Coronary heart disease and mortality declined by 73 per cent and cancer mortality declined by 70 per cent. All because of the investment by government. This decline happened because government made a choice. They chose to support the citizens of North Karelia. I am sure their government had its own problems. Instead of being short-sighted, they looked forward and that is what this bill does. It begins all but in a small way. It allows our Department of Sport and Recreation to begin to promote and financially support a healthier lifestyle for Nova Scotians.

We have the ability to do better, Mr. Speaker, but what we need is the political will. Thank you, at this time I'd like to share my time with the member for Victoria-The Lakes.

[Page 4022]

[5:15 p.m.]

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Thank you, to my colleague. Mr. Speaker, I'm very proud to announce here this evening that we have found gold in Cape Breton, but who cares?

I'm going to read here (Interruptions) Well, let me tell you then, Andre White of the Tommy Gordon Amateur Boxing Club, in Florence, captured gold medal honours in the heavyweight division at the Canadian Cadet Boxing Championship in St. Catharines, Ontario. White was the only Cape Bretoner among nine Nova Scotians who competed at the national event for boxers aged 16 and under. Nova Scotians won three gold, three silver and three bronze medals in total. I'll refer to another young gentleman afterwards also. (Applause) Thank you very much to the members opposite.

Andre White is 16 years of age, belongs to the Tommy Gordon Amateur Boxing Club and he's done that without any funding - just he and his parents and the goodwill of some of his neighbours putting on bottle drives and things like that to raise funds to go there. There was no funding for him under the Elite Athlete Program. One of the problems that I do have is the fact that I understand from Brian White, Andre's father, that the total amount of funding for the boxing clubs in Nova Scotia - there's 26 boxing clubs and they are funded to a total of $2,000 that must be split among 26 clubs. If my mathematics is right, that's $76.24 per club. The Tommy Gordon Club has 30 members and a line up of young people waiting to get in.

What I want to focus on is the father asked me why would these kids want to vote? A politician will come to their door looking for support and the kid is going to say what did you do for me? This young man is a role model for any young person who is having difficulty in life and wondering what to do, and here's a role model that should be searched out and put on a pedestal and congratulated for what he's doing. He won the provincials, the Canadian nationals, and now he has his sights on the Olympics. Mr. Speaker, I'm focusing on this gentleman this evening because I hope that funding will be forthcoming in the future with our applications.

Now to young Daniel Canning, whom I referenced in this Chamber before - another 16-year-old who won silver at the Canadian National Powerlifting Championship in Ontario and has since won gold in Bridgewater, and in September that young man will be going to South Africa to represent Canada at the World Weightlifting Championships. This is a gentleman also with no gymnasium, and just working out on the porch of his own home, works part-time at the drug store, is a Grade 11 student. Andre White and Daniel Canning are absolute role models - what about if these were two of the kids who get hooked on drugs, get on the wrong side of the law, cause a lot of problems and cause a lot of cost to the province, to the criminal justice system and to society and the community in general, but, no,

[Page 4023]

they've chosen to go the opposite route and keep their nose clean and be proud young individuals in the community.

I think they should be recognized, they should be funded. We should search them out. If this was the U. S. or maybe a larger centre that they were coming from, they would be the heroes of the community and paraded around - and rightfully so. This is what I hope that we can do with these gentlemen. One of them already received a Dear John letter, that I referenced in here, that the funding was not available for them but, at the same time, feel free to apply again. I think that's an absolute insult to these young children - I shouldn't say children - young men is what they are and, as I say, I can't reference it enough that they are heroes for today's youth. It appears that if it were another sport other than weightlifting or boxing, they would receive automatic funding.

I would also like to point out the fact that with these young people being active, these boxing clubs, these weightlifting clubs - and we talk about living an active lifestyle and you heard my colleague talk about what they did in North Karelia - these young fellows are active, they're physically active, they're mentally active. Look at the amount of money they're saving our health care system. They're not a burden on the health care system, they're not somebody who is in out-patient five times a week and looking at future problems down the road when they get older - no, they're setting an example and the example should be rewarded. It should be rewarded with the funding. Like you said, we have one man who is looking forward to going to the Olympics. We have another young fellow who is going to represent Canada and Nova Scotia in South Africa and I think we should put them, basically, on a pedestal and be very proud of the fact that we have two young gold medal winners in Cape Breton. What will they do, will they become disgusted if they can't get funding to go to South Africa or if young Andre can't fulfill his dream to go to the Olympics?

Mr. Speaker, I would like to let it be known that I will be actively seeking funding and support, not only through the community but through the government agencies and through the honourable Minister of Health Promotion, that these two individuals specifically whom I referenced here today will be funded. I'm proud that both of these are from Victoria-The Lakes, both of them are from Cape Breton, both of them have done it on their own and that is an example for any and all youth to follow. With that, I congratulate both and thank the honourable Speaker for the time to reference what I have here this evening and I will be looking forward to meeting with the minister for some funding for these men in the future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to rise to say a few words on the bill as Minister of Health Promotion. The fact of the matter is - and I did listen to the comments made across the floor - some of the comments coming forward with regard to population health and determinants of health are very important. It is because of the leadership of our Premier that we set up the Office of Health Promotion to begin with. He

[Page 4024]

saw the need and we put it in place and the fact of the matter is that our province does face many challenges, whether it's with type 2 diabetes, cardiac disease, cancer, elements of chronic disease.

Mr. Speaker, certainly each of these elements needs to be addressed and that really is why we put forward our plan back on April 27th. We spent the last year building the capacity within the office. If you take a look at the areas we have addressed through our plan, you will see the areas of physical activity, tobacco, of injury prevention, of the areas of healthy eating and diet, of focusing on our young people whether it's through our Active Kids, Healthy Kids program or other such initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, the bill before us is about money. That's what it is about. He's talking about the10 per cent with respect to being put forward. The fact of the matter is we have made a commitment to double the Office of Health Promotion's budget from $15 million to $30 million over a four-year period which is a significant investment. We have already increased it this year by $3.6 million and we are seeing significant investments whether it's in our tobacco strategy, over $2 million. Under the previous government what was there for the tobacco strategy? Well, there was no tobacco strategy.

What was there for the Active Kids, Healthy Kids strategy, Mr. Speaker, in our schools because I know I was there, what was there for active communities, what was there for active school communities, what was there for active transportation? Well, there was no plan under the previous government. The fact of the matter is this government is not talking about taking initiatives, this government is taking initiatives. If I take a look at the past week, just yesterday I was across the water in Dartmouth and joined by a number of senior citizens. In fact, the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley was there to join me because it was an important event.

Mr. Speaker, we announced $300,000 worth of funding to go towards preventing falls for our seniors and that member has an interest in that because she was part of the Community Links Program, a very good program, to look at that very important issue, to address the issue not just here in HRM but across the province. If you're really truly taking a look at the population health model, you just don't look at physical activity, you just don't look at healthy eating, you take a look across the board and those are the initiatives which will put forward those elite athletes that the member for Victoria-The Lakes talked about earlier.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to make another announcement - in Sydney. We announced over $300,000 with the district health authority in the Cape Breton region; issues addressed towards healthy eating, issues directed towards community capacity. That money can supplement the money we already put towards our community health boards, the over $300,000 we already put in. Those are the types of initiatives which are going to make a difference.

[Page 4025]

Mr. Speaker, we spent the last year putting the appropriate plans in place so we can truly make a difference. One of the issues that my colleague, the member for Truro-Bible Hill, moved forward on when he was Minister of Health was that of tobacco. There is an excellent example of a strategy, a comprehensive strategy, which takes a look at the education, the social marketing, which takes a look at the need for cessation programs, which, I should add, this government took a leadership role to put in place those program dollars for those programs throughout this province, and they're being utilized. They're being utilized in a manner which is reflective of how they should be, through the Addiction Services Program.

Mr. Speaker, it's because of that minister that we moved forward on the policy aspect as well, and it's because this government took a leadership role in respect to that that smoking rates in our province have dropped from 30 per cent down to 25 per cent, and this year they're going down again. The six-month data for that is very positive, we're looking at least at 22 per cent, so we're going in the right direction. Do we have a lot of work to do? We certainly do.

Mr. Speaker, what I can tell you is when we came into government, and I can tell in my previous life as an educator, I saw the neglect which was happening under the previous government, and I see the neglect happening with their cousins in Ottawa today. Whether it's taking money away from this province in a number of areas, whether it's through the offshore, whether it's through our health care system, or whether it's through our roads - my colleague, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, is dealing with that issue - what they are doing time and time again is forcing their hand on our Minister of Finance, which makes it that much more difficult for the Office of Health Promotion to have even more money, but we are committed to it.

The fact of the matter is, I guess it's a prime example of robbing Peter to pay Paul, that's probably the best way to describe it. Those dollars just keep on going to Ottawa. What we need then is to also put in priorities that we have with respect to the issues of Health Promotion.

The facts speak for themselves, Mr. Speaker. We have a CEO in place, with respect to the Deputy Minister of Health right now, our Executive Director Scott Logan is very well respected, he was heavily involved in Sport Nova Scotia in his previous life, and is very well respected.

Right now, Mr. Speaker, we are moving across this province meeting with district health authorities, but not only district health authorities, because if you're really taking a look at the population health model, you must encompass a much larger group. That is what we are doing. If you truly want to make a difference and make this province more physically active, it is much bigger than just in a school, it also includes the vast amount of corporations that we have in our province, it also includes leadership by the government, and this

[Page 4026]

government is taking that leadership. In fact, it's taking that leadership even within government itself, and moving forward on wellness programs and wellness initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, I hear the Liberals talk about this issue, and it really makes me laugh. When they had the opportunity - for five years - to do what they're putting forward today, they didn't do it. When they had the opportunity to put the plans in place, they didn't do it. When they had the opportunities to provide a true prevention model which would start making a difference in our province - we moved forward on the Chronic Disease Prevention Strategy with Dalhousie University and we are using that framework around the framework to establish in the Office of Health Promotion, and it is making a difference.

Mr. Speaker, on the other area, on the communications and social marketing, it's vital. If you want to have a comprehensive strategy, you need good communications and social marketing. Healthy sexuality is another area, and we have moved forward with respect to our booklet, because young people deserve to have the appropriate information in their hands as they move forward into adulthood.

Mr. Speaker, in addition, the program which is going to provide opportunities for many kids in our province which I feel very strongly about is that of KidSport. KidSport can make a difference for many young people across our province. That is a program where we have invested well over $300,000 this year, in addition to what's raised. This is the first significant investment by a government in Nova Scotia in that program and we feel very strongly about that program because there are young people out there in our province who deserve the opportunity to take part in sport. Would we like to see more money in that program? Certainly.

[5:30 p.m.]

As we move forward and increase our budget significantly over the next number of years, I can tell you there will be many more positive announcements forthcoming. The fact of the matter is, somebody mentioned to me one day that you have to walk before you can run, and I agree with that statement. You do not just go out and move forward on issues without an appropriate plan. You do not move forward on those initiatives without the appropriate research. We have some of the best research in this country, perhaps even in North America, and I don't know if the members realize that, but through you, to the members, at Grade 3, Grade 7 and Grade 11 using the accelerometers, we are now able to track students as they progress through their education years, and that is not just data taken, or data coming from a feedback sheet, that is scientific data, some of the best research. We will be able to see if we are making a difference. When those students are getting to Grade 7, we can see what difference it makes.

[Page 4027]

What concerns me is what is happening as those students get into Grade 11, and I am very familiar with students in Grade 11 because, having taught the Physically Active Lifestyles Program, having taught the Career and Life Management Program, I know - as well as the high school physical education program offered - the challenges. It is not that long ago that I was in a classroom and I faced all of the cutbacks under the previous Liberal Government. I remember the cutbacks that they imposed in our schools, especially in the Strait Regional School Board. I remember when they made decisions and ignored the people of Whycocomagh, Judique, Mabou, and Inverness - I remember that. I remember when they wouldn't even have discussions with them and we know that is why the government changed in 1999 and we moved on to what I consider bigger and better things as the new government. (Interruptions) I got under their skin, Mr. Speaker, I knew the Liberals would have a problem with that because that was a big issue in 1999, as they well know. It certainly didn't hurt the incoming member at the time. But, I have to get back to the bill because I don't want to go on those rabbit tracks with those across the floor.

The fact of the matter is, we face challenges in this province. The question is are we up to the challenge? I can tell you, it is because - as I mentioned - of the leadership of our Premier, the leadership of this Party and this government, that we were able and have the ability to move forward on the best research possible, on the best planning possible, with those who are at the grassroots of our province. We will continue in that manner and we will not go off on rabbit tracks with percentages and certain numbers, we will make an investment, we will not talk about making an investment.

The people of this province know what happened from 1993 to 1999 and what didn't happen, they know what is happening now. I can tell you, what is happening is very positive. Community health boards are talking about it, district health authorities are talking about it, people are speaking about the positive things happening, and that is the end of my time, Mr. Speaker. I could go on longer if the members want, but I'm sure they are willing to go across.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would wager to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. PYE: I would wager to guess that the Minister of Health Promotion, in his portfolio, would obviously be quite capable of debating this important issue because that government has been the government in power for approximately five years now. If that government was interested in making sure that the healthful well-being of our Nova Scotian citizens was number one on top of their priorities, they would have started to spend the dollars before this bill even came to the floor of this Legislature. As a matter of fact, this bill would never have had to enter this Legislative Assembly, and I'm talking about Bill No. 53,

[Page 4028]

which implies within the bill that it takes 10 per cent of the ticket lottery revenue and puts it into sport, recreation and facilities.

Remember, there is a business plan from the Gaming Corporation and we have been provided that business plan during budget estimates. In that business plan I want to say that it says (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. PYE: My hope was that since this was such an important issue and a lot of us are actively involved in recreational programs and services and partake in sports ourselves, that many people would pay attention to this particular serious debate.

The important thing is, Mr. Speaker, that I want to go back to the business plan. The business plan says - and this is for ticket lottery revenue, as a matter of fact it estimated, for the year 2004-05, $215.9-some million in ticket revenue minus the expenditures. Out of the lottery ticket revenue would be $174.1 million. That would leave approximately $41.8 million left, 10 per cent of $41.8 million is $4.18 million. That would go a long way. The Minister of Finance is over there and he can certainly substantiate the numbers that I am putting across this floor.

I also want to go back to 2002, when the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation actually produced its first report. In 2002, they allocated money of $600,000 to projects; $807,000 in grants, including $250,000 in community events like the International Air Show and the Natal Day Parade. Also I want to say out of that, that's what they practically spent. What was left in a balance, in a community program, was $4-some million, put in a community project account. That $4 million - we don't know to this day where it is; that $4 million ought to be there, and still ought to be there.

The reason why this additional revenue has come forward, Mr. Speaker, it has come at the expense of many citizens in Nova Scotia who are actively involved in sport. Many years ago when I was a coach for minor baseball, for many years we could recall a bingo night in which we could generate revenue; we could count on a casino night that would generate revenue for fundraising in the community along with an annual dinner. We cannot do that now because you are running in competition with the Nova Scotia Government that is, in fact, involved in gambling itself; in fact, takes the money from the community. That Minister of Finance over there can tell you that the declining revenues in bingo, in personal ticket sales, with respect to casino night, entertainment nights that are put on by people who are left at the whim of the private sector in their community, now try to generate what very little dollars they have in order to run sports and events programs.

[Page 4029]

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health Promotion knows very well the devastation that was caused by the government's reliance on gambling and taking money from communities and community organization that in fact could very well use those particular dollars. I can tell you that I know the minister has been in conversation with the district health boards. I know he has been in conversation with the community health councils. I know that he has been in conversation with them because some of those individuals have been in conversation with me. I can tell you that they are looking at a myriad of issues with respect to ...

AN HON. MEMBER: The rink in Springhill.

MR. PYE: Oh, the rink in Springhill. You might want to ask the honourable Speaker with respect to the rink in Springhill, but I can tell you that the honourable Speaker who can ask questions, and can't because . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If the honourable member wants to allow me some of his time I will certainly explain to the House how well the arena in Springhill is doing.

MR. PYE: It happens to be a first in this Legislative Assembly, I must say. The honourable Speaker, of all people, has the authority to step down from the Chair and take his rightful place in government and speak on any particular topic that he wants to. I have to tell you, because that's within his Rule Book, he can do that. He can pass that on. But, seriously, getting back to this very, very important issue. It really is. There are many, many Nova Scotians who can no longer afford to be actively involved in sports.

Allow me to tell you, you look at this issue and you might make light of it, but there are a number of working poor Nova Scotians and persons on fixed incomes and that minister is very much aware of the numbers - I don't have to preach to him the number of individuals out there in need, who can't participate. Even the cheapest sport of all in this province, soccer, there are young people who cannot participate in the sport of soccer. There are people who, forget it, hockey is out of their reach. Young people. Forget it, baseball is out of their reach. It's not possible . . .

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I heard the honourable member speak about soccer and I just want to say that I had the privilege last week of attending an official opening of a facility, the AgriDome in Truro and the Minister of Sport gave a facilities grant of $150,000 specifically . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Thank you. Not a point of order. The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

[Page 4030]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I just want the honourable Minister of Education to know that you can build the finest facility in the world and you can have those facilities, but if the people who are participants of those facilities can't afford to play and be actively involved in the sport, it really doesn't matter what kind of facilities you build.

The important thing is, and the Minister of Education is one who should really know, we talked about the use of education facilities and the need for community groups and organizations to get those education facilities for free.

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

MR. PYE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have to tell you many of those educational facilities also have sports fields on them. Many of them are into soccer, softball, baseball, the fields on those facilities as well. Of all people who would know, the Minister of Education would know very well that when I was talking about funding, I meant funding directly allocated to those in need and those who would be able to access those dollars so that they would have the money available to partake in those various sports.

I have never said that the facilities aren't out there. There are some very fine facilities. I can mention the Dartmouth Sportsplex, Cole Harbour Place, and a number of excellent facilities. But, I can tell you a number of people who can never enter their doors because they can't afford the registration fee, because they are unable to get there because of transportation, because their parents do not have the dollars. The Minister of Health Promotion, I know he's working through the community councils to try to address this very issue. I know he's working through Sport and Recreation in Nova Scotia in an attempt to address this issue. But I do want you to know and I do want you to seriously think and reflect that when we're talking about this bill, we're talking about extracting some 10 per cent of the net revenue from lottery tickets.

It's ironic that very political Party over there would ask for the elimination of video lottery machines, which I have to applaud them for bringing forward, but we need to get away from all those vices that are not suitable to the health and well-being of people. Those vices include tobacco and as you know the tobacco industry has got away from the promotion of sports, out of the auto racing industry - they were regulated by government to get out of that. As a matter of fact, we also know that liquor ads are removed from a certain amount of youth promotional programs.

[5:45 p.m.]

All these things, and now gambling is another way of getting out of that particular vice, a way of generating revenue for the healthful well-being of Nova Scotians. I think that this is a matter of priority of government. I think that we should not have to rely upon the 10 per cent tax dollars from the ticket revenue to provide a comprehensive sport recreation and

[Page 4031]

facility program in this province. I would certainly hope that, in fact, Mr. Speaker, the minister hears the message, and it's too bad that we did not pay the kind of serious attention to the debate of this bill that we should have.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I don't know about you, but the sound of vigorous debate about the issue of whether or not we should invest more in sport and recreation is long overdue in this Chamber and (Applause) I don't know how you feel but it's pleasant to hear the discussion and it's pleasant to hear the impassioned pitch that the Minister of Health Promotion has for this. (Applause)

As a former physical education teacher and someone who, I know, has been quite active in various sports at a competitive level, I know how much the Minister of Health Promotion actually cares about this issue. This is an issue that I think all members of the House are coming to recognize is truly one that should have deserved more attention in the past. The minister spent some time suggesting that there was inaction during the Liberal term and, frankly, he's right. There was inaction during the Liberal term, and there was inaction during the Progressive Conservative term before that. There was inaction for a long period of time.

It's interesting to note that the research however in relation to this, Mr. Speaker, has really surfaced in the last five or six years. It is in the last five or six years that research has come out to suggest - and I'll refer to a bit of this - in the year 2000, in Edmonton, the Edmonton Sports Council found that an investment of $1 in sport brings a $22 value in return. In the year 2002, in relation to Nova Scotia, GPI Atlantic found that adding direct and indirect health care costs, the total economic burden of physical inactivity in Nova Scotia is estimated at $354,000 annually. In the year 2000, the Centre for Disease Control reported students who participate in interscholastic sports are less likely to be regular and heavy smokers, drug users, and more likely to stay in school, have good conduct, and high academic achievement. Again from the Centre for Disease Control, they reported that studies have found participation in physical activity increases adolescent self-esteem, and reduces anxiety and stress.

These are all issues, Mr. Speaker, that perhaps we knew through common sense. Certainly the Liberal Government before this should have known through common sense, but this is an area where there has been great neglect, and the issue that this government and the minister doesn't fully come to terms with is the gravity of the problem here in the province that we love, Nova Scotia. We have perhaps the least active of all young people in the entire country; we have the second worst obesity problem amongst our young people; and we invest less money in sport and recreation than we take out through taxes in this province. The problems of physical activity in our school system through physical education are recorded over and over in this Chamber.

[Page 4032]

Now this minister and this government do deserve some credit, and I would like to stress that, for example, with respect to scooping out a vision for health promotion and population health, the vision at least that was put forward in the Red Chamber just recently is one that's supportable. It, however, falls far short of recognizing the gravity of the problem.

KidSport, a wonderful investment. We need to invest more money in KidSport to make sure that access to sports is more available to young people. The research tells us over and over that an investment in somebody's activity in a sport or a hobby that they love is the single greatest investment that one can make to ensure that they, don't get involved in things like crime, to ensure that they don't have unwanted pregnancy, that they're not on social assistance, that they, over the long term, are successful in life. This is the vision piece that we need to recognize in a province that has perhaps the greatest challenge in terms of physical activity of any other.

In terms of taking credit for spearheading this, I would take exception with the member's response. Obviously, credit is due for what's been unveiled, but we will recall back in December 2002 when the Office of Health Promotion was first announced, it was clear that it wasn't even an office, didn't have a budget, didn't even have a nameplate on the door at that time. It took a year and a half before this came out, and I think it's noteworthy that the Liberal Party was the Party, in early 2002, that began to talk about the importance of health promotion and how we needed to address this problem.

Now we have failed in the past, but that doesn't prevent someone from making corrections in the future. The size of the problem that we have is great. The investment that has been made, and the minister refers to the 3.6 million new dollars that are being put into the Health Promotion agenda . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Kings North, on a point of order?

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Halifax Citadel entertain a question?

MR. GRAHAM: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North on a question.

MR. PARENT: Thank you very much, honourable member. I appreciate your comments in support of the initiative undertaken by my colleague. One of the problems with

[Page 4033]

physical inactivity is the extensive use of television, now compounded by the Internet. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on that issue. I would like to hear your comments.

MR. SPEAKER: Are you asking me? (Interruptions)

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. GRAHAM: When the minister unveiled this proposal and the vision, they recognized that this is a broader issue than just simply involving people in sports or saying to them that you shouldn't smoke. This is a multi-dimensional problem that requires a comprehensive response, and I am encouraged by the executive director who has been put in place. Scott Logan is recognized nationally as a person with clear vision, who understands the nature of the problem and the steps that need to be taken.

This issue that I take with the government's position is that there hasn't been sufficient investment, that we have, on the whole, taken baby steps. The minister makes reference to the $3.6 million increase. GPI Atlantic recently recorded that out of the Health budget, less than 2 per cent of the total budget goes to illness prevention and health promotion. When one looks at the $233 million of increased health care spending and the $3.6 million beside that for improving health promotion, it comes in, again, at the status quo of about 2 per cent of the investment that we're making going toward health promotion.

So, in terms of improving things, the $3.6 million is really more of a status quo. It comes with a vision, it comes with an investment, a concrete investment in some new things, like KidSport, but it doesn't take the dramatic steps that are required for us to really deal with this problem. Now the minister may be familiar with the research that goes with some of these issues, that includes research done out of Ontario by a Professor Auffert, who is internationally recognized as someone who has determined that if we are to involve our young people . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the honourable members, if you have to talk, to please go outside the Chamber. (Interruptions)

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that isn't just about having fun, this is an issue that goes, fundamentally, to how we treat our young people and whether or not we give young people an opportunity. It was fun, certainly, for me to be involved in sports, but when I go to communities around Nova Scotia and I see the failure for us to invest in simple things like infrastructure, in bike paths, in many of the things that are available in other communities, I recognize that we have failed our young people, we have failed ourselves.

[Page 4034]

Just this past week, I was in a community in the United States that is the same size as Halifax, that's serving the same population size, that has several universities, just like Halifax does. In one campus in that city, they had a stadium that seated more people than the SkyDome. They had a football field that was indoors, a full football field. They had a tennis facility just at that university with over 20 courts. People were active. They had a baseball stadium with a full stadium and lights. They had a softball stadium that was separate. They had a soccer stadium as well. That's the kind of investment that is being made in other places.

And what do we find here in Nova Scotia? When we compare ourselves to the Province of Saskatchewan, we have approximately half as many young people involved in sports as Saskatchewan which has about the same population as us and what do we find about our investment in sport? Well, in Saskatchewan they spend about $13 million in sport development and in Nova Scotia we spend about $3 million in sport development. Where did they find that money? Well, as it turns out, through lottery ticket money.

Back in the 1970s we started lottery tickets for the 1976 Olympics and everybody remembers the $1 million - perhaps the Minister of Health Promotion may not - but a lucky Canadian was going to win $1 million when the lottery ticket was picked for somebody and then, before you knew it, there were 10 lottery tickets that were drawn for $1 million each and over time this was intended and disguised as a promotion of sport because it started with the Olympics. But what happened over time - and I attribute responsibility to different governments with different stripes - the money was clawed back until it practically has disappeared and what we have left is places like the rink in Whitney Pier, as the member for Cape Breton Nova would point out, that is falling down. We have places where the challenges (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Citadel only has about 15 seconds left - sorry, one minute and 15 seconds.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member reflects upon Whitney Pier and I can tell you that we will be announcing some money for Whitney Pier tomorrow. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel has the floor.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, let me finish by saying the fact that this government after two years has finally woken up to the importance of sport and recreation is a credit, I'm happy to hear.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. Now he has about 30 seconds left.

[Page 4035]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: The problem that the people of Whitney Pier are having is that the federal government has not come onside. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel, you have about 25 seconds.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, it's only appropriate that we finish the final seconds of this day with this government, once again, pointing the finger at the federal government instead of recognizing its own significant shortfalls.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for Opposition Members' Business has expired.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, that completes our business for today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader on tomorrow's hours and order of business.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, can I have 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 Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 58 - Mechanics' Lien Act.

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

Bill No. 74 - Oil Refineries and L.N.G. Plants Municipal Taxation Act.

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

[Page 4036]

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 the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading, Public Bills for Third Reading, Private and Local Bills for Second and Third Reading as well, and Committee of the Whole House on Bills. So I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.:

PRIVATE LAND STEWARDSHIP - ENCOURAGEMENT

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to speak tonight on the resolution: "Therefore be it resolved that MLAs and all Nova Scotians recognize the importance of private land conservation in this province, and the work being done by Nova Scotia Environment and Labour to encourage private land stewardship such as the Panuke Lake Nature Reserve owned by the Bowater Mersey Paper Company and Brothers Islands, off the coast of Parrsboro."

[Page 4037]

Mr. Speaker, just a little background, Environment and Labour is responsible for the planning and management of Nova Scotia's protected wilderness areas, nature reserves and also the heritage rivers and through our Protected Areas Branch, we are also responsible for supporting and encouraging the protection of natural areas through private stewardship. Private stewardship is a very important complement to the government's own conservation efforts. To date we have designated 31 protected areas and these areas represent typical examples of Nova Scotia's natural landscapes, our native biodiversity and outstanding natural features. We will soon add two more to the list - Gully Lake and Eigg Mountain, both in northern Nova Scotia. The province has seven nature reserves that were designated under the Special Places Protection Act. These landholdings are important areas for biodiversity protection, scientific research and education.

We also have two waterways designated as heritage rivers - the Shelburne and the Margaree-Lake Ainslie river systems. This designation celebrates these rivers as travel routes, recreational areas and certainly part of our livelihood. Mr. Speaker, you might ask why it is important that we protect and conserve private lands? Nova Scotia, in itself, is a very special place and it is our job to ensure that we protect the areas that represent different types of biodiversity in the province. We have over 10,000 kilometres of coastline and the province supports at least 6,000 species of plants and animals and hundreds of distinct habitats.

Currently more than 8 per cent of the province is protected from resource extraction and industrial and residential development but less than 0.1 per cent of the area is formally protected on private land. Over 70 per cent of Nova Scotia is privately owned so there is a huge opportunity, I believe, to increase that number from private land. Protecting our natural areas for future generations depends in part on the interesting commitment of landowners and others to conserve this private land.

We have some examples of private land conservation. The department has been working hard with other agencies and conservation organizations to encourage private land stewardship and we are starting to see the results. Today, in this province, we have at least 12 areas where private landowners have played a role in helping us protect land in Nova Scotia. For example, the Panuke Lake Nature Reserve, owned by the Bowater-Mersey paper company is designated under the Special Places Protection Act. The Rines Creek salt marsh was donated to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust and most of the southeastern end of Brier Island was acquired in 1987 through a partnership that included the province and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

There are some options, Mr. Speaker, for protection. There are many options available for landowners to access if they want to protect our ecosystems and I would like to point out just four of those options that offer different benefits based on the needs of landowners.

[Page 4038]

One is designation. A landowner can permanently protect their land by having it designated under the Special Places Protection Act or the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. This involves a written agreement that is legally binding but gives the landowner the option to maintain land ownership. It is the strongest form of protection available in Nova Scotia and has the advantage of making the government responsible for enforcing the legislation.

There is donation, Mr. Speaker. A landowner can donate land to a conservation organization or a government agency. Groups like the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and our own Protected Areas Program all welcome this type of gift. When donating land, landowners can receive a charitable donation receipt for the market value of the land. As well, landowners can often negotiate uses and restrictions with the organization or agency that they are dealing with.

There is also a conservation easement. A conservation easement is a very good option for landowners who want to restrict future development. They can restrict future development on their land without selling or donating it. It allows the landowner to put an agreement in place with a conservation organization that would apply to current and future landowners because it is tied to the title of the land. The one drawback of this option is that it could reduce the market value of the land, but I believe in time it will act as something that will increase the value of the land.

Also there is straight-out acquisition. The cost of purchasing all critical areas in the province for protection from development far exceeds the limited financial resources of both government agencies and conservation organizations. In some cases, however, it is possible

to purchase significant natural areas from private landowners. A good example of this is Cape Split, which was acquired by the province in 2003.

So what do we really gain by protecting private land? Landowners who protect their land help to protect natural ecosystems and certainly the beautiful scenery that we all enjoy. All Nova Scotians benefit as these areas can remain open for recreation, such as walking, hunting, fishing and birding. They can provide important areas for scientific research and intact natural areas help moderate our climate. They certainly provide oxygen, they absorb carbon dioxide. Natural lands also control floods, purify our water, absorb pollution and provide us with areas of beauty, tranquillity and spiritual refreshment.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that we look forward to preserving more lands in the future and working with private landowners to ensure that we have nature that will be here forever for our grandchildren and their grandchildren to enjoy.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, in listening to the Minister of Environment and Labour's comments, I would agree that it's a very important issue, that what we have to do

[Page 4039]

is continue to protect various areas in Nova Scotia. One of the things he did mention as a fact was, I believe he said, that 8 per cent of the land in Nova Scotia is protected, that's private land. That's not a very large number, but it is one of the reasons why it is important to continue along this line.

He did give some examples of some private land stewardship, and certainly these are all very important to all of us in Nova Scotia. The various options that are available for private landowners to partake in, the designation of land, they can donate the land and the conservation easement and acquisition by the province itself. These are all very important, certainly for the reasons that the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour mentioned, that benefit all of us, as far as research, recreation, providing clean air, water and of course the beauty of it all.

But after saying that, I'm going to take a different route. What I would like to talk about, because he's done such a good job on that, is taking a different spin on the topic. I would like to talk for a few seconds about the green plan, and sort of the lack of, some of the negative things I saw in that when I went through it, Mr. Speaker. Some of the issues that came up when I looked at that is that in fact the plan itself was disheartening to myself and many people who contacted me through e-mail and various other means.

A lot of people felt that where the plan should have given stronger commitments and regulations, there were only vague promises to promote, encourage and lead by example. It was lacking in identification of responsibilities; timetables and compliance were covered in sort of a sketchy fashion. There was a real need for more public consultation on that. As I said, it should have been followed through with stronger regulations.

Moving on, Mr. Speaker, we would like to talk about our protected areas in Nova Scotia. That's the topic we're talking about, but it's such a broad issue. Right now, I believe, in Nova Scotia, if we're going to talk about private land, we can't look at that in a separate context, we have to look at it in the context of our Crown land. Right now 80 per cent of our Crown land has no protection in Nova Scotia. That's a large portion of land that's going with no protection whatsoever. In fact, in 1992, the province was to establish protected areas, the distinct natural regions in Nova Scotia, of which I believe there were 80 of those which were actually supposed to be represented or they were hoping to have them represented in the future.

My understanding in talks throughout the budget was that - and I may have my numbers wrong - I think we've only actually represented 31 of those, up to this point. I don't believe anything new has been added since 1997. I know the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour did mention that Gully Lake and Eigg Mountain would soon be added into that batch. I know the government did put them forward as candidates. So we're looking forward to those moving through the system and becoming protected wilderness areas.

[Page 4040]

Certainly we do need to come up with some kind of a clear process to identify and establish our protected areas in Nova Scotia so that we can protect them from things like mining close to their boundaries and the destruction which we know happens with some of our ATV users in some of these areas.

So I'm hoping that the province will complete that network and do their best to do that. We have to have just more than isolated pockets of protected areas, I believe that's what most people feel. There's a question of when we're going to move forward on that, so I'll keep up the battle from this side of the floor in reminding the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour that we're going to keep on keeping up on those issues.

I do have some concerns, and I'd like to voice some here today. In fact, I just had a discussion a few minutes ago with the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour about the Tobeatic Wilderness Area. That, of course, we all know is quite a large piece of land, 250,000 acres, and it has a potential to be the last true wilderness area in the Maritimes. So it's very important that we continue to move on a positive level with that. I have to say that I'm in communication with the Minister of Environment and Labour on that issue and he's certainly willing to provide me with the most up-to-date information on what the government is doing on that. I have to thank him for that.

The Tobeatic Wilderness Area contains the headwaters of nine watersheds. It's a remote area, it's pristine and there has been some motorized impact there. I'm hoping the government is going to do their best in the upcoming draft guidelines that they'll put further protections on that area.

I guess we don't want to compromise on that piece of land. In fact, we probably should be expanding that whole area of land, if you look at it that way. There were concerns, and I have voiced them here before, about the infringement of mining - Black Bull Mine, to be specific - on the Tobeatic Wilderness Area. That is a continuing concern for a lot of the people who are on the Tobeatic Wilderness, people who live around there and use that area. They certainly were not happy to see Black Bull Mine move within a few metres of that protected wilderness area. They're worried that the mine would cause extensive changes to the water table, the lakes and surrounding streams.

One of their issues they continue to bring up with me is that there never was a full environmental study done on that area. They're afraid that whole issue is going to set a precedent for the future of all of our protected areas in Nova Scotia. I would have to agree with them on that. They did feel that there were some flaws in the decision-making process. I know various people on the committee who went forward with the government, dropped out, and then came back on. So I'm happy to see that they did come back on board and I'm hoping, again, that there will be a very positive outcome to all of that in the end.

[Page 4041]

I would also like to talk a little bit about - if we're talking about protected wilderness areas and we're talking about protecting private land and we're talking about protecting Crown land, then I think we have to talk also about the issue of clear cutting in Nova Scotia. We know that approximately 95 per cent of the wood harvested in Nova Scotia does come from clear cutting. So I think it is an issue that is within this topic of discussion. I think we've doubled the timber cut in the last 20 years and we've doubled the area clear cut in the last 10 years.

[6:15 p.m.]

There is an issue revolving around that, as far as the amount of jobs it provided in that industry, if they're sustainable, if there are less jobs than there were before, and we know right now that there's less than 1 per cent of old growth left in Nova Scotia. That's a sad number to look at. I'm hoping that the government will be supporting forestry operations that are going to promote a more sustainable method of that economic development. I'm not sure how much money the government has invested in silviculture in the province or if that amount has gone down - I believe it may have in the last few years.

So I'll be very interested to see what the government does in the near future when they are going to address indiscriminate clear-cutting, Mr. Speaker. I thank you for your time.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, a lot of what I'm going to have to say has probably already been covered, and some by the honourable minister himself. I will get to a point where I'd like him to clarify something for me. As was stated, 70 per cent of the land in Nova Scotia is owned privately, and with so much land in private hands the role of individual landowners in protecting our natural areas is extremely important.

The Protected Areas Branch of his department supports private land stewardship in many ways and I'd just like to touch on a few of those. They conduct studies of selected sights and sharing inventory information with private landowners and other interested parties, and they work in developing the legislation and programs to facilitate private land protection. They also provide information and assistance to landowners and land conservation organizations and one of those would be the Protecting Private Land brochure, working directly with landowners to protect their significant natural areas through designation under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act and the Special Places Protection Act.

They work as a member of the provincial private land conservation enhancements committee, helping to identify barriers and disincentives to private land conservation in Nova Scotia, and make recommendations on how to improve the climate for private land conservation initiatives. They also work with the Nature Conservancy of Canada in various programs, including the Campaign for Conservation, a partnership that was formed in

[Page 4042]

November 2000, to preserve ecological and natural areas in the province, Mr. Speaker. They also work in partnership with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust on a variety of conservation projects aimed at securing ecologically significant areas on private land.

The Protected Areas Program, Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Environment and Labour's Protected Areas Branch is also responsible for planning and managing Nova Scotia's protected wilderness areas and nature reserves, as well as heritage rivers. The Protected Areas branch is responsible for supporting and encouraging the protection of natural areas through private stewardship. This is done in various ways, such as conducting studies of selected sites and sharing inventory information with private landowners and other interested parties, developing legislation and programs to facilitate private land protection, providing advice and assistance to landowners and land conservation organizations, and working directly with landowners to protect their significant natural areas through designation under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act.

Also, Mr. Speaker, they have a Special Places Protection Act, or through purchase, donation or conservation easement, identify barriers to private land conservation and improving the climate for private land conservation initiatives. They also work with organizations like the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Nova Scotia Nature Trust on a variety of conservation projects aimed at preserving natural areas in the province, working in close partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and other government agencies.

Mr. Speaker, I'd just like to touch on the Panuke Lake Nature Reserve, which is located along the shores of Panuke Lake and Hants County on lands owned by the Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited. It consists of 150.9 hectares and it has an old growth hemlock spruce forest. The reserve protects an old growth eastern hemlock red spruce forest, a remnant of a once common forest type in Nova Scotia. The reserve is located in the South Mountain rolling plain natural landscape. The old growth portion of the reserve is approximately 47 hectares in size and it's surrounded by a buffer zone of 104 hectres. Because of the extreme present day rarity of this type of forest, access is limited, Mr. Speaker, and requires permission of Bowater Mersey and the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour, Protected Areas Branch, which is good to see.

The honourable minister mentioned the Brothers Islands, the donation of coastal lands. Two steep-sided basalt islands sit about a kilometre offshore from Parrsboro, in the Bay of Fundy. By foot, they are accessible at low tide only, and at times strong currents isolate them from the mainland. Having largely escaped human influence, the larger of the two islands harbours a very rare phenomenon, five hectares of old-growth hardwood forest situated right next to the ocean. The rich soil also supports a number of unusual plants, including purple trillium and Canada yew. The smaller island, about one hectare in size, is covered by trees atop 10-metre high cliffs. This island hosts nesting bald eagles, common

[Page 4043]

eiders, red-breasted mergansers, black guillemots, and great-backed and herring gulls, Mr. Speaker.

These two islands known as the Brothers have been in Jack Herbin's family for almost a century. His grandfather, John Herbin was a jeweller by trade and was a keen naturalist and a rock collector. In 1898 he bought these two gems from the province for the large sum of $25. Every summer he and his wife would take a ferry from Wolfville to Parrsboro and spend several weeks exploring the islands, collecting rocks and observing the plants and animals. At night they would camp on the mainland. In 1995, Jack Herbin permanently protected the Brothers Islands by donating them to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, a very worthwhile deed, in fact.

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned that I would be asking the honourable minister a question, and it's for information only. I'm sure the minister will try to respond to that, and he has nodded yes. I have a map in front of me, Nova Scotia's Protected Areas Program, and there's 31 wilderness areas, Polletts Cove, Asby Fault, which is in an area that I represent, the Margaree River, Jim Campbells Barren, French River, Sugarloaf Mountain, Middle River and North River, Trout Brook, Middle River Framboise, Gabarus, Scaterie Island, Ogden Round Lake, Bonnet Lake Barrens, Canso Coastal Barrens, Liscomb River, the Big Bog, Alder Ground, Boggy Lake, Tangier Grand Lake, White Lake, Clattenburgh Brook, Waverley-Salmon River Long Lake, Terence Bay, Economy River, Portapique River, Cloud Lake, McGill Lake, Lake Rossignol, Tobeatic, Tidney River and Bowers Meadows.

Now, Mr. Minister, wilderness areas, I'm wondering, are they protected areas or are they just designated wilderness areas? There must be a designation or a difference, because something that's protected - these are not named as protected areas, they're named as wilderness areas. Is there any protection that comes to these areas because they're designated wilderness area?

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, there certainly is a level of protection that's afforded them that wouldn't be afforded other things. I believe it was 1998 when the protected areas legislation went through. At that point in time, it designated that there would be no motorized access on those areas. Since then, there have been management plans that have been developed. The Tobeatic management plan is currently under review, out in draft form. Historical usage has been maintained during that period of time, until a group takes a look at those individual areas to find out what should happen there. We certainly want the area's and the community's commitment and involvement in that. There is a large level of protection on all of those areas. I could get the specifics and make sure that we get it to the honourable member.

[Page 4044]

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Minister, for that information. I asked that for two reasons. There isn't enough protected spaces, I don't believe. There's always been a request for more protected spaces. Also, as you're quite well aware of the ATV problem that we're having around the province, and the policy that's hopefully going to be adopted by the province with some amendments. The industry is not going to go away, there's over 100,000 machines in the province. There is damage being done, but there is good work being done by organized clubs and people who utilize these vehicles for their work, and for recreation, an awful lot of family recreation comes out of these. But it seems that the negative impact of the damage is what seems to be getting the ink in the media and I'm hoping when that comes forward that we're successful in resolving it to everyone's satisfaction. I was just wondering - you basically answered the question in the fact that you said there were no motorized vehicles in any and all of these areas. (Interruptions) Not legal. So then, a measure of policing or supervision of some kind could be hopefully developed because there are existing regulations there now, like you said, legal activity is not allowed in those areas of a motorized vehicle.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired. I thank the honourable members for taking part in this debate this evening. A very important debate and I thank the honourable members.

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:26 p.m.]

[Page 4045]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1931

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 Mr. Herbert Eagle of Newcombville, Lunenburg County, is celebrating his 90th birthday today, May 19, 2004; and

Whereas Mr. Eagle has contributed significantly in many ways to his community, family and friends; and

Whereas Mr. Eagle has been a proud supporter of the South Shore Big Ex for a number of years donating his time, energy and expertise;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs join the Eagle family and all their friends in celebrating Herbert's birthday today and wish him many more happy years.

RESOLUTION NO. 1932

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Atlantic Community Newspapers Association's 32nd Annual Convention was held in Truro over the weekend; and

Whereas at Saturday evening's Bowater Better Newspapers Awards Banquet, Larry Powell of the Kentville Advertiser placed third out of 24 entries for Best Page Design; and

Whereas the page design of any newspaper is critical to ensuring as much of the weekly content that is available can be published;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate Larry Powell of the Kentville Advertiser for the third place finish in his category.

[Page 4046]

RESOLUTION NO. 1933

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas a newspaper only enhances itself to the buyer with some excellent pictures and some great colour; and

Whereas it takes talented individuals to use the computer art work necessary to provide great colour photos; and

Whereas Karen McNamara of the Kentville Advertiser placed first out of 26 entries for Best Use of Colour at the Atlantic Community newspaper Association Awards Banquet held last weekend in Truro;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs congratulate Karen on her award and wish her every success with future endeavours in her profession.

RESOLUTION NO. 1934

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Kentville Advertiser is a well-read and exceptionally involved community newspaper; and

Whereas the Advertiser's staff works diligently to publish two issues weekly to keep local readers well-informed; and

Whereas Alan Knowles from the Advertiser placed second out of 21 entries for Best Graphically Designed Ad and third out of 17 entries for Best Use of Art Service at the Atlantic Community Newspaper Association Awards Banquet held last weekend in Truro;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud the incredible work ethic of Alan Knowles and wish him nothing but continued success.

[Page 4047]

RESOLUTION NO. 1935

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Kentville Advertiser is an established bi-weekly community newspaper enjoyed by thousands in Kings County; and

Whereas the Advertiser on a regular basis puts forth exceptional quality second to no one; and

Whereas no better example of this was shown this past weekend at the Atlantic Community Newspaper Association Awards Banquet in Truro when the Advertiser's Kirk Starratt was judged to have taken the best news photo out of 45 entries;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend Kirk Starratt for his diligent work ethic while wishing him every success in shooting many more award-winning photos.

RESOLUTION NO. 1936

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Spectator is a small but well-read community newspaper in Annapolis Royal serving thousands of people; and

Whereas the Spectator on a regular basis puts forth exceptional quality; and

Whereas no better example of this was shown this past weekend at the Atlantic Community Newspaper Association Awards Banquet in Truro when the Spectator's Bill Clarke was chosen for Best National Editorial out of 31 entries while placing second out of 45 entries for Best News Photo and third out of 39 entries for Best Sports Story or Feature;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend Bill Clarke for his outstanding work while wishing him every success in writing many more informed award-winning stories and taking many more award-winning photos.

[Page 4048]

RESOLUTION NO. 1937

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Greenfield resident Claudette MacKenzie has faced some remarkable challenges over the years including a battle with colon cancer while raising four children - one with cerebral palsy; and

Whereas Mrs. MacKenzie finds time in her demanding schedule to volunteer at her community church and attributes her resilience to her strong faith; and

Whereas Mrs. MacKenzie was among several Nova Scotians recognized recently by the Family Caregivers of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Claudette MacKenzie on receiving special recognition from the Family Caregivers of Nova Scotia and express our sincere admiration for her incredible strength and determination in the face of life's many challenges.

RESOLUTION NO. 1938

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on May 20, 2004, many residents of Cumberland County took a major step in improving their future by graduating from the CAN-U Program in Amherst, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the CAN-U Network, formed in 1994, with classes in Cumberland County first offered in 1955, offered to The Adult Learners (the heartbeat of CAN-U) from various backgrounds who share common goals and barriers and have returned to class to improve their educational skills, and to feel good about themselves, their accomplishments, and their potential; and

Whereas we are proud to include the following constituents of Cumberland South to the list of graduates of the CAN-U Program: Donna Lewis, Anita Grant, Greg Cole, Weldon Davis, Nancy Landry Leigh-Ann Ross, Kevin Lewis, Shelly Varner, Hazel Berry, Deloris Francis, Jack Francis, Jack Fraser, Albert Bird, and James (Jim) McCarthy;

[Page 4049]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all of the CAN-U students on receiving their certificates and wish them all the best of luck in all of their future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO.1939

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Glooscap Curling Club's Yvonne Martin has successfully defended her Nova Scotia Ladies' Masters curling championship; and

Whereas Ms. Martin and her teammates - Carol Hampsey, Gwen Merriam and Ruth Marsman - came from behind in the provincial final match to beat Mayflower Rink's Adine Boutilier; and

Whereas with this win Ms. Martin and her teammates advance to the Canadian championships;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Yvonne Martin, Carol Hampsey, Gwen Merriam and Ruth Marsman on their win at the Nova Scotia Ladies' Masters curling championship and wish them much success in their future curling endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 1940

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Susan Belliveau, editor of the Springhill Record, has once again been honoured by the Atlantic Community Newspaper; and

Whereas Susan picked up a first place Premier Award for her boat launch photo spread of August 13, 2003, as well as a first place Premier Award for her column, Rambling On - later named Don't Shoot The Messenger; and

Whereas the competition was open to journalists from community newspapers across the Atlantic Provinces;

[Page 4050]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Susan Belliveau on her outstanding work and for receiving these prestigious awards and wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1941

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 Atlantic Community Newspapers Association's 32nd Annual Convention was held in Truro over this past weekend; and

Whereas at Saturday evening's Bowater Better Newspapers Awards Banquet, staff from the Pictou Advocate placed second out of nine entries in Best Circulation Promotion; and

Whereas community newspapers such as the Advocate are a valued resource which Nova Scotians have come to depend upon;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate the staff at the Pictou Advocate for their creativity in finishing in second place for the Best Circulation Promotion and wish them nothing but continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 1942

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 a special workshop was recently held at the Glen Haven Manor in Pictou County to refresh 40-some drivers on transportation tips dealing with elderly and physically-challenged people whom they drive frequently; and

Whereas the workshop was put on by the Motor Carrier Division of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board; and

Whereas one driver, Basil Tibbo, who has been assisting with the transportation needs for the disabled for 10 years, cited the workshop as useful in being refreshed on important issues such as emergency evacuations and the use of bus ramps when they are not working properly;

[Page 4051]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly commend the drivers, staff from the URB, and local organizers in participating in this important community initiative.

RESOLUTION NO. 1943

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 at an International Conference on Motorcycle Safety in Prague, the Czech Republic in April, the president of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation said his mandate was to make motorcycling safer and more enjoyable by ensuring access to lifelong quality education and training for current and prospective riders and by advocating a safer riding environment; and

Whereas Wayne Westaway, on behalf of the Nova Scotia Safety Council, has been instructing motorcycle safety for more than 20 years, including summer courses held in MacLellans Brook, Pictou County; and

Whereas motorcycling is increasing in interest at a rapid growth rate across Nova Scotia with 12,580 motorcycles registered in 2003, 700 more than 2002;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of the Nova Scotia Safety Council, instructors such as Wayne Westaway, and all Pictou County bikers wanting to learn as much about safety as humanly possible.

RESOLUTION NO. 1944

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 Pictou County Chamber of Commerce recently updated its business directory with assistance from students at the Nova Scotia Community College in Stellarton; and

Whereas board members had expressed some concern as to how they would be able to put out their fifth edition because of the time and money involved; and

[Page 4052]

Whereas the problem was rectified with a proposal from the Office Information Technology Program at the Stellarton Campus when 14 students came forward and volunteered to do the work as a volunteer project and in the process have the time they spent on the project accredited to their diploma certificate;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce and students from the Stellarton Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College on working together and getting desired results for the mutual benefit of both the chamber and the students.

RESOLUTION NO. 1945

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 Pictou area Girl Guides recently held their annual general meeting; and

Whereas this year's meeting took on an international theme with guiding leaders having the opportunity to see numerous international costumes while also trying their hand at various crafts done around the world; and

Whereas the Girl Guide Movement in Pictou County is strong, with many units participating in all categories;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs applaud the efforts of the volunteers who take time to be involved in the guiding movement and all Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders and senior branch members in Pictou County for their interest in wanting to learn more.

RESOLUTION NO. 1946

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee held its first volunteer recognition awards dinner on May 6, 2004, to honour volunteers who have made a difference in their community; and

Whereas Carroll Coffill is a founding member of the Mainland North Local Committee on Drug Awareness and has continued to serve in various capacities since 1991; and

[Page 4053]

Whereas Ms. Coffill's dedication is outstanding as she provides constant support to the organization and helps in producing materials, displays, staffing information, and contributing her ideas and time;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the contributions made by Carroll Coffill to the Mainland North Local Committee on Drug Awareness, and congratulate her on this award.

RESOLUTION NO. 1947

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee held its first volunteer recognition awards dinner on May 6, 2004, to honour volunteers who have made a difference in their community; and

Whereas Jocelyn Croox was recognized for her volunteer work as she has always prided herself in giving her all to any organization she has been associated with; and

Whereas Ms. Croox has dedicated herself to a variety of charitable organizations ranging from Halifax West High School, the Filipino Association of Nova Scotia, to the Children's Wish Foundation, where she has helped raise over $10,000 over three years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the contributions Jocelyn Croox has made to improve her community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1948

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee held its first volunteer recognition awards dinner on May 6, 2004, to honour volunteers who have made a difference in their community; and

Whereas George Dickey was recognized for his years of support to the Maskwa Aquatic Club on Kearney Lake; and

[Page 4054]

Whereas Mr. Dickey's dedication to the Maskwa and to paddling in our community goes above and beyond, through his fundraising efforts and his tremendous support to the paddlers, to his work on the buildings and grounds of the club;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the contributions made by George Dickey to the resurgence and growth of the Maskwa Aquatic Club.

RESOLUTION NO. 1949

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee held its first volunteer recognition awards dinner on May 6, 2004, to honour volunteers who have made a difference in their community; and

Whereas Mary Smith was recognized for her tremendous volunteer support at École Burton Ettinger School; and

Whereas Ms. Smith has committed herself to ensuring that the students at Burton Ettinger receive the best education possible, her work on various school and community committees is immeasurable;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the outstanding commitment made by Mary Smith to her community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1950

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Committee on Drug Awareness recently sponsored its annual Anti-Smoking Poster Contest, intended to encourage students to think about reasons not to smoke; and

Whereas Grade 6 students from across Mainland North in Halifax participated in the poster contest to see who could create the best poster to discourage young people from taking up smoking; and

[Page 4055]

Whereas Christopher Photopoulis won first place at École Rockingham School;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Christopher Photopoulis for this important achievement.

RESOLUTION NO. 1951

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Committee on Drug Awareness recently sponsored its annual Anti-Smoking Poster Contest, intended to encourage students to think about reasons not to smoke; and

Whereas Grade 6 students from across Mainland North in Halifax participated in the poster contest to see who could create the best poster to discourage young people from taking up smoking; and

Whereas Luke Hacquebard of Clayton Park won first place at Duc d'Anville Elementary School;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Luke Hacquebard for this important achievement.

RESOLUTION NO. 1952

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Committee on Drug Awareness recently sponsored its annual Anti-Smoking Poster Contest, intended to encourage students to think about reasons not to smoke; and

Whereas Grade 6 students from across Mainland North in Halifax participated in the poster contest to see who could create the best poster to discourage young people from taking up smoking; and

Whereas Kelsea Black won first place at École Grosvenor Wentworth Park School;

[Page 4056]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Kelsea Black for this important achievement.

RESOLUTION NO. 1953

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Committee on Drug Awareness recently sponsored its annual Anti-Smoking Poster Contest, intended to encourage students to think about reasons not to smoke; and

Whereas Grade 6 students from across Mainland North in Halifax participated in the poster contest to see who could create the best poster to discourage young people from taking up smoking; and

Whereas Jennifer Fitzpatrick won first place at Springvale Elementary School;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jennifer Fitzpatrick for this important achievement.

RESOLUTION NO. 1954

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Committee on Drug Awareness recently sponsored its annual Anti-Smoking Poster Contest, intended to encourage students to think about reasons not to smoke; and

Whereas Grade 6 students from across Mainland North in Halifax participated in the poster contest to see who could create the best poster to discourage young people from taking up smoking; and

Whereas Kaylin Dean won first place at Fairview Heights Elementary School;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Kaylin Dean for this important achievement.

[Page 4057]

RESOLUTION NO. 1955

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Committee on Drug Awareness recently sponsored its annual Anti-Smoking Poster Contest, intended to encourage students to think about reasons not to smoke; and

Whereas Grade 6 students from across Mainland North in Halifax participated in the poster contest to see who could create the best poster to discourage young people from taking up smoking; and

Whereas Andrew Williamson won first place at École Burton Ettinger Elementary School;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Andrew Williamson for this important achievement.

RESOLUTION NO. 1956

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Mainland North Committee on Drug Awareness recently sponsored its annual Anti-Smoking Poster Contest, intended to encourage students to think about reasons not to smoke; and

Whereas Grade 6 students from across Mainland North in Halifax participated in the poster contest to see who could create the best poster to discourage young people from taking up smoking; and

Whereas Emma Delory won first place at Park West School in Clayton Park West;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Emma Delory for this important achievement.