The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04-59

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, OCTOBER 6, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments, Hon. M. Baker 5050
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Environ. & Lbr. - Coxheath: Quarry - Object, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5050
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2566, HMCS Chicoutimi - Capt./Crew: Safe Homecoming - Wish,
The Premier 5051
Vote - Affirmative 5051
Res. 2567, Int'l. Walk to School Day: St. Marys Sch./N.S. Schools -
Congrats., The Premier 5052
Vote - Affirmative 5052
Res. 2568, Women's Hist. Mo. (10/04)/Person's Day (10/18/04) -
Recognize, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 5052
Vote - Affirmative 5053
Res. 2569, Breastfeeding Awareness Wk. (10/01-10/07/04):
Organizers/Participants - Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5053
Vote - Affirmative 5054
Res. 2570, Larger, Robert: Gov.-Gen's. Commendation - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 5054
Vote - Affirmative 5055
Res. 2571, McNeil, Chris: Dunlop Award - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 5055
Vote - Affirmative 5056
Res. 2572, Divine, Prof. David: Johnston Chair (Dal) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 5056
Vote - Affirmative 5056
Res. 2573, Ritcy, Jim - Petroleum Pioneer Award (Posthumous):
Ritcy Family - Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 5057
Vote - Affirmative 5058
Res. 2574, Health - N.S. Assoc. of Hosp. Aux.: Fundraising - Congrats.,
(by Hon. E. Fage), Hon. A. MacIsaac 5058
Vote - Affirmative 5058
Res. 2575, Health Prom. - Children's Health: Focus - Importance,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5059
Vote - Affirmative 5059
Res. 2576, Benson-Logan, Kathryn: Death of - Tribute,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 5060
Vote - Affirmative 5060
Res. 2577, Pendleton, Gus & Lorna - Brunswick St. Mission:
Contribution - Recognize, Hon. D. Morse 5060
Vote - Affirmative 5061
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 125, Mandatory Testing and Disclosure Act, Mr. W. Langille 5061
No. 126, Environment Act, Ms. J. Massey 5061
No. 127, Pictou Regional Development Commission Act,
The Premier 5061
No. 128, Environment Act, Ms. J. Massey 5061
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2578, Labrador, Tim: Woodsman Title - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 5062
Vote - Affirmative 5062
Res. 2579, Environ. & Lbr. - Coxheath: Quarry - Oppose,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5062
Res. 2580, Burrows, Ken: Septic System Invention - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Hines 5063
Vote - Affirmative 5064
Res. 2581, Hants Co. - Rural HS (1st): Anniv. 50th - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 5064
Vote - Affirmative 5065
Res. 2582, Comeau, Anne-Marie: Order of N.S. - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 5065
Vote - Affirmative 5066
Res. 2583, Guysborough Co. Trails Assoc.: Trail Dev. - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Chisholm 5066
Vote - Affirmative 5067
Res. 2584, Women, Status of - Pol. Training: Failure - Apologize,
Ms. M. More 5067
Res. 2585, Gov't. (N.S.) - Words/Actions: Dichotomy -
Prem. Explain, Mr. R. MacKinnon 5068
Res. 2586, Toole, Stephanie - Joints in Motion Marathon: Success -
Wish, Mr. M. Parent 5068
Vote - Affirmative 5069
Res. 2587, Com. Serv. - Home Care Serv.: Cancellation Fines -
Remove, Mr. J. Pye 5069
Res. 2588, Boucher, Wayne: Grand Pre Mural Comp. - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 5069
Vote - Affirmative 5070
Res. 2589, Laybolt, Wayne & Jackie: Sm. Bus. Contribution -
Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 5070
Vote - Affirmative 5071
Res. 2590, Fultz Corner Restoration Soc.: Anniv. (25th) - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 5071
Vote - Affirmative 5072
Res. 2591, Purves, Jane: Pol. Office/Chief of Staff - Pay Comparisons,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5072
Res. 2592, LaHave Summer Workshop: Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Langille 5072
Vote - Affirmative 5073
Res. 2593, MacEachern, Lana - "Storm 3": Contributors - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Parker 5073
Vote - Affirmative 5074
Res. 2594, Crossley Carpet Mills: Efforts - Commend, Hon. J. Muir 5074
Vote - Affirmative 5074
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 592, Environ. & Lbr. - Cab Drivers: Safety - Increase,
Mr. D. Dexter 5075
No. 593, Environ. & Lbr. - Coxheath Quarry: Prem. - Permit Refuse,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5076
No. 594, Com. Serv. - Seniors Housing: Deterioration - Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 5077
No. 595, Environ. & Lbr. - Greenwood: PERC Testing -
Laxity Explain, Mr. L. Glavine 5079
No. 596, Health - Kaplan Decision: Classifications - Status,
Mr. D. Dexter 5080
No. 597, Health - Seniors: Rm. & Bd. - Costs,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 5081
No. 598, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Assessment Cap - Time Frame,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5082
No. 599, TPW - Fed.-Prov. Hwy. Infrastructure Agreement:
Min. - Action, Mr. R. MacKinnon 5083
No. 600, TPW - Hwy. Workers: Layoffs - Explain, Mr. C. Parker 5084
No. 601, Com. Serv. - Employment Support: Min. - Offer,
Ms. M. More 5085
No. 602, Prem. - Rural N.S.: Concerns - Address, Mr. W. Gaudet 5087
No. 603, Com. Serv.: Carleton Rd. Ind. - Funding Levels, Mr. J. Pye 5088
No. 604, Com. Serv. - Carleton Rd. Ind.: Per Diem Rates -
Determination Details, Mr. S. McNeil 5090
No. 605, Agric. & Fish.: BSE Loan Prog. - Efficacy, Mr. J. MacDonell 5091
No. 606, Hum. Res. - Whistle-blower Regs.: Usage - Explain,
Mr. D. Graham 5092
No. 607, TCH - Bluenose II/Preservation Trust: Transition - Details,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 5093
No. 608, Agric. & Fish.: Inshore Fishermen - WCB Coverage,
Mr. H. Theriault 5094
No. 609, TPW - Sydney-Glace Bay Hwy. Traffic: Study -
Implementation, Mr. G. Gosse 5095
No. 610, Com. Serv.: Shelter Allowance - Inadequacy,
Ms. M. Raymond 5096
No. 611, Health: Out-of-Prov. Procedures - Funding,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 5098
No. 612, Energy: Climate Change Action Plan - Time Frame,
Ms. J. Massey 5099
No. 613, Com. Serv. - Children's Aid Soc.: Safety Net -
Essential Service, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5100
No. 614, Health - Cobequid Commun. Health Ctr.: Completion -
Details, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 5101
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 88, Protection from Quarries Act 5103
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5103
Hon. K. Morash 5107
Hon. D. Morse 5110
Hon. R. Russell 5111
Mr. G. Gosse 5112
Mr. D. Dexter 5114
Mr. H. Theriault 5116
Hon. C. Clarke 5118
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 2498, Gambling - Consultation: All-Party Comm. - Appoint,
Ms. D. Whalen 5120
Mr. D. Graham 5120
Hon. P. Christie 5123
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5125
Mr. J. Pye 5126
Ms. D. Whalen 5129
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health Prom. - Int'l. Walk to Sch. Day: Participation - Applaud:
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5134
Mr. S. McNeil 5137
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5140
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Oct. 7th at 12:00 noon 5144
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2595, Hébert Fam. Reunion - Organizing Comm.: Efforts -
Recognize, Hon. K. Morash 5145
Res. 2596, Inverness Co. Mun.: Anniv. (125th) - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5145
Res. 2597, Leminster Vaughan Hosp. Aux.: Fundraising - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 5146
Res. 2598, Martock 4-H Club: Achievements - Recognize,
Hon. R. Russell 5146
Res. 2599, Taylor, Penny: FTD Award - Congrats., Hon. R. Russell 5147
Res. 2600, KLJ Field Services - Windsor Investment: Efforts -
Applaud, Hon. R. Russell 5147
Res. 2601, Vickers, Earl: East. Reg. Woodlot Owner of Yr. -
Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5148
Res. 2602, Cameron, Mrs. Lisa: CD Release - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5148
Res. 2603, Margaree-Lake Ainslie Heritage River Soc.: Diligence -
Commend, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5149
Res. 2604, Muise, Danielle - World Children's Picture Contest:
Accomplishment - Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5149
Res. 2605, MacDonald, Collie: Bravery - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5150
Res. 2606, Malagawatch United Church - Move: Participants -
Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5150
Res. 2607, MacDougall, Warden A.J. - Inverness Co.: Commitment -
Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5151
Res. 2608, Nat'l. Newspaper Wk. (10/03-10/09/04) -
Commun. Newspapers: Staff - Congrats., The Speaker 5151
Res. 2609, Hanna Family: Cent. Reg. Woodlot Owner of Yr. -
Congrats., The Speaker 5152
Res. 2610, Legere, Kris: Golf Championship - Congrats., The Speaker 5152
Res. 2611, Livingston, Sandy, Jr.: Racing Win - Congrats., The Speaker 5153
Res. 2612, MacLellan, Larry: Art Achievements - Congrats.,
The Speaker 5153
Res. 2613, Dinaut, Dave: Retirement - Congrats., The Speaker 5154

[Page 5049]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 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, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable Minister of Health Promotion:

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the participation of Nova Scotia's students and schools in today's International Walk to School Day and the message it sends, and that members recognize the work being done by the Office of Health Promotion to address healthy eating, physical activity and all areas of improving the health of Nova Scotians.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is a request to revert to Presenting and Reading Petitions, which we will do at a later date with the agreement of the House.

5049

[Page 5050]

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. 96 - House of Assembly Act.

Bill No. 99 - Vital Statistics Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

We will revert to Presenting and Reading Petitions.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to table a petition in the House but before I do that, maybe I could do an introduction. Today we have in the Speakers's Gallery a number of residents from the Sydney River/Coxheath area who are here today visiting the House expressing their concerns about the possible construction of a quarry in the residential area that they live in. They are accompanied here today by Councillor Claire Detheridge of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and I would ask the group to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House here today. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, the operative clause of this 2,000-person petition is, "WE, the citizens of Coxheath, Howie Centre, Sydney Forks and other surrounding areas object to the development of any rock quarry or similar operation in the Coxheath area by any contractor now or in the future" I have affixed my signature to this petition. I also have a letter that they wish me to pass on to the Premier.

[Page 5051]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

We welcome our guests to the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings of the Legislature.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 2566

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

Whereas the Canadian submarine HMCS Chicoutimi set out on its maiden voyage Saturday from Scotland to Halifax; and

Whereas a fire on the submarine knocked out power Tuesday, causing the crew of the disabled vessel to brave a rough night adrift in heavy seas off Scotland; and

Whereas two British frigates and a tow vessel reached the submarine this afternoon to escort it safety back to Scotland;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature wish the captain and crew of HMCS Chicoutimi well in this difficult situation, and hope for a safe homecoming in Halifax later this month.

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 5052]

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 2567

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

Whereas today, October 6th , is International Walk to School Day, a day to celebrate and encourage active and safe travel to school by walking, biking or other physically active means; and

Whereas this morning students from Grades Primary to 6, along with parents and staff of Saint Mary's School joined this initiative and walked from the Barrington Street YWCA to their school; and

Whereas I was able to participate in this wonderful event, along with the Minister of Health Promotion and the Minister of Education;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate St. Mary's School and the close to 100 other Nova Scotia school groups who walked or biked to their school today.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women Act.

RESOLUTION NO. 2568

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

[Page 5053]

Whereas in October Canadians mark Women's History Month and on October 18th, Person's Day, to commemorate the decision by the British Privy Council that women were "persons qualified" for appointment to the Senate or, as the media declared, simply "persons" under the law; and

Whereas October this year brings us the opportunity to participate in deciding the futures of our municipalities by voting for municipal councils across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the Local Council of Women of Halifax are celebrating this historic event by sponsoring the inaugural Agnes Dennis Lecture, which will be delivered by the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly join me in marking Women's History Month and Person's Day, and in calling upon all Nova Scotian women to remember to exercise one of their most significant rights by voting in the upcoming municipal elections.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health Promotion.

RESOLUTION NO. 2569

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

Whereas October 1st to 7th is Breastfeeding Awareness Week, an annual initiative that occurs around the world to create a more breastfeeding-friendly culture; and

Whereas this year's theme is "Exclusive Breastfeeding: the Gold Standard Safe, Sound, Sustainable,"; and

[Page 5054]

Whereas breastfeeding has nutritional, physical, developmental and emotional benefits for infants and children, and also benefits the health and well-being of mothers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the organizers and participants of breastfeeding challenges that will occur throughout Nova Scotia, for helping to raise awareness of the important health benefits of breastfeeding.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2570

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

Whereas Robert Large, a pilot with the Department of Natural Resources Air Services section, received a Certificate of Commendation on behalf of the Governor General of Canada for his role in rescuing two individuals whose boat had overturned on Lake Rossignol, Queens County, in November 2002; and

Whereas under less than ideal conditions, including darkness and a snowstorm, Robert was able to locate the overturned boat and its occupants and then direct a rescue boat to the scene; and

Whereas Robert was able to keep the helicopter stable while the rescued boaters were loaded onto the helicopter and then safely airlifted them to a waiting EHS ambulance;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Robert for his quick reaction to the situation, which more than likely saved the lives of these two individuals, all the while placing his own life and the life of a spotter onboard the helicopter in considerable danger.

[Page 5055]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

[2:15 p.m.]

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery, I'm very pleased today to introduce, to all members of the House, Mr. Robert Large and his wife Gail. I also want to thank him publicly, again today, for his heroic efforts in saving the lives of two fellow Nova Scotians. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2571

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

Whereas each year, the Nova Scotia Criminology and Corrections Association presents the John Dunlop Memorial Award; and

Whereas this year's recipient is Deputy Chief Chris McNeil of the Halifax Regional Police Service; and

Whereas Deputy Chief McNeil is being honoured for his work among our youth and in promoting Restorative Justice for youth in conflict with the law;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Deputy Chief McNeil on receiving this prestigious award and thank him for his public service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and I'm very hopeful of getting it from my colleagues in the Liberal caucus.

[Page 5056]

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. 2572

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

Whereas Professor David Divine has recently assumed the James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University; and

Whereas the James R. Johnston Chair was named in honour of the first Nova Scotian of African descent to graduate from the Law School at Dalhousie University and is a national senior academic post covering all of Canada; and

Whereas Professor Divine is a well respected social worker and researcher and hopes to create a centre of excellence in Black Canadian research and encourage scholars interested in Black Canadian studies;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Professor Divine and recognize the importance of his new role and the positive impact it will have on African Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 5057]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East on an introduction.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to point out that one of my constituents, Bob Venus, is in the Speaker's Gallery today and Bob has been a great advocate for disabled persons. He's working very hard to improve home care services to all those in Nova Scotia and I would hope that everyone can welcome him here today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our guests to the gallery today and hope Bob enjoys the proceedings.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 2573

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

Whereas once again this year the Canadian Offshore Resources Exhibition and Conference kicked off with the Petroleum Pioneer Award presented to an individual or company who has made an important contribution to the development of the oil and gas industry in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas this year's recipient is the late Jim Ritcy of Dominion Diving Limited of Dartmouth for his lifetime of work helping to lay the foundation of the offshore supply and service industry in Nova Scotia, accepted by his son, Troy; and

Whereas Jim Ritcy's commitment to quality work and to his community makes him an ideal recipient of the OTANS Petroleum Pioneer Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the contributions of the late Jim Ritcy and extend their sincere congratulations to the Ritcy family on this prestigious award.

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 5058]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2574

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

Whereas a recent national report clearly showed the strength and work ethic of the Nova Scotia Association of Hospital Auxiliaries, with the Nova Scotia Association of Hospital Auxiliaries ranking first in Canada in the amount of medical equipment purchased through fundraising; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's auxiliaries, while ranking fifth in total membership, raised more than $5 million last year, $3.7 million for equipment purchase alone; and

Whereas this is no small feat compared to provinces such as British Columbia which has 7,000 active volunteers but raised just more than $5 million in total;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud the Nova Scotia Association of Hospital Auxiliaries for their tremendous work and wish them continued success in supporting health care services and delivery in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park on an introduction.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the attention of the House if I could to the west gallery where we have a visitor from the Clayton Park riding. Christopher Miller is visiting us and he is a resident of Rockingham. I'd like to say as well that he has been very central in the efforts to draw awareness and public debate to the area of the Blue

[Page 5059]

Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes, which is a section of Crown land that we're all very interested in. If Chris would rise, that's great. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Health Promotion.

RESOLUTION NO. 2575

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

Whereas healthy eating is a priority for all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas along with hiring a healthy eating coordinator, the Office of Health Promotion conducted a provincial survey to determine the challenges and opportunities schools face in serving food and beverages, and conducted a national scan of policies for school-based feeding programs; and

Whereas the Office of Health Promotion is working with the Departments of Education, Agriculture and Fisheries and representatives from each school board area to develop guidelines that schools will follow beginning in the 2005-06 school year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the importance of the need to focus on the health of our children in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice. I also make note of the Annapolis Valley apples we have on our desks from the Office of Health Promotion today.

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.

I'm sure all members appreciate the apples from the Annapolis Valley growers. (Interruptions)

[Page 5060]

The honourable Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

RESOLUTION NO. 2576

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

Whereas Kathryn Judy Benson-Logan, an innovative Nova Scotian, recently passed away; and

Whereas she contributed significantly to the betterment of Nova Scotia and to women's lives as the first Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women; and

Whereas her legacy to Nova Scotia includes beginning the first synchronized swimming team in the province, the YWCA Aqualines; providing career counselling to young Nova Scotian women at Mount Saint Vincent University; and co-ordinating the RCMP community corps in Sydney;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge and express our thanks for the rich life of Kathryn Benson-Logan, a Nova Scotian who took a great stride on the long road to equality for the women of this province and who served it well in many ways.

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. 2577

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

[Page 5061]

Whereas the Brunswick Street United Church and Mission in Halifax has provided a safe and supportive environment for some of our most vulnerable citizens; and

Whereas the mission recognizes that we are all human and that under different circumstances, any one of us may find ourselves in a similar situation; and

Whereas Reverend Gus Pendleton and his wife, Lorna, have worked selflessly at the mission for many years to help those less fortunate;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the outstanding contribution made by Gus and Lorna Pendleton and extend best wishes to them as they leave the mission to continue their work at a new ministry in Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 125 - Entitled an Act Respecting Mandatory Testing and Disclosure to Protect Victims of Crime, Emergency Service Workers and Other Persons. (Mr. William Langille)

Bill No. 126 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Environment Act, Respecting Quarries. (Ms. Joan Massey)

Bill No. 127 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 32 of the Acts of 1991. The Pictou Regional Development Commission Act. (Hon. John Hamm, as a private member.)

Bill No. 128 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Environment Act, Respecting Waste Electronic Equipment. (Ms. Joan Massey)

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

[Page 5062]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2578

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Guides Association held its annual Guides Meet this past Labour Day weekend at the Twin Lakes Campground in Hibernia, Queens County; and

Whereas this annual event preserves the culture and traditions of a bygone era by featuring three days of canoeing and woodsman competition; and

Whereas Bangs Falls, Queens County, resident Tim Labrador won his 13th overall Senior Woodsman Championship title;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Tim Labrador on his success at obtaining his 13th Senior Woodsman Champion title and extend best wishes to the organizers and sponsors of the popular Nova Scotia Guides Association annual Guides Meet.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2579

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

[Page 5063]

Whereas J & T Van Zutphen Construction plans to build a rock quarry in the Coxheath Hills of Cape Breton; and

Whereas area residents opposed the quarry on very legitimate grounds, including the safety and health of their children, well contamination and excessive noise; and

Whereas the residents have received a letter of support from the Minister of Energy, who is the MLA for Cape Breton North;

Therefore be it resolved that this House show unanimous support for the residents of Coxheath in their efforts to protect their community, and encourage the minister to do whatever is in his power to stop the development of the Van Zutphen quarry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2580

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

Whereas environmental consultant and inventor Ken Burrows, of Wellington, Halifax County, has developed a system that will make domestic septic systems safer and more reliable; and

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians rely on domestic septic . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'll ask the honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank to start over please.

[Page 5064]

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

Whereas environmental consultant and inventor Ken Burrows of Wellington, Halifax County, has developed a system that will make domestic septic systems safer and more reliable; and

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians rely on domestic septic systems to benefit the community and the environment; and

Whereas Ken has worked closely with the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour to develop his invention and bring it to the production stage;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly join me in sending our congratulations to Ken Burrows for an invention that will enhance Nova Scotia's environment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2581

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

Whereas public education in rural Nova Scotia took a leap ahead with the opportunities presented through rural high schools; and

Whereas the first rural high school in Hants County was built in Kennetcook; and

Whereas on October 8th, 9th and 10th, the 50th Anniversary of the opening of this school will be celebrated;

[Page 5065]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the organizers and the participants celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the first rural high school in Hants 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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 2582

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: M. le Président, par la présente, j'avise que je proposerai à une date ultérieure, l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que le 5 octobre 2004 Anne-Marie Comeau native de la Station de Saulnierville à reçu l'Ordre de la Nouvelle-Écosse;

Attendu que l'Ordre de la Nouvelle-Écosse est conféré aux individus qui ont contribué d'une façon remarquable au développement de leur communauté;

Attendu que madame Comeau a reçu plusieurs marques de reconnaissance pour son dévouement exceptionnel, don't l'un des points marquants est la création du groupe La Baie en Joie en 1979 et elle continue de diriger cette troupe de danse avec grand succès;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée exprime ses félicitations et meilleurs voeux à madame Anne-Marie Comeau.

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

Whereas on October 5, 2004, Anne-Marie Comeau, a native of Saulnierville Station, was a recipient of the Order of Nova Scotia at Government House; and

[Page 5066]

Whereas the Order of Nova Scotia is the highest honour bestowed upon individuals who have given much of themselves to their communities; and

Whereas Anne-Marie Comeau received many awards for her dedicated involvement in artistic activities in Clare and in creating the renowned group La Baie en Joie in 1979;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Madame Anne-Marie Comeau on her receipt of the Order of 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 Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2583

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

Whereas the Guysborough County Trails Association was created in 1994; and

Whereas President of the association Phillip Hochman, along with Vice-President Phillip Connolly, Treasurer Ira Corkum, and Secretary Melodie Cooper have worked tirelessly to make the trail a reality and are currently planning on building an additional five kilometres of trail, heading west at Crossroads Country Harbour; and

Whereas the trail has benefited the community by increasing tourism, increasing physical activity and recreation opportunities for citizens, and stewardship of the environment;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Guysborough County Trails Association on the development of the trail and wish them future success extending this community's treasure.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5067]

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. 2584

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

Whereas a workshop for women who wish to run for political office will cost participants $395 each plus accommodations, transportation, child care and elder care; and

Whereas yesterday, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women referred to the price of the workshop as "a bargain"; and

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources will teach you to become an outdoorswoman for half the price of the campaign workshop, only $199;

Therefore be it resolved that this government apologize to the women of Nova Scotia for failing to make a serious commitment to encouraging more women to run for political office.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 5068]

RESOLUTION NO. 2585

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

Whereas the present Tory Government boasts of consulting with people before taking action on matters of public policy; and

Whereas 20 years ago, a previous Tory Government listened to the voice of the people in Birch Grove and Port Morien by rejecting strip mining in Birch Grove; and

Whereas the present Tory Government is ignoring concerns raised by residents of Birch Grove and Port Morien by allowing strip mining to proceed;

Therefore be it resolved that the present Premier explain the dichotomy between his government's words and its actions.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2586

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

Whereas Stephanie Toole, a registered nurse from Kentville, is training with the Arthritis Society's Joints in Motion Marathon Team, in a fight against arthritis; and

Whereas Stephanie Toole is fundraising in honour of her "arthritis heroes", the residents of the Evergreen Home for Special Care where she works; and

Whereas the marathon will be held in San Diego, California on January 25th of the coming year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish Stephanie Toole success on her marathon run, and commend her efforts in the fight against arthritis.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5069]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2587

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

Whereas the Tory Government, in last year's budget, decided, in its infinite wisdom, to levy fines on clients of home care services for not giving 24-hour notices of cancellation; and

Whereas this unfair, cruel action promotes social isolation; and

Whereas, for the first time in the history of home care services, some clients had to decline many opportunities for short summer outings because there was not enough time to give the mandatory 24-hour notice of cancellation;

Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize the error of their ways and remove the cruel and unnecessary fines for giving less than the 24-hour notice of cancellation to home care services.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2588

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

[Page 5070]

Whereas Société Promotion Grand Pré launched a mural competition in January 2004 for the creation of art work to hang in their visitors' reception and interpretation centre; and

Whereas over 70 Canadian and American artists participated in this competition for art work on canvas, that would strongly convey the tragedy of the Deportation of 1755 and the nobility and strength of the Acadian people, who were the victims of this tragic event; and

Whereas Wayne Boucher of Annapolis Royal won the mural competition with his creation of a spectacular mural that used the Acadian flag to evoke the tragedy of the Deportation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Wayne Boucher, a very talented local artist, and wish him all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 2589

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

Whereas Wayne and Jackie Laybolt of Abbecombec Village owned and operated the Chickadee Restaurant and Coffee Bar in Head of Jeddore; and

Whereas Wayne and Jackie Laybolt recently retired from the restaurant business; and

Whereas the clientele of the Chickadee Restaurant and Coffee Bar wish Wayne and Jackie all the best in their future endeavours;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the efforts of Wayne and Jackie Laybolt for their contribution as small business owners.

[Page 5071]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 2590

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

Whereas the Fultz House Museum, located in Lower Sackville, is named after one of the founding families of Sackville; and

Whereas the Fultz Corner Restoration Society has been supported by the community and its many dedicated volunteers who worked every day to restore and maintain this piece of history for all to enjoy; and

Whereas the Fultz Corner Restoration Society will celebrate their 25th Anniversary at this year's Heritage Dinner on October 13, 2004, in Lower Sackville;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Fultz Corner Restoration Society on the occasion of their Silver Anniversary and recognize the hard work and dedication of many volunteers who maintain the Fultz House Museum.

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 5072]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2591

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

Whereas the former member for Halifax Citadel was an avid political warrior for several years, serving in two of the most powerful portfolios in Cabinet; and

Whereas following defeat at the polls just over one year ago, this one-time Minister of Health, and Minister of Education, gladly returned to her former non-partisan profession; and

Whereas the objectivity of the media appears not to have been to her liking, prompting yet another career change;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Jane Purves for recognizing that neutrality is not her thing and to remind her that if another career change is in the offing, running for office is not only risky, it doesn't pay as well as chief of staff.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2592

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

Whereas a seven-day tapestry workshop was recently held at the Tatamagouche Centre in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia; and

[Page 5073]

Whereas world renowned tapestry weavers, Archie Brennan and Susan Martin-Maffei, provided instruction to beginners and experts alike; and

Whereas the tapestry workshop was thrilled to have Scottish tapestry weaver, Archie Brennan, return to Nova Scotia, to share his expertise after 29 years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate LaHave Summer Workshop organizers on another successful event and send a special thanks to Archie Brennan and Susan Martin-Maffei for their expert instruction to local workshop attendees.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2593

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has recently endured three major storms in a period of less than 12 months; and

Whereas many reporters and photographers from various community newspapers have taken pictures of the after-effects of Hurricane Juan, the heavy rains and flooding of March 2003, and the blizzard of February 2004; and

Whereas these telling images have been compiled into a book entitled Storm 3, now available at local bookstores;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Lana MacEachern of the New Glasgow Evening News, and all the reporters and photographers in the region who contributed to Storm 3, and for capturing some lasting images of three major storms in our province's history.

[Page 5074]

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. 2594

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

Whereas Truro-based Crossley Carpet Mills is celebrating their 40th year of success and when you think of the words "tenacity, fortitude, resiliency, competence, and constancy" you think of the workforce and company executives at Crossley Carpet Mills; and

Whereas Crossley Carpet Mills is adding an additional 150 jobs this year at their 400,000 square foot Truro plant, which includes a fully integrated mill with in-house yarn processing;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs of the Nova Scotia Legislature commend the dynamic efforts of Crossley Carpet Mills of Truro, for what they offer to Nova Scotia's economy, and also for their ingenuity in the creation of safety programs which resulted, in 2003, in a reduction of accidents and time away from work by 96 per cent.

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 5075]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The Oral Question Period will begin today at 2:45 p.m. and end at 4:15 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - CAB DRIVERS: SAFETY - INCREASE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Taxi drivers in this province are vulnerable to random acts of violence and the situation in Sackville this weekend, I think, just made this clear. In 1997 Robert LeBlanc of Pictou County was murdered while on duty in his cab, Michael Tran suffered severe brain damage and was paralysed after being repeatedly stabbed in 2001. In September 2002, a Casino taxi driver was stabbed during a robbery; in March of 2003 cab driver Ronnie Lambert suffered a gunshot wound to the head and tragically, Mr. Speaker, John Hibbs died from his injuries this weekend in Sackville.

[2:45 p.m.]

Unless the government does something, taxi drivers will remain at risk, so my question is, what does the government plan to do to increase safety for cab drivers?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, firstly I'd like to say my condolences go out to the family of Mr. Hibbs. It's certainly a shame that something like that would happen. It's not something we anticipate or something that we think would happen in our city. I would like to tell the member opposite that there are provisions that are available for cab drivers and there are organizations and groups that are taking a look at what the best solution would be. That's something that has been ongoing and unfortunately hasn't come to pass soon enough to correct this problem.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I can be of some help. This is a workplace safety issue of the highest order. In the Summer of 2001 when Winnipeg taxi driver Pridham Deal was stabbed to death, the Manitoba Government appointed a taxi cab safety working group comprised of industry stakeholders. The industry-led group made recommendations to the minister in December of 2002 - many of the recommendations were enacted and a government spokesman for the Manitoba taxi board said that the implementation of the new regulations reduced violence against cabdrivers by 80 per cent. So, I would like to ask the minister, will he protect taxi drivers by bringing together industry, law enforcement and government stakeholders to address taxi cab safety issues?

[Page 5076]

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it's my understanding that there is currently a group that has been formed in HRM that looks at safety for taxi drivers and reports back to ensure the highest level of safety can be maintained in this occupation.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, what the minister has just said has underlined the problem for too long. The Government of Nova Scotia has left safety of taxi drivers up to individual drivers, to companies, or to municipalities. All of us can see that this is just not working. Like workers in other industries, taxi drivers need protection and this government has a role to play in ensuring their safety. This House has acted to protect the health and safety of many other groups of workers and it is time we took action to assist taxi drivers. So I'd like to ask the minister, will he act today to protect the lives and livelihoods of taxi drivers in Nova Scotia?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I think it's important to point out that we will do everything that we possibly can to ensure the safety of taxi drivers and all other workers in the Province of Nova Scotia and also that companies and drivers are in a position to give the best possible advice to take care of their health and welfare.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - COXHEATH QUARRY:

PREM. - PERMIT REFUSE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Premier. J & T Van Zutphen Construction owns 240 hectares of land in the Coxheath Hills and there are plans to build a rock quarry on this property adjacent to residential units. The residents of this area have come out in strong opposition to a quarry in this area, many of whom are here in the gallery today. Mr. Speaker, it simply does not make sense that a quarry could be built in a residential area. As a matter of fact, it doesn't make any sense it could be built in a residential area anywhere in Nova Scotia. My question to the Premier is, would he assist the residents of Coxheath and Sydney River in their struggle to keep this quarry out of Coxheath by refusing a permit to allow it to happen?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings a good issue to the attention of the House. The member opposite, as well, is aware that on a recent trip to the Sydney area I visited the Coxheath-Sydney River area and I saw for myself the area in question. I saw the quality of the neighbourhood. I had an opportunity, as well, to meet with representatives of the local neighbourhood. It is an issue that the government is aware of; it is an issue that the government is concerned about; and it is an issue that we are seeking to find a reasonable solution to address the issues that the member opposite has brought to the attention of the House.

[Page 5077]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate the fact that the Premier is saying the government would try to find a reasonable solution, a solution would be not to allow a quarry in Coxheath - that's the solution that the residents are looking for.

Mr. Speaker, all Summer long the backbenches of this government have repeatedly been at odds with the Minister of Environment and Labour, along with the Minister of Natural Resources. The Premier and the Minister of Environment and Labour have been silent on key environmental issues that affect communities of Nova Scotia - communities that some of their own members represent. His own Minister of Energy is on record as supporting the residents in Coxheath in their fight to keep a quarry out of that particular residential part of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary, again to the Premier is, will the Premier do the right thing and tell the people of Coxheath that they will never have to put up with a quarry in their area?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, again in follow-up, brings an important issue. The government is looking at a reasonable solution to protect the neighbourhood.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I hope, Mr. Speaker, that what the Premier means by that is that indeed the government will not allow a quarry in Coxheath, because that would be the only reasonable solution that will satisfy the people who are in the gallery today and satisfy the residents of Nova Scotia who should not have to live in fear in a residential area that a quarry will be built right across the street from their houses.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Premier - Mr. Premier, this is not about politics, this is about doing the right thing for people of Nova Scotia who live in residential areas and I would ask you, Mr. Premier, to use your good office not to allow a quarry in the Coxheath Hills.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that the government will do the right thing.

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

COM. SERV. - SENIORS HOUSING:

DETERIORATION - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to begin by tabling photographs taken on September 17th at 72 Tremaine Crescent in Windsor, a seniors' housing building owned and operated by the province. The carpets in this building are threadbare and filthy, inches of dust and dirt everywhere but, you know, shedding light on this problem will soon

[Page 5078]

be easier because the 20-year-old curtains are about to rot off the rods. Residents want to feel pride about their home and they are tired of bedbug infestations and air quality complaints casting a bad light on their building. So my question to the minister is this, why has your government allowed seniors' housing in this province to deteriorate to the point that it's in such poor condition?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite speaks to our public housing program. We have 7,700 seniors' units in the province. It's something that's very much appreciated by those tenants. We work hard through the housing authorities to maintain them, and when issues are brought forward to the housing authority the housing authorities do all that they can to try to address those concerns.

MR. DEXTER: It's hard to believe that the minister would give that kind of response. I want to invite him to look at the photos and undertake a visit to this building in person, because if he spent five minutes in the stale, foul-smelling air in Barb Fretwell's apartment, it would be a stretch for him to be able to tell me that there's nothing wrong in this building. Ms. Fretwell feels the problem may have to do with a blockage in the sewer, and with the lack of attention, who knows? The photos and the smell speak volumes about this government's commitment to our province's seniors. So my question to the minister is this, how can he possibly justify allowing the seniors of this province to live in such deplorable conditions?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, consistent with my first answer, I would say that anybody who lives in any public housing who has a concern should bring it to the attention of the public housing authority. Failing that, you might bring it to your local MLA, which I understand is not the case in this instance. I would suggest that probably the best way to advance this is to work through the local housing authority and not through the floor of the Legislature.

MR. DEXTER: I'm not sure who the minister thinks they have been complaining to. Of course, they have been complaining to the housing authorities, and nothing has been getting done. That's why it's here. Now, some of these problems are a simple matter of poor cleaning, dead bugs piled up on the electrical room floor, mops used to clean public areas left outside in the dirt. I hope that there is no question that the department will instruct the housing authorities to ensure, at the very least, that these buildings are properly cleaned. My question, Mr. Speaker, is this, when will the department, when will the minister tell these seniors what the plan is to replace carpets, and ensure air quality is maintained and that a proper maintenance schedule is put in place?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, again, I would point out that we have a very extensive public housing program in this province. The vast majority of our tenants are very happy with the accommodations. We do try to work with them when they bring concerns forward. We only wish that we could shorten the waiting lists more, and we are attending to that with the Affordable Housing Program.

[Page 5079]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - GREENWOOD:

PERC TESTING - LAXITY EXPLAIN

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. In the 1980s there was a spill of PERC at Sun Ray Dry Cleaners in Greenwood and, in the early 1990s, a fire at Sun Ray Dry Cleaning on Central Avenue in Greenwood. During the time when emergency personnel were dealing with the fire, the potential for chemicals to seep into the ground existed. One such chemical being PERC, which, as I explained last week, is a drycleaning degreasing agent and has now been found contaminating wells in the Greenwood area. Twenty homes out of 67 have tested for PERC, 14 higher than the 30 parts per billion of the Canada Health Standard. Three sources for the contamination are currently being investigated. Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, why has the Department of Environment and Labour been lax in the testing for PERC in the Greenwood area when, clearly, there has been evidence of it contaminating wells and soil over the last few months and, perhaps, even years?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to start out by saying that the Department of Environment and Labour takes its responsibilities very seriously and has not been lax in its testing programs and, certainly, has spent time with the residents who have been affected by trying to ensure and maintain that they have the best possible advice and information to protect themselves after the contaminant was found.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Minister, PERC was accidentally discovered in 2001 and looks to have been in the water for some time. Separate tests by Jacques Whitford, 2001 and 2004, confirmed on August 16th positive results for PERC contamination. Now, this will remain in the water for 20, 30 or 40 years or more. Already water supplies in the area that have tested negative could, of course, show up positive along the Valley floor. My question to the minister is, will the minister, as a government, tell this House how long the Department of Environment and Labour has known about the PERC contamination in the Greenwood area?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding with regard to the PERC and the contaminated water in the wells, it was about September 1st that we were first made aware of that, and we have acted accordingly since.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, this serious environmental issue, as we know from tetrachloroethylene, we go to vinylethylene, which is, of course, a carcinogenic, cannot wait until Spring. There is great concern for the health of the community. Therefore my final question to the minister is an easy one. Will the minister begin a more comprehensive investigation into PERC contamination and, more importantly, provide the Village of Greenwood and the Municipality of Kings with a central water supply, being the only solution?

[Page 5080]

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we have done testing and we are committed to ensure that the residents in the area know what those tests are. We have contained or determined where the contamination is located and we are doing additional testing to ensure that we know where the contaminant is located, where it is contained, and we will continue to work with the residents to ensure they have safe drinking water in that area.

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

HEALTH - KAPLAN DECISION: CLASSIFICATIONS - STATUS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In August, the Kaplan arbitration decision awarded increases to many health care employees

in the Capital District Health Authority. Many of these professionals are the lowest-paid in Atlantic Canada. Even when the award takes effect, some staff wage rates will still trail their colleagues in this region, even though they work at a tertiary care facility. My question to the minister is this, employees are still waiting for their classifications to see whether they will qualify for catch-up increases, how much longer will they have to wait?

[3:00 p.m.]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I can certainly appreciate that employees would like to have those decisions taken as quickly as possible. It is my understanding that the matter is under review, and hopefully the decisions will be made shortly.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would say hopefully. These employees include x-ray techs, lab techs, cardiac profusionists, psychologists and other professionals who are very difficult to recruit. Now Nova Scotia has become a prime recruiting ground for other jurisdictions, because of the government's poor record of failing to respect these professionals. It is imperative that Nova Scotia is competitive with other jurisdictions, especially within this region. My question for the minister is this, with so many challenges filling critical positions, why is it taking so long to comply with the arbitration award?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member, and all members of the House, that we as a government made every effort, and we've done so successfully, to a large extent, to ensure that the workers of this province are paid competitively. Certainly, all anyone has to do is look at our neighbouring provinces and they'll see that we have been successful in that regard. The process with respect to the followup to the arbitration award is a process that's underway. We hope that it will be expedited as quickly as possible.

[Page 5081]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, these 3,100 health professionals have only just started to see the implementation of the arbitration award, and they still don't know whether they're going to get their catch-up award. And contrary to what the minister has just said, many of these workers are lower paid than their counterparts in New Brunswick who, incidentally, are now on strike. The question for the minister is this, why is the Department of Health stalling and making the other provinces and, of course, the U.S. look even better?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, when it comes to compensation to our employees, stalling is not a word that I would use to describe what we have accomplished as a government. However, the process of making the awards, as a result of the arbitration decision, is a process that requires each and every position to be looked at and evaluated, for the reclassification to occur. That is not something that can be achieved by simply pressing the button on a computer. That requires very painstaking work in order to ensure that those reclassifications are carried out appropriately, and that the decisions that are taken are decisions that will stand as the result of the process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - SENIORS: RM. & BD. - COSTS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday I asked the minister what I thought were a few simple questions with respect to the issue of room-and-board costs of long-term care. What I received from the minister, however, was a response with very serious implications for seniors in this province. The minister indicated that no two facilities are the same, so his department will come up with a room-and-board cost that represents a province-wide average. Per diem rates are different across this province, so why, all of a sudden, do we need a room-and-board rate that is the same? My question to the minister is, why is it fair for a senior, for instance, at Mountain Lea Lodge in Bridgetown, to pay the same room-and-board rate as a senior in a newer facility, such as Parkstone in Clayton Park?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what is being charged to the residents of these facilities is the service that is provided to them. Every effort is made to ensure that that service is equitable right across this province. That is what takes place. Yesterday, in answer to his question, I indicated that the rates that are determined, are determined as a result of a process. That process is the examination of business plans carried out by the department and is done very carefully.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, you know what, the whole thing smells like nothing more than a money grab to me. Government will set one room-and-board rate for seniors that will not necessarily reflect the true costs of room and board in the facility where they reside. By setting one average rate, the province is free to add on costs, some of which are classified or could be classified as health care costs without any real accountability

[Page 5082]

and the minister could add additional costs to that provincial rate and no one would know what they're for or why they were added.

Mr. Speaker, it's simply not fair. My next question to the minister is, could the minister please confirm whether he has chosen the option of going with one provincial rate, so that he can slip in room-and-board increases without ever being held accountable?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the business planning process that is required by the homes will ensure that the rates that are charged are, in fact, appropriate rates, right across this province and I can tell the honourable member, that putting an additional $40 million into providing this service to the seniors of this province, can hardly be described as a money grab on the part of this government.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, what the minister is doing here is not appropriate. What the minister is doing is unfair to seniors in this province, room and board costs for Parkstone are different from Mountain Lea Lodge. It seems like it's a very simple issue to solve. You take the health care costs, deduct it from the monthly per diem and what's left over is what needs to be covered. So my final question for the minister is, how can this minister justify room-and-board costs that may very well be higher than the actual costs incurred by the facility?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what we are providing to the citizens of this province, our seniors, is a service and the room and board that they receive in these facilities, every effort is made to ensure that that service is equitable right across the province and the fees that will be charged will reflect that fact.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: ASSESSMENT CAP - TIME FRAME

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Skyrocketing property assessments remain a major concern for Nova Scotians. Mr. Minister, this problem has not gone away. Last Spring this government promised Nova Scotians some relief. They promised to introduce an assessment cap. Well, it's been six months and we still haven't heard a thing. In July the minister said that he hoped to deal with the issue this Fall. So, my question to the minster is, how much longer will Nova Scotians have to wait for you to keep your promise about assessments in this province?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Two weeks.

[Page 5083]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, two weeks will not help Albert Knock. Albert is a senior living in Mill Village, Queens County. He lives on a fixed income and like many older Nova Scotians, he owns land that has been passed through his family, that he would like to pass on. The problem is, he's being taxed off his land, past tense, taxed off his land. Mr. Knock owns a 12-acre lot in Kingsburg and it has been in his family since 1893 and I will table a copy of Mr. Knock's plan. In 2001, the lot was valued at $1,500. Last year, his assessment jumped to $80,000 - a 5,000 per cent increase - and that's after an appeal. My question to the minister is, do you think it's acceptable that Nova Scotians are being taxed off their land?

MR. BARNET: No.

MR. ESTABROOKS: This is an important issue to Nova Scotians. Every year the prices go up and Nova Scotians like Mr. Knock are being forced to give up the land they spent a lifetime trying to hang onto and, meanwhile, the neighbouring lot continues to see more and more foreign flags flying there every summer. My question to the minister is, well, you give the glib answers here, give me the advice that I have to give to Mr. Knock when I return his phone call later this afternoon?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the bill that would help Mr. Knock is retroactive. It actually goes back to the year 2002. We intend to bring forward, very soon, the cap amount that we intend to resolve this matter with. Mr. Knock will be able to take advantage of that as a result of the bill - a piece of legislation that we brought forward last Spring.

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

TPW - FED.-PROV. HWY. INFRASTRUCTURE AGREEMENT:

MIN. - ACTION

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. When this government came to power there were three major highway agreements with the federal government for improving our highway infrastructure. Presently, we only have one and that's the only one that has been negotiated since this government came to power. So my question to the minister quite simply is, what is the minister doing to ensure a new federal-provincial highway infrastructure agreement?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member is aware that we've had considerable difficulty dealing with the federal government and obtaining a transportation agreement. We have been pursuing that actively since we came to power in 1999 and, since that date, the only highway agreements that we've had have been tied to the infrastructure program, which applies to all kinds of other projects as well as the highways and highways are thus in competition with such things, necessary things mind you, as water

[Page 5084]

supply systems, as sewage systems, arenas and those kinds of projects that the federal government does provide some assistance with.

Mr. Speaker, we would encourage the honourable members opposite to join with the government in pursuing the federal government's Department of Transportation to come forward with agreements specifically directed to highways.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that there is $30.5 million set aside specifically for highway improvement out of that Canadian strategic infrastructure fund, and the minister knows that. The province has to match that with another $30.5 million. So my question to the minister is, when can we expect the federal-provincial highway agreement from that fund?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that any money coming forward from the federal government which is cost-shared, will be cost-shared.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the minister didn't answer my question. My question is, quite simply, with regard to the $30.5 million that's sitting there in the fund specifically designated for highways in Nova Scotia, to be matched by provincial funding, when is the minister going to come up with an agreement for all or part of that matching funding with the federal government?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I assume that what the honourable member is talking about is the balance of the infrastructure funding that was announced roughly a year or a year and a half ago and, in that case, we would be delighted to sign that agreement. We've been pursuing the government to sign the agreement so that we can get on with it.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TPW - HWY. WORKERS: LAYOFFS - EXPLAIN

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is also to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. As you know, I come from rural Nova Scotia, and I see, every day, the neglect on our rural roads, overgrown ditches, broken asphalt, dangerous potholes. Yet, this Summer, highway workers were being laid off or not called back to work in places like Middleton, Sydney River, Inverness, Victoria, Hants County, Kings County and on goes the list. When the maintenance of our rural roads deteriorates, tourism suffers, economic development lags, and certainly we all end up paying a lot more for our car repairs. The rural roads, the roads we live on, the roads we drive on every day, are in worse shape than ever. My question to the minister is, why are our highway workers being laid off or not being called back when our roads are in such deplorable shape?

[Page 5085]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to make it completely clear, as I have in correspondence to that honourable member, that no permanent members of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, who are highway workers employed under the CUPE agreement, are being laid off.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, in reality, what is happening is that many of our skilled and experienced highway workers are not being recalled. So, sure, they're not being laid off, maybe, but they're just not being called in in the first place. At every opportunity, this minister has been replacing our skilled highway workers with private contractors. Last week I asked a question to the minister, and in response the minister said that the department is getting a better bang for its buck in regard to contracting out under RIMM. Now if that statement is actually true, why is the Department of Transportation and Public Works getting further and further behind in its maintenance and upkeep of our rural roads, and what measuring stick is he using to qualify that statement?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the level of service being applied to our highways is better than it's probably been in the last 20 years. However, having said that, I can assure the honourable member that yes, we can use additional funding for our highway system, but I would also draw to his attention the survey that we did recently that showed the satisfaction level in Nova Scotia with the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the general transportation system is the highest it has been since 1990.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, what we really have is privatization by attrition. In a recent letter that you did write to me, and I'm going to table that letter, you responded that we have called tenders in areas where department employees have retired or have left the department's workforce for other reasons, laid off or fired or whatever. In other words, when a highway worker leaves, they're replaced by a private operator, and tender after tender is going out to private operators. I will say it again, as I did last week, this government was not elected to privatize the Department of Transportation and Public Works, so why is this minister so determined to privatize the Department of Transportation and Public Works?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member so correctly pointed out, nobody is being laid off, but when we have attrition caused by retirement or somebody leaving the government service, if that person operates a machine, it is quite possible that we will put out the service provided by that machine to the private sector.

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

COM. SERV. - EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT: MIN. - OFFER

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. This morning a report focusing on the employment supports program was released by three women's centres. The report explores the inadequacies of the employment supports

[Page 5086]

program, which should be a helping hand out of poverty for Nova Scotians. However, the system simply forces its clients, many of whom are women, into deepening poverty. My question to the minister is, why is his department further entrenching the poverty of clients, instead of offering adequate supports to those in need?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for making reference to that report that was released today. That report focused on the employment support aspect of the new Employment Support and Income Assistance Act. I'm pleased to say that as a result of those employment supports, a dramatic shift in the way we deliver social assistance in this province, thousands of clients - including women - have been able to find a job and better their situation. That's what the Act was all about.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, to the contrary. According to the Nova Scotia Nutrition Council, a single mother of two children would face a $150 deficit every month if she fed her children the recommended, no-frills, nutritious diet. On top of that, the personal use allowances for these women often go to make up for the inadequate basic needs funding for shelter, utilities, phone, medications and transportation. Mothers are forced to choose less nutritious food to fill their children's bellies and they also go without food themselves to feed their children. My question to the minister is, how could his department think that $4 a month was really going to help anyone?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member spoke very disparagingly of this initiative in a recent article in the paper. I would like to point out that all Parties in this House set priorities. We cannot be all things to all people, but we do set our priorities. I find it most interesting that after years of there being no increase in the basic personal allowance, this government, for the first time - according to one client - I'll just say in many years did make an increase. Nowhere on the NDP list of priorities did I ever hear them lobbying for an increase in the basic personal allowance. So, in view of the fact we just increased it, I think it's rather hypocritical that the honourable member would be critical that we've finally done something.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I suggest it's too little, too late. This report released this morning makes 20 recommendations to improve the system and offer meaningful help to families. Many of these recommendations are cost neutral such as stopping the practice of clawing back every cent of income tax refunds, scholarships and bursaries. My question to the minister is, why won't his department reverse these harmful policies and start treating people on social assistance with compassion and dignity?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as has been said many times in this House before, this new shift in the way we deliver social assistance through the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act has been very successful. It has helped many clients find their way into their own careers, it has bettered their situation. We brought in supports for child care, we brought in transportation, we brought in special needs. There's an incentive there for people

[Page 5087]

to pursue a career. The Act is not perfect, but the Act is a dramatic improvement over what was there before and we look forward to continue to work with organizations such as the women's centres to further improve the Act.

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

PREM. - RURAL N.S.: CONCERNS - ADDRESS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Rural Nova Scotia needs the help of this government. It needs government to do more than pay lip service to rural economic development. We need more than just call centres, Mr. Premier. Young people are leaving rural areas in large numbers year after year. Rural Nova Scotia needs good jobs that will attract and retain young people to our rural areas. So my first question to the Premier is, when will the Premier dedicate his government to address the concerns of rural Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question because it allows me the opportunity to relate an experience I had on Monday of this week when I travelled to the Digby area. I had travelled there a number of months ago and I visited an empty building which had been constructed for a failed call centre initiative. Fortunately, as a result of the co-operation and the partnership between Nova Scotia Business Inc., the Office of Economic Development and Convergys - I visited that same site today in Cornwallis, in rural Nova Scotia - there are almost 400 people working there today, where six months ago there were none. (Applause)

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the Premier didn't hear what I just said. There are many, many young people leaving many parts of rural Nova Scotia, leaving their own home, seeking employment. Again, rural economic development requires a coordinated effort of many government departments but it also requires a champion at the Cabinet Table. It requires more than just an office. So, again, my question to the Premier is, will the Premier start taking rural economic development seriously and create a department dedicated to rural economic development?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again, the member opposite gives me an opportunity to relate some of the things that have been happening in the last five years, since 1999, one of which is increased support for local RDAs. Another is $123 million investment in the community college system that will allow, all over rural Nova Scotia, the very best of technical training to occur in the local communities.

The member opposite also gives me an opportunity to talk about the small businesses loan fund that is a result of a partnership between the credit unions and the Government of Nova Scotia; a loan program, Mr. Speaker, that has already addressed the loan requirements

[Page 5088]

of 66 companies across Nova Scotia and resulted in several hundred new jobs in rural Nova Scotia.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I know that there is dissension among the government's own members because of this government's inaction to rural economic development. Mr. Premier, your backbenchers and your minister aren't happy, so just imagine how Nova Scotians feel. So instead of this self-praising, why won't you, Mr. Premier, dedicate the government's resources to the development of our rural economies?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education had an opportunity to read a resolution today congratulating Crossley Carpet, that they are creating, I believe the number was, 150 new jobs in the Truro area. Since 1999, 37,000 more Nova Scotians are working than when we became the government in 1999. (Applause) That five-year success was nowhere greater than it was in the last 12 months where 13,000 more people are working today in Nova Scotia than were working only 12 moths ago.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COM. SERV.: CARLETON RD. IND. - FUNDING LEVELS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Carleton Road Industries operates an adult vocational centre in Lawrencetown, Annapolis Valley, that serves 19 clients who are mentally, physically, emotionally and/or intellectually challenged. This organization has not had an increase in their per diem rate for clients since 1992. Presently, they get $6.93 per client per day. Part of that goes to the clients in the form of a stipend. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, how can you expect this organization to provide quality programming with 1992 funding levels?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as part of the budgeting process, all the many countless organizations that we fund throughout the province in partnership to deliver such services would be in contact with their local region. Through that, there would be a negotiation as to what would be the appropriate amount of their per diem or their operating grant, depending on how we fund them. It is through that process that we set either the per diems or the operating grants that go to them, and that would be something that would be negotiated between that organization, which I do believe does excellent work, and the western region.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to note that the minister said that they do excellent work. I just want the minister to know that Carleton Road Industries is not requesting a handout from the Department of Community Services, all they're requesting is a fair and equitable amount of money to operate programs that that minister asked for, and that that

[Page 5089]

minister suggested be provided to Nova Scotians. There is no fat left to cut at this operation; it cannot continue with the inadequate financial support. Unless an increase is forthcoming, Carleton Road Industries will be forced to close in early December. The families and the caregivers of these 19 clients will face around-the-clock care, with no respite in place. Even worse, these clients will face isolation and even institutionalization without this critical support. I ask the minister, how can he justify allowing the programs that have served this community for nearly 30 years to close due to his government's neglect?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, when organizations that are funded by the Department of Community Services encounter financial difficulties, we expect them to work with our regions, the people who are there to assist them. It would seem to me reasonable in these circumstances that Carleton Road Industries contact the local branch of the Department of Community Services and ask for assistance. It would also seem that the logical first step would be to send in somebody from our financial services branch to assist them and try to confirm what challenges they face, so that they may continue to deliver these valuable services.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that honourable minister is out of touch. They have done everything possible, they have crossed every avenue that was available to them, and those clients who are so proud of having these services will lose. The minister is obviously playing deaf, or the lines of communication are cut off. Carleton Road Industries get no funding for staff training, administration expenses, vehicle repairs, mileage for staff, or even operating expenses such as heat or lights, from this government. That's a fact.

MR. SPEAKER: Question. Question, please.

MR. PYE: I ask the minister, will he commit to providing fair, adequate operational funding to Carleton Road Industries so that it can continue helping some of the most vulnerable people in the Annapolis Valley? That's all I ask.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would tell the honourable member that since he first asked his question I have indicated to a staff member in the audience that I want to have somebody go out and investigate the financial challenges facing this industry. (Interruptions) The honourable member does not seem to want to hear my answer.

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

MR. MORSE: The honourable member does not seem to be interested in my answer, so just suffice it to say I've already indicated that I want to have a report on the circumstances facing Carleton Road Industries.

[Page 5090]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

COM. SERV. - CARLETON RD. IND.:

PER DIEM RATES - DETERMINATION DETAILS

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The Carleton Road Industries Association is a non-profit adult service centre located in Lawrencetown, Annapolis County. For many years it has worked tirelessly to provide job training and life skills for mentally challenged adults. It is a true asset to our community. My question for the minister is, how does your department determine the per diem rate for programs provided by Carleton Road Industries?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite asks a good question. Basically what happens is all the inputs that have to go in to providing the appropriate services are determined and costed out and, through that process, a number is determined and that will be divided by the number of days that we provide the services. If it's a per diem or if it's an operating grant it would then come as a lump sum to the organization; in some cases it can be a combination of an operating grant or a per diem.

MR. MCNEIL: The Carleton Road Industries Association is facing a financial crisis and repeated attempts to have the Department of Community Services hear their concerns have fallen on deaf ears. As a result, the future of 22 mentally challenged clients is in jeopardy. My question is, why has the Department of Community Services repeatedly ignored requests for a funding review of the Carleton Road Industries Association?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in response to the previous questioner, I've already requested that such a review take place. I would also say to the member opposite - and I think that I'm fair in saying this - when he brought other things to my attention other than through the floor of the Legislature, I have responded to his concerns.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the minister on that. Carleton Road Industries simply wants the minister's department to honestly assess their needs and provide a reasonable support so that they can continue to provide a service to the community. Personally, I don't think that's too much to ask. So my question is, will he commit to a meeting, no later than next week with the executive director and the board of the Carleton Road Industries Associations to hear and subsequently address their concerns?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, typically the first step in this is to do a financial review and before any such meeting takes place, I want to have the opinion of those professionals in my department, or perhaps borrowing on those people from the Department of Finance, to get their opinion before we take any definitive steps, but I want to encourage the member opposite, and this is in his constituency and he is legitimately bringing it forward, that any

[Page 5091]

time he has a concern such as this in his community, all he needs to do is pick up the phone, or drop me a line, and he will get a response. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH.: BSE LOAN PROG. - EFFICACY

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question through you will be to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. On September 28th, this minister informed the people of Nova Scotia that cattle producers will have access to a $10 million loan program to help them through the BSE crisis. What the beef producers were looking for was a $10 million investment in their industry - a program of interest-free loans. These producers will have to pay interest from day one, pass the Farm Loan Board's sniff test, and put up collateral for a reduced interest rate. So I want to ask the minister, how can this government say it's helping the farmers when, in fact, this program will do little to aid those in the worst circumstances?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question as this is one that we've been following quite closely over the last bit and it does concern me to no end at times. The loan program is one that doesn't have to pay back the interest for a two-year period. It is a temporary measure as we research the "set asides" for the cattlemen. The cattlemen have been meeting in Nappan over the last couple of days to look at options that they're going to be bringing forward to myself and to my department in the very near future.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the loans available to cattle producers are supposed to give them the capital to continue operating their farms - not put them into a more dire situation. The loans were also touted last week and today as having a two-year payment deferral within a seven-year payment period, but within the two-year payment deferral period, the loan recipients are still responsible for interest payments. So my question to the minister is, why is it that furniture stores can offer two years no payments and no interest on a purchase of a washer/dryer combo, but this minister is unable to do the same for the cattle industry in Nova Scotia?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite again for the question on this issue. It is one that we had a lot of discussion with the cattlemen, with the federation. It is not perfect and I've got to admit that. It is one that we are trying to work through and we're trying to address those issues as they go forward.

MR. MACDONELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure how long the sitting of the House will last, but there is one thing that the minister and I will agree on, and that is not perfect, and I will use that quote whenever I get the opportunity. Cattle producers asked for

[Page 5092]

help and, as usual, this government has responded with too little, too late. If producers have to pass the same criteria as they would for other loans from the Farm Loan Board, then those worse off may not be eligible. So will the minister assure this House that no cattle producers in need will be left out of this program?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that all consideration is being given for every asset that a farmer has and that, to the best of my knowledge, no farmer will be left behind.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

HUM. RES. - WHISTLE-BLOWER REGS.: USAGE - EXPLAIN

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, last month the Human Resources Minister announced whistle-blower regulations. My question for the minister is, why did you choose regulation over legislation?

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, we already had legislation in place that we could put regulations under to address the issues of wrongdoing. We did this. The regulations are in place and we look forward to any bits of wrongdoing that may come forward and we'll take it from there.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, it's not even clear, whether or not they want the bits of information. In early August, this government's own scathing $35,000 survey of 4,300 civil servants in Nova Scotia, revealed, amongst other things, for many, mistrust, paranoia, fear between government employees and their superiors and in the face of this, the government has made matters worse by gagging employees from speaking, by forcing them to complain internally instead of going to the police or the media. Under policy statement No. 4 in Regulation 20 of these new rules, if civil servants go to the police or media instead of complaining internally, they might be terminated. My question to the minister is, in this period of minority government, why did you not consult with Opposition Parties before ramming these new rules down the belly of Nova Scotians?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, what employees asked for was a process to report wrongdoing. That process was put in place. The process that is put in place does give employees a clear avenue to take. As far as the question in response to the survey, yes, employees did exercise that they did not feel they had an avenue to take, that is why we put these regulations in place and it definitely reaffirmed the need for them.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question was why did the minister not consult with the Opposition Parties. She did not address that question. In the Spring of this year, the federal government acted above-board and introduced whistle-blower legislation that frankly got a rough ride. It got a rough ride by Opposition Parties, but today media reports and

[Page 5093]

Opposition reports that are coming out of Ottawa suggest that new legislation will be coming forward later this week that will introduce legislation that the Opposition Parties are satisfied with. My question for the minister is, will you, in light of all this, knowing that we have a minority government, scrap your gag regulations, consult with Opposition Parties and bring forward genuine whistle-blower legislation?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, again, we did conduct an employee survey. We listened to the requests that came forward by the employees, by putting forward these regulations. In any other jurisdiction in the country that has legislation, there has not been any evidence that there's been an increase in the reporting process because of regulations. There is no other place in Canada that currently has legislation, no other province. (Interruptions) We have definitely gone forward with this and we look forward to the employees to see how it does work.

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

TCH - BLUENOSE II/PRESERVATION TRUST:

TRANSITION - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid) Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. On December 22, 2003, the minister issued a press release outlining a number of changes that would take place in the ownership and management of the assets associated with the Bluenose II and the Bluenose II Preservation Trust Society. The press release indicated that a transition team would be named and criteria would be established for the operation and management of the Bluenose II. Could the minister tell this House and all Nova Scotians, who are the rightful owners of the Bluenose II, what are the criteria for the operation and management of the Bluenose II and who are the members of this transition team.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member is correct, that press release did go out last December and we've been working since that time with the organizations involved, with respect to ensuring that the operations of the ship will continue next year and that the image and such would be protected for that of Nova Scotians.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it seems to be the trend of this government to address an issue with, "they're looking at it" and seeming to wait and see if it goes away. In the same news release it was stated there would be no further attempts to enforce rights around the name, the image of the ship without permission. Small businesses have paid royalties to the Bluenose II Preservation Trust Society fearing sanctions if they did not pay. We all know what happened to the one business that refused to pay these royalties. My question to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage is, will the minister instruct the

[Page 5094]

Bluenose II Preservation Trust Society to make restitution immediately to all those who have paid these unfair royalties?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated last Fall, as the government indicated because there was a disagreement over the image and such of the Bluenose II - we indicated at that time that we'll ensure it is protected for the use of Nova Scotians, that it is the property of Nova Scotians, and we will ensure that continues. The Bluenose II had a very successful year with the Tall Ships and other events. It will sail again next year and will continue to be there as a pride and joy of Nova Scotians.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, these small businesses are still out a lot of money and are awaiting the right decision from this government to force this society to pay these businesses back. The taxpayers of the province have been spending $650,000 a year on a contract that was not tendered, that the former Liberal Government issued to a group chaired by a Liberal Senator. The taxpayers of this province are tired of the patronage contracts, the appointments seen by government year after year. So I ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, will this government ensure that an open tender process will take place for the management of the Bluenose II, and when can we expect this tender to be called?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, discussions are ongoing with respect to this issue. I do agree with the member on one thing, obviously, there was an agreement put in place by the previous Liberal Government, we all have questions with respect to how various agreements were reached during those years, but I can assure that member and all Nova Scotians that we will ensure the integrity of the Bluenose is maintained for next year and future years.

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

AGRIC. & FISH.: INSHORE FISHERMEN - WCB COVERAGE

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Inshore fishermen in this province are faced with increasing competition, particularly from New Brunswick inshore fishermen who don't work under a workers' compensation system. In Nova Scotia, all inshore fishermen must be covered under workers' compensation if there are three employees or more while, in New Brunswick. the number is 25 employees. My question to the minister is, how can Nova Scotian inshore fishermen compete in the inshore fishery when New Brunswick holds this unfair advantage?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I know that I have heard on a number of occasions the concerns about WCB when it pertains to fishermen. That's one that I have taken up on a number of occasions with the Minister of Environment and Labour, who has the responsibility for WCB. It's definitely something we're trying to fix.

[Page 5095]

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, inshore fishermen in Nova Scotia with three or four helpers are paying up to $10,000 for mandatory workers' compensation. The same inshore fishermen in New Brunswick they are competing with and receiving the same coverage or better from the private sector for $1,000. My question to the minister is, what is the minister going to do to ensure that New Brunswick fishermen do not have an unfair advantage in our inshore fishery?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again, it is an issue of the WCB and one for the Minister of Environment and Labour. I would maybe ask him to comment a little bit on WCB.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, one of the issues, as everyone would know, is that fishermen have proper coverage for accidental concerns that may take place so that they would be covered. That's something that is in place in Nova Scotia and there certainly are discussions between the provinces and interprovincial discussions with regard to fairness and equality with regard to the payment of workers' compensation.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I'm getting calls from inshore fishermen every day saying it's not fair for them to be paying more than the New Brunswick fishermen who they're competing with for the same resource. I also get calls from people every day who are not getting the compensation they deserve. So I have to question whether the system is working or not. Will the minister look into the Workers' Compensation Board and try to create a level playing field for our Nova Scotia inshore fishermen?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, yes.

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

TPW - SYDNEY-GLACE BAY HWY. TRAFFIC:

STUDY - IMPLEMENTATION

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Yesterday, the residents in my constituency received a traffic study from the Department of Transportation and Public Works that outlined major improvements to the Sydney-Glace Bay highway. These improvements are expected to result in improved safety and traffic flow on the highway but will result in changes to which roads will be able to directly access the highway. However, the residents were not told whether or not this report will be implemented. Can the Minister of Transportation and Public Works tell this House if he is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Sydney-Glace Bay highway, Trunk 4, traffic study?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would consider that to be perhaps a trick question because if I say we're going to implement the report completely, then what is the use of having consultations with the public who are affected?

[Page 5096]

MR. GOSSE: In other words, he doesn't want to (Interruptions) That's not a trick question, Mr. Speaker, I'm just looking for an answer which he refuses to give.

In September 2003, my first day in this Legislature, a young constituent of mine was severely injured when he was hit by a vehicle in the intersection of Kytes Hill Drive on the Sydney-Glace Bay highway while crossing the road. The traffic study released yesterday recommends traffic lights at that intersection. The only way to ensure that an accident like this doesn't happen again is to follow the study's recommendation and put up a set of traffic lights at Kytes Hill Drive and the sooner the better.

When will the set of lights be put up at Kytes Hill Drive as recommended to ensure the safety of all of my constituents in this area?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, timetables will be established when the consultation period is completed.

AN HON. MEMBER: That might be a year from now.

MR. GOSSE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that could be a year, two years from now. There's a World War II veteran from my riding, Mr. John Cipak, who survived the war but is afraid he might not survive crossing Grand Lake Road. He has been denied a motorized scooter by the Department of Veteran Affairs because there are no sidewalks on the north side of his road right now. The study recommends that we put one in there. I will table the letter from Veterans Affairs denying his motorized scooter.

My question to you, Mr. Minister, as a fellow veteran, when can Mr. Cipak expect to see the concrete drying on new sidewalks so he cannot be a prisoner in his own home?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that question reminds me of Mary, not the Mary that had the garden or Mary of biblical fame, but Mary who lost her flock of sheep. As she's trying to find her flock of sheep she meets this gentleman who says to her, Mary, don't you worry, you leave them alone and they'll come home, wagging their tails behind them. If she had ever met the honourable member opposite, Mr. Speaker, she would have got the advice, Mary, you leave them alone and they'll come home, wagging their tails in front of them. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

COM. SERV.: SHELTER ALLOWANCE - INADEQUACY

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, my question through you, I'm afraid, is for the Minister of Community Services. I regret to say this, but Summer is not a holiday for everybody. Two of the people who didn't enjoy this past Summer were women in my constituency. They both lost their apartments, through no fault of their own, and both

[Page 5097]

discovered that the province's $238 shelter allowance just doesn't rent a room anywhere in the Halifax Regional Municipality, and it's a big municipality. But they both found places to sleep, they found couches. I probably don't have to tell anyone in this House that these single women, sleeping on borrowed couches, found themselves in a very vulnerable position, and that's when they called me. Mr. Minister, why are these women being given so little to live on?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, this is something that has been discussed in the estimates; this is something that I've asked my staff to address in the upcoming budget process. There is a need in this province to recognize that some of the areas, mostly here in the capital city and in the university towns, to address the shelter allowance. That is being done. I look forward to bringing that forward in the budget deliberations that are going to happen in the Spring.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I'm extremely glad to hear that. Both of these women were justifiably very frightened as they moved from one near-stranger's couch to the next. They were afraid not only because of the situation of the couches themselves, but because they needed to have a room or at least an address if they were to continue to collect the monthly allowance to feed, cloth and bathe them. I think perhaps the minister has answered the question. I hope it will be a more precise answer when the government will, in fact, be able to allocate a shelter allowance that does in fact buy shelter.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has acknowledged that it is something that would go through the budgeting process. But, unlike her colleague who was up criticizing the increase in the basic personal allowance, I want to give credit to the member for bringing this forward, because that is something that does need attention, and it is certainly my expectation that it will receive attention. I thank the member opposite for bringing it forward.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, another part of this problem, however, is one that has wound on beyond the point at which it should. The Auditor General's Report of 2002 said the Department of Community Services should be monitoring the rents which are charged by housing sponsors. Some of those sponsors are developers who have received taxpayers' money to build subsidized housing. Why has the department not yet acted on this, instead of forcing women like these constituents into untenable situations?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, what the member opposite refers to is that sometimes in the interest of providing the most affordable housing with the dollars that are available, we enter into contracts with the private sector. They may be non-profit, they may be for-profit, but the test is, how can we deliver the most for the dollars that are available to those who are in greatest need. When we sign those contracts with them, we do follow up to make sure that the developers, the landlords live up to the expectations that are embodied in the contracts. Thank you, it was a good question.

[Page 5098]

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

HEALTH: OUT-OF-PROV. PROCEDURES - FUNDING

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Recently I was speaking to a constituent who is currently in Toronto, awaiting a lung transplant. The constituent's wife has had to take a leave of absence from her work, and they have been told that it may be six months to a year before the procedure can take place. Their rent is $1,100 per month and groceries are very expensive in Toronto. Recently they were also speaking with another couple from Newfoundland who are in Toronto awaiting the same procedure. Their airfare was covered, half of their rent is paid for, and they are given $650 a month towards groceries. The issue is a familiar one, yet other jurisdictions are finding ways to support families, and we are not. My question to the minister is, why doesn't this government see the value in supporting families while they wait out of province for lifesaving procedures?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, certainly those who have to travel out of the province to receive medical services, it's great that the services are, in fact, available to them, but certainly it's very difficult for families in those circumstances.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, again, before the First Ministers' Conference, we indicated to Nova Scotians that there were about $175 million worth of things on a per annum basis that we would like to address in this province. We received less than $100 million - only $64 million this year with respect to those demands. We have, obviously, far more demands out there than we have the resources to fulfill, and that is a very difficult situation for all of us to be in, but we'll continue to do the very best for our citizens.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, this family is in Toronto, not by choice, but by necessity. The operation is not available here in Nova Scotia. While the Province of Nova Scotia will pay for the hospital costs and the costs of the lung transplant, at the end of the day, the province is saving money. If my constituents were here, there would be some home care costs that the government would have to cover. Sadly, this government has taken a family that was doing well and is making them a poor family. My question to the minister is, why doesn't the government factor in some of the costs they would save and use this as a reason to justify financial assistance to families waiting out of province?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my answer to the first question, obviously, we are faced with very difficult choices that we have to make with respect to how we spend the very scarce resources that we have. We're always looking for ways where we can address concerns of individuals. We will continue to do that, but we're certainly not going to be able to address every single problem that comes before us.

[Page 5099]

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, as if the stress of waiting for a lifesaving procedure is not enough, this government has placed additional financial burden on this family that is making their lives very difficult. My final question to the minister, could the minister please indicate whether there are any plans to introduce a program that will assist families with living costs when they have to seek treatment out of province, given that you now have some flexibility as a result of the additional federal dollars from Ottawa?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable member has done in using the phrase "some flexibility" indicated that the flexibility we have is indeed very limited. I indicated the extent to which it is limited in answer to the first question when I said we require an additional $175 million a year. We're going to get far, far less than that. So our capacity to be able to respond to circumstances such as those outlined by the honourable member is very, very challenging indeed and it continues to be a huge challenge for us.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ENERGY: CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION PLAN - TIME FRAME

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, Canadians and Nova Scotians have recognized that we have to do our part to address climate change. The problem is that this province doesn't seem to be getting the message. Now that Russia has signed onto the Kyoto Agreement, we are hoping that things move more quickly, yet Nova Scotia still hasn't set greenhouse gas reduction targets and continues to point to the federal government instead of taking responsibility. My question to the Minister of Energy is, when can we expect a climate change action plan from Nova Scotia?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to respond to the honourable member's question, because Nova Scotia has been working for it, whether it's based on initiatives here within the province, whether it's through Environment and Labour, and my colleague, with the green plan for the province, or work with Nova Scotia Power in their emissions challenge, and also trying to put in the target. As you know, the 2003 budget has budgeted $2 billion. As well, for voluntary initiatives, there was $160 million set aside nationally, but what we haven't had from Ottawa, truly, is the criteria associated with that for Nova Scotia to step up. We're willing and we're wanting to be part of that process, but it's about capacity. Even the Speech from the Throne, yesterday, they alluded to that and we're looking forward to the details from Ottawa so we can finalize our plan.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, the fact is other provinces are moving faster and working harder to encourage more renewable energy and more energy efficiency. Here in Nova Scotia, last year Nova Scotia Power said they couldn't meet Kyoto targets and this province said nothing. This year Nova Scotia Power started bullying renewable energy producers, trying to take back half of their federal incentive, and this government does

[Page 5100]

nothing. My question to the Minister of Energy is, how do you plan to deal with Nova Scotia Power's plan to claw back the federal wind energy incentive?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the reference she makes about the Nova Scotia Power initiative and the federal program, I think with greater clarity I would be happy to sit down with that member and take her through the various details associated with that particular subject. It's a very technical one, and one that I'm sure that while the members of the House would be interested, time will not avail. I'll be happy to sit down and provide her with the details, and I'm sure she'll have clarity to come forward and recognize Nova Scotia is on the ball when it comes to energy efficiency and climate control.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I think I do know most of the details on that, and I do understand them, and it's a clawback - nothing more than that. In Nova Scotia's green plan, this province promised to develop a climate change action plan. I'm just looking for the plan, where is it?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, it's a plan in motion. This government has invested in the Climate Change Centre here with Clean Nova Scotia, the TRAX program for urban transportation, climate change and climate smart, the HRM Urban Transport Showcase Program, our energy efficiency program, and government utilizing biodiesel in government buildings, increasing energy efficiency, our consumer awareness. This government is on the move with that, and I'm sure if she would join with us, they, too, would add to energy efficiency and maybe stop using some of the power of this House on redundant questions when we're already working on the issue.

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

COM. SERV. - CHILDREN'S AID SOC.:

SAFETY NET - ESSENTIAL SERVICE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. This question relates to the Children's Aid Society, which is staffed by some of the most caring individuals you would find anywhere. Across this province, branch offices of the Children's Aid Society currently work at arm's length from the Department of Community Services, which gives them the flexibility to deal with situations unique to their communities. My question for the minister is, does he agree that the services provided to children in crisis by the Children's Aid Society is an essential component of our social safety net?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it's a great pleasure to work with the 14 private Children's Aid Societies across this province, and in addition to those 14 there are also 6 district offices. We have a mixed-delivery system in this province. It is an essential service. We are the only one left in the country that has a mixed-delivery model. That has

[Page 5101]

presented itself with some challenges, and I suspect that we're going to learn more about them on the supplemental question.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, well, that's good news, what you just said about the importance of the Children's Aid Society and the flexibility that it has, but the word coming out of his department is much different. My question is, would the minister confirm that he is considering taking the arm's-length flexibility from the Children's Aid Society and putting it directly in the deputy minister's office?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I will confirm that for apparently about the last 10 years - in other words long before I became minister - there has been an initiative between the department and the Children's Aid Societies and the district offices, because they all make up the system by which we deliver these services, to try to rationalize the system to provide better protection for children. There have been no decisions made; the discussions are ongoing. I very much enjoy the rapport that I've had with the presidents in the two years that I have been Minister of Community Services, and I look forward to continuing those discussions.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary will be direct to the minister, without any preamble. I just want to know from this minister, is he considering taking the autonomy of the Children's Aid Society away from them and placing child protection and child services, that were formerly done or are done currently by the Children's Aid Society, under the control of the deputy minister and out of the hands of community-based groups like the Children's Aid Society?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as we went into this process, one of the things that I said to the presidents of the Children's Aid Societies is that I greatly valued the community contribution that they brought to the table and that whatever the final model might be, I wanted to make sure that is protected in that service delivery system. I would make notice that I hope that my colleague, the Minister of Health, is not feeling jealous today for the attention that is coming to the Department of Community Services.

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

HEALTH - COBEQUID COMMUN. HEALTH CTR.:

COMPLETION - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question through you, is to the Minister of Health. In August, the Premier and several of his caucus members toured the construction site of the new Cobequid Community Health Centre which was a great photo-op for them all. The next morning in the paper was a picture of the Premier and MLAs from the surrounding areas in front of the new sign for the Cobequid centre, which I think was take two or take three. The Cobequid Community Health Centre serves nearly 100,000

[Page 5102]

residents - nearly one-third of the total population for HRM. So my question to the Minister of Health is, can the minister commit today to a completion date of this much-needed new health centre?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, first of all I'm very pleased that the honourable member has drawn attention to the new Cobequid Community Health Centre. The first health centre that was built in that region was built by a previous Progressive Conservative Government. This health centre is being built by a Progressive Conservative Government and I can assure the honourable member that a Progressive Conservative Government will officiate at the official opening of that centre.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): I have some questions about that comment the minister made. Around-the-clock emergency services in Sackville would be a help with the present crisis facing our emergency rooms in the metro area. Instead of exploring that option, this government imposed a gag order on the hospital staff to keep the story out of the media, but in reality there still are severe problems with overcrowding and long wait times in the emergency rooms today and this is unacceptable. So I ask the minister through you, Mr. Speaker, do you feel the conditions in the emergency rooms today are acceptable and what do you have in place to monitor these conditions?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, indeed, if we thought the conditions in the emergency rooms were acceptable, we would not have embarked upon the program which we have to increase the capacity of the emergency facilities at the QE II Health Sciences Centre. We would not have taken the recommendations that were brought forward and taken steps to implement them. We will be open to the business planning process of the Capital District Health Authority and we will look very carefully at recommendations they make with respect to how the Cobequid Community Health Centre can be used to address emergency room treatments and facilitate the expansion of those treatments so the wait lines are not as long as they currently are.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, paramedics are still practising hallway medicine because of the long times before transferring care has taken place in the emergency rooms. Every hour a paramedic is tied up in the hospital waiting for that transition of care to the emergency room, there's a community somewhere in this province of many of the members here - especially on the government side - that goes uncovered by an ambulance or paramedics. My question for the minister is, when the new Cobequid Community Health Centre finally opens, can the residents in the area it serves expect extended or 24-hour service?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for not having been clear enough in my answer to the first supplementary. I did indicate the Department of Health indeed is open to suggestions that would be made by the Capital District Health Authority with respect to how that facility will be used.

[Page 5103]

[4:15 p.m.]

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

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 Party House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 88.

Bill No. 88 - Protection from Quarries Act.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, at the outset, let me say to you and all members of this House that quarries do not belong in residential areas in Nova Scotia, or anywhere in Nova Scotia. They belong in industrial areas away from residential housing in this province.

Mr. Speaker, there are people here in the gallery representing concerned citizens of the Coxheath and Sydney River areas in Cape Breton, regarding the proposal to construct a quarry in the Coxheath Hills. This, as I said earlier in Question Period, is not about politics, this is about doing right by the people who are here to serve. This is about protection of people and their properties. This is about the need to tell our citizens that they don't have to live in fear that someday in their residential area, somebody is going to come in and put an industrial complex right across the street from them, such as a rock quarry.

Mr. Speaker, people from all Parties in this House have been to Cape Breton. They've seen the proposed quarry in Coxheath and they all agree, it's the wrong place for a quarry. The people who are here today have better things to do than to sit in this gallery or talk to members of this Legislature about their way of life, but they're concerned. These are people who are concerned that their way of life is being destroyed because of the possible intrusion of a quarry in their residential area.

[Page 5104]

Mr. Speaker, you can give 100 reasons why a quarry is bad for the area, and I've heard it said, we should engage in perhaps an environmental assessment and the environmental assessment would be the determining factor. You can use an environmental assessment any way you want, but the fact of the matter is, we don't want a quarry in the Coxheath Hills under any circumstances and the people who live in that residential area or for that matter, the people in Digby Neck or the people in any other area in Nova Scotia, should not have to live in fear that somebody is going to put a rock quarry in the middle of their residential area.

Mr. Speaker, just think for a moment what you would do or what I would do. I don't even live in that area. I live across the harbour from that area and I'm upset. I go over there and I'm upset, very upset because of what I see happening over there. Even before a permit was asked for by Mr. Van Zutphen, that property was purchased over there by that company and it was purchased, I believe, for eventually operating a rock quarry.

Mr. Speaker, a road was being constructed up the Coxheath Hills, in the hills, and as I sat here last week when I asked a question, the Van Zutphens weren't building a road up there to go moose hunting. They had every intention of going ahead or pushing ahead with a quarry operation, which is just kilometres away, incidently, from highway contracts that are being let for highway improvements on Highway No. 125 bypass, and some bridgework, which needs aggregate and I agree, that you need rock. You need to get supplies to build highways. I have no problem with that, but I believe there are 11 quarries in our area right now, 11 that I know about, and surely to heavens a proponent or somebody in business who wants to do business with the government, can go to an industrial area, find an industrial area and operate a quarry.

In addition to that, the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and the minister is here today, has said, publically, that they will not use any aggregate from any area that does not have a permit from the Department of Environment and Labour. The Department of Transportation and Public Works has said that and I commend the Department of Transportation for saying that. That's a step in the right direction. But, nobody to date in government has said that they are not going to allow a quarry in the Coxheath Hills. Everybody states there is nobody who has applied for an application. The Minister of Environment and Labour has sent out some regulatory provisions that the Van Zutphens must adhere to. I don't know whether he has received an answer to that or not, but I do know that this group in Coxheath and the group from Sydney River, who look right at those hills and that construction, from their vantage point, they see this work going on, they hear the noise.

I want to say also, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of considerations here. If a rock quarry was allowed to be constructed in those hills, it would clearly destroy that area as a residential area. I said it before and I will say it again, the minister called it strong language, but I used it in a media scrum, that this will be nothing more than environmental, residential

[Page 5105]

genocide for that area if that's allowed to happen, and I will say it again and again and again if I have to.

Mr. Speaker, the water quality of the residents there will be affected. A lot of them have their water off the Coxheath Hills. There has been no indication by anybody that the water would remain safe there. As a matter of fact, I don't think it would. There's a road there that can't handle the heavy traffic there. The Coxheath highway simply can't handle it. We have to worry about the safety of the children in that area and what about the property values there, you know, some of the nicest homes in our area are built there and people say, oh, yes, but why should they be treated any differently? Nobody is asking them to be treated any differently. All we're asking for - and that's why the bill addresses residential areas throughout this province - is that from Yarmouth to Glace Bay that rock quarries not be allowed in residential areas.

Somebody said to me, well, that will destroy 95 per cent of the possibility for business to operate rock quarries. Well, surely to heavens, Mr. Speaker, there must be some industrial land left in this province, or commercial land, or land that's remote from current residential housing and communities?

Mr. Speaker, the safety of children is a serious concern here as well. You know aggregate would not be hauled off that mountain on half-ton trucks. You're going to see 16-wheelers in there. The Coxheath road simply can't handle that kind of traffic. You're going to hear the noise so bad in that community that residents are going to continually live with the apprehension that their property values are not only going to suffer, but they're going to be, I think, adversely affected in their own health. People should not have to get up in the morning and hear that constant winding of machines, the constant noise that is associated, not to mention the blasting that could take place no more than metres away from some of the homes there.

I mentioned the fact that children would be at risk there. I also have to say to you that people move to those areas for tranquility. They move there for peace. They move there to plan their future in a planned community which is what the situation is in Coxheath, Mr. Speaker. It's a planned community - one of the finest communities in Nova Scotia. They have a community of spirit out there that's second to none. They have some farms that are interspersed with residential units and doing it very well, but their lives have been disrupted to the point where they think about nothing else, since over a year now, except the possible destruction of their way of life in Coxheath, and for that matter in the Sydney River Valley as well. Rock crushers, blasting, I don't think anybody in this House would want that in their residential area. I don't think anybody here would agree that it would be fair if somebody came into your residential area, or mine, and said, I'm sorry, your way of life is going to be no more because we're going to put a rock quarry with the blasting, the hauling, and all that goes with it.

[Page 5106]

For one reason, Mr. Speaker, money, it's all about money. The closer that this contractor is to the work he's going to be doing, and by the way he has got some contracts there, the less it costs him, but at what cost to the residents of this area? Should we not consider the residents? Should we not consider the way of life of our fellow citizens over money, and this is what it's all about, it's about the cheapest way to do a job and the cheapest way to make money off aggregate is to get it close to your job and not have to purchase it, perhaps, from somebody else. But that's not a problem for the residents, that's the cost of doing business. The cost of doing business should not be adversely impacted on the people who live in that area.

Mr. Speaker, this goes for not only that area, as I said before, it's right across Nova Scotia. As I said earlier, quarries should not be allowed in residential areas. That should be a no-brainer. Just think of it, are we at the stage in this province where we're going to sit back and let communities be destroyed because somebody wants to make some money, dig up a hill that's going to be used for wilderness activities and other activities consistent with their way of life in Coxheath and totally destroy that? I don't think that's what we're all about here in this Legislature. I don't think that's what we're all about at all.

I think we have to have some compassion. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, to date, these people who are affected, the one group I'm talking about, have spent thousands, tens of thousands of dollars trying to protect their way of life. They shouldn't have to do that. They shouldn't have to be out there with signs they had to pay for; they shouldn't have lawyers engaged, which they have to pay for. I would say this, some of the lawyers have given some pro bono work to this project because they believe in it so much. I want to congratulate and thank them because, as the lawyers among us here know, lawyer fees don't come cheaply these days. The fact that they're giving their time freely - I would thank them for that - is to their credit.

Mr. Speaker, thousands of dollars have been spent here for no reason. Community groups shouldn't have to get out there and spend tens of thousands of dollars to try to save their way of life. People built in that area expecting to enjoy a quality of life consistent with a residential area, and now that's all being placed in jeopardy. I don't think that's right. I don't think it's fair. I don't think it's just. We as legislators should ensure that our fellow citizens shouldn't have to endure this kind of fear. I mention the word fear because it is fear; these people are living in fear, every single day they wake up that they're going to see where somehow the Van Zutphen or any other contractor, for that matter, have somehow gotten around the regulations and it's too bad for you people, we're going in to Coxheath or, for that matter, any other residential community.

I would like to poll every member of this House and ask them if there is anybody in this House, no matter what Party they belong to, who would agree that a quarry should go to a residential area in this province. I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that no hands will go up, that everybody in this House would agree. So, if that's the case, why are we standing

[Page 5107]

here debating this today? Why am I on my feet trying to represent these people in this argument when it's obvious that nobody wants a quarry in a residential area in this province?

I want to hear what the minister has to say about this. Now, I know what's going to come from the government side, there's something wrong with the bill, or it doesn't include this, or it doesn't include that, or it might disrupt some other venture. That's fine. All I'm asking is for the government to say no to a rock quarry in residential areas. I don't care what kind of language they put around that. I don't care if they bring their own bill in here and throw mine out the window, it doesn't make any difference to me as long as at the end of the day there are no quarries allowed in residential areas anywhere in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, today the people of Coxheath and the people of the Sydney River Valley are living in fear that their way of life is going to be disrupted. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the debate today. I would hope that the government will see the wisdom of doing the right thing here. I'll wind up by saying this - this is not about politics, this is about doing the right thing for our fellow citizens.

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to stand up today and address Bill No. 88. I think it's appropriate that there is a good airing of this bill, and certainly a lot of good points have been brought up by the member opposite. We have taken a serious look and a close look at the bill, and I'm glad that we can take this time to look into some detail the implications and what some of the consequences are of the bill as it is currently proposed.

[4:30 p.m.]

I also would like to say that I do sincerely appreciate the good intentions of the member opposite in proposing this legislation. This is something that certainly has been in the media for a long period of time and it's also something that we had been looking at diligently as we moved through.

It's also clear that the concerns that were raised by the residents of Coxheath at the quarry being built in the vicinity are some things that we take very, very seriously, certainly as most here would appreciate. I've gone down to visit the area and on a separate occasion the Premier has also gone down to visit the area to meet with the residents, because this is an important issue to all of us.

We realize it's been frustrating to them. For them to know that without receiving an application there is the legal process and that is one of the reasons we are where we are - there is a legal process associated with this. Before we receive an application, we have to abide by the legal processes that are the rules and the regulations and the laws within the land

[Page 5108]

at this point in time. There's no real action we can take at this point in time to impede an application from coming in for an alleged quarry. I know there has been work done down there and I know there are lots of concerns, but at this point in time, legally, it is an alleged quarry.

While I commend my colleague on wanting to take action, I have a responsibility to talk about some of the consequences that can come from the proposal of what is a very straightforward but a very simple bill that was put before the House. In fact, there's no such thing as simple legislation, as I think everyone in here would appreciate. Every time we look at something, there are always far-reaching implications that we have to consider when we're looking for a solution to anything that's taking place.

In the past number of years, we've certainly had growing public concern and opposition to all new quarries across the province. It is something that, from the department's point of view, we have looked at and are continuing to look at. Because, if you look at Digby Neck, Victoria Beach in Annapolis County, and Lunenburg County - most recently it's been Coxheath - this is a province-wide issue that we are looking into.

The environmental issues surrounding the quarries have been well documented and they are similar in Coxheath to other places. Certainly the noise associated with truck traffic, with the removal of materials, with the crushing of materials and certainly the blasting of materials, the dust generated from the drilling of holes for blasting and the blasting effects on groundwater, for structures that are in the area, for residents and for wells, these are all documented issues and concerns that have to be taken into consideration. As well, there's concern for siltation from the settling ponds and other associated structures and receptacles for quarries.

Other concerns expressed by the public are more related to socio-economic issues - truck traffic and the member opposite mentioned the safety point of view. I can appreciate certainly the concerns of the residents because I was on the road, I appreciate where the proposed road would come out. That is a congested area and it also is a residential area as has been pointed out.

I would like to take some time to address some of the specific issues and the complications that could be created by the passage of this bill as it currently is. The bill proposes that an Act to Protect Residential Communities from Quarries be administered from the Department of Natural Resources and since pits and quarries are currently regulated under the Department of Environment and Labour, it seems this recommendation would diminish the government's ability to properly regulate these sites where we are currently the regulatory body.

[Page 5109]

Bill No. 88, in Clause 2, defines a "residential zone" as an area that has been zoned pursuant to a municipal land-use bylaw. That's a very broad category. That could stop development just about anywhere, as had been mentioned with the bill in its current form. We realize that there is great opposition to some particular operations and there are also many, many other operations that proceed now in the province with little or no difficulty. It seems to me this type of broad approach serves to, and possibly could, penalize other operators who really don't need this kind of restriction.

Likewise, the definition of "quarry" is very wide-ranging and could seriously affect all development in Nova Scotia. It identifies no size limit on removing earth and it would need to be certainly amended because therefore this could affect everything from home building, in its current form, excavating for a basement would be captured. The development of a subdivision would be captured under this bill and the development of roads and certainly other infrastructures as well. It could even extend to impact on other construction projects. The development of golf courses and so on, just because of the way it currently is written.

So, I certainly believe it wasn't the intention of this bill to encompass that much. I know there was a specific purpose in mind when the bill was presented, however, from the department's point of view and from my point of view, we have to look at what we are bringing forward and what the ramifications would be if this bill were to proceed.

I'm also concerned about the way the bill proposes to deal with enforcement. Under Clause 5, the bill requires municipalities to deal with the enforcement issue and this is a responsibility for which I expect our municipal colleagues are neither prepared nor resourced to deal with and I believe this particular clause may require changes to the Municipal Government Act, in order to allow municipalities to legally enforce this action.

I'm also concerned, Madam Speaker, with knowing if this document has been shared with all stakeholders and I expect it hasn't and I appreciate why it hasn't been, but we do have asphalt producers and municipalities, the trucking industry, fuel company suppliers and many other stakeholders in the road building industry, that certainly need to make sure that we are looking at all the aspects that this could capture and ensure that we are zeroing in and doing what the bill is intended to do. By not consulting with this bill or this group, such as the Chamber of Mineral Resources, Nova Scotia Road Builders Association, Nova Scotia Construction Association, Nova Scotia Truckers Association, we certainly risk affecting a successful working relationship that currently exists with these partners.

I certainly believe that public consultation is vital in analyzing the benefits and also determining any adverse effects that may come about by way of a piece of legislation like this and that includes the social, the environmental, economic effects and considering the many issues that I've been able to point out so far, I really think that the fact that this bill has not been shared and has not been, I guess, aired, shared and discussed, poses some problems with it in its current state. Also, some of the following issues that we have concerns with and I

[Page 5110]

would like to say, I do intend to share my time with a couple of my colleagues as we move through this, who have some points that they would like to make as well.

I don't think I need to tell anybody that the Department of Transportation and Public Works is a large user of aggregate in the province and as was pointed out, that's not the intent of the bill to hamper them from being able to construct new roads and do their work as they move forward.

The bill could also erect a significant economic barrier for some of the small businesses in the province. It could limit a company's ability to access aggregate and this bill could reduce competition which could in turn result in a small number of companies having a majority of control over the aggregate resources in the Province of Nova Scotia and that's an area that can only serve to increase costs, not only to the province, but for private companies. One of the very sincere concerns is the costs of aggregate for somebody to have a load of gravel for their driveway and we have to be cognizant of that. We have to be sure that is something that we do look into. But I can assure the member opposite and as well the people who are in the gallery, that this is a concern. It's a concern throughout the province. It's not just in one area. It's certainly something that we have looked at. We would like to be able to make everyone happy and that's not something that we've been able to do at this point in time.

I would like to close off my remarks by just reiterating that there are certainly consequences associated with this bill in its form, that are very wide reaching and encompass a lot more things than the intention of the honourable member opposite when he presented the bill.

So, those are some concerns and some issues that we have and I do appreciate that

there were good intentions with the introduction of the bill to specifically take care of one issue in the province. However, we do have to take a look at the entire province when we look at legislation like this and at this point in time, I would like to pass my time over to the honourable Minister of Community Services.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his comments and for sharing some of his time. I'm only going to be up here for a couple of minutes because there's a lot of interest in this bill on the government benches. I would tell the member opposite, as I'm sure he's aware, that it's not just quarries, it's pits and quarries, and they follow beyond the jurisdiction of municipalities. Municipalities cannot zone them out of a residential area and therein lies the challenge.

[Page 5111]

I would tell the member opposite that parts of Kings South are located in the pit capital of Nova Scotia, specifically Coldbrook and Cambridge have a tremendous amount of sand and gravel there and it does present a challenge. This is something that we initiated as an inter-departmental project to try to address this and I would also tell the member opposite that one of the last things that I did before leaving as Minister of Environment and Labour was to ask my deputy to make sure that this process continued on. It would have been nice if it was resolved by today, but I want to assure the member opposite that I share his concern and I know that I have many colleagues who share that concern.

I would suggest that the process that has been underway has had some positive re-enforcement by the member bringing forth this bill. I am not going to take any more time other than to say that I applaud the member for bringing it forward and I certainly share some of his concerns as it pertains to the regulation of pits and quarries as they may affect residential areas.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I understand there are still about three minutes left, Madam Speaker, because I would very much like to speak on this subject. As you know, the Department of Transportation and Public Works is the largest user, either directly or indirectly, of aggregate in this province. We use somewhere, in an average year, about five million tons of aggregate and without access to that aggregate, our road system, certainly the building of new highways and the restoration of old highways, would come to a grinding halt.

Having said that, I couldn't agree more with what the honourable member opposite, who introduced this bill, the honourable member for Cape Breton South, has said and I agree with the feelings of the people in the gallery because I, too, as a homeowner, and I have until just very, very recently, within the past week actually, lived in the country and I know what havoc road traffic, dust, and the noise, et cetera, that go along with quarries can generate and affect the lifestyles of people. We have to do something but, unfortunately, I do not believe that the bill that was brought forward today, while it may take care of that one situation, it will not accommodate the problem which is province wide and we do have to do something and we will do something.

Madam Speaker, as I said before, we have to do something because we have to have the aggregate, but we have to remember the concerns of the individuals who are beside those particular pits and quarries. I, too, was Minister of Environment and Labour at one time and I know that the honourable member for Cape Breton West was also a Minister of Environment and Labour. Even back in his days, we were working on methodologies for controlling pits and quarries. So we will take action and we'll take action very shortly and I would also reinforce what the Minister of Environment and Labour said, that no application has yet been made.

[Page 5112]

[4:45 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Madam Speaker, I rise in my place today to speak about a very serious issue in the Coxheath area of Cape Breton. I support my colleague, the member for Cape Breton South, on his bill today, and all my caucus supports him. Our caucus will do whatever we can to stop the quarry in Coxheath Hills. Coxheath Hills is a beautiful area of Cape Breton. It was probably settled around 1811. I went through there many days as a young man, and a lot of people in my riding, in Cape Breton Nova and Whitney Pier moved from Whitney Pier to Coxheath. I would say about 40 per cent of the residents in that area are former residents of Whitney Pier and have roots in Whitney Pier.

I know the seriousness. I was one of the first people they contacted, and I actually had my Leader come down and meet with those people. I know there are concerns about aggregate for roads. There's over 12,000 pits and quarries in this province. Why do we need another quarry in a residential area? I still can't figure that out. There's 12,000 pits and quarries in this province and here we are going to take it - the wildlife, the protected species in the area, all of those things, the noise, the dust, the local agriculture, the local everything in that area. People move there for the tranquillity and the peace, to get away from the smokestacks and those days in Sydney Steel. They move to this beautiful area, gorgeous area, the Sydney River Valley and on that side of Coxheath. It's just absolutely gorgeous.

What will happen to the water quality and the quantity? Wells will go dry; the wells will be ruined. What about all those issues about putting a quarry there? What about the safety of children, like my colleague, the member for Cape Breton South, said? There's a ballfield just below that hill. Kids play ball. There's a walking track there. I have friends who live there. What about those kids going to ballfields, with the big heavy trucks going by and the dust?

Madam Speaker, I've met with residents Andy Pittman, Robert McCharles, Barry Neville, Mel Roach and Wally Pyke on this issue. As a matter of fact, I have many letters here from the residents of the Coxheath area concerned about their way of life, concerned that they moved to this area to get out of an urban environment, to move to a beautiful rural environment, not only in Coxheath but in Digby Neck also. These quarries should never be allowed to be in a residential area. Never, never.

What about the runoff of the quarry? As I drive up to this Legislature each week and I pass the Canso Causeway and I see that giant quarry there as it faces me as I come across the causeway, I think of seeing that quarry in Coxheath. That makes you sick to look at that. I drive over that causeway and see that quarry. Now, when I drive home on Route 4 on the weekends and I come through Sydney River and I look up and I see this massive road that's

[Page 5113]

there now, I mean this road is huge. Is this a fishing road or something? This road is huge. This was built for trucks. This was not built for somebody to go fishing or hunting. This is huge, I can see the gap in it now when I drive home. My wife asked me not too long ago on a trip back from Halifax, what is that? That's a road cut into a beautiful area. What is that for?

Hopefully that's not for a quarry in that area, Madam Speaker. It should never be allowed, a quarry in that area. With all the quarries around, it should never be allowed. Coxheath is one of the most beautiful areas, if not the most beautiful area in Cape Breton. The tax base alone in that area - I can imagine what's going to happen to the municipal taxes and the assessments that are going to be done on those homes, seeing a quarry in their back yard.

Madam Speaker, there are people who don't even have curtains on the windows, because they love the view so much, the wildlife, the deer, the eagles. (Interruptions) No curtains. They like to feed the birds and the animals in their yards, the moose and the deer. It's just absolutely beautiful. As we sit here today and think of why we are elected officials in this House, we are elected officials who represent the people on Cape Breton Island, to come here and say this is just not fair to anybody, to have a quarry in a residential area.

I'm here to say to you today, Madam Speaker, that this quarry should never be allowed. I have the backing of my caucus, everybody in my caucus, to do whatever we can do to not allow this quarry in Coxheath. As a young man going over there to the Sydney River dam and getting gaspereau and driving back home with gaspereau in a Cape Breton Post bag over my back on a bicycle as a young kid. Swam over there, down in Gillis' Lake, drove through there all the time. Actually, Madam Speaker, when I young there used to be a trailer court at the bottom of that hill. The trailer court is no longer there and there's never been another trailer court allowed back in there. It's just such a beautiful area.

I can see the worry of the residents as they're here today and think about their homes in their beautiful area and their way of life. Imagine, changing somebody's way of life over a quarry. It's shameful, it's just shameful to think with 12,000 pits and quarries in the Province of Nova Scotia, we have to go to Coxheath to dig out a beautiful area to put a quarry in there - 12,000 pits and quarries in Nova Scotia. We need another one? Most certainly, aggregate is used by the Department of Transportation everywhere, but surely there has to be aggregate enough somewhere.

Madam Speaker, to put a bypass in Coxheath to alleviate the traffic - that's fine. But surely this construction company can get the aggregate somewhere else to build this bypass and to finish off the double lanes on Highway No. 125. There has to be another way to get this aggregate. So, they use a lot of aggregate in the TPW, but it has to come from somewhere else.

[Page 5114]

Can you imagine the damage to the wells and the dust in people's lungs? Safe drinking water - all of those things are going to be affected. But I heard the Minister of Environment and Labour say, alleged quarry. I do have a letter from him that he sent to my office. He said to me, there is no permit and because there is no permit, "Every Nova Scotian, as well as every company operating or wishing to operate in Nova Scotia, has the right to make an application for an approval to conduct an activity. Nova Scotians affected by such facilities have a right to voice their views in support of or opposing the development."

That's why these people are here today. They're opposing it and they're telling everybody in the Province of Nova Scotia they do not want (Interruption) I'm listening. Until all the information is received, this. I'll finish this quote from the minister, "If an application for this type of activity is received, it will be reviewed by staff in accordance with the applicable regulations and standards designed to manage these types of undertakings. Until all the information is received, examined, and evaluated on the merits of its contents, it would be premature and inappropriate for me to comment on the matter." That's why we're here today and I will table that letter from the minister.

No quarry in any residential area - that's what my colleague, the member for Cape Breton South has put on the floor of this Legislature today. Also, we have put a bill on the floor of this Legislature today - I can't speak about what that bill says because it was introduced today, but I can tell you that this Party has put a bill on the floor of the Legislature today also. They're saying that they don't agree with the member for Cape Breton South's bill, it doesn't go far enough. Have a look at our bill - maybe it does go far enough. Maybe it will accomplish the objective of not putting a quarry in a residential area. Maybe either bill - have a look at either one, but please, as Members of the Legislative Assembly, have a look at my colleague for Cape Breton South and say, no, we do not need a quarry in a residential area.

It's just such a beautiful area and hopefully as I continue to drive back and forth from Halifax to Cape Breton, when I look I can see the Coxheath Hills and there will never be a quarry in that area. Also, do the right thing - let us, as Members of the Legislative Assembly, not have a quarry in Coxheath.

Madam Speaker, I would like to share my time with my Leader and he would like to express his views also. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Madam Speaker, I wanted to rise because I consider this to be a very important matter. The residents who are here today from Coxheath are representative of their area - they are here for a very specific purpose, but beyond that they are also representative of many, many other communities from one end of this province to the other who have experienced, or may experience, a situation just exactly like theirs. I want to

[Page 5115]

say that we support any necessary application of this bill or any regulation that the government has at its disposal to see to it that this situation is remedied, just point blank, that is the position that we have taken and we want to see that happen.

I appreciate the fact that the Minister of Environment and Labour says that they sympathize. I appreciate the fact that the Minister of Community Services says we sympathize. I appreciate the intervention of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, but I've heard it all before. It's not enough to say, you know, we feel your pain. That doesn't do any good. If you don't like this bill, if you don't like the bill that was introduced by our Party, if you're not prepared to go ahead with ensuring there has to be Class II environmental assessments, if you're not prepared to put in place public notices, if you're not prepared to put in environmental management plans for quarries, if you're not prepared to do these kind of things, then what is it that you intend to do?

I mean it's not good enough to simply stand up here and say we sympathize. That is not going to resolve the situation for the people of Coxheath. I know the people from Coxheath who are here know that, I think, in a short time the member for Digby-Annapolis is going to get up to speak. They must sympathize with what has gone on in Digby Neck, Madam Speaker. I've been down there, as I've been to Coxheath. They have been struggling with an imposition into their community which is unasked for, which is unregulated, over which they have no control and, in fact, over which their opinion is not even asked. This situation in Coxheath has to be dealt with, but it has to be dealt with for the good of the people of this province, for communities that at this time aren't affected because they may be at any time.

So I say to the Minister of Environment and Labour, you talked about a whole list of deficiencies with respect to this bill. Bring it to the Law Amendments Committee and we will work with you to amend the bill to deal with each of the concerns that you have raised. Indeed, there can be consultation done through the Law Amendments Committee. We can work with you to cover off the difficulties that you see because, in the end, this is the only way that we have in order to ensure that the aspirations of these communities, the aspirations of these citizens, are respected. So what we're asking is very, very simple. We're here to support and, you know, there are many, many times in this House when the Parties on this side of the House don't agree, but this is one of those things on which we do agree and if you are sincere in saying that you agree, but there are problems with this bill, all we're asking is that you move it on to the Law Amendments Committee and allow that process to take place so that we can assist you in bringing forward a piece of legislation that will benefit the people of this province.

Now, I'm going to sit down. I know that the member for Digby-Annapolis is going to stand up and I'm asking you, on behalf of our caucus, to allow this matter to come to a vote because that will tell us, once and for all, how you really feel about it. You say that you are concerned. Well, demonstrate that concern here today and pass this bill.

[Page 5116]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Madam Speaker, I'm honoured to stand here today and to speak on Bill No. 88 and also speak for the people that it will affect in the coming years. In western Nova Scotia a lot of land is being bought up by foreign interests - mainly from the United States. The goal is to quarry this land for the rock to make roads for that country. Digby Neck is a peninsula that runs out into the Bay of Fundy and has many small villages dotted along its road which runs down through the centre of it.

The major issue of concern of the 15,000 forgotten people of Digby-Annapolis that I wish to highlight in support of Bill No. 88 is the almost cavalier disregard this government showed for the wishes and opinions of the people of Digby Neck and other communities to let American companies move into an ecologically-sensitive area and set up a wrecking crew in Whites Cove off Digby Neck. The American company will be coming here to get our rocks not only because it's cheap, but because American law prohibits removal from their coastal areas and near coastal areas and residents. They cannot do it in their own country, so they come here and take what they want. It's cheap and it's easy, and it seems to be without reprisal.

[5:00 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, now the government has a chance to change all of that in support of Bill No. 88. The people are calling for this bill, not only from Digby Neck, but from across this province. Digby Neck is rich in history and beauty, like so much of Nova Scotia, and the residents are proud of their homes and communities. The quality of life is their greatest achievement, and they wish only to protect it. The law states now that there is to be no blasting within 700 or 800 metres from a residence. This is outdated. This is hardly what any reasonable person would consider a buffer zone from something like a mega-quarry.

Madam Speaker, the law worked well for years, with the blasting of local gravel pits, which happened once or twice a year. The rock was blown out, collected, then transported away. People can live with this, but we are not talking about local gravel pits here anymore, we are now talking about mega-quarries, working and blasting around the clock to build roads in the United States. What is this going to do to the way of life on this peninsula and in this province? The loud trucks going at all hours at high speeds, grinding equipment, dust in the air, and steady blasting. If we can't stop this from happening, the least we can do is add a greater buffer zone to protect our people. We are losing enough people in our rural areas of Nova Scotia, we do not need to drive away any more, from noisy crushers and blasting.

Madam Speaker, we also need protection of our fishing grounds around the shorelines of this province. The large amounts of dust and debris have to have a negative effect on the environment. The lobster fishery alone is worth $1 billion to the economy of Nova Scotia. It is known that silt runoff from quarries can turn the ocean bottom into moon-like conditions,

[Page 5117]

leaving nothing alive on the bottom. We believe a larger buffer zone for the shoreline is also in order for the sake of our inshore fishery in this province.

Madam Speaker, asking for a fair buffer zone from an export mega-quarry is not a lot to ask for the people of Nova Scotia. The zone protects the safety and investment of its residents. Having mega-quarries so close to homes where our children and grandchildren live is a recipe for disaster and a public safety, also. As of right now, the law states that a quarry needs only to be 700 metres from a residence. This is not far enough from a noise that will go on continuously, both day and night, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Madam Speaker, can you imagine a huge quarry crushing hundreds of thousands of tons of rocks per year 2,000 feet away from your home? Can you imagine 50,000 tons of rock per charge blasting only 2,000 feet away from your home? Just take a minute and think about that. What would you say if that was happening 2,000 feet away from your home? You would probably think that you were in the middle of World War II in the middle of a battlefield. This will be going on night and day, not just once in a while, but continuously. What will this do to a community?

We cannot let this happen without trying to protect our residents from this. We must, in the very least, keep these mega-quarries far enough away from our homes so this will not drive people away. A greater buffer zone is the least we can do for our people. Personally, I do not believe we should be selling our land to offshore companies to build roads in another country. It is not sustainable. It will come to an end. Once the land is gone, it is gone forever.

Madam Speaker, I have been told that if you crushed all of Nova Scotia and spread it on the roads of the United States, it wouldn't quite cover them once. They want our basalt rock, and I have a feeling they're going to get it. If this happens, what will it do to the property values in years to come? What will happen to our municipalities' tax base when it's over? I'm not going to buy a hole in the ground or a piece of land next to a hole in the ground, are you? How many other communities need protection from mega-quarries? Will they take Peggys Cove next, the Highlands of Cape Breton, parts of the pristine Annapolis Valley and other protected properties in this province? They'll take it all. They need it all for their roads. We have lots of rock that can be dug out and processed cheaply, with very few environmental conditions attached. This legislation is just basic common sense to protect against the noise and the dust and the lowering of property values.

Madam Speaker, these giant crushers can be heard for miles around on a calm night and should the good people of Nova Scotia have to listen to this? We are not saying we do not want gravel pits. We do not want mega-quarries that supply the United States with rocks, in our backyards. It's like a great scar upon the land that never heals and it disrupts our homes and residents around it. This government has a responsibility to protect the quality of life and this Bill No. 88 is one step in the right direction. This will change our way of life in coastal communities forever. At least we deserve the right to keep it away from our homes. As the

[Page 5118]

demand for cheap rock grows, this will affect a lot of residents in this province and we believe that the citizens of this province need protection from this happening in their backyards. Without this legislation, people feel it will not stop.

Madam Speaker, if we cannot stop quarries from being built near residential areas, then the least we can do is make sure the quality of life around these quarries is enhanced with a buffer zone. America wants our resources, especially our coastal rock, and they will get it even if they have to tear our homes down to do it. As responsible people in this House of Assembly, we must help protect our residents of this province to the best of our ability. Bill No. 88, protects the residents from unwanted noise pollution and dust. It protects land values, community health and quality of life.

Madam Speaker, I move the resolution be now put.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Madam Speaker, I did want to make sure that I was on record for this bill, as well. (Interruption) Yes, I do want to be, to the honourable member for Dartmouth North, on the record, but for a number of reasons, none the least of which is to suggest and to convey my concerns to those who are present in the House and visiting in the gallery, as I've echoed to them and to the community and worked directly with my colleagues, whether it's the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Environment and Labour, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, or the Premier, to bring this forward. While I do understand and respect the intent of what is on the floor for debate here today, I would differ with the Leader of the Opposition, the fact that it's just as simple as sending it over to the Committee on Law Amendments and as we all know, legislation on the fly. I think what I have is a commitment and an understanding that we all share about the concern around this project and one that the Premier has been very clear. There is a process to go through and it hasn't been an easy process, but I stand with the concerns of those in the area.

Madam Speaker, I do want to say that there's something specific and the member for Cape Breton South is right. No on undertakes putting a road of that quality that's going in, in that region and assuming that, as the member would say, they're going moose hunting - that's not what that road would indicate. It's being done to an exacting standard and I do believe, as I've heard from the citizens, their concerns would not be concerns if that road was going to be for continued residential development in the area. We now have, and what has been different, as it was noted, I mean, there are traditional farmlands and properties there, but it's now a very high density area and highly populated with a significant number of homes and that continues to grow. People see it specifically as a residential area and part of a bedroom community to the wider urban Cape Breton unit. One of the things that has come in this, and I know in working with the group, they've written to me and the Minister of Natural Resources has looked at this, is trying to go to every possible option and looking at

[Page 5119]

it. The community has said, look, what about a land swap, what about looking at other alternatives that can deal with this?

But I do want to say, and I don't think it has been said, I'm very disappointed, Madam Speaker, with the Van Zutphens themselves who otherwise in my area, no one had any ill intent. They're doing road construction and won the tender process for the highway work for over $11 million of project activity, $5.3 million towards the work that's there. This province, the members of this House, are all part of a budget process that sees over $8 million of provincial money going into that area, no one is saying that that's a bad thing, but I'm disappointed that the Van Zutphens are not sitting down and looking at alternatives. For a Cape Breton-based community, for people who have come here and our community has obviously supported, there's a great disappointment that I have in why they will not think in the wider interests of the community.

I think part of the effort is (Interruption) Well, there is an issue of money and I agree with the member for Cape Breton South, but there's also an issue, and he raised it, it's more than just that money issue. It's more than just a pressing need for the interest of the Province of Nova Scotia and there are areas where there is contention around mineral development and extraction. It's faced in other areas, but in this particular instance it's one where the voice of a community has not been overshadowed by a lack of understanding and I think a commitment from every member in this House that the concerns of the community will not go unactioned to the appropriate channels and processes.

As he's noted, Madam Speaker, there are over 800 quarries in this province at this time - 800 quarries. They are right, there is access to aggregate in the local area and there's an opportunity to utilize that. (Interruption) You know we're doing our best to try to recognize and listen to the concerns. We've listened to all the members opposite without interrupting them, to that member, and we're committed to the process and we're committed as we've met with the community. (Interruption)

Madam Speaker, if the honourable member would like some floor time to intercede?

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CLARKE: Madam Speaker, as the member for Glace Bay, who is interjecting here with his particular thoughts as though this is Question Period, as debating a bill that they have brought forward, all I can tell you is that this government is very concerned. This government has listened and this government will respond appropriately and we'll respond in a manner that doesn't cause a whole wave of debate, does not disrupt the entire industry associations from across this province. As the Minister of Transportation and Public Works said, and as the Minister of Environment and Labour has said, there are many people who follow processes and do them well and we don't want to get into a larger debate and have this Legislature and the Law Amendments Committee area clogged with people about a debate

[Page 5120]

that's confined to one company and the actions of one company that are not appropriate to the community.

We all agree with that, Madam Speaker, that's what I disagree with, and if the member for Glace Bay needs clarity with that, I have put it in writing. I've stated it and this government has listened and responded to me, but we'll go through proper and due channels - unlike the member for Glace Bay, who obviously is having a hard time getting clarity in his own mind as to what we're dealing with here, and all I can say to the people of that area is my commitment and our resolution as a government is unfaltering.

Madam Speaker, I'm discouraged, it's disappointing that the member for Glace Bay is not listening to this government because this government has listened to the residents. There is a due process that when his government was in power, Environment and Labour had to follow. This government will do no different than they would have done when they were on these ranks, but due process is there. The community has spoken and government is listening and we will not deter and we will not move away. The member for Glace Bay seems to be the only dissenting voice to doing proper process and doing what's right in the Province of Nova Scotia. This government will do what's right and I will stand behind the people on this issue.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Madam Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Motions Other Than Government Motions.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Madam Speaker, after that stirring debate, would you please call Resolution No. 2498.

Res. No. 2498, Gambling - Consultation: All-Party Comm. - Appoint - notice given Oct. 4/04 - (Ms. D. Whalen)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Madam Speaker, it's an honour to rise in this House to speak on this resolution. I want to congratulate the member for Halifax Clayton Park for putting it before this House and for continuing to renew her concerns about the direction in which this government has been going with respect to VLT gaming.

[Page 5121]

I would like to pick up where the minister just left off with a flurry about the government's intentions and contrast that with the government's actions. In order to do that I'd like to start with the highlight reel, if you don't mind - the highlight reel about what has been said by this government about its concerns about the use and abuse of VLTs in this province.

[5:15 p.m.]

Last week in this House I asked the Premier pointed questions with respect to the purpose and use of VLTs in this province in light of a very damning report that came forward from the experts in Nova Scotia who recognized this problem is crushing many families, destroying families, and during that exchange the Premier indicated to all Nova Scotians that he wishes we didn't have VLTs - a rather telling thing in the circumstances.

We also note that, back in the Spring of this year, the Premier was asked similar questions about this and lamented in the same way about the concerns of Nova Scotians and how VLT gambling is something that we need to absolutely get our heads around. Back as far as June 24, 1998, in relation to Bill No. 17, a bill that he championed, there are some interesting quotes that I'd like to provide to the House that are the words of the then Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, now Premier of Nova Scotia.

He says, "In the period of January 1, 1997 to December 31, 1997, a period of 12 months, they had calls . . ." - they, being the Gambling Help Line - ". . . from 1,600 separate individuals and 1,100 of those individuals eventually received referrals . . ." He goes on to say, "There were 1,100 Nova Scotians who became ill in a very serious way because of their exposure to a gambling habit here in Nova Scotia; 67 per cent of the callers to the Help Line were addicted to video lottery terminals . . ." He went on in the same series of exchanges to say, "There are marital, financial, health, employment, mental health, social, school and legal problems."

What's interesting to note is that 1,100 figure that he was using back in 1998 has been adjusted. It was adjusted by the experts who have been studying this issue for a long period of time. The number of people in Nova Scotia who are suffering as a result of addictions to gambling is now, not 1,100, according to the experts, it's 120,000 people who are affected in their health, socially and financially as a result of video lottery gambling - 100 times the estimate that the Premier put before this House when he complained so loudly about the scourge of VLTs in this province.

The questions Nova Scotians have a right to ask themselves is, what happened to the John Hamm of 1998 who spoke out so strongly about these issues?

[Page 5122]

He went on to say in that same day, "Evidence is starting to accumulate that we have the most addictive video lottery terminals that are available." Well, as it turns out, they've become more addictive under this government with the use of bill exchangers, for example. He said, "We must find out and quantify and qualify what is it that we're dealing with. How big is the problem? . . . an important first step."

It appears after this important first step that the government's next vital step was to increase the number of VLTs in this province by the number 500. On June 29, 1999, the then Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party said: "I was as distressed as anyone at the report of the help line for gambling addiction that gave us those awful statistics that revealed that 1,100 Nova Scotians were referred to the Drug Dependency agencies or Gamblers Anonymous . . ."

He was distressed back in 1998, but let's take a look at the number of VLTs that we had back then and compare it to where we are right now. Back then, in 1998, we had 3,234 VLTs - none on Reserves - since that time we've added 600 on Reserves before the Premier was asked questions in the Spring sitting. What's happened since the Spring, Madam Speaker? Since the Spring of this year, this government has allowed an additional 500 VLTs to be in service for all Nova Scotians to gamble their brains out on.

Where is the purpose that grounded Bill No. 17 back in 1998? When we find that with respect to the expenditures associated with the use of VLTs, 33 per cent of the users of VLTs delay bill payments, 23 per cent dip into their savings, 21 per cent use credit cards, 11 per cent sell personal property, and 9 per cent spend mortgage or rent money, just to stay in the VLT game.

Yesterday, we had a new report that clearly shows that the people who are less educated, who have less money and seniors in this province suffer greater with the VLT problem in this province than others do. They suffer disproportionately, but our government has seen fit to bring forward 500 new VLTs.

Now, if one were to do the math in relation to these problems, what's been determined is that we presently have 6,400 people in Nova Scotia who, on average, spend $14,000 each on VLTs - $14,000 each. Let's consider how that breaks out mathematically. Of the $130 million or so that we're receiving from VLT losses, $90 million of that $130 million comes just from 6,400 people.

So if we were to look at the strategy that's going to be proposed by the Office of Health Promotion, they're saying, let's move those problem gamblers, the 6,400-plus, to casual gamblers. What do we find when we do the math with respect to that? We find that in order to make the kind of revenue that the government is presently making from VLTs, we would need to quadruple the population of Nova Scotia, and every person from seniors down to babies would have to be casual users of VLTs, in order to sustain the revenue and have

[Page 5123]

everyone as a casual user. What kind of nonsense is that? Are we serious about moving people from problem gambling to casual gambling? Are we going to change our immigrant sponsor program to quadruple the population of Nova Scotia? Are we going to provide a special place for applicants who want to immigrate to Nova Scotia, asking them whether they're a problem gambler and, if they are, they may get a star beside their name?

Clearly, we're pointed in the wrong direction. If one were to consider that the 3,800 VLTs that we had before this additional 500 resulted in 6,400 people who have a problem that results in spending $14,000 each on VLTs, what's going to be the result of another 500 VLTs? Several hundred, close to 1,000 new families will be addicted to VLTs. This government has made a conscious choice to increase the number of problem gamblers - who may spend, on average, $14,000 a year - by several hundred. At the same time, they stand in this House and they wax eloquence about their concern about VLTs.

The consultation process that the Minister of Health Promotion is going to reference has been completely discredited by the experts in the field. He's going to stand up in this House momentarily and he's going to quote what people said about the strategy in Nova Scotia and how well it's being viewed in the rest of the country. If this office, if this minister was concerned, or if any of the other ministers responsible for gambling were really concerned about the problem, instead of taking those quotes out of context and referencing them in Question Period yesterday, they would have taken the actual time to go down to the international gaming conference and listened to the whole story from all the people who were complaining about the problems that exist here in Nova Scotia. If they went through all that effort, surely they can go through more.

In Louisiana, they got rid of 4,683 video poker machines; in North Carolina, 34,000 VLT machines were actually gotten rid of. Seventy per cent of Canadians believe that VLTs should only be available at casinos and race tracks. The Canadian Public Health Association said that this leads to a higher suicide rate, nervous breakdowns, substance abuse, and that the children of problem gamblers have behaviour adjustment problems related to school, drugs or alcohol abuse, and running away. For the sake of the children, if not for the people who are suffering right now, for the sake of the children of our problem gamblers, surely we are going to change this situation. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Madam Speaker, I'm pleased to have an opportunity to enter into this debate. I will be sharing my time with the Minister of Health Promotion, as we look at some of the many facets of this problem. This resolution that has been brought forward is an interesting one, because the last speaker is quite right, this has been an issue that's been ongoing, this has been an issue that's been developing. If we go back some years, this is something that started in 1994, the machines became legalized, and we have grown to where we are today.

[Page 5124]

There are issues with it. I don't think anybody in this House would accept the fact that there's no issues and things that we have to consider around this. I think one of the things that we look at is - this week, as we've heard the international conference, the Insight Nova Scotia conference, we have been getting some valuable dialogue. The honourable member quoted some statistics and some studies that have come out. He indicated some of the discussions that have been going on at that Insight Nova Scotia conference. Those are bringing people's awareness of this issue to the forefront, and that's one of the things that always has to go along.

I do want to remind everybody that next week is the start of Gambling Awareness Week. That's a week we hope will generate more discussion. We hope it'll bring people to think about it more, and it will focus people on gaming and being responsible. This year, it's going to be focused more on a community basis than in the past. We will be reaching out to people in several communities across this province.

Madam Speaker - or Mr. Speaker, whoever's in the Chair right now - Nova Scotia was the first and is still one of the only few provinces that holds an awareness week. That is a testament to our commitment, we think, to responsible gambling. One of the things that we say to the Gaming Corporation is that one of their pillars has to be on responsible gambling.

The theme of this week, Gaming Awareness Week, is, " Everyone needs a game plan". This theme was chosen to convey our collective commitment to helping Nova Scotians make informed, responsible and appropriate healthy decisions related to gambling each in the context of his or her own life.

During the week, two new programs will be launched for two groups identified by experts as a target for areas that might be at risk, VLT players and people specifically between the ages of 19 and 24. Both of these programs are forward-thinking and are part of our strategy to be progressive and move forward. There will also be a number of interesting speakers over the week, who will undoubtedly provide even broader prospects and perspectives into the thoughts and ideas to incorporate in our strategy as we move forward.

With respect to the suggestion that there should be a consultation, the honourable member's resolution said there should be a province-wide consultation, we couldn't agree more, and that's why we're providing this mechanism of being able to provide the mechanism of having this review so people can submit their thoughts and concerns.

[5:30 p.m.]

But the discussion paper, New Directions for Gaming in Nova Scotia, provides an impetus into some of those discussions. It raises some important questions for Nova Scotians. It also allows the opportunity to hear from sectors who have been having a hard time right now such as the harness racing industry and the charitable sector that traditionally have relied

[Page 5125]

on some gaming revenues to support their industry or good works. I did hear the honourable member who was speaking prior to me, indicate that perhaps VLTs should be in the area of helping those areas and he specifically mentioned the word, racinos, and I presume by doing that he was referring to the harness racing industry.

We have been providing information and seeking feedback from Nova Scotians and reaching out to Nova Scotians directly to the groups involved with the industry and people that are affected by it. We have heard from many people and I understand that we have reached about the 30 per cent mark of the stakeholders' meeting process. That will allow the stakeholders and that process to go on so people are able to give their input.

From our point of view, what is the government's role in this? I think the government's role is to ensure gaming is done in a controlled, regulated, sustained and responsible manner. I think that's the theme that was prevalent throughout the Insight Nova Scotia conference the former speaker mentioned. In fact, I also know that Nova Scotians have been heralded as being much more progressive in this regard when you compare us to other countries in the British Commonwealth or, indeed, in the U.S. The Minister of Health Promotion will refer to the prevalence studies and the process we went through and the relations there.

In concluding my remarks, I do want to say what this government is looking at doing is being able to hear from those people. It's taking all that information that is being raised through the Insight Nova Scotia conference, Gambling Awareness Week and we're looking at all of those pieces of information to bring forward to develop a plan. I don't think anybody here in this House is indicating that there are not issues we have to deal with. The question is how we deal with it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health Promotion.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member for taking this resolution forward because this is a very important issue that's on the floor of the House today. The fact of the matter is we all know people in our communities, throughout our province, that do have problems with addictions in many forms - one of those forms being the issue of gambling.

It's certainly an issue since the Office of Health Promotion has been created that we see as a priority for our office. That is why, as was referred to by my colleague, we move forward on the 2003/Nova Scotia Gambling Prevalence Study which is part of the Canadian Problem Gambling Index study. What is important in moving forward, Mr. Speaker, is that we do have the appropriate information that that index provides to us in decision making. It's also important - whether good news or bad news for ourselves as a province - that we share that information with the public and our stakeholders and those who perhaps have an addiction to gambling.

[Page 5126]

Some of the numbers were quoted by colleagues here in the House - we have 15,000 problem gamblers in Nova Scotia, or 2.1 per cent. We also have changes this year to labelling under the study and I believe we're one of three provinces in the country to move forward on the change in labelling of those at risk who have some characteristics for potentially becoming problem gamblers. That concerns me, it concerns me in my role as the Minister of Health Promotion. On the other side of the coin, we also have 83 per cent of our population that show no risk of developing problems with gambling. The fact of the matter is, we do have a mandate to help them and to prevent those at risk from developing a problem.

There's been a lot of talk this week about problem gambling and that is a good thing because that is the intention of the conference happening this week. That is the intention of next week's activities for responsible gaming. By having the appropriate information, by moving forward with respect to the conference, by moving forward with the appropriate consultations with our stakeholders, and by allowing them the opportunity through our external consultant to provide their input, I believe, at the end of the day, we can put forward a strategy which makes sense for Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians.

The fact of the matter is, this is not a strategy yet. I have heard that word referred to in the House of Assembly - it is not yet a strategy. It is a discussion paper which outlines some of the framework around which a strategy can be composed. If you take a look at what Addiction Services does across our province, there are many positive things happening - 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, a problem gambling helpline. We have between 20 and 30 gaming addiction specialists and well over 300 who work in Addiction Services that in their day-to-day work are involved with those with gambling addictions.

I realize my time is short here, but that being said, I believe that we as a province can do a better job, but I believe we need a focused approach, a multi-pronged approach. An approach which takes a look at everything from social marketing, getting the input we require from our stakeholders and the public, and for ensuring at the end of the day we move forward in a socially-responsible manner.

That being said, the Premier has made it very clear that the government stands by regulated gaming and there will be speakers for and against that this week at the international conference. That is the idea - to hear all points of view. That is certainly something I support and we will continue to support. The answer will not come overnight to this problem because there are families affected by this - not only those who have addictions, but the families also. We realize that, but we could turn a blind eye to that or we can take a positive approach and that is what we intend to do. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, it's unfortunate that we have to stand in this Legislative Assembly and talk about a revenue-generating source and the government to use

[Page 5127]

such cynical methods of expounding upon the thought that somehow if we don't generate the revenues from the gaming in this province, somehow we will lose to health care, to education, to transportation and the like. Mr. Speaker, I really don't know what happened prior to gambling, but I do know that we're willing to sacrifice the lives of many Nova Scotians to generate revenue for this province to operate, and that, in itself, is very wrong.

The minister has spoken about his government putting forward through the Gaming Corporation a new direction in gaming for Nova Scotians. The minister has spoken very strongly about this and about the vision, and about the challenges and about the principles. This goes beyond visions, challenges and principles, this is a facade by this government to come back to us and justify why it should continue on with gaming in the Province of Nova Scotia to generate revenue to provide those services to Nova Scotians.

We have listened and we have heard from the members of the Opposition with respect to the social costs and the numbers that have been brought forward to this government. My question, Mr. Speaker, is this, is how many lives are we prepared to sacrifice in order to bring dollars to this province? Is this collateral economics, whereby you are prepared to turn around and sacrifice the lives of certain individuals to make sure that your economic purse is available to you to deliver programs and services?

The very importance of Resolution No. 2498 was in fact to have some genuine consensus across this province with respect to what Nova Scotians truly and really think about gambling, and the only way to do that is through this resolution that was brought forward by the honourable member of Halifax Clayton Park, to have an all-Party committee - no biases, no particular interests, an all-Party committee - to cross this province or even to be centralized here in metro, but primarily it would be my preference to cross this province to get the input from all those Nova Scotians who had lost so much for so little. We can accept the fact that Nova Scotians can lose their lives as a result of employment, but how can we accept the fact that Nova Scotians here can lose their lives as a result of entertainment, gaming? How can we even sit in this Legislative Assembly and accept those kinds of notions?

We don't know the real numbers, but we are told that since the introduction of gaming machines and gambling in the Province of Nova Scotia some 10 to 12 Nova Scotians have lost their lives as a result of gambling - and those statistics aren't mine, they're actually done by the Problem Gambling Services through the Minister of Health Promotion. He knows the research, the study and the information that has been available. What was shocking to me the other night when I attended the session, I believe it was Mr. John Larocque at Addiction Services Nova Scotia, who, in fact, stood before the audience that evening and said they had provided the Minister of Health, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health Promotion all the studies, all the information about the gambling addiction problems, all the fallacies, all the information that is not reported that this government knows about but doesn't address, the issue of gambling.

[Page 5128]

This government knows the odds of someone winning on a video lottery machine. This government knows that most Nova Scotians, when they come into contact with a video lottery machine, don't see that information pop up on the screen. They don't see those consequences. They don't see, across the screen, that, in fact, 10 Nova Scotians have lost their lives as a result of this addiction. They don't see, coming across the video lottery screen, that 120,000 Nova Scotians have been directly or indirectly affected by gaming in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, you and every Member of this Legislative Assembly have a responsibility to protect the lives of every Nova Scotian. I remember when I first came here in 1998, the then-Minister of Health was Dr. Jim Smith. I asked Minister Jim Smith, I said to him, we recognize, during budget estimates, that alcoholism can be an addiction and is an addiction, and he agreed. We recognize that tobacco is an addiction and it's treatable, and he agreed. I also asked him if he considered gambling an addiction, and he agreed.

I want to tell you, also, that the Liberals came to power in 1993. Prior to that, the Progressive Conservative Government of Nova Scotia, of the day, and I believe through Donald Cameron, although I heard the mention of 1994, I believe it was before that, but the Progressive Conservatives came to power and introduced video lottery machines. There was absolutely no control on them.

Mr. Speaker, you could go in a corner store to buy a loaf of bread, and you come out without the bread and you've put your money in the video lottery machine. As a matter of fact we heard, across this province, about mothers who have gone in and gambled their money away, and husbands or spouses who came in after them and used an axe to smash the machines. Is that a way of life? Can we not think of how to generate revenue in a more positive way?

Also, in 1993, when the Liberal Government came to power, they were there for approximately five years, they knew the statistical information. It was, in fact, mentioned by the honourable member for Halifax Citadel, with the previous information that was available. That government of that day, for five years, could have moved away from this. Instead, what they did, is they conspired with the Progressive Conservative Government of the day, when we asked for a cap on video lottery machines in this province, and they agreed that there should be a moratorium, a moratorium that in fact allowed flexibility and, today, we know how much flexibility is in that moratorium, that in fact video lottery machines can be shifted across this province.

[5:45 p.m.]

As well, the moratorium doesn't count on Reserves; there are 500 new machines, as the honourable member for Halifax Citadel has stated with respect to additional dollars. Think of the lives of all those Nova Scotians. Think of the effect that we have on Nova Scotians.

[Page 5129]

Think of the 6,400 Nova Scotians who spend $14,000 a year on gambling. Think about the small businesses and the businesses that that could help and contribute to if they went out there and spent their dollars what one could consider legitimized business operations - buying clothing, buying furniture, buying those things.

I know, Mr. Speaker, in small communities across this province and small towns, you can go into any place - a Legion, a drinking establishment, a pub, you name it - and you will see people in those establishments who will be playing and who cannot afford to be playing those video lottery machines, but because they have this dream, and we heard about it the other evening of how people can be fixated on these types of machines and how they can actually spend their entire dollars. We need someone in this Legislative Assembly to take this measure by the head and truly, truly, truly address the real need of how we are prepared to deal with what I believe - once again I say collateral economics. That's economics where I believe we find people expendable for the economic value of a province. That's my term of it. I don't know if there is even such a terminology, but that is my term.

Mr. Speaker, I truly believe that this is no different than justifying why you bombed out a town because you're in a military action and all the innocent women, children and men, who are not involved, pay the penalty and the price for it. There is absolutely a day of reckoning when we need to reconcile where we generate our tax dollars and where those tax dollars are going to be expended.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's time has expired.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I wish I had another half hour.

MR. SPEAKER: I wish you did, too. Thank you.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, as the previous member was saying, there's a great deal that we can say about this and 10 minutes or 11 minutes doesn't begin to touch the subject. The resolution I refer to is Resolution No. 2498, and specifically in that resolution I was referring to the need to have much broader consultation with the public. There was an earlier resolution, a week or so ago, where I called for a similar thing, saying that we should definitely form an all-Party committee and we should be opening up consultation with the public.

The whole process of this current initiative, I won't call it a strategy yet because we've been corrected there, the New Directions for Gaming in Nova Scotia, which is published by the government, it certainly is a facade and what it has done is compartmentalized the consultation that's going to go on. They very carefully have chosen stakeholder groups that can be met on a one-to-one basis. When the member for Timberlea-

[Page 5130]

Prospect suggested that perhaps he could attend, or other members of the Opposition could attend those meetings, we were politely refused that opportunity. That would be a way of making it open and public and somewhat transparent. Right now, it's quiet, one-on-one discussions. You could have done that without bringing out a fancy document and even suggesting to the public that they could send you written comments.

Having a public discussion means you air the issues. You help to inform the public. You bring information forward. That, in fact, is one of the roles I believe of the Office of Health Promotion. You're supposed to increase awareness and knowledge of the public and right now the public is not fully aware and fully informed of the insidious nature of the VLTs and the damage that it's causing. In fact, the public is only becoming aware and what has the government done to help in that discussion? Very little.

I have to begin with the semantics that we use even in this document, in the names of our departments and so on - gaming. What is gaming? Is gaming entertainment? I think that's the intent. Gaming is fun, and it should be an entertainment source. But do you know what, that's just semantics. It's a way to coach and really misrepresent the nature of gambling, because gambling is what it is, and gambling is a vice. It has always been known as a vice. In fact, gambling and the profits we get from it are akin to the sin taxes that we get from liquor or cigarettes. All three do generate addictions, without question, and all members of the House agree with that.

I'm trying really hard to use the word gambling, although we have so carefully couched this as gaming, we have to talk about the Gaming Foundation and the Gaming Corporation and gaming addictions, but that should be eradicated. We should get rid of that term, because it's a way to just couch and transform something that is unpleasant into something that people might find a little bit more exciting and fun.

I think, number one, every member of this House should try to take the word gaming out of their vocabulary. Let's stick to the truth, which is gambling. I think that's very important, because sometimes these things happen in sort of an insidious way where you don't realize they've entered your vocabulary, and they suddenly change the meaning of words and change the meaning of behaviour and action. So, in my resolution, which was read the other day . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

MS. WHALEN: Certainly.

[Page 5131]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for allowing me the time to do an introduction. In your gallery, we have a guy from Guysborough County, Danny Rodgers. Danny Rodgers is a teacher in Chedabucto Place in Guysborough. He is also a very accomplished fiddler, who teaches fiddling in the Guysborough area. From time to time, he has accompanied the honourable member for Inverness, playing a tune or two. Also, Danny Rodgers was my campaign manager in my last campaign. (Applause) As well as my constituency president. I would ask all members of the House to give Danny a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guest to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park has the floor.

MS. WHALEN: I'm happy to resume where I left off, which is talking about the semantics and the warped way that we look at gambling in this province and, in fact, in jurisdictions across the world. I would like to go to the government's dependence on gambling revenue for a moment, because, in fact, the experts have shown that as your dependence increases, it becomes harder and harder to make any dramatic change, to reverse the direction that we're going in.

Right now, we receive $170 million a year in gambling revenues here in the province. That works out to about 3.5 per cent of our revenue that we have available. So that is already a very significant number, and was mentioned earlier by the member for Halifax Citadel. In fact, with 500 new machines being introduced on our First Nations Reserves that will, in some cases, put them over the 50 per cent mark in terms of reliance on gambling, because some of the First Nations were already 30 per cent reliant on gambling revenues prior to this doubling of the number of machines. So what we're doing there is creating, really, an environment that's not sustainable, that is so harmful to the people of Nova Scotia and the people who live on those Reserves, because they've created a dependency which is unhealthy for everyone.

One of the things that we have been asking for over the last year or so, certainly since I've been here in the House has been that a true cost benefit analysis be done on this issue. I realize it's complex, and I realize that people turn from it because of the complexities, but we need, somehow, to get a better handle on what the true costs are to Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker. We need to realize that we can talk in big terms about some of the really harmful and tragic effects of gaming. We know that there are suicides related to gambling addictions, and we know that's been acknowledged even by our senior bureaucrats who manage and deal with this issue or this business, as they call it. It's been acknowledged that there's certainly been bankruptcies, all manner of family breakdown and harm caused as a result of gambling.

[Page 5132]

Yet we've never quantified it. We haven't put the actual cost on it. I can't believe that is impossible to do. Recently we had a cost placed on the cost to the province for inactive people. The Heart and Stroke Foundation came up with a figure that said inactivity is costing us this much money in health dollars. So, what I'm suggesting is that the government needs to grab hold of this issue and do an honest assessment of what the costs are. We know the benefits, because the benefits are economic. If there are any benefits, they come from that $170 million being pumped into the government coffers, and also from the small businesses or the Legions and so on that are gaining funds as a result of hosting these machines.

But we don't know the true cost. I, for one, believe that Nova Scotians would give a very different response to an initiative asking for their response, if they knew what the costs were. What this document tells you, clearly, is how the revenue would equate in terms of hospital services, or how many nurses we could hire, or how many teachers, for example, or schools we could build, but that's only the positive side. So there is no balance in that argument. The argument should be that you see what the dollars are and what they buy and also what it costs us directly out of pocket and in harm to Nova Scotians and put a dollar value on that. I think that we need a much more serious attempt at looking at the costs and the relative benefits because that will change, and colour the whole debate. Even we here in Opposition are not able to fully quantify it ourselves, we can't tell. It needs to be examined.

That brings me to the Gaming Foundation, which is supposed to have money that comes from the proceeds of gambling and from the VLT machines and the casino. That money is supposed to be put to good use. I believe it would probably fall under the auspices of the Office of Health Promotion. We're troubled to see the money accumulate. You've heard that in questions before, Mr. Speaker, $4 million or thereabouts has been accumulating.

AN HON. MEMBER: Over $4 million.

MS. WHALEN: Over $4 million I'm told, maybe $4.5 million, and I think that that's really pathetic because we're sitting here, we're funding - I love consultants, I used to be one myself - but we're funding consultants' projects and they're going to become world experts in gaming. I'm sure they're in demand now across North America to share their knowledge, but we're funding them with the proceeds of gambling in Nova Scotia. We're not providing the services that our addicted Nova Scotians need. I think our priorities are totally mixed up. We have to remind ourselves, we're a province of less than one million people and, in this province, I don't think our role is to be the world leader in research on gambling. I think we could leave that to Atlantic City, or I don't know where, somewhere else.

AN HON. MEMBER: Nevada.

MS. WHALEN: Nevada. You see, I'm not a gambler. At the same time, I think that Nova Scotia, which has a very different quality of life. Nova Scotia is a small province. We have a different set of values system. It's clear and evident in our discussion on Sunday

[Page 5133]

shopping that we have a different view of life here in Nova Scotia. We don't need to be the world experts on whether people gamble more when they drink, or gamble more when they retire, or what have you. What we need to do is put the money we have available to the services that our people need, and that's exactly what we're not doing.

I really would challenge the minister, Mr. Speaker. I think the minister should review that foundation, review the use of that money, shake up that board if they're not doing their work, and put the money to proper use, and that is to develop proper services for people here in Nova Scotia. That's the only thing I want to be an expert in at the moment, in this realm.

So I think that's something that is clearly a challenge and, in fact, it's something to be ashamed of, to be sitting on that kind of money that's really designed to help people. In the meantime, what do we offer for services? We can send them to the Nova Scotia Hospital to do some sort of program there and be withdrawn from gambling and it's not highly effective. We can offer a helpline where they can call in with their concerns. These things are window dressing, and when we're talking about window dressing let's move to responsible gaming week. Who on earth is going to even hear of responsible gaming week? Well, perhaps if you're in the casino, you might.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The time allotted for Opposition Members' Business has expired.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we will meet tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon and we'll sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading, Public Bills for Third Reading, and Committee of the Whole House on Bills. We will also be doing some Private and Local Bills. With those few remarks, I move that we do now rise.

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

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.

[Page 5134]

We have now reached the moment of interruption.

[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health Promotion.

HEALTH PROM. - INT'L. WALK TO SCH. DAY:

PARTICIPATION - APPLAUD

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that I didn't have a chance during my previous comments for the debate, but I thank the members for their comments. I did take the opportunity to listen to both Opposition Parties and their comments. It certainly is an issue that we all feel very strongly about.

Today being International Walk to School Day, Mr. Speaker, I thought it would be appropriate to touch base on this issue and reflect on this issue, but also to reflect on some of the initiatives that we're moving forward within the Office of Health Promotion, as a government and as a province and as communities, to better provide opportunities for our young people to lead healthier lifestyles.

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity, as I said, to be at St. Mary's Elementary School this morning with the Premier, the Minister of Education and a number of students and just seeing the smiles on the faces of the students today, and I know you'd appreciate that, just seeing the opportunity just to walk to school. Now, it seems like a little thing, but when you come from a rural area, such as myself, very often you're bused to school (Interruption) Yes, and some of my colleagues are saying, Mabou, well, I am very familiar with the community of Mabou, as I was the former educator at Mabou and very proud of that. Far too often, I would say 95 per cent of the students and especially now with Dalbrae Academy in place, a high school, 95 per cent, maybe 98 per cent, I will say, go to school by bus. That's a problem and it's a problem that we need to continue to address and today emphasizes the importance of walking and the importance of establishing a healthy lifestyle.

Mr. Speaker, I also wanted to say that it's an important aspect of the initiative that we have part of our Active Kids, Healthy Kids strategy and I certainly want to mention that it's part of the National Global Green Program, encouraging the use of active modes and I will be remiss if I don't mention the Ecology Action Centre, which is a partner with us on that initiative, Active Transportation. So, there are a lot of partnerships involved. There's a lot of good things happening and there's a lot that needs to be done.

[Page 5135]

Today's International Walk to School Day sends a good message to our young people because we have a problem, Mr. Speaker, there's too many young people in our province who are inactive. They're not active enough to see the benefits for health reasons and we have the research to show it. At Grade 3, Grade 7 and Grade 11, we have gone through the appropriate research with the accelerometers piece, we now have that research available to us for a number of years and it's perhaps some of the leading evidence-based research that we have across the country of any province, perhaps of anywhere in North America. I'll go so far as to say that this province has taken a leadership role in that issue and that'll be important in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, in the six priority areas, also along the route of physical activity in thinking about today's event, is that of the investment we're making through our physical activity grants and some of those are going out the door, many of which our members here in the Legislature will hear more about in the weeks and the months ahead. As part of that, what we're trying to get at is at the community level because, we can put programs in ourselves, which we have many programs, but you need to get at the community level, if you really want to see a difference and it doesn't always take a huge amount of dollars. It can be $200, it can be $1,000, but it can be leveraged to make a difference in a variety of areas.

I mentioned before some of the statistics and I'm just going to mention just for members, Mr. Speaker. We found at the Grade 3 level that 90 per cent do achieve the recommended 60 minutes of activity, at least five days a week. Grade 7 and Grade 11 students do not and, in fact, by the time they reach Grade 11 and Grade 12, only 6.9 per cent of girls are active enough to achieve health benefits, 7 per cent. That is a scary statistic and it's certainly one as we move forward as communities and as a province, we need to address.

Mr. Speaker, I had mentioned some physical activity. Another aspect is that of the KidSport program and I'm very proud that we saw fit to invest over $300,000, in a program which is giving opportunities to young boys and young girls, to take part in sports where perhaps they couldn't take part in sports before. It may be soccer. It may be hockey. It may be another recreational opportunity and having a young son who is in minor hockey, I know that there are costs involved and I realize that more and more every day as he gets older and needs a new pair of skates, needs bigger gear or just to partake in registering.

My community, it's probably one of the cheapest in Nova Scotia - $200 to play minor hockey in the community that I live in. It could be a model for the rest of the province. Last year it was $240, and they have actually reduced it this year to get more young people out on the ice, and I applaud them for that. (Interruptions) No, Mr. Speaker, this is solely on the volunteer efforts of my local community and the desire to see more young people get active. That is the sort of good news story we want to see.

[Page 5136]

One of the other areas I'm very concerned about, Mr. Speaker, is that of healthy eating. It's been brought up in the House on a few occasions, in fact what we've done in the past year is first of all we've hired a coordinator in healthy eating, and that's important because you need the capacity within the office to move forward on various initiatives. Secondly, we've been working with the Department of Education, to conduct a study of what is happening across our province, and with our leaders in our school boards to find out what is happening at each school board level.

Following that, we also did a scan across the country to find out what other provinces are doing. Mr. Speaker, it's a puzzle piece across the country. There's no particular province that I think has a perfect model, but we can certainly learn from each province. We are now working with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Education, and we will implement strict guidelines in the 2005 school year. Following those guidelines, today I took the opportunity, through the office, to ensure that each member got an apple from the Valley. The idea is that these are the types of healthy snacks we need to provide in our schools.

It's incredible, if you go around our province there are excellent examples of schools that have moved forward in our examples that can really be moved up to the front, Mr. Speaker, as positive examples of getting our schools active, of eating healthy, of getting the corporate community involved, of getting the community involved, and really taking initiatives that lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Mr. Speaker, I'm also going to touch on an issue - although my colleague perhaps gets the question more often than I would - physical education, because that is an issue I feel very strongly about as a physical educator myself. I believe there is a need for us in our province to take an every stronger look at this issue. The fact of the matter is right now in our schools we have Primary through Grade 9 physical education, which is mandatory, we have Grade 11 PAL, which is physically active lifestyles, which I'm very aware of, which is also mandatory, and only a portion of the PAL program, which is between 30 per cent and 40 per cent, is geared towards physical activity, although the rest of the program is also very important for a healthier lifestyle. That's an issue we need to take a look at, but it's a very complex issue and certainly one that education plays a key role in.

Mr. Speaker, we can't put the blinders on and think - and this is why the Active Kids, Healthy Kids strategy is important - that simply saying just make physical education mandatory and all will be solved. Sorry, that is not the case. What about before school, what about recess, what about lunch hour intermurals, what about after-school access to schools? Those are the things we need to focus on, getting the corporate community involved, ensuring that our young people have the opportunity to access facilities. I realize we run into issues of P3 schools, we run into other issues - and I commend the Minister of Education for moving forward on his amendment in the Spring. It's a step. It may not satisfy everyone here in this House, it may not satisfy all Nova Scotians, but it is a step in the right direction.

[Page 5137]

These are the sorts of initiatives we need to move forward on if we truly want to make a difference. It will not happen overnight. I believe we can see the numbers of those being physically active - because I shouldn't talk about inactivity, I should talk about the positive approach, being physically active, and I believe we can increase those rates significantly. I say that because we've seen the decrease in tobacco with our tobacco strategy, I believe that we can take a similar approach for physical activity for the health and well-being of our province, and we can truly make a difference.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak to this resolution on behalf of the Liberal caucus. I want to, first of all, thank the member for Timberlea-Prospect for allowing me to go ahead of him - it's minority government working in co-operation . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You always save the best for last.

MR. MCNEIL: Save the best for last.

I also want to congratulate the minister for bringing this forward. As a father of two children, a 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, my wife and I consider creating a healthy lifestyle and eating habits for our children probably one of the most important things that we can do for them. Having a father whose eating habits aren't always that great, it has been a difficult challenge to say, don't do as I do, but do as I say.

Mr. Speaker, today in our country we're facing a situation in our schools where physical activity has become marginalized. Physical activity and physical education plays less of a role in the curriculum than it has in the past. In many cases today, the physical environment around a school does more to discourage physical activity than to promote it. Children and youth comprise about 25 per cent of our population. Recent research has shown that the number of overweight children between the ages of 7 and 13 has doubled in the past 15 years.

Reasons for this are many. Society's increased dependence on technology has significantly eroded traditional activity levels. More children are using the computer and TV instead of the ringette or baseball bat. Four out of 10 have at least one risk factor of heart disease due to an inactive lifestyle. Why is it important that we, as legislators, focus on physical inactivity in children? Because, according to physicians, there is no pill that is more promising to sustain health than a lifetime program of physical activity. Two-thirds of our children and youth are not active enough to lay a solid foundation for health and their well-being. Over 80 per cent of the children in our country are driven to school by bus or automobile and although 91 per cent of our children have access to a bicycle, only 5 per cent

[Page 5138]

ride it to school. An obese preschooler has a 25 per cent chance of becoming an obese adult and the obese teenager has a 75 per cent chance of remaining obese for life.

Canadian children show a significant decline in physical fitness beyond the age of 12. This is around the same time that youth drop out of physical activity. Sadly, only 10 per cent of the Canadian youth are active enough to receive the heart-health benefits. This needs to change.

I want to congratulate all the schools that participated in today's International Walk to School Day, but as I said earlier, I represent a rural riding and rural schools where walking is not an option. We need to become more imaginative in how we are getting our young people active. This is an important initiative that teaches our children how walking, cycling and other activities and modes of transportation help improve their health and reduce pollution.

This is more than just improving the health of our children - this is improving their environment and also relieving some of the pressure on those precious health care dollars so that we can begin to provide a better health care system but also transfer some of those monies into the much-needed other services that require it.

However, there's much more the government can be doing to encourage physical activity for children and young adults. The Premier and the Minister of Health Promotion need to, and should be, doing more to encourage physical activity in young people than using this important day as a photo-op. Our youth are more important than that and more needs to be done.

The first thing government can do is change the mindset between physical education and physical activity. There is a huge difference. We've created a mindset in our children that unless you're keeping score, unless there's some way to prove you've won, then it's not worth doing. We need to get back to where having children up and moving is more important than what the score is and whether or not they can go home and say, our team won or our team lost.

Yesterday, I tabled a resolution in which I encouraged the government to implement an initiative similar to Alberta whereby physical education is mandatory for half an hour per day in school. The minister spoke of a P-9 where physical education is mandatory. Unfortunately, many of the schools run on cycles. In the case of my children, they run on a six day cycle. Physical education is an hour in that six day cycle, which means two half hours in six days. That is not enough. That is simply not enough.

So, when government says that physical activity is mandatory, it's mandatory if you look at the cycle. We should be providing physical education every day for 20 or 30 minutes a day. This initiative would not only encourage more active lifestyles, it would not only

[Page 5139]

reduce the incident of chronic disease like Type 2 Diabetes that has become more prevalent in our young people, it would ensure that the young people in our province are able to achieve just half of the minimum daily requirements - just half if we provided 30 minutes for them. But the government defeated this resolution. I'm not sure why.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I guess I should begin by recognizing the fact that many of our schools provide a varsity program which provides physical education, but it provides it really for the elite athletes. It provides it for those kids who, quite frankly, would have physical activity anyway because it's their mindset. Throughout their lifestyle they have created a physical activity environment for them and they would seek it out. What's being lost are the vast majority of those students who do not have physical activity.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, every aspect of a young person's education is important and young people spend a significant portion of their lives in the school environment, in and around their school. There is no better place for us as a province, for the government, if they truly want to get children active and moving, then to institute a physical education program, or physical activity in every school in this province, not on a 6-day cycle, but every day. This makes a school a vital place to commit, to leading a healthy lifestyle. They're already there. It's a way for us to institute, all we need to do is set aside the time in that day. Research shows that children who have regular physical activity in school perform better in schools.

This is not just a health issue, Mr. Speaker. This is an education issue and it's like I said earlier, it also relieves the pressure on those health care dollars that are so precious and allows us to then either provide a better health care system for all Nova Scotians or to move some of that money into some of the other services that we all require and all want, in particular, those of us in rural Nova Scotia. Now, I know it's possible the government may be reluctant to move towards mandatory physical education for fear of backlash from students, especially those in higher grades.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, and I don't mean to take the member's time, I just want to clarify something. I believe in Alberta that it was mandatory physical activity and he may want to check whether it was mandatory physical education or mandatory physical activity. I think you'll see it was physical activity. I just point that out.

MR. SPEAKER: There's no point of order. It's a clarification of the facts, or a disagreement between two members.

The honourable member for Annapolis has the floor.

[Page 5140]

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, if he had been paying attention earlier, I said either physical education or physical activity, whatever you call it, I would just like you to get the students up and moving, that's all. (Interruption) You can just be at physical activity.

Physical education in many cases, Mr. Speaker, for older students, conjures up the old image of gym classes where the elite did their thing and those who were not athletic were left behind. Unfortunately, those are not the students that we need to get toward. Alberta has been innovative in what they have done. They have introduced activities like yoga. They've introduced other activities like aerobics at their high school level. What we need to be is a little more imaginative. Quite frankly, one of the things that maybe we need to say, all we need to do is set the time aside - allow the students to create those kinds of programs that they want for that half hour a day.

If government can legislate the time to be set aside, they don't need to create the programs, Mr. Speaker. It's an amazing thing that happens in the elementary school that my children attended. The phys.ed. teacher created a physical program inside a multi-purpose room. They don't have a gym - no basketball nets, no volleyball court. All they have are a few balls and some other instruments that the teacher has been able to use to create and get those children moving but, do you know what, she empowered those children to become referees. She empowered those children to become coaches, to bring the younger students up, but one of the things that she did, which I believe should be held as a model, she took the lunch hour and she said for 15 minutes after the students in this school have finished lunch, we'll do a running club outside of our school and for that 15 minutes, she said, we're just going to time the number of times you run around this school.

Mr. Speaker, what became interesting after day two and three, it wasn't that students began to compete against each other, they began to compete against themselves. On day one, if they ran three laps and walked five, what they tried to do is run four and walk four the next day. My son has been one of those kids who I think has benefited from that. Now that he has gone into high school, track and field will be an option for him. It's one of the things that exposed him to track and field - just by simply saying at lunch hour let's take that 15 minutes and do a running club and exercise around that. We can have all the programs in place we want. Unless we begin to fund them, that's what they'll be - a program on paper.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I would like to compliment the member for Annapolis on his comments and the ability to be able to bring in that personal touch because, you know, as the father of young children, although I probably would be concerned about the fact they wouldn't want to be recognized as young children, at that age and the example that he and his wife are setting for his family are of real importance. It's up to each and every parent, and it's up to each and every member of the community to say to young people, this

[Page 5141]

is something of real consequence to you, because let's face it, we're going to be fighting for health time here as we each get older, as we progress through the health system.

First of all, my compliments to the minister. The International Walk to School Day does send the right message, it does. In the right neighbourhood, in the right community, it's a message that's well received. Unfortunately - no politics involved in this comment, no comment about the rotten roads that the buses travel on - it's darn near impossible to walk to schools in the growing community that I represent because, of course, there are no sidewalks and no way to get from one point to another. The intent is to encourage young people to be more physically active, and that is a noble one and one that I certainly can support.

In fact, I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, and members present, of the opportunity I had to meet George Chuvalo. George Chuvalo has a set of hands on him - I know there are some members in this House who have commented on the size of various members' hands, but I'm sure the member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour's hands would have nothing to do, and that member has a big set of hands. I want to talk about George Chuvalo's hands, when I met him the Sports Hall of Fame, Mr. Chuvalo was here with the Member of Parliament for - the title at the time was - Sackville-Musquodoboit-Eastern Shore who, of course, is the NDP Member of Parliament, Peter Stoffer.

Mr. Stoffer was there, and had Mr. Chuvalo there because he was introducing private members' legislation which he wanted support from all members at the time in the House of Commons to make registration for recreation groups and athletic groups and all kinds of registration for hockey or for gym activities income tax deductible. Now, in my opinion, if there is an example of a piece of legislation that deserved the attention of that House, that would have been a very welcome piece of legislation. Of course, the thing is that it's a piece of legislation that hopefully would encourage parents in certain sports to be able to recognize the fact their children should participate, but the income tax deduction would be forthcoming from that.

That's something that was a great pleasure to hear Mr. Stoffer speak about, but it also was a wonderful opportunity to hear George Chuvalo speak at length about the value of participation and activity. Mr. Chuvalo, of course, is a wonderful man, with tremendous dedication to young people and to his own family. He's gone through some wonderful, great, historic battles, which we, of course, know of. Some of them are in the boxing ring, but many others, with Mr. Chuvalo, are outside of the ring, and my compliments to him.

That is, after all, the essence here, because what we're talking about is what we're going to do with these young people who are glued to the TV, who believe that electronic play stations are the way to go and that physical activity is something that's being neglected.

[Page 5142]

Now, let's be clear on something, compulsory physical education would be a major asset. I've heard the members say - and I know the Minister of Education and I have exchanged differences on this, personally, from my experience, this Physically Active Lifestyles course, the kids call it many things, they're not complimentary and I wouldn't be able to use them here in this Chamber, PAL, Physically Active Lifestyles is a course that is perceived by students at the high school level as a joke. It's a joke.

It is, after all, an opportunity where you have to take a half-course and you must participate in the activity that that particular teacher is going to schedule you to do. Now, considering what happens at one of the high schools that I'm fortunate enough to represent, an older high school, very cramped facilities - I'm waiting for the Minister of Education to come forward with that announcement, and apparently it's going to be here with our new high school - but Physically Active Lifestyles doesn't have the support in terms of curriculum. At Sir John A. Macdonald High School, that's the school I'm speaking of, during Physically Active Lifestyles, what they do is they take the kids for a walk. They take the students for a walk.

Now, the students, of course, looking at this and saying, well, if this is an example of Physically Active Lifestyles, I can live with that. It's a good start. Okay. Take them out on the trails, and the minister is well aware of the groups in my community that I'm fortunate enough to represent who are very active and want to make sure that our Rails to Trails and our recreational trails are all put in place.

When you talk about having young people physically active, we're not talking about going into the typical phys. ed. class. The member for Annapolis brought this example up, we have to make sure they are adopting a quality of life; a quality of life that at whatever age in the future, they can look at the opportunity to play a round of golf, go to a curling match or to be involved in less structured athletic opportunities. That's, after all, what we're talking about in making young people look at activities and say, that's something I can enjoy doing. It doesn't have to be that we're keeping score. It doesn't have to be any more than the fact that they're out playing a sport.

I want to use this time, if I may, to say there are many, many fine organizations in the community that I represent. Halifax County soccer, TASA Minor Hockey, the baseball associations, the fastball association - a very important and significant difference. But, do you know what has happened to the kids these days? They just don't go and play. They just don't go out and say, well, let's have a game of road hockey, pick up teams and put two boots on the end of the cul-de-sac and have a game. It has to be all very structured.

Recreation people have to be involved. They have to set this up and they have to set that up. We have taken that creative ability away from children - young kids, junior-high-aged kids - the chance where they can just go and they can organize themselves. They know fairness when they see it and they'll go out and pick teams or they'll throw the sticks in the

[Page 5143]

middle or they'll pick up sides in a basketball game. But, pick-up games just don't happen any more.

Pick-up games don't happen because young people have lost that skill. For some reason they've lost that skill - oh, I'm bored, I don't want to do anything. That's a real fear that I have as an educator. That's a real fear that I had as a parent. I was very fortunate to have two daughters who always loved physical activity - whether it was swimming, cross-country running or when they played on teams in the schools which they attended. I think it's of some consequence that we look at the fact, however, that as an example, as adults we really have to step up here.

This is an example today that the Premier was involved in this "walk to school" initiative. It's one that should be recognized and I compliment the Premier for being, at his - age and no reflection on his age - as active as he is and as physically fit as he is. That's a very positive example. But, adults - whether they are classroom teachers, coaches in the community - have to go out of their way to continue to say, follow my example, be involved, do things, stay active and make sure that as you get older, you continue to use those acquired skills.

It's an attitude. It's an attitude about staying busy and being involved and going for your morning walk and doing all those types of things. That's an example which all of us should be able to pass on to our children, or, for those of us who have grandchildren - pass it on to them because this is something which we have to make sure they are going to listen to us about.

I want to turn, however, to the matter of schools. I know the minister opposite and I share this fear that we see many young people in our community and we see the fact that it all comes back to the schools. It's always the schools. The schools will make them physically active. The schools will determine what their math course is - that's another topic - or they will also consider the fact of how many minutes of each day or how many minutes in each cycle are going to be assigned to physical education.

That, after all, is only the beginning. The communities which we all represent know how important schools are, but I think it's a real consequence that we understand that we cannot initiate some of these programs unless the dollars are in place for the curriculum adjustments that have to take place. I can look at the physically active lifestyle course and I can say the intent is a wonderful one, it is a wonderful one.

Over the last year, I had the opportunity to review, with all phys. ed. teachers in this province, a review of the physically active lifestyle. I encourage the minister to be in contact with his fellow colleagues because it is not a good scene with PAL. Thank you.

[Page 5144]

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable members for taking part in this debate this evening.

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow. Thank you.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

[Page 5145]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2595

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas over 600 people from across North America took part in the Hébert Family reunion in Amherst from August 12th to 15th, during the Congrès mondial acadien 2004; and

Whereas the organizing committee erected the tallest wooden cross in North America to commemorate the site of Beaubassin, the second Acadian village to be settled after Port Royal; and

Whereas on August 14, 2004, Mass was celebrated on the site of Beaubassin for the first time in 249 years, during which time a church bell that had been saved and buried by Acadians prior to their deportation was rung for the first time since 1755, thanks to Parks Canada who kindly offered the loan of this historic bell for the occasion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the hard work, dedication and passion of the organizing committee comprised of Norman Hébert, Cheryl Morel, Roger Hébert, Ben Legere, Bill and Susan Hébert, David and Jeanette Hébert, John and Gratia Fawcett, Edgar Leger, and Gord and Adrienne Hébert, and thank them for making the Hébert Family reunion a wonderful success.

RESOLUTION NO. 2596

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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 Inverness is celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year; and

Whereas Inverness County, originally called Juste-au-Corps, has always prided itself on its beauty, warm-spirited people and richness of culture; and

Whereas all past and present municipal representatives should be commended for their hard work in providing responsible government for Inverness County;

[Page 5146]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature congratulate the Municipality of the County of Inverness on its 125th Anniversary.

RESOLUTION NO. 2597

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas 2004 marks the 35th Anniversary of the Leminster Vaughan Hospital Auxiliary; and

Whereas the Leminster Vaughan Hospital Auxiliary presently has 10 active members and has worked diligently over the years to purchase equipment for hospital patients, while also furnishing a two-bed room at the Hants Community Hospital when it opened in 1976; and

Whereas this Summer the auxiliary put together a casserole supper and raised $600 toward the cost of four wheelchairs;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud the work ethic and initiatives of the Leminster Vaughan Hospital Auxiliary and wish them many more years of success.

RESOLUTION NO. 2598

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas the 4-H Program in Nova Scotia began in 1922 in Heatherton, Antigonish County, with today's 4-H Clubs offering over 40 different projects and numerous opportunities for friendships, scholarships, travel and learning skills that will last a lifetime; and

Whereas the Martock 4-H Club recently celebrated their 80th Anniversary, which included a multi-generational reunion involving first-year 4-H members and former leaders with 50 years of service to 4-H; and

Whereas today's 4-H members develop the skills required to become future leaders in their schools, their communities and their workplaces;

[Page 5147]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly recognize the significant achievements of the Martock 4-H Club through their 80 years of activity, while praising the many children and parents who have played such an active role.

RESOLUTION NO. 2599

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas this Summer, Windsor florist Penny Taylor was awarded the 2004 FTD Progressive Florist Award before 3,000 individuals involved in the floral industry; and

Whereas FTD Inc. annually recognizes a floral business owner in North America for the many attributes which they offer to the floral industry; and

Whereas Penny Taylor owns and operates Apple Blossom Shops in Windsor and Sackville;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly commend Windsor resident Penny Taylor for being recognized by her industry peers and for her creativity and commitment to her many customers.

RESOLUTION NO. 2600

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas KLJ Field Services has established a strong commitment to the Windsor-West Hants business community and workforce, as they are now into their third year of business and still require additional workers; and

Whereas KLJ Field Services is one of the busiest telephone interview companies in Atlantic Canada, and since 2001 has put more than $4 million back into the local economy of Windsor-West Hants; and

Whereas unlike a traditional call centre, KLJ Field Services deals with large corporations from around the world looking for critical research data;

[Page 5148]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of KLJ Field Services and their vice-president of Business Development and Client Relations, Stacey Black, for their investment in Windsor, and wish them nothing but continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 2601

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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

Whereas Mr. Earl Vickers of Portree is one of the Province of Nova Scotia's many small-woodlot owners; and

Whereas this year Mr. Vickers has been awarded the Eastern Region's Woodlot of the Year Award; and

Whereas the intent of the Woodlot of the Year Awards is to recognize and reward landowners for outstanding stewardship and management of their woodlots;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize Mr. Earl Vickers' dedication and passion for the forestry industry here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 2602

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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

Whereas singer-songwriter Lisa Cameron from Margaree has been entertaining people with her music for a number of years; and

Whereas Mrs. Cameron has recently recorded and released her first CD entitled, End of Blue, consisting of 11 original folk songs written and sung by her; and

Whereas Mrs. Cameron's CD release at the Normaway Inn was met with great enthusiasm and endorsement, hopefully sparking the beginning of a great music career;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Mrs. Lisa Cameron on her first CD and wish her all the best in her future musical endeavours.

[Page 5149]

RESOLUTION NO. 2603

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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

Whereas the Margaree-Lake Ainslie Heritage River Society held a shoreline cleanup on Saturday, September 25th; and

Whereas the cleanup was held as part of Clean Nova Scotia's, Great Nova Scotia Pick-Me-Up campaign, which is designed to address the issue of shoreline pollution; and

Whereas members of the Margaree-Lake Ainslie Heritage River Society cleaned up trash that could possibly threaten the habitats of native animals and which create an unattractive coastline;

Therefore be it resolved that the Margaree-Lake Ainslie Heritage River Society should be commended for their diligence and dedication to keeping our shorelines clean.

RESOLUTION NO. 2604

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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

Whereas nine-year-old Danielle Muise of Cheticamp recently received a silver medal for her drawing submitted to the World Children's Picture Contest during Co-op Week last year; and

Whereas the drawing, submitted under the Friendship category, depicted two people of different races holding hands, while between them is a picture of the world with a large heart in its centre and nine children circling the globe holding hands; and

Whereas this contest, sponsored by the Japanese Agriculture Co-operative, received 47,000 entries from 57 countries around the world, with only one other Canadian entry receiving an honourable mention;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate Danielle Muise for her accomplishment in the World Children's Picture contest and we hope she continues to pursue her talent in drawing.

[Page 5150]

RESOLUTION NO. 2605

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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

Whereas Collie MacDonald, a Summer resident of Mabou Ridge, Cape Breton, saved his neighbour, Richard Heukshorst's burning barn; and

Whereas while the local volunteer fire department was responding to another call, Mr. MacDonald proceeded to the burning barn with hose in hand to fight the fire; and

Whereas Mr. MacDonald was able to contain the fire until the fire department arrived;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature congratulate Mr. MacDonald on his bravery and his willingness to risk his safety to help a neighbour in a time of serious danger.

RESOLUTION NO. 2606

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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

Whereas after its incredible journey, the Malagawatch United Church is now known around the world as the "little church that could"; and

Whereas eight months after the church made its way down the road, across the water and up a hill, the newly-renovated Malagawatch Church was opened in its new home as part of the Highland Village; and

Whereas Kathleen MacKenzie, president of the Nova Scotia Highland Village Board of Trustees, aptly said that, "A project of this magnitude cannot be accomplished without the efforts of a number of people," especially the efforts of project chairman, Walter MacNeil;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature express their thanks for all those involved in moving the "little church that could" - a true labour of love - who not only found a new home for the 130-year-old church but, in doing so, have preserved an important piece of our heritage.

[Page 5151]

RESOLUTION NO. 2607

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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

Whereas Mr. A.J. MacDougall of Judique was first elected as Warden of Inverness Municipality in 1997, representing District 6, Judique-Port Hastings-West Bay; and

Whereas Warden MacDougall has decided not to run in the October 16th municipal election after serving his county well for 13 years; and

Whereas Warden MacDougall's wisdom and leadership will be missed by council, municipal staff and all Inverness County residents;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Warden A.J. MacDougall's commitment to the people of Inverness County and wish him the best in his retirement.

RESOLUTION NO. 2608

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas October 3 to October 9, 2004 is National Newspaper Week in Canada; and

Whereas community newspapers like the Springhill-Parrsboro Record, The Oxford Journal, The Citizen and The Amherst Daily News provide local stories of news and information that keep our community spirit alive; and

Whereas the fine tradition of local community newspapers is one well worth preserving and celebrating;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the hard-working staff of all the community newspapers across this province during this, National Newspaper Week 2004, and wish them well as they continue to inform readers near and far about newsworthy happenings in our communities.

[Page 5152]

RESOLUTION NO. 2609

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Mike, Laurie and Steven Hanna from Hanna Farms were the recent recipients of the Central Regional Woodlot Owner of the Year Award; and

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources and Athol Forestry organized the event held at Hanna Farm on September 25th; and

Whereas the recipients of this award are chosen for meeting various criteria in forest management, such as being environmentally friendly and making good use of the land which is being used;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Hanna family on this outstanding achievement and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 2610

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Kris Legere completed a solid two-round run to capture the overall championship of the Springhill Centennial Golf Club in August; and

Whereas Kris finished the tournament with a two-day total of 146 to win the event; and

Whereas Kris was presented with his championship prize by event sponsor Mike McMillan of D&J Home Hardware;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Kris Legere on this outstanding achievement and wish him many more successful years on the course.

[Page 5153]

RESOLUTION NO. 2611

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Sandy Livingston, Jr. won his first race as a rookie in the speedway's new class in August 2004; and

Whereas Livingston took the first heat in the Pro Stock Division and followed that up with a second win in the semi-final; and

Whereas Sandy made Atlantic Canada racing history by being the first driver in a pro stock car in Atlantic Canada to win a race;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Sandy Livingston, Jr. on taking first place with his crate engine in the Pro Stock Division and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 2612

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Larry MacLellan of Oxford, Nova Scotia has had his artistic talent displayed at an exhibit at Ottawa House and will next be displayed at Fundy Geological Museum; and

Whereas the painting exhibit was titled Paintings of the Outdoors, featuring work spanning the career of the self-taught artist from 1989 to the present day, including numerous landscapes, seascapes and wildlife using oils, acrylic and watercolours; and

Whereas Larry, born and raised in Cumberland County, learned the art through books, specialty programs and informed discussions with professors, his work having been displayed in numerous galleries across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick;

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

[Page 5154]

RESOLUTION NO. 2613

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Dave Dinaut of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia retired as principal of Parrsboro Regional High School after spending his entire career at the school; and

Whereas Dave, who graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in 1969, was looking for a small community for his first year of teaching and Parrsboro High School was looking for teachers; and

Whereas Dave, who was qualified as a reading specialist, in 1983 became vice-principal of Parrsboro Elementary School and five years later was promoted to principal of Parrsboro Regional High and Elementary Schools, a position which he would hold for 16 years until his retirement in June 2004;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dave Dinaut for giving 35 years to the Parrsboro schools and wish him many happy years of enjoyment in his retirement.