The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04-61

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.

Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2681, Ivany, Ray: Best Wishes - Extend, Hon. J. Muir 5252
Vote - Affirmative 5252
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 130, Legal Profession Act, Hon. M. Baker 5253
No. 131, Police Act, Hon. M. Baker 5253
No. 132, Amusement Devices Safety Act, Mr. G. Gosse 5253
No. 133, Wilderness Areas Protection Act, Ms. D. Whalen 5253
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2682, Ivany, Ray - NSCC Pres.: Contribution -
Appreciation Express, Mr. D. Dexter 5254
Vote - Affirmative 5254
Res. 2683, Ivany, Ray - Educ. System: Contribution - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 5254
Vote - Affirmative 5255
Res. 2684, O'Connor, Dale/Vols.: Guysborough Walk for Liver -
Congrats., Mr. R. Chisholm 5255
Vote - Affirmative 5256
Res. 2685, Pubnico West - Acadian Culture: Promotion - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 5256
Vote - Affirmative 5257
Res. 2686, Blue Mtn. - Birch Cove Lakes: Wilderness Area -
Protect, Ms. D. Whalen 5257
Res. 2687, N.S. Dental Assoc. - Safety: Commitment - Recognize,
(by Hon. A. MacIsaac), Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5258
Vote - Affirmative 5259
Res. 2688, Knowles, Kristopher - Organ Donation Awareness:
Efforts - Congrats., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5259
Vote - Affirmative 5260
Res. 2689, "Read to Me" Prog.: Valley Reg. Hosp. - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 5260
Vote - Affirmative 5260
Res. 2690, Open Farm Day: Participants - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 5261
Vote - Affirmative 5261
Res. 2691, Pawulski, MCpl. David Michael: Star of Courage - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 5261
Vote - Affirmative 5262
Res. 2692, East Dartmouth Boys & Girls Club Award Night:
Recipients - Congrats., Ms. J. Massey 5262
Vote - Affirmative 5263
Res. 2693, Nat. Res. - Birch Grove: Strip Mining -
Encouragement Explain, Mr. R. MacKinnon 5263
Res. 2694, Up. Stewiacke FD: Firefighters Combat Challenge -
Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 5263
Vote - Affirmative 5264
Res. 2695, Ketch Hbr. Area Residents Assoc.: Work - Commend,
Ms. M. Raymond 5264
Vote - Affirmative 5265
Res. 2696, Hunter, Mitchell: Music Success - Congrats., Hon. B. Barnet 5265
Vote - Affirmative 5266
Res. 2697, TPW: Churchville-Eureka Bridge - Repair, Mr. C. Parker 5266
Vote - Affirmative 5266
Res. 2698, Fraser, Ms. Jamie - Educ./Agric.: Work - Applaud,
Mr. W. Langille 5267
Vote - Affirmative 5267
Res. 2699, Dartmouth Her. Museum Soc./Mermaid Theatre -
"House of Imagination": Partnership - Congrats., Ms. M. More 5267
Vote - Affirmative 5268
Res. 2700, Bedard, MCpl. Joseph Carl Steeve/Hotton, Sgt. Joseph Andre:
Medal of Bravery - Congrats., Mr. L. Glavine 5268
Vote - Affirmative 5269
Res. 2701, Well Woman Clinic (Liverpool): Attendance - Encourage,
Hon. K. Morash 5269
Vote - Affirmative 5270
Res. 2702, East. Shore Wildlife Rehabilitation Ctr. - Service:
Importance - Recognize, Ms. J. Massey 5270
Vote - Affirmative 5271
Res. 2703, Orr, Raleigh: Death of - Tribute, Hon. J. Muir 5271
Vote - Affirmative 5271
Res. 2704, Lib. Party (N.S.) - VLTs: Position - Consistency, Mr. J. Pye 5271
Res. 2705, AGNS - Funding: Adequacy - Ensure,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 5272
Res. 2706, Howell Family - Scouting Movement: Dedication -
Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 5273
Vote - Affirmative 5273
Res. 2707, Lighthouse Comm.: Lighthouse Celebration Day - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5274
Vote - Affirmative 5274
Res. 2708, Dartmouth Boys & Girls Club: Anniv. (40th) - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Pye 5275
Vote - Affirmative 5275
Res. 2709, Com. Serv. - Battery-Operated Smoke Detectors:
Public Housing - Install, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 5275
Res. 2710, SS Atlantic Her. Pk. Soc.: Chowder & Chat - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5276
Vote - Affirmative 5277
Res. 2711, NDP Women's Rights Comm. - Women Candidates:
Support - Congrats., Ms. M. More 5277
Res. 2712, Rahman, Abdul/Vols. - River John C@P: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Parker 5277
Vote - Affirmative 5278
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILL FOR SECOND READING:
No. 129, Pension Benefits Act 5278
Hon. K. Morash 5279
Mr. H. Epstein 5279
Mr. R. MacKinnon 5293
Mr. G. Steele 5303
Adjourned debate 5311
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments, Hon. M. Baker 5312
Law Amendments, Hon. M. Baker 5312
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Law Amendments Comm. - Bill No. 97: Sydney - Hearings,
Hon. M. Baker 5313
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Oct. 12th at 2:00 p.m. 5313
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2713, Williams, Mildred: Birthday (100th) - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 5314
Res. 2714, Colwill, Jana/Dockrill, Natalie: Skating Endeavours -
Best Wishes Extend, Mr. J. Chataway 5314
Res. 2715, MacRae, Bob/Baudoux, Everett/Servicemen -
Battle of Britain: Participation - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 5315
Res. 2716, Ferguson, Robert/Nicholson, Stephen/
St. John Ambulance Div. 701 - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 5315
Res. 2717, Fire Safety: MLAs - Promote, The Speaker 5316
Res. 2718, Laurie, Sarah: Track & Field Achievements - Congrats.,
The Speaker 5316
Res. 2719, Laurie, Sarah: NSSAF Gold Medal - Congrats., The Speaker 5317
Res. 2720, Harrison, Tori - Springhill Library Reading Prog.: Interest -
Congrats., The Speaker 5317
Res. 2721, Leuchter, Carley - Springhill Library Reading Prog.:
Interest - Congrats., The Speaker 5318
Res. 2722, Run for the Cure - Cumb. Co. Participants/
CIBC Participation - Congrats., The Speaker 5318
Res. 2723, NSCC Cumb. Campus - Renovation: Opening - Congrats.,
The Speaker 5319
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2676, Henwood, John - Parrsboro Town: Service (30 yrs.) -
Congrats., The Speaker 5320
Res. 2677, Hayden, Ralph - Murray Commun. Ctr.: Manager -
Appt. Congrats., The Speaker 5320
Res. 2678, Graham, Bruce: RTNDA Lifetime Achievement Award -
Congrats., The Speaker 5321
Res. 2679, Johnston, Lindsay: Lt.-Gov's. Award - Congrats.,
The Speaker 5321
Res. 2680, D&J Home Hardware - Springhill Commun.: Donation -
Congrats., The Speaker 5322

[Page 5251]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2004

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, I will call upon the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Opposition Parties as well as the government for giving me an opportunity to bring members up-to-date regarding our friend and colleague the Minister of Energy, Cecil Clarke, MLA for Cape Breton North. A number of colleagues, friends and, of course, the media are very concerned about Cecil's status. I spoke to Cecil's executive assistant a little less than an hour ago and he informs us that Cecil is doing extremely well. He's coherent, he's conscious. The hospital continues to run tests but Cecil is expected to make a full recovery. I think it sounded very positive this morning so I wanted to relay that to all members of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley for that update.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

5251

[Page 5252]

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 2681

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

Whereas the Board of Governors of the Nova Scotia Community College announced that Ray Ivany will be stepping down as President of Nova Scotia Community College at the end of his term in October 2005; and

Whereas the Board of Governors of the Nova Scotia Community College is beginning its search for the next president of the college; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College plays a vital role in the post-secondary education sector of the province in fulfilling the need for applied and technical education so critical to a vibrant provincial economy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations and best wishes to Ray Ivany who has provided outstanding leadership to the college during a period of significant growth and development, and to the Nova Scotia Community College and the Board of Governors for their continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 5253]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction before I introduce the bill. I would like to introduce, in the gallery opposite me, Mr. John McFarlane, President of the Nova Scotia Barrister's Society; and Mr. Darrel Pink, the Executive Director, who are here today to watch the proceedings of the House relative to the introduction of the bill. (Applause)

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

Bill No. 130 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Legal Profession. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 131 - Entitled an Act Respecting Policing in Nova Scotia. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 132 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 12 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Amusement Devices Safety Act. (Mr. Gordon Gosse)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, before I introduce the bill I would like to make an introduction of guests in the gallery today. I would like to draw the attention of the members to the west gallery, where we have visitors with us today who represent a number of organizations. I will ask everybody to stand, if I could, but I'll just mention a few of the people here: Chris Miller, who was here the other day, is from our area and he represents the Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Society; Raymond Plourde is with the Ecology Action Centre; Bob MacDonald is past president of the Halifax Field Naturalists; and there are also members of these groups, as well as the local Halifax NorthWest Trails Association who have joined us today. So I wonder if they would rise and we could give them a warm welcome, thank you. (Applause)

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

Bill No. 133 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 27 of the Acts of 1998. The Wilderness Areas Protection Act. (Ms. Diana Whalen)

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

[Page 5254]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2682

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

Whereas Ray Ivany will leave the post of President of the Nova Scotia Community College in October 2005, after seven years of dedicated service; and

Whereas the community college has been transformed under his leadership, and looks forward to completion of its program of expansion and modernization; and

Whereas Cape Bretoners and all Nova Scotians have gained from Ray Ivany's commitment to the principles of adult education and to the values of a well-educated and well-trained society;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its appreciation for Ray Ivany's contribution as President of the Nova Scotia Community College, and urge him to continue making a positive contribution after his term of office ends next year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2683

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, we might as well keep symmetry in its finest form here today. I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 5255]

Whereas Ray Ivany will be stepping down as President of the Nova Scotia Community College at the end of his term in October 2005; and

Whereas under Ray's seven-year tenure, the Nova Scotia Community College system has seen unprecedented growth and expansion of programs and services; and

Whereas the impact of Ray's dynamic and thoughtful vision for the Nova Scotia Community College system will be felt for generations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ray Ivany for the valuable contribution he has made to the education system 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. 2684

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 2nd annual Guysborough Walk for Liver was held October 3rd in Guysborough, with over 80 volunteers raising $7,400; and

Whereas Dale O'Connor of Guysborough organized the event in support of the Canadian Liver Foundation, with proceeds going to education and research; and

Whereas Dale O'Connor dedicates her heart and soul to this event, having received a liver transplant herself three and a half years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dale O'Connor and all of the volunteers who participated in the Guysborough Walk for Liver on a successful event.

[Page 5256]

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[9:15 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2685

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: M. le président, j'avise que je proposerai à une date ultérieure, l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que la communité de Pubnico Ouest présentera un soirée acadienne avec des artistes locaux le 13 octobre; et

Attendu que la communité présentera aussi les après-midi d'echange d'artisanas et de patrons acadiens; et

Attendu que des activités qui présentent l'art et la musique acadiennes sont très important pour promouvoir et préserver la culture acadienne en Nouvelle Écosse;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée législative félicitent les residents de la communité de Pubnico Ouest pour leur travail dûr pour promouvoir la culture acadienne en Nouvelle Écosse.

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

Whereas the community of Pubnico West is presenting an Acadian evening featuring local artists on October 13, 2004; and

Whereas the community is also presenting afternoons for Acadian artists and patrons; and

[Page 5257]

Whereas activities that feature Acadian art and music are very important for promoting the Acadian culture;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate the residents of Pubnico West for their hard work in promoting Acadian culture 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.

RESOLUTION NO. 2686

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

Whereas the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes area is a unique parcel of publicly-owned land that lies on the doorstep of the fastest growing communities in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the tremendous urban growth in the area has generated much concern about the need to balance growth with long-term planning and a vision for the future; and

Whereas these lands are within the immediate proximity of more than 100,000 HRM residents and as such have a tremendous recreational potential as well as potential health and environmental benefits;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House call for the Government of Nova Scotia to take immediate steps to protect and preserve the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes wilderness area for the benefit of future generations.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5258]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, before I give notice of this resolution, I would like to introduce to members of the House in the Speaker's Gallery, Dr. Graham Usher who is a dental specialist and Steve Jennex. These gentlemen are involved with the Nova Scotia Dental Association and this month of October is Sports Oral Injury Prevention Month and we would like to thank them for their involvement on behalf of our citizens.

RESOLUTION NO. 2687

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Dental Association has declared October as Sports Oral Injury Prevention Month as they bring awareness to the importance to protecting one's teeth while playing sports; and

Whereas research tells us that an athlete without a mouthguard is 60 times more likely to suffer a mouth injury and so we must remind youth and adults alike, as we encourage them to lead active and healthy physical lifestyles, to protect their teeth and prevent injury; and

Whereas two key areas of focus of the Office of Health Promotion are physical activity and injury prevention and we applaud organizations like the Nova Scotia Dental Association for taking action to help Nova Scotians play safely;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the Nova Scotia Dental Association for its commitment to the safety of Nova Scotians and that the members themselves wear mouthguards and prevent injury in sport and recreation and encourage our families and constituents to do so as well.

Mr. Speaker, before I seek waiver, perhaps the House could extend a warm welcome to our guests in the gallery today. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5259]

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 Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, before I do my resolution, I'd like to make an introduction with your permission. Today in our west gallery, we are joined by three guests, George Martello, Merle Roberts and Khristopher Knowles. They are going across the country on a public awareness campaign called Khristopher's Wish. There's a very excellent Web site you can go to to get more information, and they will be at City Hall today doing a press conference in their effort to raise awareness around the importance of every Canadian becoming a organ donor, signing their card. (Applause)

So I'd like to extend the welcome of the members to these guests in our gallery and I'd ask them to rise, please. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 2688

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

Whereas 14-year-old Khristopher Knowles needs a liver transplant; and

Whereas in spite of this health challenges, Kristopher is here today on day 275 of a 353-day, 200-city cross-Canada walk to raise awareness about organ donation; and

Whereas his project, Kristopher's Wish, has a goal - that every Canadian become an organ donor;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Kristopher Knowles on his courageous efforts to raise organ donation awareness, and pledge to him that all members will make every effort to promote organ donation in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5260]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2689

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

Whereas the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville has just launched the innovative literacy program Read to Me; and

Whereas every new parent at the hospital receives a bright yellow Read to Me gift bag filled with books and literacy resources within 24 hours of their infant's birth; and

Whereas this wonderful program has been established to address low literacy rates and reaches 10,000 infants across the province each year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville on this fantastic new program, and their site director, Mrs. Margaret Jenkins, and wish it continued future success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 5261]

RESOLUTION NO. 2690

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

Whereas farmers are arguably our most important economic sector; and

Whereas our increasingly urban population has less and less opportunity to connect with farmers, especially on their farms; and

Whereas on September 26, 2004, 46 farms throughout Nova Scotia, including three in Hants East, took part in Open Farm Day, hosted by the Nova Scotia Agricultural Awareness Committee, to allow the general public a chance to tour their farms and to explain their operations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the farmers taking part in Open Farm Day and the committee members for their forward- thinking initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2691

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

Whereas Master Corporal David Michael Pawulski of Waterville, Nova Scotia, in spite of serious back and neck fractures sustained in a July 18, 2002, helicopter crash in a heavily wooded area of northeastern Labrador, managed to extricate himself from the wreckage of his downed helicopter; and

[Page 5262]

Whereas Master Corporal Pawulski, after assessing the condition of his three teammates and freeing the other surviving crew member, was able to place a distress call and drag himself from the wreckage to administer first aid; and

Whereas ignoring his own pain, spent the ensuing two and a half hours preparing signals to alert a search and rescue team sent out to locate the site of the crash;

Therefore be it resolved that in view of his heroic actions and his perseverance in facilitating the rescue of his helicopter crew, the members of this House acknowledge and praise Master Corporal David Michael Pawulski on being presented the Star of Courage for his act of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, on June 25, 2004.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2692

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

Whereas on June 21, 2004, the East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club held their annual general meeting and awards night; and

Whereas members and volunteers were honoured for their hard work and ongoing dedication; and

Whereas the East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club had another successful year thanks to the support of volunteers, board members, staff and the community as a whole;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all of the East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club Award Night recipients and wish them all the best in the future.

[Page 5263]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2693

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

Whereas in 2001, the provincial Department of Energy identified active and inactive sites for strip mining in its long-term energy strategy; and

Whereas Birch Grove was not referenced anywhere in this report; and

Whereas 20 year ago, in September 1984, the residents of Birch Grove, the local Tory MLA and the Department of Energy rejected Birch Grove as a site for strip mining;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources explain fully why he is encouraging strip mining activity in Birch Grove and further explain where interests are being serviced.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2694

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

Whereas the fifth annual Firefighters Combat Challenge hosted by the Hilden Fire Brigade took place two weeks ago; and

[Page 5264]

Whereas fire departments and brigades from Brookfield, Bible Hill, Cobequid, North River, Middle Musquodoboit, Beaver Bank and Upper Stewiacke all participated; and

Whereas the Upper Stewiacke Fire Department entered a total of three teams in the nine team overall competition, placing first, third and ninth; while in the individual competitions, Upper Stewiacke Firefighters were a force to be reckoned with, as well, finishing second and third while also winning the over-40 female and junior divisions along with the people's choice award;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend our congratulations to the Upper Stewiacke Fire Department for a commendable effort, and to all fire departments and brigades that entered the fifth annual Firefighters Combat Challenge in Hilden, Colchester County, in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 2695

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

Whereas residents' associations are a time-honoured and effective way for communities to voice and address local concerns; and

Whereas the Ketch Harbour Area Residents Association was formed in 1999 and has since then rebuilt the government wharf, advocated for the protection of the Duncans Cove Barrens, and was working to preserve the Chebucto Head Lighthouse, site of many of Helen Creighton's field recordings; and

[Page 5265]

Whereas KHARA has not been deterred by the destruction of the lightkeeper's house this Summer but, in September, opened the new community wharf and hosted a day of dory racing;

Therefore be it resolved that this House support the establishment of residents' associations wherever possible and commend the work of the Ketch Harbour Area Residents Association, in particular.

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 Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 2696

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

Whereas Mitchell Hunter, a singer and songwriter from Lower Sackville, released his first single this Summer called They Might Say, from his first album People Will Believe Anything If You Whisper It; and

Whereas Mitchell started writing songs at the age of 14 and, when not studying at the University of Toronto, he now enjoys listening to his songs on major radio stations; and

Whereas Mitchell is planning a Maritime tour with his band this Fall with further information available online at www.mitchellhunter.com;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Mitchell Hunter and wish him great success with his music career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5266]

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. 2697

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

Whereas the roads and bridges of Nova Scotia are needed to provide essential emergency services to the residents of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Eureka Fire Department in Pictou County has informed the province that it will no longer be crossing the bridge spanning the river between Churchville and Eureka;

Whereas the Department of Transportation and Public Works plans to replace the bridge spanning the river between Churchville and Eureka in 2005; and

Therefore be it resolved that this government repair the bridge spanning the river between Churchville and Eureka as soon as possible to ensure emergency services will continue.

[9:30 a.m.]

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 5267]

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2698

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

Whereas North Shore, Colchester County 4-H member Jamie Fraser, from Bayhead, recently won a $1,500 national scholarship from Farm Credit Canada; and

Whereas Jamie was one of only six 4-H members from across Canada to receive this esteemed scholarship; and

Whereas Jamie attends Grade 12 at North Colchester High in Tatamagouche and to go along with her scholarship, she also won a $3,000 grant to begin work on a project involving the second publication of "Celebrating the Harvest," a local food guide;

Therefore be it resolved that Jamie Fraser be applauded by all MLAs for her meaningful work in both education and agriculture and wish her continued success with the harvest supper she is working on with local farmers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2699

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

Whereas the Dartmouth Heritage Museum is a non-profit community-based facility that develops and supports Dartmouth's cultural and heritage life; and

[Page 5268]

Whereas the Dartmouth Heritage Museum Society and Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia celebrated the opening the House of Imagination at Evergreen House in Dartmouth October 7, 2004; and

Whereas the exhibition of Mermaid Theatre's whimsical puppets are delighting young and old;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Dartmouth Heritage Museum Society and museum staff and Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia for their creative partnership in the House of Imagination and thank them for their ongoing contributions to the culture and heritage of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2700

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

Whereas Master Corporal Joseph Carl Steeve Bedard of Greenwood, Nova Scotia and Sergeant Joseph Andre Hotton of Berwick, Nova Scotia in their work as search and rescue technicians, parachuted into a heavily forested crash site to rescue a severely injured man following a helicopter crash in a rugged and mountainous area near Natashquan, Quebec, on September 30, 2002 and;

Whereas without concern for their personal safety and using improvisational means, they managed to free the sole survivor trapped in the crushed wreckage and;

Whereas in cold and dark conditions, both provided care to the suffering man until a rescue helicopter arrived to airlift them to safety, some seven hours later;

[Page 5269]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend Master Corporal Bedard and Sergeant Hotton for their acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances and offer congratulations on being awarded the Medal of Bravery by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada at ceremonies held June 25, 2004;

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2701

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

Whereas nearly 40 per cent of women will develop cancer during their lifetimes, making it the leading cause of premature death in Canada; and

Whereas the early detection of cancer increases the chances of successful treatment; and

Whereas the 8th Annual Well Woman Clinic is being held in Liverpool on October 15, 2004 to offer information and services to women in the area, in an effort to decrease cancer rates in Queens County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage women to help to reduce cancer rates in Queens County by attending this free clinic and thank the staff of the Well Woman Clinic for their important contributions to women's health.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5270]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2702

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

Whereas on Saturday, September 18, 2004 I attended the Eastern Shore Wildlife Rehabilitation and Rescue Centre's fun, informative open house along with many other families and children; and

Whereas the non-profit, volunteer-driven centre relies entirely on donations from the public and veterinary requirements are generously donated by the Dartmouth Veterinary Hospital; and

Whereas the centre specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of injured or orphaned native fur-bearing animals, sea birds and song birds, of which service I was able to access recently when a sea bird became stranded in my yard;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the important service that the Eastern Shore Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is providing, and thank all those who have a part in making it possible.

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 5271]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 2703

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

Whereas sadly, Raleigh Orr of Truro, who was a true champion for bettering the lives of disabled persons in our community, our province and our country, recently passed away; and

Whereas Raleigh Orr did not let the challenge of muscular dystrophy impair his work on behalf of other disabled persons, and he served as Chair of the Nova Scotia League of Equal Opportunity and as Chair of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Society; and

Whereas Raleigh Orr, a retired school teacher and principal, was also a founding member of the Disabled Consumers Society for the Truro and Colchester region;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the outstanding contribution Raleigh Orr made to improving the lives of disabled persons, and extend sincere sympathy to his wife Lillian, his children and grandchildren on their loss.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2704

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

[Page 5272]

Whereas Nova Scotia must develop a strategy to help problem gamblers in Nova Scotia, especially those who are addicted to VLTs; and

Whereas the NDP has been trying to force the Hamm Government to quickly and responsibly deal with this issue, by holding public hearings as soon as possible; and

Whereas the Liberals have indicated that VLT use and gambling addiction was a major problem in this province, yet leadership candidate Francis MacKenzie wants to install more VLTs in Nova Scotia and start a racino;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, long known for saying one thing and doing another, be congratulated for being consistent rather than consistently right.

Mr. Speaker, I will not be requesting waiver. This resolution may be fodder for a future day.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 2705

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 Art Gallery of Nova Scotia brings the visual arts and people together in an environment which encourages exploration, dialogue and enjoyment; and

Whereas the Art Gallery is an agency of the Government of Nova Scotia, and this government has continually cut its funding; and

Whereas due to these cuts in funding, the Nova Scotia Art Gallery has had to discontinue its free admission days, where visitors could enjoy the beauty and culture the gallery provides at no cost;

Therefore be it resolved that this government adequately fund the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia so free admission days can once again be enjoyed by all people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5273]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2706

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

Whereas the Scout movement teaches youth how to solve practical problems, participate in community projects and volunteer work, and how to set and achieve goals for themselves, as well as numerous outdoor activities; and

Whereas the Howell family of Sydney, Nova Scotia, namely Linda and Rick and their two sons, Kyler and Nash, are members of the Saint Theresa's 5th Vanier Scouts; and

Whereas for the past 10 years, they have volunteered and participated in the Scouts Canada movement;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the Legislative Assembly congratulate the Howell family for their dedication and commitment to the Scouting movement, and for being emblematic of the motto, the family that plays together, stays together.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 5274]

RESOLUTION NO. 2707

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

Whereas on Sunday, September 12, 2004, Lighthouse Celebration Day was held in Sandy Cove, Terence Bay, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas community volunteers continue to work toward making this historic lighthouse an integral part of this legendary coastal community; and

Whereas a wonderful afternoon was enjoyed by the many in attendance;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate this lighthouse committee with best wishes for much success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour on an introduction.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to make an introduction to a couple who are in the gallery opposite and they were here yesterday touring and viewing the House. I would like to introduce Merrily and David Birkenstein from Winnetka, Illinois. They have been enjoying their vacation here in Halifax and we certainly hope they enjoy the proceedings of the House. We would ask that they stand and receive the warm applause of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our visitors from the U.S. and hope they enjoy their stay here.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 5275]

RESOLUTION NO. 2708

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 Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club has celebrated its 40th Anniversary of playing an integral part in the lives of many Dartmouth children and youth; and

Whereas over those 40 years the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club has expanded its programs and services to reach out to other organizations in the community; and

Whereas the benefits of the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club can be measured by the educational achievements and successful careers of many of the children and youth who have entered its doors;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club on reaching their 40th Anniversary and commend the club for its dedicated service to our children and youth.

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. 2709

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 this week marks Fire Prevention Week in Canada, a week dedicated to promoting fire safety, including the use of smoke detectors to save lives; and

Whereas it has been a year since tragedy struck a family living in provincial housing because they did not have battery-operated backup smoke detectors for power outages; and

[Page 5276]

Whereas in spite of calls to provide battery-operated smoke detectors in all provincially-owned housing to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, the government has taken no action;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services undertake a plan to install battery-operated smoke detectors in public housing in order to prevent needless suffering for any more families.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2710

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

Whereas the SS Atlantic Heritage Park Society hosted on September 11, 2004, a Chowder and Chat at the Terence Bay Fire Hall with Professor William Flayhart of Delaware State University; and

Whereas Professor Flayhart spoke on the perils of the Atlantic; and

Whereas all in attendance enjoyed a great evening;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the SS Atlantic Heritage Park Society for its initiative and thank Professor Flayhart for his insightful presentation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5277]

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. 2711

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

Whereas the Women's Rights Committee of the Nova Scotia NDP is committed to encouraging and supporting more women to run as candidates in provincial elections; and

Whereas this Women's Rights Committee organized a day-long workshop held in East Preston last year on topics of interest to potential women candidates; and

Whereas a registration fee of $15, which included the cost of lunch, allowed women from across the province and representing different socio-economic and cultural groups to share information and experiences with a number of resource people;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party's Women's Rights Committee for their vision, energy and practical approach to supporting women candidates in this province.

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2712

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

[Page 5278]

Whereas the River John Community Access Program (C@P) has been operating successfully for more than 10 years in the River John Library's Innovation Centre; and

Whereas Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library manager, Eric Stackhouse, describes it as a jewel, adding it is the most used site per capita in the province with more than 50 people signing in each day; and

Whereas the River John C@P site is operated by volunteers, including founding member Abdul Rahman who was recently honoured for his dedicated service and who will soon be moving out of province;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Mr. Rahman and all the volunteers for their countless hours of service to the people of the area throughout the River John Community Access Program and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[9:45 a.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 129.

Bill No. 129 - Pension Benefits Act.

[Page 5279]

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to rise to begin second reading on Bill No. 129 regarding the amendments to the Pension Benefits Act. I'll spend just a few minutes outlining the amendments that we're proposing and speak very briefly on the principles of the legislation.

The amendment responds to the needs and the requests from pension plan sponsors, namely those pension plans for municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals and the private sector. Currently under the Pension Benefits Act, plan administrators are required to provide eligible members with the right to grow in, to unreduced retirement benefits where a defined pension plan is winding up. This amendment would remove that requirement for all pension plans. The change will reduce the contributions required to provide for those liabilities.

We are accommodating this request, first because it has broad support from the employers, the various unions and associated groups such as the Federation of Labour, Halifax Regional Municipality, the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations and private companies. And, second, because we find it to be reasonable as this cost is imposed only on pension plans that provide generous early retirement benefits. It's not a cost for all defined plans.

The approach is also consistent with other jurisdictions and with model pension legislation. It's also consistent with pension amendments made in the past in Nova Scotia. In 2003, after full consultation and with the agreement of the construction industry, this grow-in benefit was removed from their defined pension plans. I'd like to make it very clear this particular amendment in no way affects an employee's pension at age 65.

This grow in is an extra top-up benefit that in fact has the potential to affect few people. It would only apply under very specific and unusual circumstances and those circumstances are that the employee must be in a defined benefit plan, the plan must allow for subsidized early retirement benefits, all or part of the operation must close down, the employee must be at the point and have years of service and age adding up to 55.

Therefore, I'm pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 129 today. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this is a very interesting bill. I'm happy to take the opportunity to make a few remarks on behalf of our caucus. You and the honourable minister will know that I am not the critic for labour relations matters nor indeed, the critic at this point for finance issues which would normally extend to the financing of the sum of the pensions that exist in the province. However, I have been asked to speak to this legislation and I'm happy to do so.

[Page 5280]

Reading the bill, it's an extremely short bill and it has really one purpose which is to remove from the existing Pension Benefits Act in Nova Scotia a provision which is common to our province and to Ontario. It's a provision which I believe does not exist in any other province in Canada.

Yet, just to jump ahead so as not to leave the minister or his colleagues or any other listeners in any doubt as to where we stand on this, our caucus has decided that we cannot support this initiative from the government. So, therefore, we will not be supporting this bill at second reading. What I intend to do, today, is to explain why it is that we have arrived at this conclusion because we have no hesitation about that.

So let me start by doing a quick review of the proposal that comes forward before we turn to the actual content of what it is that the bill means. Members will recall that the government announced, as part of the budgetary process in the Spring of this year, that they had the intention of bringing forward such legislation, that they had the intention of ending the so-called grow-in provision as it exists under the Pension Benefits Act of the province. At that time the issue was flagged as one of some concern. At that time there was some confusion as to whether there was actual support from the organized labour movement in Nova Scotia. There was some confusion as to which employers were interested in this. There was some confusion as to who supported it and who opposed it. There was some confusion as to whether it was a good or a bad idea. The government at the time, as part of the budgetary process, decided that it would not attempt at that point to proceed with legislation.

What has happened in the interim is that the government has, I gather, reconsidered its position and yet decided still that it wishes to go forward with legislation that takes away the so-called grow-in provisions. Now, I think it's important that we just take a minute to understand exactly what it is that we're focusing on here, exactly what it is that the government is saying that it wants to do away with. I discovered very early on in my practice as a lawyer that pensions are matters that are quite technical and they are a matter for experts.

Pension laws and pension agreements themselves can be extremely convoluted and extremely difficult to understand and yet there are some parts of them that are fairly clear. Pensions, for example, everyone understands, are meant to provide some income for people after they cease their full-time or part-time employment in their jobs or professions. The idea is to put money aside until a particular age is reached. Frequently that age is seen as being age 65. Usually what happens in some workplaces is that an employer is a partial contributor to a pension plan and the employees are partial contributors to pension plans but, of course, this is not true in all workplaces. Pensions are seen as a benefit and, of course, they have to be negotiated as part of the terms and conditions of employment between the employees and the employer. So not all workplaces do have pension plans.

[Page 5281]

In fact, I was a little surprised to learn just recently from the Superintendent of Pensions in the Province of Nova Scotia that there are only 150, maybe the number is 140, private pension plans that she superintends in Nova Scotia. Now, that was, to my mind, a shockingly small number, but be that as it may, we do know that there are a lot of workplaces where there are no pension plans. It's a very good thing to have a pension plan. It's a very good thing for employees to have some means of enforced savings that will work towards helping them when they retire.

Now, I learned when I first started to study pensions that actuaries and pensions' experts think of pensions by two main designations. There are what are called defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans. A defined contribution plan is one in which the employer and the employees put money into a fund and come the day the employee retires, their share of the fund is taken out and is used to buy an annuity of some sort and that gives them their pension - end of story essentially.

It's a defined contribution plan. The employer is making no promise as to what the level of the pension will be. All they're doing, and all the employee is doing, during the years of employment, is putting money into the fund and, on the day they retire, their share of the fund is taken out and invested. I want to say, of course, that this is an extremely risky proposition for employees. This is easily illustrated by thinking about the situation in 1987, with respect to the stock market.

An employee who retired, say, in July or August 1987, having worked, say, 30 years for an employer, would have taken their share of the pension plan out and it would have been invested in their annuity, but everyone remembers that in October 1987, there was a very severe decline in the value of the stock market. A colleague of that same employer, that same employee as well, who had worked the same 30 years for that company but who retired in November instead of July, August or September, retiring with their share of the pension plan, on a defined contribution plan, would have retired with a pension valued approximately one-third less than their colleague who had retired a month or two before. That's a defined contribution plan, and it's risky.

You know what, this is not what we're talking about today. We're talking about a different kind of plan. We're talking about the defined benefit plan, because this is the second type of plan that exists, broadly speaking. In this plan, what happens is that the employer and the employees agree to make contributions to the plan but, at the same time, the plan also goes on to define the nature of the benefits that the employees will receive when they retire. Indeed, the employer stands as guarantor of those benefits. That's part of what makes this a different kind of plan, what's known as a defined benefit plan.

Probably many of us are familiar with the nature of the usual form of the defined benefit. Usually it's expressed as a certain percentage, usually around 2 per cent, of your average few best years of salary, perhaps the last three, perhaps the last five, multiplied by the

[Page 5282]

number of years of employment. This is a standard formula. So, for example, someone who has worked 35 years would get two times 35, that is 70 per cent, of the average of their three or five best years of their salary upon retirement. That is the typical, and I should say, perhaps, not one of the best forms - those numbers that I'm giving would be the best forms, because, in fact, there are federal rules under the Income Tax Act that do limit the maximum amount of pension that can be paid.

So 70 per cent would be the maximum amount that could be paid out as a pension, but that's the form of what makes it a defined benefit plan. Crucially, the employer is guaranteeing that that pension will be paid. So, how do they do that? The way they do that is by attempting to make sure that during the lifetime of the plan, during the years in which the business is in operation, the money is invested in a professional way, so as to generate enough returns to make sure that there's enough money there to pay their employees when they retire. That's what pension investments are all about.

So, to take the example I gave a minute ago of the downturn in the stock market in 1987, that would not, under a defined benefit plan, have affected the pension entitlements of the employees who retired in the Summer or later in the Fall. They would both get the same amounts of money. The performance of the stock market, over the years, would, of course, have some bearing on the ability of the plan to pay, but the plan would still be obliged to pay the guaranteed pension upon retirement. So both the employees and the employers have a duty to oversee and look to make sure that the plan is invested in a solid and responsible fashion in order to make sure that the money is generated over the years.

Mr. Speaker, did you want an interruption?

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

MR. EPSTEIN: Absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova on an introduction.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring your attention to the west gallery. In the west gallery, today, we have my nephew from Cape Breton, he's in college here, Ryan Gosse. He's up visiting, taking in the procedure day. I would like to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

[10:00 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Ryan to the gallery today and hope he enjoys the proceedings. Thank you.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 5283]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it's always a pleasure to see relatives of my colleagues coming here to enjoy the proceedings.

Mr. Speaker, I was saying that the second kind of pension plan, the defined benefit plan, is the one we're really focusing on here today, through this legislation. Under these plans, what happens is that there is usually a process of negotiation between the employer and the employees that will set many of the terms of this main benefit known as a pension plan. So, for example, in a negotiation process, the employer and the employees will negotiate the amount of money usually expressed as a percentage of wages that will be contributed to the plan, and they will also negotiate the benefits that are payable under the plan, and sometimes those benefits change. Usually, a good pension plan is something that a group of employees will be very interested in negotiating for. It won't be the only thing they're interested in negotiating for, but it will certainly be one of the things that they will look for, along with wages and other forms of benefits like an extended health care plan, or a dental plan, or life insurance and so on.

When negotiations take place, they're designed to provide benefits, but also to provide for other contingencies in the workplace. One of the contingencies that sometimes arises in a workplace is that an employer will desire that some of their employees retire early. Now the normal thing is that employees will retire at age 65. Now when I say normal, what I mean is that usually age 65 will be the point in employment at which entitlement to full pension benefits will have been earned, and that's a crucial date. But sometimes in workplaces employers take the view that they want their employees to retire earlier than that and they will come to the employees as part of the negotiation process that may come up at the expiry of a collective agreement, or they may come to their employees in the middle of a contract because circumstances might have changed, and the employer will say, we would like to negotiate a special early retirement package for some members of the union, some workers in the workplace.

Sometimes this happens because there is going to be some kind of merger or amalgamation of the businesses, or sometimes it'll happen because the employer wants to expand but is desirous of bringing on new people who have less experience. There are a variety of things that might move an employer to come and speak to the union and say, we want to negotiate some kind of early retirement plan.

Now, when this happens, of course, all elements of the plan are open to negotiation. By that I mean, all elements of the retirement plan are open to negotiation because if an employee is being invited to think about retiring early, then they have to say to themselves, well, what about my pension? Am I still going to get my full pension and if so, when do I get my full pension, or do I get less of a pension? Sometimes it's not just the employer who wants a group of employees to retire early, sometimes it's individual employees who might come along and say, well I'm kind of interested in retiring at age 50 or 55, or 60, instead of waiting until I'm 65. That happens a lot. A lot of people will look at it and make their own judgments

[Page 5284]

based on their own individual circumstances, in which they say to themselves, you know what, I'm going to be a lot happier in life if I'm retired when I'm 55, rather than waiting until I'm 65.

What usually happens is that their pension, if they voluntarily want to get out, will be what's called actuarily reduced. Actuaries are a profession that are able to look at pension plans and give advice to employers and to employees about how pension plans should be funded, about how much money is needed. They base this on general life expectancy tables, they base this on tables looking at the specifics of the age profile of a group of employees in a particular workplace, they base it looking, in part, on the performance of the investments of the funds, and so they're required, and are able, to give advice to the employers and the employees about the amount of money that's needed in the pension plan.

Actuaries have made suggestions as to the kind of reductions in the pension that should be paid to an employee, if they voluntarily take early retirement. The usual number is that for every month of early retirement, there's, I believe one-tenth or one-twelfth of 1 per cent of the pension that is reduced. So, early retirement can, in fact, and very reasonably will, when an employee voluntarily, on their own, comes forward and says I want to retire early, it will be reduced. That's a reasonable thing. So people know that if they haven't worked for the full 30 or 35 years, and they retire early, they're going to take less of a pension, because they've missed out on five or 10 years of making contributions to the plan and, indeed, there's five or 10 years in which the employer has not made contributions to the plan on behalf of that employee. If they choose to retire early, naturally there's going to be a reduction. That's not unusual. But we're not talking about that situation, either.

What we're talking about is a situation in which the employer desires to reduce their workforce and to put in place an early retirement scheme. This is a situation which, for whatever reason, and I've suggested earlier a few, the employer comes along and invents a scheme in which they're trying to induce the employees to retire early. Many of us who have worked in employer-employee relations or any of us who have sometimes been employed in businesses or enterprises, including, sometimes, government departments, that have gone through this kind of exercise, will be familiar with some of the typical forms of the inducements that employers offer.

One, for example, is sometimes referred to as a rule of 80 or a rule of 85. This is an inducement in which the employer says, well, look, if your age plus your years of service add up to 80 or 85, then you can retire now and take your full pension. You don't have to wait until you're 65. So, if it was a rule of 80, if someone was 50 and they had worked for 30 years, they would be able to retire at age 50 with their full pension. Now, that's a great benefit. But I'm talking about the circumstances in which the employer comes forward on their own and offers this kind of inducement. They may have their reasons, and sometimes those kinds of plans are put in place. Sometimes they're put in place as a one-time or short-term special offer, available now, take it or leave it. That's known.

[Page 5285]

But there's another circumstance, and there's a circumstance in which employers will sometimes offer this kind of early retirement on an ongoing basis. They will offer it as a benefit on an ongoing basis. It doesn't happen a lot, but it's sometimes there. Now, if that happens, it's not usually so extremely generous. Typically it might well have been negotiated between the employer and the employees. Usually it will focus on encouraging employees to retire at around 60, that is to say five years earlier than the normal retirement date.

When this is part of the scheme that the employer and the employees have worked out, then this is not mandatory, usually it's an option, and now we have to think about the actuaries, again because one of the things that the actuaries do, as I said, is they advise the employer and the employees how much money has to go into the plan. They do it based on the terms of the plan among many other factors, and when one of the factors in the design of a plan is an ongoing early retirement inducement, the actuaries have to think about that and they do think about that. They think about it and it's part of their calculations of how much money has to go into the plan.

They know that the inducement is there. They know that a certain number, or they predict that a certain number of employees will take up that inducement, and based on that, along with all the other factors about age profile and life expectancy and investments, they advise the employer and the employees as to the amount of money that has to go into the plan. In other words, what I'm saying is that this kind of early retirement is already factored into the actuarial assumptions as to the necessary funding for the plan.

Well, now the situation gets a little more complicated and here's the problem. The problem is if you have an employer in a defined benefit plan which includes one of these ongoing inducements for early retirement and the employer goes out of business before the employees qualify for their retirement benefit, then what? It doesn't have to be if the employer goes out of business completely, it could be that they go out of business partially in the part where some employees were interested in retiring. Just think back to that rule of 80 that I talked about, or maybe it's a rule of 85.

Think about an employee who has been working towards this, thinking that say they're going to retire with full pension that has been promised to them under this early retirement scheme and contributions have been made on that basis up to the date, and two years before they actually qualify for this early retirement benefit, the employer decides they're going to close up shop, go out of business in whole or in part, or it might be that there's a merger. It might be that two companies merge and the two pension plans, or maybe more pension plans, have to be put together and some of the employees are eliminated, it's going to go.

Now, it's that situation that we're talking about and I want to remind members that the minister said there are very few people who are going to be affected by this. I'm sure members can understand now that I've put this in context that that's probably right. There

[Page 5286]

probably are relatively few people who are going to be caught in this situation. Interestingly, the minister went on to say, having once said that there are very few people who are going to be affected, that there are millions of dollars at stake and it's an urgent problem. Well, you know, on the face of it those are not exactly consistent statements that there are very few people and it hardly ever comes up compared with the statement that there are millions and millions of dollars at risk and that it's an urgent problem, but we'll get to that in a minute.

So let's just concentrate for a moment on the fact that it doesn't come up a huge amount, but it does occur. It occurred, for example, I'm familiar with the circumstance at Halifax Regional Municipality. I should tell the minister and you, Mr. Speaker, and members that I was a former municipal councillor. I was a member of the city council in the City of Halifax and of the council for Halifax Regional Municipality. Now, when I was a councillor at the City of Halifax - I guess alderman was the term that was used then - when I was an alderman at the City of Halifax, I chaired the city's pension committee. There was a pension committee that was made up of the people who were managing the plan, that is the city administrators because many of them were part of the plan as well. There were a number of different employee groups that were involved in it. At that time I don't think the councillors were involved in the pension plan although I think later some of them were. I chaired that committee and I got to know fairly intimately what it was that was going on with that plan.

[10:15 a.m.]

Of course at the time of amalgamation in 1996, the City of Halifax, the City of Dartmouth, the Town of Bedford and the Municipality of the County of Halifax all became one entity, and one of the problems that had to be worked out in the ensuing years was how there was going to be a merger of those pension plans - there didn't have to be, but it made sense to try to bring them all together into one pension plan. There was a problem of working out the valuation of people's respective earlier contributions to their plans and looking at how their respective plans had performed over the years, and this was a very difficult exercise, and it went on for months and months.

There were endless meetings. Mercer, which is a well-known Canadian pension advisory company was involved on the technical side, all of the unions involved had their representatives, management was at the table - there were very complicated discussions. This was an example of where it is that some people were essentially invited to take some early retirement, because those kinds of inducements were brought on board.

Nova Scotia has a provision in the law right now that addresses the question of windup, full or partial windup of a pension plan, where this kind of early retirement benefit is in place. What our law says at the moment is that employees are able to assume that they would have met the requirement. This is what's called the grow-in provision. The assumption of the Statute in Nova Scotia, and indeed in Ontario, is that employees who have reached a certain stage in their employment are entitled to the benefit that they have been promised by

[Page 5287]

their employers. So there are further contributions that are necessary in order to make that up, but the point is that early closure of the workplace, in whole or in part does not deprive those employees of this benefit that will have been offered by the employer or negotiated through a process between the employer and the employees.

It is easy to understand the policy of that. The policy recognizes that an inducement has been put in place; the policy recognizes that there is a legitimate expectation; and the policy recognizes as well that in the preceding years of employment the employee contributions and the employer contributions will have been gauged to a level that, on the advice of the actuaries, took into account the fact that there was an early retirement benefit built into the plan. So it's not as if the employees or the employer have not been paying based on the assumption that there was an early retirement benefit built into the plan.

So we have this protection. This protection says that to some employees, if they've gotten a certain length of time into their employment, they can still move on to qualify for the early retirement benefit that they had been promised, and that they have been paying for. Bill No. 129 proposes to take that away; that's the point. Bill No. 129 says why don't we take that away, why don't we take away the legislated protection for those employees who are caught in this squeeze? Why don't we take away the legislated protection that Nova Scotia workers who have an early retirement benefit that they've negotiated but they haven't quite reached it, let's take away the promise in the legislation that says to them, you're going to be able to still qualify for that early retirement benefit.

I say, why? Why do we want to do this? As I said at the beginning, we've reached the conclusion that it doesn't seem appropriate and we don't want to support it. I apologize for taking such a long time to get to the point of explaining what it is that we're dealing with, but it does require a certain amount of technical analysis that I thought was so exceedingly compressed in the honourable minister's statement at the beginning, that many members here who might not have dealt with pensions, would be a little puzzled by it.

Now that we can focus on this, that I think explains what it is that our concern is. Our concern is that Nova Scotia workers have been offered a statutory protection that is an appropriate protection for something that is a real circumstance that comes up from time to time and that is now being proposed to be taken away.

What can we make of this? How is it that this comes forward? I pointed to the history of the one example - excuse me, Mr. Speaker, I think an honourable member might have an interjection.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West on a point of order?

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: No, I have a question, Mr. Speaker. I believe the honourable member has indicated he's prepared to accept a question?

[Page 5288]

MR. SPEAKER: Is that the case, honourable member?

MR. EPSTEIN: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, proceed with your question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: The honourable member has just indicated that there are particular cases that come up from time to time. Perhaps if he'd be kind enough to provide us some indication of one or two of those circumstances.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased that the honourable member is paying attention. That's exactly the point I had reached in my speech. I was about to turn to some other examples.

I had mentioned the example of Halifax Regional Municipality, but another example that we should remember is the time of the closure of the Ultramar refinery in Eastern Passage. At the time of the closure of that refinery, there were employees who were in exactly that position. They were in exactly that position, faced with - not a partial closure - a full closure and a wind-up of the plan and they had this set of circumstances. I want to put that on record as being one of the examples that we have here in Nova Scotia.

There are other examples around the country where this has come up. I think what really prompted this statutory protection for employees in our province and in Ontario was the wind-up of the Massey Ferguson plant operations in Ontario. There were employees there who were caught in that squeeze and I think that, as I recall, was the prompting for the Province of Ontario to bring in this kind of protection in the first place. I thank the member for his question and that is the answer. This is not a unique situation.

So where are we with this? So far as I can tell from looking at the record of the materials that the minister has put in front of this House or at the materials that have passed back and forth among interested parties when this first came up in the Spring, the immediate prompting actually seems to come from HRM. We actually have a letter from his worship, the mayor of HRM, passing on to us a request from the pension committee of HRM asking that this change be made. I'll get to that in a moment.

That, although it might be the immediate prompting, is not the only history or background to this proposal. We do know that this is an idea that has emerged on some previous occasions, I believe when the provincial government looked at some possibilities for amendments to the Pension Benefits Act back in 1998, that the possibility of removal of this grow-in provision, Sections 78 and 79 of the existing Act, was flagged at that time in a discussion paper, and it's only a discussion paper but it was flagged at the time as a possibility for something that could be removed. So it does have a history that is not tied exclusively to HRM. I cannot say that I favoured it then, and, as I said, we've worried about this and we've

[Page 5289]

tended to be skeptical about it, and have again reached the conclusion that we don't favour it now. We would take a huge amount of convincing.

Now, what we're faced with is the issue having been identified in Nova Scotia as early as 1998 as something that might be removed, we have the instance in front of us of HRM that seems to be looking for this change and claiming that it's an expensive item for them, and we also have, I think, some confusion in terms of the position of all organized labour in Nova Scotia. I recall that the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, in the Spring of this year, wrote to, I think, the minister, perhaps to all members of the Legislature or perhaps just to some caucus members, I can't recall, indicating that they thought, in general, they supported the call by HRM to remove these sections, these protective sections of the Pension Benefits Act.

Normally, of course, if the Federation of Labour had reached that conclusion, we in this caucus would be extremely hesitant about taking a different position. Now, that's one of the reasons that we continued to have talks with the federation and with other members of organized labour in Nova Scotia. I think I heard the honourable minister, in his introduction, suggest that there was support from the Federation of Labour for his Bill No. 129.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table, if I could, a letter to the minister dated October 7th from the president of the Federation of Labour, Mr. Rick Clarke. He indicates, I think, something different than the minister had suggested. He suggests that at this point the Federation of Labour is not necessarily in support of Bill No. 129, and is looking forward to further consultation and tentatively reaches the view that they don't really support this bill. What I'm tabling is a letter that's addressed to the minister. I don't know if he's seen it yet, but I've tabled it now, so it's certainly available to the minister.

There is, I think, no better sign of maturity than a frank willingness to change your mind upon mature reflection. If what we have here is something from the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour in which they've indicated that upon more mature reflection, they've changed their mind, then I read that only as something sensible, as them taking advantage of the passage of the interim months to think in more depth about the problem.

As I said at the beginning, pensions are complicated matters. Pensions are an area, in many respects, for experts. Pensions are one of those things that have to be approached very cautiously, very carefully. Pensions have to be looked at in detail. So, I don't think the minister can really say that there is undivided support for this proposal from organized labour. I think the situation is that labour is certainly, at the very least, looking for wider consultation among potentially affected members of employee groups in Nova Scotia. Indeed, I think we have to follow the advice of the Federation of Labour in this regard and encourage the minister to undertake further and more detailed consultations before going ahead with this bill. This bill, I think, would be a prime candidate for setting aside for further thought.

[Page 5290]

[10:30 a.m.]

I know that our Superintendent of Pensions belongs to a national organization called the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities, CAPSA, and CAPSA is working toward a model pension law. This is an interesting and I would say, commendable exercise. To have the same pension benefit Act in place across the country, in each province, would make a lot of sense. It would give a certain amount of security of framework of understanding for employers and employees as they move around the country, but at the same time, the desire to have a uniform Statute does not have to be the overwhelming principle. If we have something different in our Statute, although it's not unique in the country, I pointed out that Ontario, with 40 per cent of the Canadian population and a very dynamic part of our Canadian national economy, has the same provision. There's no necessity to change it. It might be desirable to have many other aspects of the Pension Benefits Act read the same in Nova Scotia as they read in B.C. and Alberta and Quebec and Saskatchewan and so on. That would make sense, but if we have something that is an extra benefit that makes policy sense here, we don't have to abandon it.

So again I ask the question, where is this proposal coming from? Where is this proposal in Bill No. 129, to take away a legislated benefit that is of advantage to our employees? Where is it coming from? The pension supervisors, I think, are not pushing hard for it. They recognized it as something that only two provinces have and so maybe it could be removed, but that's hardly the same thing as saying that it's necessary to remove it. We do know that there is a letter from HRM and we know that the Federation of Labour was asked whether it had any particular stance on this and we've heard slightly different things from them over time. So the focus, I think, turns to HRM. I was quite intrigued to see that the letter that came to our caucus from HRM, including the letter from the mayor, including the backup letters from the chairman of the pension committee at HRM, came in an envelope with a Mercer name and return address on the outside.

I saw the Mercer company at work during the amalgamation process. By amalgamation in this case I mean the very protracted talks about the putting together of the pension plan at HRM, after the effective legal amalgamation of the municipalities. I have to say that between 1996 and 1998, when I had to leave off in the process, having come to this House, that I got the distinct impression that Mercer, as pension experts and as pension advisers, were a little less than neutral in the process.

I got the distinct impression that they were doing their best to encourage the employees to sign onto formulas for the translation of the benefits that they had in their pre-existing pension plans as re-interpreted in a merged pension plan that were not as good as they probably should have been. So I have to tell you, speaking for myself, I view proposals for changes in our legislation that clearly take away a benefit to a worker that comes, in part, from Mercer with no little skepticism. So I worry about this.

[Page 5291]

Do you know what? However useful it is to say to ourselves, check the source, the issue still is, what about the content of what we're being asked to do? The content still is that this is a proposal to remove a benefit from employees that those employees will have paid for, in part, already. It has already been built into the actuarial assumptions that have gone to the funding of the plan up to the date of its full or partial windup. I say, phooey! I don't see that this makes sense. So what can justify this?

I have to say that I haven't heard any convincing proposal from the minister to explain why it is that he wants to take this benefit away. I've heard him make, to the best of my ability to listen, two points. One is, he says it affect virtually nobody. Well, let's just deal with that one for a minute. First, it doesn't matter if it affects virtually nobody. Even if that were true, it doesn't matter. If we have a good benefit, a sensible provision in our laws that affects somebody, then we can support it, we don't have to take it away.

Furthermore, some day it might affect people and, indeed, there have been examples in this province where it actually has affected people or would have if it had not been the law at the time, and I'm talking about HRM and I'm talking about Ultramar. Who's to say that there won't be another employer wanting full or partial windup of their pension plan at some point in the future? So, to say that it affects virtually nobody, gets us nowhere. I have to say this is one of the least convincing of suggested arguments, or props, for an argument that I've heard. So that's the first thing. I don't think we derive much comfort, nor are we convinced by this part of what the minister says.

Let's look at the second part of what the minister says, because I think this must be the more serious part of what it is that's actually at issue here. He says that it costs a lot of money, that this is going to cost employers and pensions plans a lot of money. Indeed, do you know what, that's what it is that they say in the letter from HRM and that's what they say in the letter from their pension committee co-chairmen, that this might cost us a lot of money.

Do you know what? I have a lot of sympathy with that, I do. I pay attention to money issues and when I chaired the pension committee at HRM, believe me, we spent a lot of time making sure that the funds were invested through professional investors who were held accountable to make sure they produced the proper rate of return, to pay the amount of money that was guaranteed to employees upon their retirement. We took this very seriously.

Many of you will know Bernard Smith, who, for a time after he left the City of Halifax as its Director of Finance, became the Deputy Minister of Finance for this province. Bernard Smith and I served on that committee together. Bernard Smith, I think, is widely recognized as a man of integrity and a man of very sound and sensible financial practices. Bernard Smith and I spent a lot of time together making sure that that pension plan that was in existence pre-amalgamation, municipally, in Nova Scotia for the City of Halifax employees was soundly administered and had the money to pay the defined benefit results that the employees had negotiated and that the employer had agreed to.

[Page 5292]

This is the key. The key is the performance of the pension plan at HRM subsequent to amalgamation. Now, I'm not saying that it's been poorly administered. I don't have any information to tell me that at all, but I do know, of course, there was a time a few years ago when the market went through some downturns. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the amalgamated pension plan was having some difficulty with their investments. Do you know what? Pension plans, particularly in the public sector where you have entities like municipalities, like hospitals, like provincial governments, are for the very long term, and some years the investments do well, some years they don't do so well, that happens, there are ups and downs.

I do not believe that if there is a problem with the investments of the HRM pension plan that the solution is to come here and say let us take away a statutory protection for our employees to qualify in the circumstances of an early retirement benefit that was promised to them before. I bet when they calm down, the HRM pension committee will probably take the same view. I say to HRM as employers, and I say to all employers in the province that if they don't like this statutory provision, they have an option open to them - they can go to their employees and try to negotiate at the bargaining table for a reduction or a removal of the early retirement benefit.

Let's recall that our statutory provision that Bill No. 129 proposes to take away only guarantees this benefit when it's previously been negotiated by the employer and employees. It's nothing to do with us here. If employers find us to be too expensive then they have a second alternative, on top of negotiations, they can get better pension administrators for the funds that they have in their plan. Or they can just wait, because the market is doing a lot better now. These are good years.

Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, I think their might be an interruption from an honourable member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm a little unclear on what he is saying. I just want to make sure I'm clear on what I heard him say. I think he is saying that contract takes place over legislation. I think that's what you said, as a matter of fact I'm sure that's what you said.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I'm extremely happy to have this opportunity to address myself directly to the Minister of Education and remind him of something. I want to remind him that repetition is the basic teaching tool. I'm going to say what I had to say again, in the hopes that he actually hears it correctly this time. This is why they have us sitting in rows reciting the six times tables when we are grade three - you keep saying it until you get it right.

[Page 5293]

I don't believe, Mr. Speaker, that I did say that contract takes precedence over legislation. What I did say (Interruption) No, no. What I did say was that our legislative provision only comes into play in circumstances in which the employer and employee have previously negotiated a benefit. Once the benefit has been negotiated, then our statutory provision actually provides a guarantee that at a certain point, it can't be taken away. What I am saying is, if the employer doesn't like it they can go back and not take away anything that has been guaranteed by Statute. They can't take away what's been guaranteed by Statute.

But for future employees, they can certainly say we don't like this, and it's not going to be on offer for anybody else. That is what I said is available to them. (Interruption)

Perhaps I wasn't so clear. I will go so far as saying, as agreeing, Mr. Speaker, that I might have made my point more clearly and I thank the minister for affording me the opportunity to clarify.

[10:45 a.m.]

There is another option available, as I said to employers, which is to try to make sure that their plans are properly funded. If they don't think their plans are performing well enough in the market, they can look for better professional advisers. I'm not saying it's guaranteed. I'm not saying that this isn't tricky. What I am saying is that there shouldn't be any panic on the part of employers. So, in the end, where we are with this is we can't see a good reason for going along with this proposal which takes away something that looks to us to be a sensible guarantee for employees in this province.

When I consider the points that have been put forward in justification, and what I consider the history here, particularly the history of employees who have found themselves in circumstances where their employment, their businesses have wound up earlier than they expected, I think we have a very rational, a very sensible protection for employees. That's why our caucus has reached the point of deciding that we can't support this bill. We look forward to hearing any arguments that might come forward that might convince us otherwise but, so far, our investigation of this complicated subject makes us think that we cannot support the bill. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to it.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on this particular piece of legislation, Bill No. 129, a revision to the Pension Benefits Act. This is an issue that obviously has come up on a number of occasions over previous years. I was quite keen on some of the observations that were made by the previous speaker, particularly as I sought to secure some detail as to some particular cases in Nova Scotia where this issue on the grow-in benefits - or the lack of it - would have caused some considerable consternation for employees involved in pension plans either publicly or privately throughout Nova Scotia.

[Page 5294]

I really haven't heard any particular detail with regard to Nova Scotia's situation. He made reference to the situation of Massey Ferguson in Ontario and I don't have all the details on that so I have to accept it at face value at this point what the honourable member was saying. I'm not even so sure all the parameters on that particular issue apply to the extent that they do here in Nova Scotia.

As I understand, there are a number of problems with this entire grow-in provision. Not being a financial adviser or planner or someone who does not have an extensive background in finance, as perhaps the Minister of Finance or other learned colleagues in the Legislature here, I do want to outline what I see as some of the problems as they exist now and why this particular piece of legislation would be appropriate.

A major problem with the grow-in provision is that employers are required every three years to calculate the total liability of the pension plan as if it were wound up today. With or without the grow-in provision, the employer would have to account for the solvency, liability, but the grow-in provision adds significant cost to the total liability of the pension plan. Further, employers are given five years to pay off any shortfalls - shortfalls largely created by the grow-in provision must be paid off in lump sums.

Roughly speaking, 80 per cent of the plans in Nova Scotia are unfunded at this particular point in time. So to continue with this grow-in provision is going to further the debt situation with these pension plans, particularly the previous speaker made reference to the Halifax Regional Municipality. The total unfunded liability of that pension plan with the grow-in provision, I believe, is somewhere in the vicinity of $70 million. For the life of me, I really don't see the Halifax Regional Municipality going bankrupt tomorrow or any time in the near future. In fact, it's perhaps one of the most lucrative municipal institutions in the country, certainly the Province of Nova Scotia for sure.

The initial cost to the taxpayers of the Halifax Regional Municipality - I say the taxpayers because it's their money. They have to pay the taxes. The previous speaker spoke very eloquently about HRM as though it were some type of a corporate entity severed from the public interest, but it's the property taxpayers in the Halifax Regional Municipality who have to foot this bill of $70 million, with the support of what the NDP are trying to initiate here today and I think that is very counterproductive.

I don't think any member of the NDP caucus would like to go back and tell their constituents that they want to increase their taxes because of this provision that will help to alleviate a lot of frustration, that not only the employer, the Halifax Regional Municipality, but also the employees' representatives are asking for in this piece of legislation. The NDP will stand here and say, no, we would rather put your taxes up to meet our dogmatic view of socialism. Now I think that's disgraceful that they would rather stick the Halifax Regional Municipality taxpayers with a $70 million tax bill. Why don't they put it on the table and say

[Page 5295]

it as it is, Mr. Speaker? They want to drive the taxes up in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Why? That is the question.

Now if, not only the employer, but the employees, the workers are asking for this, why are the NDP against it? If the universities are asking for it, not just the administration, but the employees, they are asking for it, why is the NDP against it? We don't know. Roughly speaking, about 5 per cent of a company's budget is required to pay growing costs and in some cases the cost can be hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. This is on top of the regular pension benefits that are set aside by both the employers and the employees. Although the costs to the employers are real, the windup event is hypothetical and unlikely to occur. Universities, hospitals, municipalities and yes, Mr. Speaker, private companies, the 140-plus that the honourable speaker before has referenced, are required to account for these high-growing costs, even though the likelihood of them winding up a pension plan is rare and next to impossible.

Because employees are having to put increased resources to cover the cost of grow-in provision, money is not spent on jobs, infrastructure, new technologies and so on, which obviously, is reflected in great thought, I believe, in the letter that was provided by the president of the Federation of Labour, to the Honourable Ronald Russell, Minister of Environment and Labour, a little more than a year ago, on this very issue, representing labour from one end of this province to the other, asking for this legislation and lo and behold, and I'll give you the details of it in a moment, on the same day that the present Minister of Labour introduces the legislation, what happens? Shortly after an encounter with the NDP caucus, which the president of the Federation of Labour is noted for, attending NDP caucus meetings, he comes back to the conversion that, look, he can't. He can't support this legislation. So he offers a letter of apology, on behalf of his membership, to the NDP caucus, under the veil of the letter to the Minister of Labour.

I think this is absolutely disgraceful - to sell out the workers of the Province of Nova Scotia, for political purposes. That's essentially what this letter says, and I quote, Mr. Speaker, from the letter dated October 7, 2004, "It is rather noticed that until we have an opportunity to consult with those who would be potentially impacted in this matter, we wish to be on the record as being opposed." A year and a half after he wrote the first letter, after extensive consultations at that point, he's coming back and saying, we haven't consulted. Well, what's going on in that NDP caucus meeting or meetings? It's just absolutely mind-boggling. He goes on to say, "Also until further notice and/or until a replacement position or letter is received . . ." - who knows how many more letters he's going to send - ". . . our correspondence of May 9, 2003 no longer reflects our position on this matter."

Well, to me, to quote the honourable Leader of the NDP, that's considered a flip-flop. It's a flip-flop, Mr. Speaker. But I do want to speak to the essence of this particular piece of legislation.

[Page 5296]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I wondered if the honourable member would entertain a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Cape Breton West entertain a question?

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period on Friday.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the honourable member for returning the favour from a little earlier in the proceedings. I just wanted to know if the honourable member was aware that this bill is not confined in its impact to HRM, but in fact extends to every employer in the province similarly placed?

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

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, if he had heard the comments that I made earlier, he would have clearly understood I was speaking about public and private plans, but perhaps he missed that point, and I understand why he did. (Interruptions) Given the consideration of the letters that we have before us, it doesn't surprise me what position they're going to have on Tuesday.

The president of the Federation of Labour, and I think this is very important to put on the public record, because it speaks to the essence of what labour in this province has been saying with regard to this very issue of the grow-in provision on pensions. One such item is the requirement to assume that all members who have at least 55 points, that's a combination of age and service, retire at the earliest date they would be eligible for an unreduced pension, assuming that they have continued membership in the pension plan. The provision is known as the grow-in rule. Grow-in is a statutory enhancement of early retirement benefits required only under the pension legislation of Nova Scotia. Grow-in goes further than protecting accrued benefit, it actually requires that the employers, and in many cases members, make contributions which may ultimately not be required to fund the benefit of the plan.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, the president of the Federation of Labour states, we hereby request that the Province of Nova Scotia amend the Pension Benefits Act of Nova Scotia by removing the grow-in requirements. Clearly, the Federation of Labour supports this

[Page 5297]

legislation, despite the letter of apology that was issued yesterday by the leader of the Federation of Labour to his NDP caucus colleagues. (Interruptions)

Well, it's a noted fact, it's even documented in the public newspapers that he attends, on a regular basis, the NDP caucus meetings.

AN HON. MEMBER: He's a brother.

MR. MACKINNON: He's a brother, that's what they say. Well, that's fine, they can call him whatever they want. The fact of the matter is, as legislators, we are not here just to cater to one interest group but to the interests of all Nova Scotians. That includes even the membership of the Federation of Labour. (Interruptions)

[11:00 a.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I've actually seen the NDP and the Federation of Labour line up for public apologies for political purposes. This legislation may not be perfect . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame . . .

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, it is a shame that the president of the Federation of Labour has sold out his membership for the NDP agenda, and maybe only in time we'll get a clearer indication of where they're going with it.

AN HON. MEMBER: We know where you're going, you're waiting for a new Leader. You stepped aside.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, that's a brilliant deduction. We have a leadership campaign in two weeks time and he says we're waiting for a new Leader. He's very observant, that young man.

Mr. Speaker, this particular piece of legislation may not be perfect in form, but it does alleviate a lot of problems for the taxpayers, not only in the Halifax Regional Municipality - the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, all other municipal units, the hospitals, the universities and, yes, as the president of the Federation of Labour said, it will free up money for the employees who work in private companies. That's a real issue. It's a very detailed letter, little more than a year ago, and I went through both letters and I couldn't see anything in substance in the second letter, other than the apology, that would lead me to believe that this solvency test that he refers to is required - because here's what the president of the Federation of Labour says: "The solvency test is a hypothetical test."

[Page 5298]

In other words, even he doesn't believe that this grow-in factor is a necessity. So why would the NDP want the Halifax Regional Municipality taxpayers to pay another $70 million in taxes over the next five years, over and above what they're paying now? Are they asking the good people of the Halifax Regional Municipality to pay more on their property taxes . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: More tuition.

MR. MACKINNON: More tuition, absolutely, higher hospital costs.

What about all the other services that will be sacrificed, Mr. Speaker? We're not asking to sell out the workers, the employees of these companies, whether they be public or private. We are asking for a reasonable balance of fairness - and I did ask the previous speaker for one example in the Province of Nova Scotia and he hasn't been able to give me one. He gave me Massey-Ferguson from Ontario. I don't have all the particulars.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hawker-Siddeley and Ultramar, how many do you want?

MR. MACKINNON: He's talking Hawker-Siddeley. Well, Mr. Speaker, if we were to look at that segment of the pension plans, what they call windows and buy-out packages, there have been more packages for Sydney Steel than any other pension plan item that I know in any corporation, public or private, in the Province of Nova Scotia. It seemed like every five or 10, five years I would submit, . . .

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

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for allowing me to do this introduction. I hate to interrupt him when he's in full form and the riveting debate.

Today, in our west gallery we have, visiting the House, 20 students from Madeline Symonds Middle School, along with a teacher, Darren Doucet, and a parent, Cheryl Hirtle. I think Darren Doucet is a relative of a former Speaker, am I right? (Interruption) Dennis, sorry and if I could ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

[Page 5299]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, you know, I heard the honourable member for Dartmouth North do some crackling down in the corner there before on different issues. He himself, as a former employee at the local university, would certainly support this legislation. His colleagues, the employees, as well as the employer, they all support it.

AN HON. MEMBER: How do you know?

MR. MACKINNON: They've given an indication that they support it. That's how I know. Much the same as HRM, much the same as the Federation of Labour - despite its flip flop.

On Page 2 (Interruption) It'll come, it'll come. Here's what the president of the federation continues to say, "The elimination of the grow-in and the calculation of liabilities on a solvency basis would decrease the total solvency, liabilities, and bring them closer to the going concern, liabilities, and it would eliminate or substantially reduce additional pension plan costs that are creating financial hardships for our members."

That's as clear as clear can be. The labour component of this province supports this legislation. I wouldn't want to be fooled by this letter of apology that came at the behest of the NDP. It seemed they even knew it before the Minister of Environment and Labour knew it. The Minister of Environment and Labour didn't even have it in his department and yet the previous speaker had it and the letter was addressed to the Minister of Environment and Labour. So tell me that's not politics at play. That's not professionalism. That's not the way you deal with matters of public policy, play political games, feed it to one political entity to try and embarrass or scoop the opposition. That's not what this is about, this is about protecting the workers and the companies in Nova Scotia from a very serious liability and to help them grow and be prosperous.

It doesn't matter whether they're a public institution or a private institution. We have some 140-plus private pension plans. I haven't seen any line up or opposition whether it be this legislation or the previous legislation. Yet, they supported it. The member for Halifax Fairview is saying, they don't know what's going on. He said, they don't know what's going on. (Interruption) Being bright is a relative term, let me tell you.

It's the facts on this particular piece of legislation that matter. I know this hurts the NDP to be embarrassed publicly about the fact that the labour component in both private industry and public institutions are off side with them. They don't want to be paying more costs. They don't want to be paying higher taxes. They don't want to be put in a vulnerable position like the NDP would have you believe is a good place to be.

[Page 5300]

We have to be responsible because many of these large institutions are dealing with taxpayers' money. We can't discuss this in such a haughty fashion as if this money is just going to grow on a tree or somebody's going to go down a hall and print it on a print press and bring some more up here - it doesn't happen that way. (Interruption)

Well, Mr. Speaker, the reality is the money is not there. The people, the taxpayers - whether it be in the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Kings County, Hants County, Digby County - they don't want to pay higher taxes just to satisfy the NDP. One thing that we have to realize is that with regard to multi-employer pension plans, in other words the ones that are administered by unions, they were removed from the requirement to pay grow-in provisions in 2003, as a result of lobbying from labour unions. Well, that's not what they would have us believe here today. They would not have us believe that here today.

Mr. Speaker, I am just waiting with bated breath for the next orator from the socialist cause to stand up and explain why they wanted to increase the property taxes for the people of the Halifax Regional Municipality by as much as $70 million. (Interruptions) Well, well, isn't it great to want to spend somebody else's money. Isn't it great to put the employees, not just the employers but the employees, in such a vulnerable state. Well, if anybody should be doing more research, it's on the analysis of the leadership that's coming from certain quarters, that they would say, and the previous Minister of Labour, we may not agree with everything he says, we do take issue with the odd particular item that comes on the floor, but this issue on the pensions, I'm sure he could stand in his place and he could give, in great detail, some of the representations that were made by the Federation of Labour on this particular issue.

Prior to the opening of the House, Mr. Speaker, on several occasions, the president of the Federation of Labour made appointments to come and brief members of the Liberal caucus on labour-related matters, only to cancel the appointments and never show up. So how pressing were these matters for him? How pressing was it? Or was he too busy going to NDP caucus meetings? Whose interests are being served here, the workers or the NDP? It seems to me from that letter of apology dated October 7, 2004, it's the NDP. If they want to talk about contributions, don't stray too far away from home. We know who's funded by who.

On balance, Mr. Speaker, I see no compelling argument to oppose this particular piece of legislation. If the previous speaker had provided members of the House with some points specific that we could relate to, then I'm sure we would be open to that. We're fair-minded in this caucus, we would certainly look at that. I often wonder if there's still that element of the extreme left-wing socialist view that is permeating from the Province of Saskatchewan. This was recently updated on their Web site, less than two years ago. That is on the principles of the New Democratic Party, one of the prime objectives is to eliminate any and all forms of capitalism.

[Page 5301]

The member for Halifax Fairview admits that it is on the Web site, and that's what they subscribe to. So, that's what the people of Nova Scotia have to know when they warm up to the NDP, because what you see ain't what you get. It's not. They'll spend people's money until there's nothing left, and more.

So this issue, this pension bill, Bill No. 129, does bring a balance, it brings a sense of fairness and realization to what's happening in the marketplace, and not just at the universities (Interruptions) Well, Mr. Speaker, the member for Dartmouth North says he would like to put the property taxes up for the people of HRM by supporting this bill. Well, let him do that, let him get up and defend himself on it.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, an a point of order, I wonder if the honourable member would entertain a question.

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

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I guess today is question period, and I know that you made reference to that earlier. My question to the honourable member is, it's obvious that the New Democratic Party never held the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia, so I'm wondering, who created the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia or who were the contributing factors?

[11:15 a.m.]

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

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I can summarize that in two words, John Buchanan, but let's not go into history. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMIE MUIR: Mr. Speaker, just a point of clarification. There is no question there was a debt run up in the province by governments and I would think that he wants to take a look, instead of throwing stones about debt, he may choose to take a look at what was rung up by the government of which he was a member before we took office.

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

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, he's quite correct when he says that the interest charges on the province that were left by the previous Progressive Conservative Administration, were so horrific that no matter what any government would do, we were still

[Page 5302]

in trouble. That's why the bonding agencies down in New York had put us on deathwatch, after the Buchanan Administration had finished.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I believe the honourable member is misleading the House and as he well knows Standard and Poor's increased our bond rating to an A-plus, I believe. Anyway, when we took over as government, the former government was writing a $500 million deficit per year. In the last three years, we have balanced the budgets three times.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It was not a point of order, but there's certainly a disagreement of facts amongst members.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, we will put in perspective. With the debt that this government has right now, we are paying $125,000 an hour in interest payments on the debt, and he wants an A-plus, for addition. I would say he should be speaking on this bill too. He should be very concerned about this particular legislation. (Interruptions)

Well, Mr. Speaker, that's true, Bill No. 129. (Interruptions) We thought that Friday morning would be rather mundane and surreal, but it's not. It's turning out to be a little more lively than one anticipated.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude my remarks that, we support this particular piece of legislation because it's a good piece of legislation. The legislation that was passed in the 1980s in Ontario, just for the benefit of the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto, was certainly passed when the Ontario economy was quite robust, of course that's just before a socialist government took over. Although the grow-in provision may have been an acceptable expense in Ontario at that time, the economic changes made the grow-in provision very expensive for both the employers and the employees. I do believe the honourable member would have to agree with that, and that's the reality. That's the reality of the marketplace.

Unless there's something earthshattering that's going to come forth from future speakers from the NDP caucus, I'd see little alternative but to certainly support this bill going on to the Committee on Law Amendments and hearing from the public and various stakeholders as to what their thoughts are on it. I think it's the fair-minded thing to do, not to get bogged down with some kind of a political agenda going on between the President of the Federation of Labour and his relationship to the NDP caucus and their socialist view that seems to be contrary to the principles of capitalism. With that, Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting this bill going on to the Law Amendments Committee.

[Page 5303]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise today to speak to the Pension Benefits Act. It certainly is always a challenge following the member for Cape Breton West, because when one is untrammelled by the facts and undisturbed by logic, it's amazing what flights of oratory one can actually reach. Now, I'm going to have to bring us back down to the ground, back to the facts, back to this bill, back to some version of reality.

This bill has been before the House before. It's always a peculiar thing when you see a bill that was before the House before and was not approved by this House coming forward again. But it wasn't a stand-alone bill, the government tried to make it part of last year's Financial Measures Act, and they ran into some fairly heavy weather because they realized that it was problematic. At the time I remember saying it was problematic for more than the reason that it was objectionable, which it was, but simply that the Financial Measures Act has been misused and abused by this government, so that they're throwing things in that have nothing to do with the budget, have nothing to do with public finances, because their theory is that if it's in the Financial Measures Act, the Opposition can't vote against it because, somehow, if it's part of the Financial Measures Act it's a confidence motion.

So what they've started doing, or have been doing for a number of years now, is putting stuff in the Financial Measures Act that just doesn't belong there, and this was one provision, because all it does is affect private pension plans - well, public pension plans, too, but not the province. It has no impact whatsoever on the finances of the province, because in one of those peculiar ironies, the province's own pension plan is exempt from this provision. So it has no impact on the province's finances, and yet they put it in the Financial Measures Act.

Well, as I said, Mr. Speaker, it ran into some heavy weather and they decided they had to pull it. At the time, as I recall, the Liberals said that they were in agreement with that. But, with the Liberals, there's only two things that you can really count on, and one is that when the chips are down and the going gets rough, they're going to be on the side of money. The second thing that you can always count on with the Liberals is that you can't count on them to be consistent at all.

So in the Spring they had one position, and now, in the Fall, their position is different. It's the opposite, as we've come to expect from the Liberal Party. Flip, flop, flip, flop, you never quite know where they stand from one day to the next, one week to the next, one month to the next. I think we all remember in the last sitting of the House where, from one hour to the next, the Liberals were expressing different positions out in the lobby, which was fairly embarrassing, I think, for the Liberal Leader at the time. Just another example that's very much on my mind as we come to this Sunday shopping plebiscite is the Liberal Party was four-square for full open Sunday shopping in the session of the House where the plebiscite was approved, and now the person who is certain to be their next Leader says that he's

[Page 5304]

against it. So does that mean, now, that the whole Liberal caucus is now going to be against what they spent a lot of their political capital last year arguing they were for?

It's so hard to know where you stand with the Liberal Party these days, Mr. Speaker. Just because one of them is for something, you don't know if the rest of them are for it, and if one person's against something, you don't know if the rest of them are against it. With the Liberals, you just have no idea where they stand. I sincerely hope that after their Leadership convention that they will be a little less chaotic, a little less in disarray, a little more reliable, perhaps, so that if one of them expresses a view, we can have some confidence that the next day that will still be the Liberal caucus view.

On this particular provision, Mr. Speaker, they flipped and flopped, and now they're for it, apparently. Well, what's different about this bill from what was before the House in the Spring? The answer is nothing. I diligently compared this bill to what was removed from the Financial Measures Act in the Spring, and it's identical, word for word, comma for comma, period for period. It's exactly the same thing that the government withdrew in the Spring.

Now that is very strange, because when the government was pitching this bill to us before the House sat they said that it was to deal with certain specific pension plans where the argument could be made that there was no realistic possibly of their being wound up, and therefore having a benefit that was contingent in a windup was unrealistic and unnecessary.

In fact, that's the rationale as to why the province's plan is exempt, because to all intents and purposes, despite the loose language that gets used in this House and elsewhere, a province can't go bankrupt. It's simply not possible. A province can be in severe financial difficulty, but that's a completely different thing from what it really truly means to be bankrupt. A province cannot be bankrupt, a province can't go out of business, a province can't disappear - unless our Constitution changes. And so, you can say the pension plan in the province therefore can't be wound up, the province goes on, as long as we have a Canada, there will be a Nova Scotia. The province goes on, so you can't say there's ever going to be a possibility of a windup of the province's pension plan.

Other organizations have come forward and said the same rationale applies to us. The Halifax Regional Municipality is one of them, and I understand Dalhousie is the same, and there are other public or quasi-public institutions that feel that there is no realistic chance of their ever being wound up, so this is an unnecessary expense. You know, Mr. Speaker, that's a fair point. It's one that needs to be examined closely and debated in this Legislature, and it's one that I think our caucus is at least willing to entertain if that's what this bill bids. But it's not.

You'll remember, Mr. Speaker, what I said was when this government was pitching this bill to our caucus, they said that it accomplishes a particular thing. It came to some surprise to our members, I know that I told them and saw the look of disbelief on several of

[Page 5305]

their faces, because they believed that when the government introduced this bill earlier in the week, that it applied only to the HRM, or at most to municipalities. I looked at it, and I said that's not what it does. It applies to every single pension plan in the province.

That came as a bit of a surprise to say the least. A bit of a shock really, Mr. Speaker, that the bill before us was so different from what the government said it would be. There should be no mistake about this, this bill applies to all pension plans in Nova Scotia. It applies to all pension plans in Nova Scotia, provided certain conditions are met. We know what the conditions are, the minister has laid them out, and he's right, under those certain conditions, these provisions apply.

It doesn't literally apply to every plan, for example, not every plan is a defined benefit plan. Some are defined contribution plans. There are others, as my colleague pointed out, that if early retirement provisions aren't already in the plan, well then this wouldn't apply. What none of us knows, I don't know, the member for Halifax Chebucto doesn't know, the member for Halifax Clayton Park doesn't know, the member for Cape Breton West doesn't know, but never ever lets that stop him from standing up and speaking at length, are which plans exactly, does this apply to?

Mr. Speaker, I had the good fortune earlier in my legal career of working under a gentleman whom I respected very highly, I thought a very skilled individual, former politician, former Conservative politician from Ontario, I had a great deal of respect for him. One of the things that he said to me was that whenever you're examining legislation, the key question is who loses. Any politician who doesn't know the answer to that question before they move a bill forward is making a big mistake. Virtually every bill, somebody loses. You just have to be very clear about who it is. To make sure that you are willing to accept that, that those people should lose something.

Many civil servants will say, nobody loses, it's a win-win. Everybody gains from this. That's almost never the case. Even in unexpected ways, Mr. Speaker, some people suffer a loss, from legislation. The problem we have before us, the problem we in the NDP caucus have, is we have a bill before us and the government has never spelled out who the losers are. I don't think the members on that side of the House know who the losers are. Which plans exactly does this apply to? Which businesses, in which constituency? Which workers in which businesses, in which constituencies are suffering a loss as a result of this bill? We don't know. I don't think even the government knows. I am sure most of the members on that side of the House don't know.

[11:30 a.m.]

My point is not that I know and I'm going to reveal all, Mr. Speaker, the point is this bill should not move forward until we do know. Who are the losers? Are they in Antigonish? Are they in Shelburne? Are they in Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank? Are they up in Port

[Page 5306]

Hawkesbury or Guysborough County? I rather suspect that this bill applies to Stora. I rather suspect it does. I don't know that for sure, but I rather suspect it does. Is it in Kings County or elsewhere in the Annapolis Valley? Is it in my constituency, or Halifax Clayton Park, or is it over in Dartmouth? Is it up in New Waterford, or Sydney? Who are the people who are losing? We don't know and this bill shouldn't go forward until we know the answer.

So we're willing to accept the point, Mr. Speaker, that there might be some plans that have a reasonable argument that there's no realistic chance of being wound up and so funding a provision that's dependent on windup is too expensive, but when you look at the plans that have actually come forward with that proposition, you have to say, well, how sure are we? Halifax Regional Municipality hasn't been around as long as Nova Scotia has. Halifax Regional Municipality has been around for, what is it now, eight years? (Interruptions) The member for Dartmouth North, who's always very up on these things, says it's 10 years old in 2005.

So the old City of Halifax disappeared, the old City of Dartmouth disappeared, the Town of Bedford disappeared, the County of Halifax disappeared, but who's to say that HRM won't disappear someday, they will have another government that will abolish it, or amalgamate it in a different way, or undo the amalgamation, and if that happens, the pension plans could very well be wound up - or I think what's more important, partially wound up. So HRM says we'll never get wound up, well, it's not hard in light of what the Liberal Government did to the Halifax metro area not that long ago, and what they could do again if we let them back into government, who knows what they're going to get up to?

I will tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker, when they ran in 1993, they didn't run on municipal amalgamation, but they did it, a fundamental change in the way that municipal governments delivered - the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the Halifax Regional Municipality. Did they run on that? Was that in their platform during the campaign of 1993? No, but two years later it was done and with this crowd over here, the Liberals, you know, always the potential of being the government again, who knows what they're going to get up to? Who knows? None of us has any idea. Think of how much they did without it ever being part of an election platform that they ran on.

So who's to say that Halifax won't disappear, or that their pension plan won't be wound up or partially wound up because, Mr. Speaker, I'll just name one workplace in HRM, or two, that are an illustration of the problem. What about the Cole Harbour Rehabilitation Centre? They were eliminated. Their pension plan was wound up and they're municipal employees. So who's to say that even if all of HRM isn't wound up, that some part of it won't be and I'll tell you another group that has a great deal of concern about this - the Amalgamated Transit Union. There's all kinds of talk and plans about things that might happen to the transit system. With the support apparently of the Liberal Party, there's every chance that this government will redefine how transportation services are delivered in HRM though this Capital District Transportation Authority.

[Page 5307]

If that happens and transit is transferred over to this as yet to be created authority with undefined powers and undefined membership, undefined rules, the Metro Transit pension plan could be wound up, or partially wound up. There's nothing to say that it won't be. It could be, it could easily be.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your intervention because I know that the members are deeply interested in what I'm saying.

What about Dalhousie? There's been talk for years about some kind of amalgamation with other universities. There was the - if you want to call it - amalgamation with TUNS. Some people there see it as a takeover. People have talked about a university of Nova Scotia, a university of Halifax - these institutions have histories but things change. They get created - the School of Social Work was created - each one with their individual history, but nothing is carved in stone. Things change.

The member for Timberlea-Prospect the other day was giving a very learned dissertation on the history of amalgamation of universities around the Maritime Region, which I found very interesting, very informative. But the point for my purpose is simply that things change. No one can say that the Dalhousie plan won't at some point be wound up or partially wound up.

Yet, the premise of them asking for this change is that it can never happen. What I don't understand, cannot understand, about the government's approach to this issue is that even if these institutions are raising a serious issue, even if they are, let's say for the sake of argument that they are, this bill eliminates grow-in benefits for everybody - even private companies that are not at all in the same position as HRM or Dalhousie. Why are they doing that? If that's what they're getting at - which we have some sympathy for - to eliminate an expensive benefit for organizations that will never need it, why doesn't this bill say that?

What this bill is, it's something quite different. The Mercer organization, to which my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, has referred, is on a national, even international campaign to eliminate grow-in benefits. They are worldwide actuarial consultants and a very important part of the Mercer group's business is giving advice to pension plans. They, Mercer, are on a campaign to get rid of these benefits.

I don't know why. Maybe they genuinely believe the workers don't need them. Maybe they genuinely believe the benefit is outweighed by the cost. Maybe their compensation is somehow related to how much money they save a pension plan. So if they eliminate these grow-in benefits, more money flows into their coffers. I don't know. I don't know why Mercer is doing this, but they're the ones who are behind this. Nobody should be under any illusions about that. It is Mercer - the Toronto based, international pension consulting

[Page 5308]

organization - that is lobbying to have this done. But they're not doing it directly, they're doing it indirectly.

I guess the best example that we have - and this is only an example, I don't mean this to be conclusive, but as an illustration of what we're dealing with, there can be no better example than the fact that the letter we received, ostensibly, from the mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality, came to us in a Mercer envelope - it came to us in a Mercer envelope, not an HRM envelope, a Mercer envelope. If, at some point, any member elsewhere in this House doubts that, we'll table that, we'll table the envelope it came in and everybody will see that the people who are organizing this and put on the stamp and got the mayor to sign that and folded it and sent it to the NDP caucus and other caucuses was the Mercer organization. That's who's driving this.

That's the reason, that explains better than anything why the government is proposing a bill that eliminates grow-in benefits for everybody. Even though when you press them, they fall back on HRM, just like the member for Cape Breton West did who knows no more about the finances of HRM than this empty chair in front of me, but that never stopped him. When pressed on what he's saying, he always falls back on HRM. Well, you know what? If this bill was about HRM, I think we'd have something to work with. I think we could deal with some possible amendments and sort of craft it so that it actually does what it's supposed to do, but it doesn't deal just with HRM.

It deals with every qualifying pension plan. Every pension plan that meets the conditions and so I say again, whose ridings are those workers in? Is it in the riding of the member for Eastern Shore, or Guysborough? They're somewhere. We're fooling ourselves if we think there are no workers out there who are losing in this bill. People are losing benefits. They are losing a real benefit that benefited the workers of Hawker-Siddeley, that benefited the workers of the Ultramar Refinery.

Real people have received real benefits under this provision and were told that on average one pension plan per year is wound up in such a way as to bring into force these provisions. Those are real people who are losing real jobs, in real communities, and we're dealing with their very real pensions. Where are they? Who are they? We don't know, so why are dealing with this bill? Because Mercer wants us to, because Mercer wants the Liberals to, because Mercer wants the Progressive Conservatives to - and what we're saying is if we have an issue, let's deal with it directly. Let's not deal with Mercer's issue, let's deal with the issue of the people of Nova Scotia.

If there is no realistic chance of a pension plan being wound up, that's fine, we'll accept that, although for the reasons I've outlined, Mr. Speaker, that question is not as obvious or clear even in the case of an organization like HRM, where real people in real communities, with real jobs, have lost their jobs and had their pension plan wound up and benefited from these provisions. (Interruption)

[Page 5309]

I was getting some helpful advice from behind me, Mr. Speaker, that relates to some of the possible motivation of one of the Parties - which is neither the NDP nor the Progressive Conservatives - but that would be imputing motive, so I don't think that I should say that publicly.

So the question is, what needs to happen here before this bill can pass? The first thing the government needs to do is make it clear that the bill is not going to go forward in this sitting of the House. What they need to do is write a bill that reflects what they're actually saying in public, which is that HRM needs a fix and, if HRM needs a fix, let's fix HRM. If this Legislature can pass a bill, as it did earlier this week, dealing with a 30-foot strip of land in Tatamagouche, then we can deal with a specific pension plan, Mr. Speaker.

We don't have to say that this rule applies to everybody or nobody, because after all it already doesn't apply to the Nova Scotia Public Service Superannuation Plan. There are exceptions; there are exemptions. We can deal with that. If HRM is the problem, let's see a bill that deals with HRM, and we'll deal with that. We'll work with you on that; we'll consider amendments - we may even propose some amendments - we'll consult the workers involved; we'll consult the corporate management involved and we'll work with you on that, but that's not what this bill does.

This bill eliminates a real benefit for all pension plans, for all time, everywhere in Nova Scotia, without anybody in this House knowing. I defy anyone in this House to stand up and tell me and tell the House exactly who it is that loses benefits under this bill. If anybody can do that, I invite them to stand up now. Tell me exactly which workers under which plans, at which employers, living in which constituencies, are losing a benefit. I invite people to stand up - anyone who knows that, over here in the Liberals, over there in the Progressive Conservatives - I invite anybody who knows that to stand up now.

AN HON. MEMBER: I think you're getting a no. No takers.

MR. STEELE: No takers, Mr. Speaker. I'm willing to cede the floor to somebody who will stand up and tell that to the House, but nobody is able to do that. So why is this bill going forward? Why are the Liberals so keen now to push this forward? Why are the Progressive Conservatives bringing back a bill that was rejected for the same reason in the Spring? Why is it back before us? Why is the government saying publicly that it's about one thing, but it actually is about something else? Why is that? This bill should not pass until the House has the answers.

We need some real consultations. The Federation of Labour has not covered itself in glory with the way it has dealt with this issue, but what we do know is that their position now is that more consultation is needed, Mr. Speaker, that they have not, is my information - five months after the government first attempted to repeal this benefit - sat down yet with the Federation of Labour to discuss it. What we need to know is how many unions have been

[Page 5310]

consulted, how many employers have been consulted? We need to have a consultation with all the plans that are going to lose under this bill, to see if they're okay with it.

[11:45 a.m.]

Frankly, Mr. Speaker, some of them will be. Some of the unions involved, I'm sure, are willing to look at the trade-off between the amount they're paying into the pension plan and the benefits they get in return, and different unions will come to different conclusions about that. But we have to give them a chance to do that. The government is not doing that. Why? I don't understand it. I can't understand it. Sometimes, I just don't understand this government.

As I've said a number of times, because it's important, we need to know who loses in this bill, who wins, how much, where are they, and, until we know that, we shouldn't be pushing this bill forward. We need to know why this bill can't be crafted to deal with the issues that have actually been raised. The mayor, in the letter written for his signature by Mercer and mailed on his behalf by Mercer, raises some interesting points about very detailed and very technical points for things like how solvency is . . .

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I guess it's more of a question than a point of order, but is the honourable member inferring that Mercer wrote the letter for the mayor?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'm doing more than implying it or inferring it, I'm saying it. They raise some very interesting technical points, many of which don't need to be dealt with in legislation. If there's a problem with the way that solvency is calculated, well, then deal with that. Deal with the way solvency is calculated, deal with the way the Superintendent of Pensions deals with solvency. There are many issues in that letter that can be dealt with without the necessity of legislation. The core issue that HRM is asking us to deal with is they're saying get rid of grow-in benefits. We're saying if that's the problem, let's deal with it, let's deal with HRM, and not deal with HRM's problem by eliminating the possibility of grow-in for 140 other plans.

Mr. Speaker, I know members will regret to know that my time is running short, but I did have one other thought that I wanted to say, just to give members a preview of what I'm going to say when I resume on this topic, and that is that one of the very important things that needs to be dealt with here, the sort of unstated issue, is the health of private sector pension plans in Nova Scotia. Earlier this week the Auditor General of Alberta released his annual report, and three of the chapters in that report deal with the oversight of private pension plans by the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in Alberta.

[Page 5311]

Mr. Speaker, it's a very stinging critique of the inability of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in Alberta to adequately supervise pension plans in that province. Some pretty tough recommendations are made, just about how the regulator is supposed to bring itself up to scratch so that everybody knows what's going on. There are some real problems with private pension plans in Nova Scotia, and we need to know what they are before we go about changing the rules that govern them. We need to reassure ourselves that our Superintendent of Pensions is not suffering from the same problems as the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in Alberta, because if we are, then we have a much bigger problem than grow-in benefits.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to discussing that point at length when I next speak on this topic, but on that note and with the understanding, certainly, of the government, I move that debate on this bill be adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 129.

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 Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations on an introduction.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of members of the House today, in the west gallery we have a group of students, and I assume these are the right group of students, from Madeline Symonds Middle School - is that right? Yes, and some parents and teachers who are participating and watching the debate. I would ask members to give them a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. CHAIRMAN: We certainly welcome our guests to the gallery today.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, could we have the co-operation of the House to return to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5312]

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. 102 - Maintenance Enforcement Act.

Bill No. 115 - Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission 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.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 116 - Liquor Control Act.

Bill No. 95 - Land Registration Act.

Bill No. 101 - Public Service Act.

Bill No. 107 - Prescription Monitoring Act.

Bill No. 121 - Motor Vehicle Act.

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

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

[TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 5313]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am further directed to report that the committee has passed the following resolution:

"That the Committee on Law Amendments requests funds to enable the committee, at a time and place to be determined, to go to Sydney to hear the people's concerns respecting Bill No. 97, An Act to Change the Name of the University College of Cape Breton and to Amend Chapter 484 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the University College of Cape Breton Act and Related Statutes."

Mr. Speaker, those are all my reports for today.

MR. SPEAKER: Obviously, the bills that are reported, I believe they've all been committed to the Whole House on Bills and the report that has just been tabled by the honourable minister is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on Tuesday at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The House will sit from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. or until such time as we have no further business to conduct. The order of business on Tuesday will primarily be Committee of the Whole House on Bills. We will also have some bills for third reading, some bills for second reading. I move now that the House do now rise and I hope every member has a pleasant weekend.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the House until 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We wish all the members a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, a safe trip home, and we'll see you next week.

[The House rose at 11:54 a.m.]

[Page 5314]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2713

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

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

Whereas celebrating a 100th birthday is a very significant personal, family and community event; and

Whereas Mildred Williams is the second member of her family to reach this milestone, as her mother lived almost 104 years; and

Whereas Mildred contributed to the Second World War effort as a member of the Peace Corps and an Army truck driver;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend best wishes to Mildred Williams on her 100th birthday.

RESOLUTION NO. 2714

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas Chester figure skater Jana Colwell will be moving up to the Senior Bronze category of skating, following last year's gold medal win in the Junior Bronze Skill Division skating competition outside of Moncton; and

Whereas Jana has skated all Summer in preparation for this year's increased level of challenge; and

Whereas Jana, who has been skating only five years, is a thinker during her competitions, as she entered provincial competitions for the past three years and won medals every time;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend our best wishes to Jana Colwell in 2004-05 endeavours, while also extending our best wishes to Natalie Dockrill of the Chester Skating Club as the club prepares for a new season.

[Page 5315]

RESOLUTION NO. 2715

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas during the Summer of 1940, Canadian fighter pilots took to the air, taking part in what has been described as the most famous battle of the Second World War; and

Whereas recently, the local Air Force Association, along with other veterans' groups, gathered at the Stellarton Rink, to organize and then march to the cenotaph to commemorate this ferocious battle; and

Whereas Bob MacRae of Riverton and Everett Baudoux of Big Island, both fighter pilots for Canada in this famous battle, remembered it not as a battle being won but a battle which prevented the war from being lost, and the Germans from having an opportunity to invade England;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs congratulate Bob MacRae and Everett Baudoux and all former servicemen who fought and kept the Nazi forces out of Britain.

RESOLUTION NO. 2716

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas St. John Ambulance Division 701 has 25 volunteers serving Pictou County, offering first aid training, while providing first aid coverage at community events and functions; and

Whereas Division 701 has two volunteers, namely Robert Ferguson and Stephen Nicholson, who have now surpassed the 1,000-hour mark in volunteer efforts; and

Whereas both Robert and Stephen contribute freely of their time to be on stand-by in the event of an emergency at a wide variety of events across Pictou County;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs congratulate Robert Ferguson and Stephen Nicholson, as well as the entire membership of the St. John Ambulance, Division 701.

[Page 5316]

RESOLUTION NO. 2717

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 3rd to 9th is Fire Prevention Week in North America; and

Whereas the men and women who make up Cumberland County's fire service are professional and committed service providers who are dedicated to educating citizens about the importance of practising fire prevention; and

Whereas during this week and throughout the entire year, they encourage citizens to practice fire safety by checking their smoke detectors, knowing their fire escape plan, teaching children not to play with fire, and how to react in the event of a fire;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House promote fire safety in their communities, and thank the men and women who put their lives on the line every time a fire threatens Nova Scotians or their property.

RESOLUTION NO. 2718

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Sarah Laurie has donned the blue and white this summer as part of the Nova Scotia provincial track and field team; and

Whereas Sarah competed at the Atlantic Canadian meet in Saint John, New Brunswick in July and the national championships in Sudbury, Ontario in August; and

Whereas Sarah, a 16-year-old Springhill High School student is a first-time provincial team member in only her second year with the sport, earned a silver medal in the javelin and a bronze medal in the discus events and is ranked third in Canada in javelin for her juvenile age group;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Sarah Laurie on these outstanding achievement and wish her continued success in future competitions.

[Page 5317]

RESOLUTION NO. 2719

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Sarah Laurie of Springhill High School tossed her javelin into the winner's circle at the NSSAF provincial championships in June, 2004; and

Whereas Sarah Laurie's throw of 36.60 metres took a gold medal in the intermediate competition; and

Whereas Sarah, a Grade 10 student, was thrilled with her performance and is looking forward to doing big things again next season;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Sarah Laurie on this outstanding achievement and wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 2720

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Tori Harrison received a prize as a participant in the summer reading club at the Springhill Library, which wrapped up at the end of August; and

Whereas the program begins at the end of the school year and closes at the end of August, with over 60 students participating in the program picking several books that they would like to read and making out a log sheet to keep track of their progress; and

Whereas children from the age of two, with a reading buddy, to the age of 12 participated in the program, reading and discussing their books with each other;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Tori Harrison for her interest and enthusiasm in this very important reading program.

[Page 5318]

RESOLUTION NO. 2721

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Carley Leuchter received a prize as a participant in the summer reading club at the Springhill Library; and

Whereas the program begins at the end of the school year and closes at the end of August, with over 60 students participating in the program picking several books that they would like to read and making out a log sheet to keep track of their progress; and

Whereas children from the age of two, with a reading buddy, to the age of 12 participated in the program, where the children would read and discuss their books with each other;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Carley Leuchter for her interest and enthusiasm in this very important reading program.

RESOLUTION NO. 2722

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas CIBC run for the cure was held on Sunday in Amherst, Nova Scotia and the drizzle and cool weather didn't dampen the spirits of the 370 participants; and

Whereas the run started off with music courtesy of the Original Steve Butler Show and then breast cancer survivor Marjorie Costin shared some of her thoughts about her struggle with the disease; and

Whereas both the directors and participants were thrilled by the huge turnout, which raised $49,381.50 this year for breast cancer research and a total of over $173,000 in the five years since it began;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the participants from throughout Cumberland County and CIBC for their participation and dedication to such a worthy cause and wish them continued success with this fundraiser in the future.

[Page 5319]

RESOLUTION NO. 2723

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas NSCC showed off their new renovations at the Cumberland Campus in Springhill, Nova Scotia on Monday, October 4th with a ribbon cutting ceremony; and

Whereas under the Development Initiative funds provided by the Province of Nova Scotia to 13 NSCC campuses, Cumberland Campus was among the first to finish their renovations and benefited greatly with the creation of a Centre for Students' Success, additional offices, renovations to the cafeteria, library, day care, bottom floor and much more; and

Whereas the ribbon ceremony was attended by many students, staff and dignitaries;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the NSCC Cumberland Campus on the opening of their renovated campus and wish them continued success in the future.

[Page 5320]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

[Tabled Thursday, October 7, 2004]

RESOLUTION NO. 2676

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas John Henwood was honoured during a banquet held on June 1, 2004, at the Fundy Geological Museum; and

Whereas John was commended for his 30 years of dedicated service as the superintendent for the Town of Parrsboro; and

Whereas John was presented with a gift of appreciation and thanked for all his many years of service to the Town of Parrsboro;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate John Henwood on his 30 years of service to the Town of Parrsboro and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 2677

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Ralph Hayden, a Springhill resident, has been appointed by council to the position of manager for the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre; and

Whereas Ralph, who was born and raised in Springhill and worked in the Springhill Mines, brings with him 22 years of experience as manager of the Moncton Coliseum to his new position; and

Whereas Ralph retired from the Moncton Coliseum and is thrilled to be part of the impressive new community centre that is such an important part of the Springhill community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ralph Hayden on his appointment as manager of the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre and wish him much success in his new position.

[Page 5321]

RESOLUTION NO. 2678

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Bruce Graham, a resident of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Radio-Television News Directors Association; and

Whereas along with this award, Bruce was presented with a gold watch during this occasion; and

Whereas this award is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves through outstanding service and continued excellence during the course of their career in broadcast journalism;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Bruce Graham on this outstanding award and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 2679

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Lindsay Marie Johnston of River Hebert was the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Award for the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this award is given to students who show hard work, effort and dedication to their studies, community and family, and very few can claim being a recipient of this very prestigious award; and

Whereas Lindsay received this honour at the Lieutenant Governor's Awards Ceremony on May 20, 2004, in Sydney, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Lindsay Johnston on receiving this outstanding award and wish her continued success in the future.

[Page 5322]

RESOLUTION NO. 2680

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas D & J Hardware of Springhill, Nova Scotia, was one of a group of local businesses that have combined their resources to help out children in the Springhill area; and

Whereas D & J Home Hardware made a donation to the program of supplies to build several mini-sized soccer nets; and

Whereas these donations helped nearly 100 children, ranging in age from four to 12 years, to play soccer this summer in the newly formed Tim Hortons' Youth Soccer Program;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate D & J Home Hardware for their generous donation and for recognizing the importance of such a worthwhile cause for the children of the Springhill community.