The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04-62

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

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TPW: Canaan Rd. - Repair, Mr. J. Chataway 5323
Tremain Cres. Home: Opposition Leader - Visit, Hon. R. Russell 5324
TPW: MacDonald St./Twining St. - Pave, Mr. Gerald Sampson 5324
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2724, Responsible Gaming Wk. - Endorse, Hon. P. Christie 5325
Vote - Affirmative 5325
Res. 2725, Agric. & Fish. - Veterinary Techs.:Work - Commend,
Hon. C. D'Entremont 5326
Vote - Affirmative 5326
Res. 2726, Shand, Gary/Norman, Doug - Sir Charles Tupper Sch.:
Fire - Actions Praise, Hon. J. Muir 5326
Vote - Affirmative 5327
Res. 2727, One Journey Work & Learn Prog.: Grads - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Morse 5327
Vote - Affirmative 5328
Rew. 2728, Tremain Cres. Seniors Complex - Remarks:
Opposition Leader - Apologize, Hon. D. Morse 5328
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 134, Yarmouth Marketing and Promotions Levy Act,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 5329
No. 135, House of Assembly Act, Hon. R. Russell 5329
No. 136, Environment Act, Ms. J. Massey 5329
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2729, Weir, Elizabeth: N.B. Pub. Serv. - Recognize, Mr. D. Dexter 5329
Vote - Affirmative 5330
Res. 2730, Matheson, Hugh - N.S. Sports Hall of Fame: Induction -
Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 5331
Vote - Affirmative 5332
Res. 2731, Mun. Pension Funds - HRM Request:
Solvency Test Exemption - Accept, Mr. F. Corbett 5332
Res. 2732, Educ. - Phys. Ed./Performing Arts: Support - Lack Address,
Mr. D. Graham 5333
Res. 2733, E. Pictou Mid. Sch. - Int'l. Beach Cleanup Day: Students -
Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 5334
Vote - Affirmative 5334
Res. 2734, Cameron, Lena - Lawn Bowling: Clarke Trophy - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 5334
Vote - Affirmative 5335
Res. 2735, Gaming Corp. - PR Materials: Warnings - Include,
Ms. D. Whalen 5335
Res. 2736, Woods Hbr./Barrington - EMS Symposium:
Organizing Comm. - Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 5336
Vote - Affirmative 5336
Res. 2737, 1st Woodlawn Scout Group: Anniv. (50th) - Congrats.,
Ms. J. Massey 5337
Vote - Affirmative 5337
Res. 2738, MacMillan, Gerry - N.S. Sports Hall of Fame: Induction -
Congrats., Mr. L. Glavine 5337
Vote - Affirmative 5338
Res. 2739, Kings Hist. Soc./Landforth Training Ctr.: Anniv. (100th) -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 5338
Vote - Affirmative 5339
Res. 2740, Educ. - Sch. Const. Plans: Opportunities - Maintain/Improve,
Mr. H. Epstein 5339
Res. 2741, Paul, Ken D.: Mi'kmaq Hist. Mo. - Speaker's Series,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 5340
Vote - Affirmative 5340
Res. 2742, Penny, Ray - Vice-Dist. Gov.: Election - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Chataway 5340
Vote - Affirmative 5341
Res. 2743, Women Alike Abreast a River - Role: Importance -
Recognize, Mr. C. Parker 5341
Vote - Affirmative 5342
Res. 2744, Law Amendments Comm. - Bill No. 97: C.B. Hearings -
Fund, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 5342
Res. 2745, VON (Queens Co.) - Seniors Transport. Prog.: Vols. -
Commend, Hon. K. Morash 5343
Vote - Affirmative 5343
Res. 2746, Dartmouth Mariners: Peewee Triple A Baseball Team -
Championship, Ms. M. More 5343
Vote - Affirmative 5344
Res. 2747, Cottell, Joan - Team Diabetes Marathon: Success - Wish,
Mr. S. McNeil 5344
Vote - Affirmative 5345
Res. 2748, Ward, Joey: Supporters/Fundraisers - Thank, Mr. M. Parent 5345
Vote - Affirmative 5346
Res. 2749, Gaines - Brain Surgery: Success - Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 5346
Vote - Affirmative 5346
Res. 2750, Firefighters Comp. - Hammonds Plains: Winners - Congrats.,
Mr. H. Theriault 5347
Vote - Affirmative 5347
Res. 2751, Whitney Pier Arts Soc.: Pierscape (7th) - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Gosse 5347
Vote - Affirmative 5348
Res. 2752, Spinney, Jake - Mt. A. Mounties: Football Team - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 5348
Vote - Affirmative 5349
Res. 2753, Arthritis Soc. - HRM Rec. Dept.: Fundraising - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5349
Vote - Affirmative 5350
Res. 2754, Home Support Workers: Appreciation - Extend,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 5350
Vote - Affirmative 5350
Res. 2755, Warner, Wilfred - Boys & Girls Clubs: Contribution -
Recognize, Mr. J. Pye 5351
Vote - Affirmative 5351
Res. 2756, NDP: Session - Positions, Mr. K. Colwell 5351
Res. 2757, New Waterford Homemakers: Anniv. (25th) - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Corbett 5352
Vote - Affirmative 5353
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 630, Fin. - Gaming: Expansion - Plans, Mr. D. Dexter 5353
No. 631, Educ.: Problems - Severity, Mr. D. Graham 5354
No. 632, Educ. - Sch. Fees: Tracking - Details, Mr. D. Dexter 5355
No. 633, Agric. & Fish.: Illegal Fishery - End, Mr. H. Theriault 5357
No. 634, Econ. Dev. - Air Can. Jazz: Reg. Operations - Details,
Mr. J. MacDonell 5358
No. 635, Environ. & Lbr. - Biosolid Spreading: Regs. - Detail,
Mr. K. Colwell 5359
No. 636, Educ. - Hfx. High School: Aud. - Fundraising, Mr. H. Epstein 5360
No. 637, Health - Flu Vaccines: Supply - Adequacy,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 5361
No. 638, Hum. Rights Comm'n. - Bd. of Inquiry: Legal Costs -
Awarding, Ms. M. Raymond 5362
No. 639, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Accessible Transport:
Underfunding - Address, Mr. J. Pye 5364
No. 640, TCH - RTIAs: Funding - Details, Mr. S. McNeil 5365
No. 641, Com. Serv. - Women's Ctrs.: Funding - Needs Address,
Ms. M. More 5366
No. 642, Educ.: Tuition Increases - Confirm, Mr. L. Glavine 5367
No. 643, Health: Extra-Billing Practices - Investigate,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5368
No. 644, Environ. & Lbr. - Biohazard Transporters: Working Hrs. -
Safety, Mr. R. MacKinnon 5369
No. 645, TPW - Rte. 213: Upgrade - Plans, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5371
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 3:53 P.M. 5372
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:03 P.M. 5373
CWH REPORTS 5373
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 131, Police Act 5373
Hon. R. Russell 5374
Mr. J. Pye 5375
Mr. R. MacKinnon 5378
Mr. J. MacDonell 5382
Mr. K. Deveaux 5384
Ms. M. Raymond 5395
Mr. G. Steele 5399
Vote - Affirmative 5402
No. 135, House of Assembly Act 5402
No. 129, Pension Benefits Act 5402
Mr. G. Steele 5402
Debate adjourned 5407
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
WCB - Chronic Pain: Services - Provide:
Mr. F. Corbett 5407
Hon. K. Morash 5410
Mr. K. Colwell 5412
Mr. R. MacKinnon 5414
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 129, Pension Benefits Act 5416
Mr. F. Corbett 5416
Mr. K. Colwell 5422
Ms. D. Whalen 5426
Hon. K. Morash 5433
Vote - Affirmative 5433
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. J. Muir 5434
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No, 132, Amusement Devices Safety Act 5434
Mr. G. Gosse 5434
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5435
Mr. G. Gosse 5435
Vote - Affirmative 5435
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Oct. 13th at 2:00 p.m. 5436
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2758, Sunflower Natural Foods: Mobius Award - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 5437
Res. 2759, Hartley, Sgt. Max: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5437
Res. 2760, Jackson, Cst. Winnel: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5438
Res. 2761, Owen, Chelsea: Lions Club Poster Contest - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 5438
Res. 2762, Williams, Cst. Marshall: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5439
Res. 2763, Williams, Cst. Milton: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5439
Res. 2764, Upshaw, Cst. Cedric: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5440
Res. 2765, Reid, Cst. Jason: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5440
Res. 2766, Tench, Cst. Lawrence: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5441
Res. 2767, Upshaw, Cst. Craig: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5441
Res. 2768, Crawley, Cst. Paul: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5442
Res. 2769, Jackson, Cst. Winston: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5442
Res. 2770, Johnson, Cst. Layton: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5443
Res. 2771, Williams, Cst. Sinclair: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5443
Res. 2772, Kelsey, Cst. Dennis: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5444
Res. 2773, Lambert, Cst. Desmond: Com. Serv. - Honour,
Mr. K. Colwell 5444
Res. 2774, Laraque, Cst. Jules Edy: Com. Serv. - Honour,
Mr. K. Colwell 5445
Res. 2775, MacLean, Sgt. Don: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5445
Res. 2776, Paris, Cst. Donna Lee: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5446
Res. 2777, Shannon, Cst. Jason: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5446
Res. 2778, Simmonds, Cst. Dean: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5447
Res. 2779, Thompson, Cst. Andre: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5447
Res. 2780, Johnston, Cst. Brian: Com. Serv. - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 5448
Res. 2781, High Tide Eco.Management Ltd.: Mobius Award -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 5448
Res. 2782, Cane, Tina: Mobius Award - Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 5449
Res. 2783, Cheapy Tire - King Marketing Ltd.: Mobius Award -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 5449
Res. 2784, Glace Bay Recycling Ltd.: Mobius Award - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 5450
Res. 2785, Region Six Solid Waste Management: Mobius Award -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 5450
Res. 2786, Grace Proszynska: Mobius Award - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 5451
Res. 2787, Eco-Efficiency Centre: Mobius Award - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 5451
Res. 2788, Touch on Wood: Mobius Award - Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 5452
Res. 2789, ChemEx Dalhousie University: Mobius Award - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 5452
Res. 2790, Acadia University: Mobius Award - Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 5453
Res. 2791, Brown, Adnea: Lions Club Poster Contest - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 5453

[Page 5323]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2004

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that this government should move to have the WCB treat chronic pain sufferers with dignity by providing the services they deserve.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the residents of Canaan Road and the feeding roads.

5323

[Page 5324]

"We, the people living on Canaan Road, (and those Road leading off Canaan Road, . . . and the people who often use the Canaan Road or those roads aforementioned above, request the Department of Transportation and Public Works:

a) Adopt and Undertake a schedule to systematically re-pave or seriously repair the Canaan Road.

b) Clear the trees and bushes which impedes seeing other vehicles and blocks sight distances (often driveways and intersections of the area)."

Mr. Speaker, there are 101 people who have signed this petition and I have signed my name as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the residents of 70 Tremain Crescent, a housing complex for seniors in my riding. (Interruption)Yes, Mr. Speaker. They are incredibly upset with the remarks by the Leader of the New Democratic Party, and they are demanding a public apology for saying such horrible things about their home. They are inviting Mr. Dexter to visit with them at Tremain Crescent. I have signed the petition. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the concerned citizens of Hilltop Crescent and area in Baddeck. They would like to have MacDonald Street and Upper Twining Street looked at by the Department of Transportation and Public Works for consideration for paving. I have affixed my signature to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[2:15 p.m.]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

[Page 5325]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2724

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

Whereas there is wide agreement among experts that awareness and education are essential in promoting responsible decisions related to gaming and to preventing and addressing problem gambling behaviours; and

Whereas Responsible Gaming Awareness Week is an event that is designed to heighten Nova Scotian's awareness and understanding of the nature of responsible gaming and to highlight the tools, information and programs available to them to support responsible gaming decisions; and

Whereas this year's theme "Everyone Needs a Game Plan" reinforces the need for personal planning based on timely and accurate information, if someone chooses to game;

Therefore be it resolved that the Legislature endorse Responsible Gaming Awareness Week and applaud all those helping to make this such a successful event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

[Page 5326]

RESOLUTION NO. 2725

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

Whereas animal health and registered veterinary technologists have practiced in Canada for over 30 years as valuable professionals in the field of animal health and veterinary medicine; and

Whereas the number of veterinary technicians and membership in the Eastern Veterinary Technicians' Association in Nova Scotia continues to grow; and

Whereas October 10th to 16th is Veterinary Technicians Week in the Province of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize that veterinary technicians are important contributors to animal health and are to be commended for the work they do.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 2726

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 students of Sir Charles Tupper began this year on schedule in their beloved school thanks to the quick actions of staff members Gary Shand and Doug Norman; and

[Page 5327]

Whereas just days before school was set to open, these two gentlemen noticed a roof fire which had sparked, and acted quickly to ensure damage was minimal; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality's fire department's subsequent quick and effective response guaranteed that Sir Charles Tupper was safe;

Therefore be it resolved that all members send our thanks and praise to Mr. Shand and Mr. Norman and salute HRMs fire department on their actions, both of which prevented the loss of this educational institution, which, it should be noted, is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2727

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

Whereas the province's One Journey - Work and Learn Program provides workplace essential skills education in co-operation with potential employers to respond to an identified industry need for skilled workers; and

Whereas the Departments of Community Services and Education, in partnership with Community Care Networks Society, the Automotive Human Resource Sector Council and the Halifax Regional Development Agency developed a 14-week auto parts and inventory control training program to provide people with the skills and support they need to become employed; and

Whereas nine students graduated from the program at a ceremony held at City Hall in Halifax on October 8th, and four of these graduates have already received job offers in the automotive industry;

[Page 5328]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to the program graduates, and wish them much success as they embark on their new careers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2728

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

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition and defeated NDP candidate Sean Bennett made disparaging comments about the condition of the seniors' complex located at 72 Tremaine Crescent in Windsor last week; and

Whereas the mayor, MLA and Deputy Premier and the Minister of Community Services all went to meet with the people living in the seniors' complex; and

Whereas the complex was in immaculate condition and the residents were more than happy with their living accommodations;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Opposition respect the residents' wishes and apologize for the comments he made about their home in the Legislature on October 6th.

We can discuss it Wednesday night, Darrell. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Order. Order, please.

[Page 5329]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 134 - Entitled An Act to Authorize a Marketing and Promotions Levy in the Town of Yarmouth and the Municipality in the District of Yarmouth. (Hon. Richard Hurlburt as a private member.)

Bill No. 135 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 1 (1992 Supplement) of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The House of Assembly Act. (Hon. Ronald Russell)

Bill No. 136 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Environment Act. (Ms. Joan Massey.)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2729

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

Whereas Elizabeth Weir has served as Leader of the New Brunswick NDP since 1988 and as an MLA for Saint John since 1991; and

Whereas Elizabeth Weir is therefore the longest-serving political Party Leader in Atlantic Canada's Legislatures; and

Whereas, when Elizabeth Weir announced on October 8th that she has asked the New Brunswick NDP to select a new Leader, it was widely reported that Weir's political influence on New Brunswick's political agenda was impossible to ignore;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Elizabeth Weir's dedicated public service to New Brunswick, our region and our country as a legislator and as a Party Leader on the occasion of her decision to leave the Party leadership when her successor is chosen.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5330]

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 Citadel.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, before I read my resolution, I'm wondering, with the indulgence of the House, I could make an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to introduce in the gallery - and ask them to leave when I conclude my remarks - students and parents from the elementary, junior high and high schools of the Halifax peninsula who are here to express their concern about the construction and the non-construction of a gymnasium and an auditorium in the new high school in Halifax. I'd like the House to give them a warm welcome, and they could rise. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel, on the resolution.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I'm a little concerned about who is an aspiring politician up there, because the first person who rose happened to have been my son. Perhaps, at another date, I'll discuss that with him. This may be an opportunity for them to see politics up close and personal. Hopefully, they'll be inspired by what we say today.

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

Whereas students and parents from the local elementary, junior high and high schools are upset that the new high school that will replace QEH and St. Pat's on the Halifax peninsula will lead to students going from having two gyms and two auditoriums to one gym; and

Whereas according to a report released from Statistics Canada last month, funding for public education in Nova Scotia is dead last in Canada and funding for students in the Halifax Regional School Board is by far the lowest of any school board in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 5331]

Whereas research compiled in 2002 from Statistics Canada, the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyles Institute, and physical activity monitor data indicates that the Nova Scotia Government ranked ninth out of 10 provinces in its support for music, drama, and sports in our schools; and

Whereas other provinces like Alberta are moving to make daily physical activity mandatory in high schools while our province is moving backward in its support for physical education;

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government take immediate action to address the lack of support for Nova Scotia students and physical education and the performing arts.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe the honourable member had four "whereases" in the resolution, which would deem it to be out of order. You can reread it.

MR. GRAHAM: Deleting the last whereas, Mr. Speaker, therefore be it resolved that the provincial government take immediate action . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member if he would rewrite it and then he can reintroduce it and make it easier for Hansard, for the record.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2730

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

Whereas Mr. Hugh Matheson of Brookfield has been a prominent name in both the local and provincial realms of the sporting world for decades; and

Whereas Hugh's involvement in sports began when he first started playing hockey on the same team in Brookfield with his brothers, John, Win, Gordon and Vaughan; and

Whereas Hugh's involvement in sports began in hockey, but also included hockey coaching, softball, curling, and his involvement in the fundraising and construction of the Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex in Brookfield, which opened in 1975;

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Clerks can't hear what the speaker on the floor is saying. Please keep the noise down to a dull roar or take it outside.

[Page 5332]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, before I read the "Therefore be it resolved" I would like to take advantage of the opportunity to inform the House that Mr. Matheson was recently acclaimed, once again, Colchester County Councillor for his district.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the tremendous efforts of Hugh Matheson, and congratulate him on his upcoming induction into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of fame as a builder.

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 Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2731

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

Whereas on September 2, 2004, the Pension Committee of HRM wrote this government to request that municipal pension funds be exempted from the solvency test and subject only to the "going concern" test; and

Whereas Mayor Kelly of the HRM made the same request in February 2003; and

Whereas this would mean that municipal pension funds were subject to the same test as the provincial pension funds, yet the HRM Pension Committee reports that this Progressive Conservative Government has not even responded to their request;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to quickly accept HRM's request that municipal pension funds be exempted from the solvency test, or from calculation of the grow-in benefit as part of the solvency test, to avoid an increase in contributions or decrease in pensions caused by this test.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5333]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 2732

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

Whereas students and parents from the local elementary, junior high, and high schools are upset that the new high school that will replace QEH and St. Patrick's High School on the Halifax peninsula will lead to the students going from having two gyms and two auditoriums to one gym; and

Whereas according to a report released from Statistics Canada last month, funding for public education in Nova Scotia is dead last in Canada and funding for students in the Halifax Regional School Board is by far the lowest of any school board in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas research compiled in 2002 from Statistics Canada, the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyles Institute and physical monitoring data indicates that the Nova Scotia Government ranked ninth out of the 10 provinces in its support for music, drama, and sports in our schools;

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government take immediate action to address the lack of support for Nova Scotia's students in physical education and the performing arts.

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.

[Page 5334]

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2733

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

Whereas students from East Pictou Middle School recently took part in an all-out, one-day cleanup effort of Melmerby Beach; and

Whereas this exercise was part of International Beach Cleanup Day; and

Whereas besides cleaning up, students also collected pledges and donations that will be used towards a variety of school-related initiatives;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate students from East Pictou Middle School for their drive and determination in this exceptional worthwhile effort.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2734

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

Whereas remaining active is shown over and over to be extremely important to a long and healthy life; and

[Page 5335]

Whereas lawn bowling is regaining popularity as a recreation and sport for many people who want to stay competitively active without risking serious injury; and

Whereas Lena Cameron of Enfield recently skipped her team to the Clarke Trophy at the Bedford Lawn Bowls Club; and

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Lena Cameron and her lawn bowling team not only for winning the Clarke Trophy, but also on their example of staying active.

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. 2735

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 Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation has launched Responsible Gaming Awareness Week from October 10 to October 16, 2004; and

Whereas the term "responsible gaming" is a deliberate contradiction in terms; and

Whereas the Gaming Corporation is trying to convince Nova Scotians that problem gamblers and those at risk can be helped by this kind of empty public relations exercise;

Therefore be it resolved that the Gaming Corporation be called on to require meaningful, serious warnings to be included in all PR materials for gamblers in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request for waiver of notice.

[Page 5336]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 2736

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

Whereas for four years now, paramedics in Woods Harbour and Barrington have been working to assist children who face extra special medical needs; and

Whereas the paramedics have been raising funds by hosting an annual provincial symposium dealing with emergency medical services; and

Whereas registration at this event has resulted in $15,000 being raised to help children with insurmountable medical costs;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the efforts of the organizing committee in hosting this event annually and wish them well with their future good work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 5337]

RESOLUTION NO. 2737

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 4 and June 5, 2004, the 1st Woodlawn Scout Group celebrated their 50th Anniversary at the Woodlawn United Church; and

Whereas Scouting helps our youth develop their skills in leadership, citizenship and service to the community; and

Whereas the 1st Woodlawn Scout Group has been sponsored by the Woodlawn United Church since 1954;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature commend the 1st Woodlawn Scout Group and its sponsor, Woodlawn United Church, for providing programs and services that contribute to the education and development of young people in our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2738

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

Whereas Middleton-born Gerry MacMillan has starred in Nova Scotia golf for almost 35 years; he's won provincial titles at every level from juvenile and junior, to open and mid-amateur; and

Whereas he was runner-up nationally in juvenile play and finished third in Canadian junior competition; and

[Page 5338]

Whereas in 1976, Gerry won the first of his seven Nova Scotia amateur championships and was named to the provincial golf team 19 times between 1972 and 2001 and, finally, in 1999, he led the team to the Canadian championship while placing third individually, and this year at age 50, Gerry established a new Paragon course record of 62;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge and congratulate Gerry MacMillan, a true gentleman of the game, on his induction into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame on October 29th.

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2739

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

Whereas September 18, 2004, marked the 100th Anniversary of the old Kings County Courthouse in Kentville and the military training camp at Aldershot; and

Whereas today the Kings Historical Society operates the county museum in the former courthouse; and

Whereas the museum will host a special military exhibit of memorabilia from the past 100 years until the first week in October;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in extending best wishes to the members of the Kings Historical Society and to the military training camp, Landforth Atlantic Area Training Centre Detachment Aldershot, on their respective anniversaries and wish them future success in preserving and protecting the cultural and natural history of Kings County.

[Page 5339]

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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2740

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

Whereas students and parents from many Halifax area schools are in the Legislature today; and

Whereas they are here to convince the Minister of Education that they deserve to have an auditorium in their new school; and

Whereas this minister has so far refused to listen to them and those who support them;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education ensure that in HRM and elsewhere, this government's construction plans maintain or improve opportunities available to students.

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

[Page 5340]

RESOLUTION NO. 2741

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

Whereas there is great interest in the Mi'kmaq History Month speaker series; and

Whereas today, at noon, in the lecture theatre of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the series will be featuring Ken D. Paul, Senior Policy Advisor of the Aboriginal Initiatives Branch of Parks Canada; and

Whereas Mr. Paul is originally from the Maliseet community of Tobique in New Brunswick and has been working within the field of environmental issues, his talk on Tuesday will cover Traditional Ecological Knowledge;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House welcome Mr. Ken D. Paul to Nova Scotia and encourage people to go to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and listen to him speak.

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 Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 2742

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

Whereas Ray Penny has been a member of the Chester Basin/New Ross/Chester Lions Club for nearly 18 years; and

Whereas following his election last Spring, Mr. Penny began serving in July, the first year of a two-year term as Vice-District Governor for Lions Clubs across Nova Scotia; and

[Page 5341]

Whereas Mr. Penny was elected to his position as Vice-District Governor by voting delegates from 68 Lions Clubs across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the initiative of Ray Penny for having taken on this challenging provincial role and also commend him on 15 years of perfect attendance at the Chester Basin/New Ross/Chester Lions Club.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2743

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

Whereas four members of Pictou County's breast cancer survivors team, Women Alike Abreast a River, are off to China later this month; and

Whereas Shirley Murray, Susan Hartley, Mel Swarbrick and Roseann Seviour are part of the Canadian 35-woman team, participating in the 5th International Dragon Boat Federation World Championship Races in Shanghai; and

Whereas about 1,900 are expected to compete including seven breast cancer survivor teams from throughout the world, with the Canadians racing on October 22nd and 23rd;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature recognize these Nova Scotian and Canadian breast cancer survivors for the important role they are playing in bringing more attention to breast cancer and for promoting physical activity after breast cancer surgery and wish them every success in Shanghai.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5342]

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 2744

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

Whereas on Friday, October 8th, the Law Amendments Committee considered matters relating to an amendment to the University College of Cape Breton Act which will change the name of the institution to Breton University; and

Whereas the Law Amendments Committee agrees that concerned citizens in Cape Breton, who may not be able to come to Halifax, should be given the opportunity to make presentations on a matter that is of great concern to them; and

Whereas the Law Amendments Committee, by resolution, referred this matter to the House for its approval of funding that will allow them to hold a public hearing in Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly authorize the funds necessary for one public hearing of the Law Amendments Committee, to be held by the Law Amendments Committee, in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 5343]

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2745

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

Whereas in early August the Victorian Order of Nurses branch in Queens County launched a Seniors' Assisted Transportation Program; and

Whereas this service has been designed to provide transportation to seniors for medical appointments, to buy groceries, to go to the bank and other important errands; and

Whereas the Queens County Crime Prevention has offered to loan the Victorian Order of Nurses their Seniors' Safety Program vehicle for several months to assist with their program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Queens County Victorian Order of Nurses, the Queens County Crime Prevention program, and the volunteer drivers for their efforts in assisting seniors in our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2746

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 Atlantic Peewee Triple A Baseball Championship was held in Dartmouth from September 17th to 19th, with the Dartmouth Mariners team hosting teams from Bedford,

[Page 5344]

Nova Scotia; Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Moncton, New Brunswick; and

Whereas the teams enjoyed their games despite the rain and cold, and displayed great sportsmanship and talent; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Mariners won the Atlantic Peewee Triple A Championship;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Dartmouth Mariners Peewee Triple A team on their 2004 Atlantic Championship and wish them continuing success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2747

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

Whereas the Canadian Diabetes Association will raise over $1.5 million through its adventure fundraising program Team Diabetes; and

Whereas after months of physical training and fundraising, these athletes will travel to Dublin, Ireland, to take part in a marathon on October 25, 2004; and

Whereas one of the participants in this year's Dublin marathon is Joan Cottell of Halifax, who is participating in memory of her father Murray Cottell.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Team Diabetes Canada for another successful year and wish Joan every success with this endeavour.

[Page 5345]

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2748

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

Whereas members of the Blomidon and Canning communities are rallying around the family of Joey Ward, a seven-year-old boy fighting the battle against aplastic anemia; and

Whereas neighbour Paulette Millett has organized fundraising events in the Canning arena to raise money for the Ward family; and

Whereas the Canning Lions Hall held a dance, auction, and bake sale, at the Pereau Baptist Church, and created and sold hand-painted Joey bandanas in support of the event, to raise $6,556;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish Joey Ward health and happiness for his future, and thank his brave bone marrow donor and eight-year-old sister, Kodi, the volunteers, the Canning Lions Club, the Canning Arena, and the Canning Credit Union for their support and generosity toward the Ward family.

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 5346]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2749

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 only medical treatment available for persons with extreme brain seizures is the very complicated process of brain surgery; and

Whereas Adam Gaines of Harrow, Ontario, underwent such a very complicated brain surgery and now is doing extremely well; and

Whereas Adam Gaines did so well that as a tourist he visited Nova Scotia, and on Friday, October 8, 2004, visited the Nova Scotia Legislature and commented on how awesome the province is;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Adam Gaines on his successful brain surgery, and hope that he and his family will make future visits to our beautiful province.

[2:45 p.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.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic on an introduction.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House a constituent of mine, Ernie Brennan, who is also joining the political ranks and running as a candidate for mayor. We wish him and all others great success. (Applause)

[Page 5347]

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

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2750

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

Whereas firefighters from Southville and Weymouth in the County of Digby participated in a recent firefighters competition in Hammonds Plains; and

Whereas Southville, competing in only its second such competition, beat nine other teams from Weymouth, Hammonds Plains and Prospect in the barrel roll competition; and

Whereas Weymouth firefighters won the bucket brigade for the fourth year in a row, with Southville placing second;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate firefighters Doug Cromwell, Michael Comeau, Troy Surette, Roy McCully and Paul Mullen of Southville and the victorious Weymouth team on these achievements.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2751

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

[Page 5348]

Whereas from October 11 - 17, 2004 in Sydney, the 7th annual Pierscape Festival will take place with artists from near and far, showing their wares at this special event in Whitney Pier, one of the most ethnically diverse communities in North America; and

Whereas this year's featured artist is Esther (Dakai) Rice, the daughter of Hungarian immigrants to Whitney Pier, who has had her paintings displayed in Italy, France, Austria, England, Hungary, the United States and Canada; and

Whereas Esther passed away in 1985, leaving behind a legacy that her community is honoured to share;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the Legislative Assembly extend their sincere congratulations to the Whitney Pier Society of the Arts in celebrating their 7th annual Pierscape and all the best in the years ahead.

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. 2752

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

Whereas Jake Spinney of Aylesford, Nova Scotia, demonstrated his commitment to the sport of football by relocating to the metro area to attend Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford in order to further his training and football experience; and

Whereas as one of the first two graduates of the Valley Minor Football Association, he was highly regarded in provincial football circles as one of the best linebacker prospects in the province; and

[Page 5349]

Whereas Mr. Spinney was named a Metro League All-star and an Under-17 Defensive Player of the Year by Football Nova Scotia for 2003-04;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge and congratulate Jake Spinney for being named to the Mount Allison Mounties football squad, and extend best wishes in his post-secondary studies and success in forging his AUFC career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2753

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

Whereas Doug Branscombe of the Halifax Regional Recreation staff will take part in the Joints in Motion Marathon Run for Arthritis in Dublin this month; and

Whereas on Friday, October 1st, HRM Recreation staff raised over $3,000 at a fundraiser at St. Mary's Boat Club; and

Whereas the highlight of the fundraiser was a haircut given to Phil Hammond of HRM Recreation staff, which raised over $300;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank Doug Branscombe, Phil Hammond and the staff of the HRM Recreation Department for their good work for the Arthritis Society.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5350]

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 2754

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

Whereas October 10th - 16th has been designated as Home Support Workers Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas home support workers across the province assist countless Nova Scotians by providing quality and compassionate care in the comfort of the clients' homes; and

Whereas dedicated home support workers play an integral role in the delivery of health care in our province;

Therefore be it resolved that the member of this House extend our sincerest appreciation to home support workers throughout our province and wish them all the best in the times ahead.

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.

[Page 5351]

RESOLUTION NO. 2755

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 played an integral part in the lives of many of Dartmouth's children and youth by offering programs and services that meet their needs; and

Whereas Wilfred Warner, a Dartmouth Rotarian, served the club since its inception some 40 years ago as past president and past treasurer and is now involved in writing the history of the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club; and

Whereas the National Boys and Girls Club recognizes the valuable contribution made by Wilfred Warner to the local boys and girls club as well as the national body by presenting him with the Bronze and Silver Keystone Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly recognize the valuable contribution Wilfred Warner made to the boys and girls clubs locally as well as nationally during his 40 years of involvement.

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2756

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

Whereas in this session of the 2004 Fall Legislature the NDP has played their usual game of "Flip-Flop and Catch-Up"; and

[Page 5352]

Whereas the NDP has done little more than follow along and ride the coattails of more imaginative and progressive legislation; and

Whereas the NDP's efforts to help the people in the province protect the environment, natural resources and youth have failed miserably;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP has only been able to follow this session instead of lead, but at least they didn't get in the way.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2757

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

Whereas this week, October 10th - 16th is Community Care Worker Week; and

Whereas homemakers in New Waterford are celebrating their 25th Anniversary of servicing New Waterford and surrounding areas; and

Whereas their loving and giving care has helped many citizens to recover while saving health care significant dollars;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate New Waterford Homemakers on their 25th year of giving superb care to their clients and wish them many more years of service to their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5353]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:53 p.m. and end at 3:53 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

FIN. - GAMING: EXPANSION - PLANS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the gaming strategy. Responsible Gaming Awareness Week starts today, this government says they're serious about problem gambling in spite of their record. They refuse to hold public hearings on problem gambling, they silence the experts and they invest just 1 per cent of the money they make from gambling on actually helping people who need it. One Liberal leadership candidate has at least been up front about his intention - he wants to expand gambling in Nova Scotia. My question is this, will the minister tell us whether or not there's any possible expansion of gambling on the table?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very topical question as we had the conference in town last week. Indeed, Responsible Gaming Awareness Week has started this week and I had a chance to be at the opening of that conference this morning. The issue we're dealing with is looking at what we need to do, what people want the government to do. We're asking them for their responses. To try to prejudge what people are going to tell us is premature. We're waiting and we're asking people to respond.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I think that question just went right over the minister's head. A yes or no answer was all we needed. Through a freedom of information request, we have recently received a number of studies paid for by the province and done by a group called Focal Research. This group has been studying VLTs and gambling addictions for years. In October 2002 the group recommended a number of features that could actually help people - features such as looking into the ways to allow people to set their own budgets, linking pop-up reminders to total time played, and allowing people to set their own time limit. So my question to the minister is, why haven't you acted on any of these recommendations?

[Page 5354]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a number of the tests. The honourable member will know that there have been tests going on in the Valley this Summer, with people regulating themselves. They will know that there have been tests going on in other parts of this province in terms of gambling. Our thrust is to have people tell us where they want to go, to develop a consensus among people, and then move in that direction. This government is listening to people so we can develop the policy that we go forward with.

MR. DEXTER: It's ironic, Mr. Speaker, it's Responsible Gaming Awareness Week and it's this government that's refusing to be responsible. This province has no plan to deal with VLT addiction. So my final question to the minister is this, how can you expect the people of this province to believe that you are serious about problem gambling when it's clear that you ignore recommendations that might actually help people?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable member didn't say is that this is one of the only provinces that has a Gambling Awareness Week. This is one of the province's, we've gone to Dalhousie, we've gone to the those areas to bring the message. We have asked people, we're developing our practises and polices with people. We are being responsible by listening to people.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

EDUC.: PROBLEMS - SEVERITY

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Students and parents who attended at this Legislature today are wondering whether or not this government is listening when it comes to the challenges of education in this province. Funding for education in Nova Scotia is dead last across Canada. Funding for students in this province is approximately one-half on a per student basis the funding that was provided to students on a per student basis in New Jersey and New York four years ago. The trickle-down effect of that, of course, is that we have scholastic scores that need to be substantially improved. We have an arts and sports program that ranks ninth out of 10 in all provinces.

My question for the Minister of Education, how serious does he think the problems in education are in this province?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will go back and make a statement that I made twice in the House before, that you can't have good education without money, but money does not guarantee a quality of education and I wish for once that the honourable member would recognize the many, many positive attributes of our education. We have a good education system in Nova Scotia - amongst the very best in the country.

[Page 5355]

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, another lame response from the Minister of Education. If he would just listen to the research, the independent research that comes with respect to this, we were ninth and beyond in reading and writing indicators, tenth in test scores, tenth in scholastic environment indicators, worst ratio of students to librarians, and this government continues to stick its head in the sand and its hand in the pockets of Nova Scotians asking for $20 million in user fees. The people in the Halifax region are wondering whether or not the disparities are going to continue. Can this minister assure the people in the Halifax region that there will be more equity under the new funding formula that's being contemplated by this government?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member forgets the millions of tax dollars for literacy and math. The Learning for Life Program was one of the most progressive plans that this province has ever seen in education. Mr. Hogg will finish his report and we will study it. As a matter of fact, I expect a draft of that within four weeks.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, from the beginning of time of the education system in Nova Scotia we've been adding hundreds of thousands of new books, millions more books. Of course, we're improving in some areas by replacing the things that were there before, but in terms of taking us to a standard that meets national averages or even begins to approach it is not being tried by this government - $2 million was cut out of renovations and repairs in this year's Education budget. My question to the Minister of Education is, will you speak to the Minister of Finance and the Premier about funding the gymnasium and the auditorium at the new high school in the Halifax peninsula?

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I speak to the Premier and the Finance Minister about money for education on a regular basis. I would also remind the honourable members that their P3 school scheme took millions of dollars from the classrooms. Over the next eight years, this government will spend $400 million on new construction and major renovations.

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

EDUC. - SCH. FEES: TRACKING - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in fact, education funding is a pressing issue, and parents in Nova Scotia are bearing more and more of the burden. Parents are now fundraising for necessities; home and school associations are fundraising to open up school libraries. Mandatory school fees are the issue. Within the Halifax Regional School Board, which receives the lowest funding per student in the province, school fees are collected for lockers, lab fees, sports teams, and for staying at school over lunch. My question for the minister is, how is your department keeping track of the total and the type of school fees being collected in Nova Scotia?

[Page 5356]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that a good many schools do have school fees, particularly at the high school and junior high school levels. We're very fortunate in our province, too, to have groups of very interested and dedicated parents and other people from the communities who are willing to work with people in the schools to ensure that certain things are made that are not readily available. That money would be accounted for by the individual schools and, I assume, the individual school boards would keep track of it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister has a lot to learn. The Department of Education does not have a policy on gathering school fee information, and most of the school boards in the province don't have a policy on schools fees, and they don't keep an annual list of the total. I'm tabling a report on the impact of school fees done by the Community Services Council in Newfoundland. The report says that these charges create financial hardship for some families and contribute to the social exclusion of children within the school. My question for the minister is this, how are you making sure that school fees in this province don't exclude students or make them feel marginalized?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, school fees are not something that everybody likes to pay. Having been involved in the education field for some time, I can tell you that I have never known anybody who was excluded from a school activity simply because they could not afford it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it reminds me of the same kind of questions we got in the early days of the long-term care debate from that same minister. Nova Scotia has come dead last when it comes to education funding, and our cash-strapped schools are increasingly relying on fundraising and school fees. The Newfoundland Minister of Education released a comprehensive paper entitled, School Fees: A Discussion Paper and Framework for Action. I will table the paper so that the minister can see it. My question for the minister is this, will your department finally look at the impact of school fees and fundraising demands across this province and report back to the House?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the honourable member, when he's talking about school fees and things like this, that the Department of Community Services, my colleague, the minister there, introduced a program of support for low-income families. This was the first in Canada, taking into consideration (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 5357]

AGRIC. & FISH.: ILLEGAL FISHERY - END

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Right now, at this very moment, in southwest and western Nova Scotia, an illegal fishery is taking place. This illegal fishery has many illegal backdoor sales of lobster meat to restaurants, illegal sales to the United States, and false paperwork for border crossings, and is being done by Nova Scotia licensed dealers. In many cases these activities have been reported to the authorities, but no apparent action has been taken. Can the minister please tell this House and the fishermen of this province, why this is being allowed?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, ultimately that's a good question. On a number of occasions I've spoken to the Minister of DFO, to no avail. We have gotten no help on this one at all. (Interruptions) No, this has been reported a number of times to DFO and they've done nothing and I think it's time the fishermen of this province get something.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, these dealers are licensed by the Province of Nova Scotia. In some areas in western Nova Scotia, fishermen feel as though they have been forced to take this issue into their own hands and I'm afraid that they will, as there are signs of this happening right now. Someone is going to get hurt. The legal fishermen do not want this illegal fishery to continue. Can the minister tell this House how he can help put an end to this illegal fishery?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as I tried to say just a minute ago, this is a DFO's issue. DFO is investigating it right now. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I simply want to say that this main issue is a DFO issue, they are investigating. The RCMP at this point are investigating this issue and should something arise that there is illegal activity on the buyer's side, we will yank the buyer's license. Thank you.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, it is estimated that there is a minimum of $200,000 worth of illegal lobster being fished weekly in southwest and western Nova Scotia. This represents a great loss not only to the lobster stocks in this area, but also to this province. In early 2000, this government suggested putting a fish plant enforcement team in place to enforce regulations where they had jurisdiction. Plants in this area which have been buying these illegal lobsters, have not been checked in any way. Can the minister tell us if the fish plant enforcement team has ever existed and if not, is there a plan to implement this team in the near future?

[Page 5358]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, back in June, new regulations were passed on illegal activity, on the way to prosecute these things. As I said in my previous answer, when the group goes out to do the investigation, should DFO pull us in and want to participate in an actual answer to this problem, we will do so at that time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

ECON. DEV. - AIR CAN. JAZZ: REG. OPERATIONS - DETAILS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Economic Development. A great many people in my constituency depend on Air Canada Jazz, either directly or indirectly for their employment and you can imagine their shock at reading the story in today's paper that puts the future of those jobs in jeopardy. Pilots who fly for Jazz have been told that one option on the table is to downsize the Halifax operation by moving the regional headquarters to Quebec or Ontario.

I think all members of this House would realize what a blow this would have on the local area as well as for the province as a whole. So I want to ask the minister, can he tell this House what information he has about the future status of the Air Canada Jazz regional headquarters operations in Halifax?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as we all read in the paper today, there were a number of questions raised by the MP for Sackville-Musquodoboit Valley-Eastern Shore. At this time, we have not been approached as a department, but we are making inquiries after reading the newspaper this morning.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the province's interest in this matter is not an idle one. One member of the board at the Halifax International Airport Authority is appointed by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works so he should be able to keep his Cabinet colleagues up to date on what's happening there. The province has invested in the operations of the regional carrier through financial assistance over the years, so I want to ask the minister, again, what action is the minister taking to ensure that this valuable local employer does not pack their bags and fly west?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, we are ascertaining what the situation is before we decide on a course of action.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the province is aware that Jazz is replacing the fleet of British Aerospace 146 aircraft and with that move will come a decision about where to station the new planes. Waiting until after a decision has been made before taking action, will do nothing for those jobs that may be lost or transferred. So will the minister commit to taking action today to help keep this airline's office and the many jobs associated with it in Halifax?

[Page 5359]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, that's exactly what we're doing at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - BIOSOLID SPREADING: REGS. - DETAIL

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. The spreading of biosolids on Inglewood farm in Truro have been halted for the time but only under extreme pressure from the area residents. Repeatedly concerned citizens have brought this issue to the department, the minister and the Premier and it took a tremendous amount of work and effort on their part to have their concerns addressed. Finally, the Nova Scotia Farm Practices Board was given the power over whether or not the spreading would be considered a regular farm practice. Some of their findings were that the guidelines of the Department Environment and Labour, which came into effect in May 2004, did not address most of what the Inglewood farm is applying to their land, (i.e. industrial waste) only the use of biosolids; and the department does not make regular visits to the farm. My question to the minister is, why has there been such a lack of support for the protection of the people and the enforcement of regulations of the Department of Environment and Labour?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we certainly have done our very best to protect the people in that area and, as has been stated previously, it was the odour issue that was the problem. The science is sound. Unfortunately, we were unable to get the odour problem under control and, therefore, the spreading of biosolids on that farm was stopped.

MR. COLWELL: Well, the board discovered that not all the practices being carried out at Inglewood farm were covered by the guidelines of handling industrial waste. The Department of Environment and Labour made it very clear to the board that they were a regulatory body, not experts on the application of non-livestock generated waste. Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, why are there no guidelines for the Department of Environment and Labour when dealing with area application of non-livestock generated waste?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Department of Environment and the Federation of Agriculture that the code of practice will be looked at and we will try and develop a code of practice that would cover this application.

MR. COLWELL: That was an interesting answer from the minister and I appreciate that and I would like to get a commitment from the minister that, indeed, that the . . .

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

[Page 5360]

MR. COLWELL: . . . will be considered for application by the department until such a time as those regulations are in place and also ensure that the Minister of Environment and Labour works with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to implement these guidelines in the immediate future?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that we will be working with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to ensure that the guidelines are implemented and acted upon properly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

EDUC. - HFX. HIGH SCHOOL: AUD. - FUNDRAISING

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Today at our Legislature, students and their parents rallied to get the attention of this government. Members of the Cornwallis, Sir Charles Tupper and other parent-teacher associations are trying to draw this government's attention to a matter they have so far refused to deal with. The fact is, the new Halifax high school will not have an auditorium; instead the parents will be forced to fundraise if they want their children to have an auditorium. With the many stresses and strains already in place on families through school fees, will the minister tell this House how he believes it is fair to force parents to fundraise for something many other schools have had paid for by the province?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. The fact is, in the schools where there are auditoriums - and I met with staff this morning because I thought this question might come up and we couldn't find one that really was funded by the province. (Interruptions)

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I suggest the . . .

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

MR. EPSTEIN: I might want to check this and the minister might want to check it, but I think the reason the chamber orchestra was at work downstairs was they hear you have to fiddle a bit to get that funding.

Not only will this school be without an auditorium, it will have only one double-station gym. It's looking like what one might call a "plain-Jane school". Given the large number of students who will be attending the new school, it is fair to say that gym time will be at a premium and many children will see their opportunities for physical activities reduced. With the province's stated focus on health promotion, will the minister explain how he can

[Page 5361]

justify reducing access to physical activity from many children who have few other alternatives?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, just to give a little history here for the honourable member. Back in 1970, when QEH and St. Pat's were at their peak they had little more than 3,870 students between the two of them and they had two gyms. Now, last year, the enrolment was about 1,427 and they had two gyms between the two of them. There will be a double gym in that school and that is the standard. For example, the school in my home community, which has 1,700 students - the largest high school in the province - it has one gym. If we go up to the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Thank you.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister's answer was interesting, but it doesn't convince the parents here. Under this government we have seen music and arts programs cut back, we have seen a former minister tell students to bring their own toilet paper to school, and we have heard talk of putting 50-plus students in a classroom. Now when the design of a high school, which will last long into the future, is being finalized the government is scrimping on necessary elements like an auditorium and gymnasium. I would like to ask why is this minister refusing to listen to the parents and the future students of this school instead of doing the right thing?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that is totally inaccurate to imply that this minister is not listening to the students and parents. Indeed, I will tell you this minister and his staff are listening to the HRM and to the Halifax Regional School Board and, for what it's worth, there was a meeting this morning among those parties, including the school steering team - I believe they were there as well - to discuss the issues the honourable member is mentioning.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - FLU VACCINES: SUPPLY - ADEQUACY

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last week we learned of major flu vaccination shortages as a result of the suspended licence of a manufacturer. While Canada has its own secure supply of vaccine and will not be directly affected, the fact of the matter is that when 48 million doses are removed from the market, both supply and demand are severely compromised. One country that has been severely impacted as a result of the licence suspension is the United States. We may find that U.S. approvals of flu vaccines that are manufactured here in Canada could occur rather quickly and prices could rise. So my question for the minister is, has Nova Scotia secured all of the flu vaccine it will require for the upcoming flu season?

[Page 5362]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it's my understanding that, indeed, we have secured the supply we require for the coming season. I thank the honourable member for raising the issue, because it's important for Nova Scotians to think in terms of getting a flu vaccination at this time of the year, and I would encourage all Nova Scotians to visit their doctors and ensure that they do indeed get that vaccination.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the government doesn't have a great track record when it comes to managing the supply-and-demand issue. In November 2000, the government was looking for hard-to-find flu vaccine, when it underestimated the demand, actually, and as a result, doctors were sent a letter telling them to refuse flu vaccinations to anyone not in a high-risk category. Today, we have more heightened awareness of the seriousness of the flu and the need to vaccinate. Will the minister please confirm that he will not find himself in the position of sending physicians those letters, telling them to refuse flu vaccinations if they do not fall into the high-risk category?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, last year, Nova Scotians took advantage of the flu vaccination program in unprecedented numbers, higher than ever. We intend to ensure that those numbers are increased this year. It is our intention to be prepared to ensure that those Nova Scotians who wish to have a vaccination indeed receive that vaccination.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, last year the government provided free flu vaccinations for seniors, individuals who fall into a high-risk category, health care workers and students working in health care settings, police officers and firefighters, including volunteer firefighters. This year, the same groups will again be eligible, as well as an additional group, babies aged six months to 23 months. Bit by bit we are adding to the free flu vaccine eligibility list. My final question to the minister, could the minister please indicate if he plans to follow the lead of the Province of Ontario and provide free flu vaccinations for all Nova Scotians who want them and, if so, when is he going to do it?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member indicated, we have indeed expanded the coverage every year. We will continue to expand that coverage as resources become available. Again, I want to take this opportunity to encourage all Nova Scotians to receive their flu vaccination so that they will be protected, and the resources of our health care delivery system will not receive too significant a strain during the flu season.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

HUM. RIGHTS COMM'N. - BD. OF INQUIRY:

LEGAL COSTS - AWARDING

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Commission is really the last resort for Nova Scotians who have experienced discrimination and whose problems can't

[Page 5363]

be solved in any other way. There are several levels of assessment and investigation, and, really, very few cases are deemed worthy of a full-fledged board of inquiry. In at least two recent cases, though, the complaints were found valid, but neither Kirk Johnson nor Constable Patricia Saunders has any idea what their victory will cost. My question isn't about these cases themselves, since they are before the courts. What I would like to ask the minister is, why does the Human Rights Act not clearly give to the Board of Inquiry the authority to award legal costs?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. Obviously my answer will not refer to the particular cases in question, other than to say that I understand that boards of inquiry have in the past awarded legal costs to individuals.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, there really should be no debate left about this. It was found that Kirk Johnson was the victim of racism, when he was repeatedly stopped by Halifax Regional Police, and Constable Patricia Saunders was the victim of gender discrimination, after she became pregnant while working for the Kentville Police Service. The Human Rights appeal procedure is a long and gruelling one, and it's usually expensive. Those legal costs for the appellants represent one more layer of deterrence for anyone looking for the help of the Human Rights Commission. When will this government amend this Act to clarify that legal costs aren't just an additional burden for those already burdened?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again, in answer to the honourable member's question, I can indicate that boards of inquiry in the past have awarded legal costs. Obviously, as in any litigation process, occasionally one of the parties is dissatisfied with the amount of the costs awarded, but, in fact, there is authority today, and, in fact, it has happened that legal costs have been awarded by the successful applicant and complainant. I don't believe there is a problem.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, as long as there's a debate, there is in fact a problem. I think it's more than just a question of amounts. However, there are other problems as well. We have two official languages here, and there are many French-speaking Nova Scotians who experience discrimination daily on the grounds of language services not being provided equally to a large proportion of our citizens. When will this government move to add language as an unacceptable form of discrimination under the Human Rights Act?

MR. BAKER: I appreciate the honourable member's question. I think it's important to recognize that government has been working throughout Nova Scotia, as witnessed by the bill introduced by the Minister of Acadian Affairs and improving French language services. We intend to improve the services that are available to Nova Scotians throughout Nova Scotia, both by government and to encourage others to do likewise.

[Page 5364]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - ACCESSIBLE TRANSPORT:

UNDERFUNDING - ADDRESS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities, known as NSLEO, is a consumer and public education organization which represents the interests of persons with disabilities. NSLEO offers consumers an umbrella organization through which to represent their concerns at the provincial level. Accessible low cost transportation is integral for the inclusion of disabled persons in society. There are many people throughout this province who depend on Dial-A-Ride and their counterparts as their exclusive source of transportation. However, due to the financial constraints, many groups are finding it more difficult to provide this essential service.

My question to the minister is, Mr. Speaker, what is this province doing to address the chronic underfunding of accessible transportation in Nova Scotia?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, today in Nova Scotia we have a program to assist groups like that. We, on a routine basis, provide financial assistance to those groups and we will continue to do so.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that minister is very much aware that this has been going on for as long as he has been on that government side and in Cabinet and he's very much aware that the funding is certainly underfunded. The program to fund community groups who provide accessible transportation is growing. This year two more communities - Digby and Shelburne Counties - realized the need for this service and this drains the already inadequate funding. Last year LEO requested that the capital portion of the funding be increased, but not only was there not any increase, these groups found out last week that their funding has been cut by some $20,000. This in no way addresses a chronic underfunding.

Mr. Speaker, with the increase in demands for this service across Nova Scotia, will this government commit to fund this program at a sustainable level?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, as I said in my earlier answer, this government is committed to funding these programs. I, as the minister, have had the privilege to meet with a number of these organizations and present them with cheques from the Province of Nova Scotia to help support the work they do. It's good work. It's work that we support and will continue to support.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, this issue wouldn't be on this Legislature floor if, in fact, those organizations out there counted on the government to provide the sustainable funding. That's the reason why this is here. More of these organizations are forced to fundraise, the

[Page 5365]

more they are being perceived as a charitable model, versus a required means of transportation for seniors, veterans and persons with disabilities. This is my question, when will this government start treating the dial-a-ride programs as a basic essential service along the lines of other transit operations in Nova Scotia?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, that's a program that we as a government started and we are committed to it. I'll say to the member opposite, that our government has covered the cost for URB fees for these organizations. We've covered the cost around the Registry of Motor Vehicles and we have done more than that. We've contributed financially to the capital expansion of their facilities and we will continue to do that because we think it's the right thing to do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

TCH - RTIAs: FUNDING - DETAILS

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of Tourism Culture and Heritage. There are seven not-for-profit regional tourism industry associations in rural Nova Scotia. These associations are the backbone of the tourism industry in this province, yet they have to struggle and fight every year to stay afloat. These organizations are facing financial troubles. My question is, what percentage of the overall tourism budget is allocated to support regional tourism industry associations. If he can't deliver that, would he table the information by the end of today?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will certainly do that for the member.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I think that was an answer. The year 2004 has been a particularly difficult year for the majority of tourism operators in the province, particularly in rural Nova Scotia. Fortress Louisbourg, Citadel Hill and the Highland Links experienced business interruptions during the summer as a result of a Parks Canada strike. All of these, coupled with the sagging tourism figures for this year is a bad news story for the local tourism operators. My question is, does the minister have a plan to create a financial relief program to assist the tourism industry?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, first of all I just want to state that I certainly agree with the member that the federal government has disappointed the tourism industry in our province this year with respect to the Parks Canada employees.

[Page 5366]

MR. MCNEIL: I take that as a no. The RTIAs are looking for a more appropriate funding formula from government, Mr. Speaker. This is particularly important due to the hardships that all the associations are facing this year. My question is, will the minister commit to a joint meeting with the RTIAs to discuss their funding concerns by the end of this month?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, the member is fully aware that I have met with the regional tourism associations as well as the presidents. Our staff continually meets with each regional tourism association as well, I've personally taken the opportunity this past summer to visit each of those associations, and to speak with each one of them to hear their concerns. Through the regional tourism associations, who provide a very important service for us, we will continue to invest in tourism in our province.

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

COM. SERV. - WOMENS' CTRS.: FUNDING - NEEDS ADDRESS

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of Community Services. Women's centres in this province face a daily struggle just to survive in the wake of frozen funding by this government. Women's centres serve women with complex issues who face educational and training needs, mental health challenges, poverty and lack of transportation. To put it bluntly, women's centres help people who are slipping through the widening gaps in our government's social safety net in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister, how much longer will his government continue to ignore the funding needs of women's centres?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for allowing me to point out a little bit of the history of the funding of women's centres. Initially, these centres were by and large funded with the encouragement of the federal government, they set them up and then they walked away from them. It was the province that came in and supported them. Thank you.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, these women's centres are providing essential services, and I think the minister glosses over the seriousness of the crisis facing them. Staff are underpaid and burnt out from hours of unpaid overtime a week. Yet memos from Community Services staff, already tabled in this House, show that two years of meetings, reports and extra work initiated by the department was nothing but a delaying tactic to avoid properly funding these programs. My question to the minister is, how can you justify leading women's centres through months of unnecessary work just to continue underfunding them?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, further to my first answer, I would point out that when the federal government did pull out of funding women's centres completely just a number of years ago, we gave about a 50 per cent increase to their funding.

[Page 5367]

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, the minister and his department just don't get it. Women's centres are a lifeline to women they serve, and there aren't any government services lining up to fill the gap should women's centres start to close from chronic underfunding. My question to the minister is, when will his department stop the funding freeze for women's centres so that they have adequate resources to do their job?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, we have discussed this on a number of occasions in this Legislature and during estimates. The member opposite says that we don't get it. I would suggest she doesn't get it. The point is that the federal government went in on this. They encouraged the establishment of women centres. When they walked away, we stepped in and we stepped up our commitment to them. We recognize that they are an important service delivery mechanism for women in this province and we will continue to support them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC.: TUITION INCREASES - CONFIRM

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. On October 1st the minister's deputy met with university student representatives to inform them of the status of memorandum of understanding discussions taking place between his department and the university presidents regarding a three-year funding arrangement for the province's universities. At that meeting, the deputy would not reveal to students just what tuition increases are in store for students over the next three years. However, student leaders are concerned over rumours that suggest increases of 5 per cent each year for the next three years. A question to the minister is, will the minister quash those rumours today by confirming that university students will not see tuition increases of 5 per cent each year for the next three years?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can confirm that that number, as the honourable member said, is just rumour, and, to be quite frank, it's really interesting they did this because when we were talking about examples with those students that day, I said, sure as the devil, if we put a concrete number out there to talk about perfect examples, it's going to end up on the floor of the House, and here it is today.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, university students in the province already face the highest tuitions in the country, and if a tuition increase of 5 per cent each year goes forward, students will be facing over $7,000 tuition fees starting next year. The deputy wouldn't tell students what his department is hoping to achieve out of these discussions. This only adds to the speculation. Will the minister do what his deputy refused to do, and tell the students what level of tuition increases he hopes to achieve as a result of the MOU?

[Page 5368]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the intent of the MOU is to work with the people from the universities to try to establish predictable and stable funding on a three-year rotational cycle, much as has been done for the district health authorities through the Department of Health. The Government of Nova Scotia, as the honourable member knows, does not set tuition fees. What we are doing is, with some give and take, we are prepared to put predictable funding on the table in exchange for - I don't like to use the word "concessions" - some things from university presidents. One of those things would see the amount of tuition increases capped.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, we certainly do not accept that the students of this province don't accept that explanation. The bottom line is that Nova Scotia's per capita post-secondary funding is the second lowest in the country. My question is, when will this government stop making excuses and help our students facing the highest tuition in Canada?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I guess I should correct the honourable member. I think he misspoke in his question because the per capita contribution to higher education in Nova Scotia is the second highest in the country.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH: EXTRA-BILLING PRACTICES - INVESTIGATE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. It's been several months since Dr. Cathy Felderhof told her patients she had decided to turn her practice into a type of health co-op, one that would come with user fees for unspecified services. Residents are concerned about the fees they will have to pay and whether those fees should be charged at all. Patients of this practice have been extra billed for some time for the services of a nurse and back in August I wrote the minister and asked that an investigation be conducted into these extra billing practices. I want to ask the minister whether he has done an investigation and if so, would he table the findings in the Legislature?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member does raise a question which is a very interesting one with respect to alternate ways of delivering health care in this province and we have, in fact, worked with Dr. Felderhof and the group with respect to how a co-operative medical practice might be established. I understand that a board of directors has been put in place. That is currently where the thrust of our initiative has been with respect to this issue.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister dances around the question of whether or not he has looked into the extra billing practices that have been going on. The issue here is that the government has a responsibility to ensure that no Nova Scotian is made to pay for health services that are readily available to other Nova Scotians at no charge. This is a GP who has been extra billing for services for a nurse and is actively pursuing a delivery model where patients will be billed for unspecified services, including

[Page 5369]

nurses. I want to ask the minister if he could clearly describe under what circumstances nursing services would be considered non-insured in this province by your government?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, that indeed is the subject matter of our discussions with respect to those who would want to establish the co-operative, is to get a very clear understanding of the nature of the extra services that are provided and to ensure that it is appropriate for those services to be billed over and above those which are covered under MSI.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely astonished that the Minister of Health can't explain to me why patients in the north end of Halifax don't have to pay to see a nurse, but patients in New Glasgow are going to have to.

In an e-mail to the Premier, one patient from that area raises the fear that exists in that community that patients will be forced to co-operate in this new business model, or face losing their family doctor. I'll table a copy of that e-mail obtained under freedom of information. I want to ask the minister, what is your department doing to make sure that no patients lose their family doctor, if they choose not to participate in this new model?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are working very hard to ensure that the model that, in fact, is adopted, is a model that is amenable to patients. I recognize the concern of the honourable member with respect to this and that's one of the challenges that we have, to ensure that if we do in fact give our stamp of approval to a new model of delivery, that those patients who are currently receiving services, will continue to receive those services into the future.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - BIOHAZARD TRANSPORTERS:

WORKING HRS. - SAFETY

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Labour standards rules in this province are so lax that they contribute to workplace dangers. One man contacted our office who used to work for a local Halifax transport company and this company transport is responsible for moving people and medical products between the Infirmary site and the Victoria General Hospital, in unmarked vans. Those medical products include potential biohazards like blood specimens, and even body parts, in Tupperware-style containers. Sometimes the amount of product was piled up to the ceiling. This man would work up to 12 hours at a time and was told by his employer that he couldn't take a break. Because of this he was let go for refusing to work the 12 hours continuously. My question to the minister is, does the minister believe it is safe for a transporter of biohazardous products to work up to 12 hours without a break?

[Page 5370]

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, with regard to that specific case, I would appreciate that any additional information be brought to my attention and we would certainly look into that situation within the department.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately this particular gentleman contacted his department and received little assistance whatsoever. The transportation of biohazardous material is a serious one and it is important to those who transport that type of product, who are performing this service at a very high level. Will the minister commit today, in consultation with the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, to reviewing the labour standards for those transporting biohazardous medical products?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it's my understanding that the transportation of this material would fall under the federal government and I certainly would pass that along to the federal government to review and make sure everything that should be followed is being followed.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what they're smoking over there, but this is a provincial institution.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's an unparliamentary comment and I ask the honourable member for Cape Breton West to withdraw it, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I certainly won't go there and I do withdraw any suggestion there's . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West on his final supplementary.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the transportation of these products is a provincial responsibility. They also fall under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods provincial regulations. The minister should be aware of that. So my question to the minister is, what will the minister do to ensure that all people responsible for the transportation of biohazardous material get the training they need so as to ensure the safety of all Nova Scotians and that these vehicles are properly marked?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I commit to review this particular situation and ensure all the rules are followed.

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

[Page 5371]

TPW - RTE. 213: UPGRADE - PLANS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. On May 10th I wrote a letter to the minister asking him to review the two-kilometre stretch of road that connects with - and I thank the minister again, publicly - the reconstructed Highway No. 103. I'm talking about Route 213, which is the Hammonds Plains Road between the crossroads and Exit 5. Currently there are two growing subdivisions, two elementary schools and a junior high school and hopefully, when the Minister of Education makes the announcement within the next few days, there will be a site of a new high school. I'd like to ask the minister, does his department plan an upgrade of this section of Route 213?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I believe there is something in the planning department, but, however, I'm not privy at this moment or at least sufficiently aware to answer the question directly.

MR. ESTABROOKS: We have a growing community with obvious needs for schools. When you have that number of schools connected so closely to the major Highway No. 103, we, of course, have issues. The minister reports in a letter he responded to - obviously by his last answer, someone from the staff responded - that the collision rate on that section of highway is rated at 141.5 per million. The average is 98.6. I'm wondering if the minister could comment upon the fact that based upon the collision rate provided by your staff in a response to my May 10th letter, you agree that with a collision rate higher than the provincial average, we have a two-kilometre stretch of road with three schools and one going to be built and two growing subdivisions that should be high on the priority list?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that's why I said to the member in my response to his initial question that, indeed, we are looking at that particular stretch of road, but I cannot give him the exact measures that will be taken because, at the present time, I'm not aware of what they are.

MR. ESTABROOKS: On October 1st, the Western Community Council sent correspondence to the new area manager, suburban, Mr. Barron, asking for a review of this stretch of road, of which the member for Chester-St. Margaret's and myself received copies. They are asking, on behalf of the community and on behalf of the school children who attend these schools, for lights at a certain intersection and for sidewalks along this two-kilometre stretch of road. I would like to table these letters now for the minister's attention, and I would like him to direct Mr. Barron, of his Department of Transportation and Public Works staff, to make a complete review of these requests as of the October 1st letter coming from the Western Community Council?

[Page 5372]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what the honourable member expects in the way of an answer, but, first of all, we do not build sidewalks in the Department of Transportation and Public Works. We will construct them at other people's expense, however, it is not our policy to provide sidewalks. Secondly, I've already reassured the honourable member that there are plans in the works for Route 213.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay. You have about 35 seconds.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. On April 20th of this year, the minister tabled an amendment to the Cemetery and Funeral Services Act. Eight days after the Act was passed, the cemetery was purchased - Forest Haven Cemetery, that is. On June 30th, the owner announced he's looking for another buyer. Meanwhile, families still have concerns about the day-to-day operations. It would appear that nothing is solved. Could the minister please confirm whether he has appointed an administrator for that cemetery and, if not, why not?

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

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would like to relay this information to the House. Contrary to an article that appeared in The ChronicleHerald in Halifax this morning, Air Canada Jazz will maintain its corporate headquarters . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. That is not a point of order. There is another time in the House, hours that can be better used for that work.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[3:53 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. James DeWolfe in the Chair.]

[Page 5373]

[4:03 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. James DeWolfe in the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 95 - Land Registration Act.

Bill No. 101 - Public Service Act.

Bill No. 102 - Maintenance Enforcement Act.

Bill No. 107 - Prescription Monitoring Act.

Bill No. 115 - Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission Act.

Bill No. 116 - Liquor Control Act.

Bill No. 121 - Motor Vehicle Act.

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 131.

Bill No. 131 - Police Act.

[Page 5374]

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the honourable Minister of Justice, perhaps I could read his opening remarks.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to begin second reading debate of Bill No. 131, an Act Respecting Policing in Nova Scotia. This legislation supports Nova Scotians and their desire to have adequate and effective policing. Effective policing is one of those vital attributes of safe, strong communities, and my responsibility as minister is to ensure an adequate, effective level of policing from one end of the province to the other. This bill, to a large extent, will solidify in law the good practices that have evolved over the past 10 years.

Good governance is critical to effective policing; in fact, Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police passed a resolution to that effect at its annual conference in British Columbia this summer. Our legislation supports this clear connection between governance and policing service. Bill No. 131 better defines the roles and responsibilities of the minister, police chiefs and municipal police boards and, in those communities served by the RCMP, it authorizes the creation of police advisory boards. These boards would have similar roles to the existing municipal police boards; they would provide advice to the RCMP and their municipal councils on such matters as law enforcement and crime prevention. Policing must reflect community standards, and that's where these new advisory boards can have a positive impact.

Among some of the other changes, we are creating a Nova Scotia Police Review Board; this would merge the police commission with the existing review board. This is being done, Mr. Speaker, to make sure services are provided as efficiently and effectively as possible. We are being very careful to ensure that procedures for investigating and resolving complaints remain consistent with the principles of fundamental justice.

This bill touches on other policing issues, including the power and authority of police officers, internal discipline procedures, the appointment of special constables, and the use of police badges on uniforms. We have spent the last several years consulting with our partners in policing. In particular, I will mention the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association, the Association of Nova Scotia Police Boards, and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. I would also like to thank municipal police departments, and our provincial police, the RCMP for their input and guidance.

Mr. Speaker, our modern Police Act supports modern policing. It will contribute to safer, stronger communities. I look forward to hearing other comments during second reading debate. Thank you and I move second reading of Bill No. 131.

[Page 5375]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak on Bill No. 131, The Police Act, and the comprehensive nature of which has been redefined. It also sets out the role of the advisory boards with respect to the Nova Scotia Police Commission and with respect to how policing services shall be delivered across this province. The most important thing is we are coming to a day and age where policing services are integrated in such points whereby the RCMP carry out the same sort of role within the jurisdiction that was normally found by municipal policing services.

Those jurisdictions are closely closing the gap, and the policing services do entwine themselves in the delivery of policing services that are designed to develop healthy and safe communities. It is very important to know that many of us through this Legislative Assembly from one time or another have had issues from residents who have complaints sometimes about the way the policing services are delivered, or the way that they have been treated by the policing service, and what is the role of the Nova Scotia Police Commission.

One time, municipalities had their own police commissions, and as a matter of fact, I served on the Dartmouth City Police Commission. We would hear about many of those complaints as well as how to best deliver services to communities. We talked about community-based policing as a method of policing. We talked about the importance of developing a policing service whereby the single most important issue would be to develop a safe, stable community.

As I stand in this Legislative Assembly, I do recall, I think it was a month or so ago where in fact the United States Armed Forces personnel were informed about not going into certain neighbourhoods because they weren't safe. It often puzzles me as to why certain neighbourhoods in municipalities are considered not to be safe. Why is it that certain communities are stigmatized? Communities such as, for example, and I don't want this to be implied that these are the only communities, but there are some communities like Gottingen Street, Dartmouth North, Spryfield, like Caledonia Road in Dartmouth as well. So these areas are stigmatized because of certain things going on in the neighbourhood and the level of policing services that they don't have. I think to have an advisory board, a committee, whereby they're going to look at just what kind of a role police services not only plays within the delivery of the police service, but what kind of a role police services plays in the development of communities, and I mean working closely with the development office on how best to plan a safe community when in fact there are subdivisions being developed in communities. Do the police play an important role on that committee, to see that, in fact, the designing of that neighbourhood and that community is consistent with a safe, secure neighbourhood and that it's going to be easily accessible to policing services, so that they can police the neighbourhood or the community?

[Page 5376]

I think there are a lot of things in this police bill that really have been defined and redesigned so that we can meet those particular issues in the future, and I want to say to the Minister of Justice, this is a piece of legislation that's long overdue. I know that they have talked, the minister has said, to the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association, but I also know that there's a national body called the Canadian Chiefs of Police Association which addresses issues directly to the Minister of Justice, on what they believe are important issues that detract or defer the police services from being able to be more "aggressive", if I can use that word, in its delivery of protection services to the community. I think there is a whole issue around that.

I don't know if the Minister of Justice has gone so far as to feel out the national body of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police on this particular issue or not. However, it really isn't necessary because the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association has quite the extensive arm into the Canadian Chiefs of Police Association, to deal with that and I do believe that Mr. Edgar MacLeod, who is from the Cape Breton Regional Police Service, is, in fact, a member of that national body. He is President of that national body, I'm told. There are a lot of issues and concerns in communities and neighbourhoods, around the Young Offenders Act, and how police services deal with those. I don't think the public of Nova Scotia is fully aware of just how the legislation works with respect to the protection of young offenders and the delivery of police services to communities on that very issue.

Although this piece of legislation is before us today, and I didn't get a real chance, Mr. Speaker, to fully digest the piece of legislation before us, I do know that it's all encompassing and once again, I commend the minister for reaching out and talking to the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association. I'm sure he had spoken to representatives of MAPP, which is the Municipal Association of Police Personnel and he's also probably spoken to PANS, the Police Association of Nova Scotia. So he's probably had tremendous input from the delivery of police services and he's probably had tremendous input from the Nova Scotia Police Commission, along with other people who have been involved in police services throughout the province, but I will say that he may not have had the kind of consultation with, in fact, many Nova Scotians on how the Police Act should be changed.

Often we look at the bureaucratic process of introducing legislation and to bring forward that kind of piece of legislation. Often we don't, it comes secondary that Nova Scotia's citizen participation falls in line and it usually falls in line after the piece of legislation has been drafted and it goes on to the Committee on Law Amendments.

[4:15 p.m.]

Many Nova Scotians, to this day, don't realize that they can be a part of making significant changes in legislation in the Province of Nova Scotia. Although I believe we are the only jurisdiction, or one of the very few jurisdictions, that allows citizen participation in legislation and allows the public, as witnesses to legislation, to speak on it, many Nova

[Page 5377]

Scotians are unaware of the opportunity they have before them to provide some valuable input in pieces of legislation.

There's a whole host of issues around policing services and, unfortunately, as I have said, when I stand in this Legislature, I have not digested this bill that's before us, Bill No. 131, the Police Act, in the kind of manner that I would have liked. That is through no one else's fault but my own, but I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, and the government side that this piece of legislation has yet to go across the floor and it has yet to enter the Red Room, and there may be some individuals who will come as witnesses before the Law Amendments Committee to add some pieces with respect to this piece of legislation.

The fact is there's a whole new role and a new way of delivering policing services across this country. We can talk about community-based policing, we can talk about individual troop patrol, we can talk about certain squads and divisions, like the narcotics squad, we can talk about the prostitution squad, we can talk about special services squads that will come in, we can talk about individual policing services that are specifically designed to address particular community needs, all which, in fact, I'm sure are enshrined in this piece of legislation that says how it will go about, how it will be reviewed and how it will be assessed. Those are the kinds of things that we need to know with respect to what's going on in legislation, and we need to be able to inform Nova Scotians with respect to that.

I just want to harken back now to RCMP services. As a matter of fact, I know that at one time there was a jurisdiction whereby if you escaped into the boundary of what was called the municipality and it had a municipal police force that you were almost assured that the RCMP wouldn't nab you, that somebody else would have to nab you. However, the jurisdictions have now changed, there's an integration of services that are provided by the RCMP and the municipal police services. Those integrations have taken place within the last few years, and they have allowed the RCMP to be better utilized, along with the municipal policing services on delivering programs that are compatible with each other.

Those programs are often beneficial to the communities, because the community now knows that if there's a violation and the municipal police service is not available, that the RCMP can take over. They can come in and they can take over. So, forget about your speeding and running into the municipality, and hoping that the RCMP can't nail you, because they can - to use the term being nailed for a violation - they certainly can. There's that kind of co-operative measure that has been taking place within the last couple of years.

I want to say that I've watched some significant changes with respect to the delivery of policing services in the constituency that I represent. I have to say that over the last couple of years, there's been a positive relationship with the policing services. I meet with them from time to time. I do know that the community has a district Neighbourhood Watch, one of the largest in Nova Scotia. The Neighbourhood Watch has a large group of individuals who, in

[Page 5378]

fact, have a police representative at their meetings, and ask the police about a whole host of services.

Many people, unfortunately, don't know their rights when they have a challenge with policing services programs or the way an issue has been handled by the police department and so on. Some of them go directly to, in this particular case, the HRM Police, and then find out there's a further need and they go to the Nova Scotia Police Commissioner and they try to deal with this in a way in which they really don't have a handle on how best to represent themselves before the policing bodies.

Hopefully, if there is an advisory committee and there is the potential for an advisory committee, the very first and fundamental role of that advisory committee will be able to advise citizens on how to go through the bureaucracy of policing services, particularly, how to walk themselves through the municipal Police Act, the newer, recommended, changes to the Police Act, so they can find themselves better served.

Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to speak a whole lot on this piece of legislation, but I can assure you that if I had to, and brought my notes together, I could certainly spend an entire hour on this very issue of policing and the important role the policing services plays in our society. Having said that, I will now take my seat and await for this bill to come back across this legislative floor and listen to some of the presenters and witnesses. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to speak on this particular piece of legislation, the Nova Scotia Police Act. The amendments are good amendments - just to compliment the Government House Leader on his opening remarks on behalf of the Minister of Justice - but there are a number of points I think have to be made with regard to this. First of all, we'd like to certainly compliment our policing service right across this province, they are doing a phenomenal job. When we look at the issue of policing service in Nova Scotia compared to 20 or 30 years ago, we are effectively light years ahead of where we were back before some of the improvements that were made through the policing commissions starting off at the local, municipal policing commission services. Eventually, when a number of issues came up that necessitated the need for a provincial policing commission, I think, as in many different issues and jurisdictions of matter, improvements take time; to paraphrase that movie with Richard Dreyfuss, it's what they call "baby steps". It's very positive when we look at the high quality of policing service in Nova Scotia both regionally, municipally and also with the RCMP. We're very fortunate to have that high quality of service.

That having been said, these individuals and organizations can only do so much. They require the support of government, they require the resources to be able to get the job done and they require the legislative and the legal framework to be able to make that a realization.

[Page 5379]

It was very disturbing that earlier this year it was noted that the Canadian Institute for Health Information, their latest health indicators report that Nova Scotia has the dubious distinction of the highest crime rate, excluding traffic, east of the Province of Manitoba.

That's not exactly what you'd call a ringing endorsement of success by the Minister of Justice in dealing with matters of crime in the Province of Nova Scotia. In fact, this report also shows that Nova Scotia has a substantially higher crime rate than that of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. What have we seen the Minister of Justice provide to date? The only thing that's memorable that I can recall is the Minister of Justice providing a video for seniors on how to lock themselves in their own home. Well, is that the best that the Minister of Justice and this government can offer the people in Nova Scotia?

The number of acts of violence that have been perpetrated, for example, has been raised by the Leader of the Official Opposition with regard to taxi drivers in this province. I mean it has gone right off the Richter scale, the number of incidents of violence that have been perpetrated against individuals who are trying to serve the public. On the very day that that issue was raised in the House here, I had occasion to take a taxi over to Dalhousie to a Canadian Youth Forum conference and the taxi driver indicated that in the last two years he had his leg broken, he had his jaw cracked, he had severe lacerations by three individuals over one $5.50 taxi fare, and all three of those individuals are up before the judicial system, but that brings little comfort to those individuals who are out there providing that type of service.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would think that the Minister of Justice would perhaps take a more active role in helping the policing service in this province to deal with these matters. For example, with regard to the particular piece of legislation that we already have on the books, that's introduced, and I know there are certain limitations on debating these matters, but the issue of binding arbitration for the policing services of Nova Scotia, that's a very important piece of legislation for these policing services, excepting HRM which already has that particular matter built into its process of providing police service, so they already have binding arbitration. But I believe if we're looking for quality assurance for the people of Nova Scotia, the government owes it to the people of Nova Scotia to ensure that policing service is considered an essential service and binding arbitration would be part of that collective bargaining process so we move to that next step.

The Minister of Justice, when he was the Justice Critic on this side of the House, introduced that particular piece of legislation. Effectively, we've mirrored that and offered an olive branch to the government and to all members of the House to be able to come forth and proceed with that. It doesn't matter whose name is on the particular piece of legislation. Quite frankly, it matters little to myself as a Labour Critic since it comes in under the Department of Environment and Labour, but if the Minister of Justice wants to do it, that's fine. If the Minister of Environment and Labour would like to do it, that's fine. If the member for

[Page 5380]

Colchester North would like to do it, as someone who has a very close connection with policing services, that's fine.

Mr. Speaker, this particular piece of legislation does add some additional improvement to the process and I'm sure when the various stakeholders come before the Law Amendments Committee, they will have an opportunity to provide greater insights, and perhaps some amendments, you know, perhaps their objections if they have any, and so forth, but I don't think we should be just quietly and subtly cajoled into thinking that all these wonderful pieces of legislation are coming before the House and they're going to solve all the problems. They're not. The incidence of violence in this province has increased under this government's watch.

Now, whether they're wholly responsible, or partially responsible, or what have you, Mr. Speaker, the facts are the facts. The incidence of crime in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has more than tripled in the last four to five years and they can only do so much. They can only do so much. They are limited by the resources and the support that they receive from the Department of Justice and the Minister of Justice. We are becoming quite concerned about this polarization that exists between the minister and the policing services at that level.

[4:30 p.m.]

The Minister of Justice can't continually expound, with platitudes, about what's right and what's not right but never getting down to the practicalities of how to resolve the issues. It's just not good enough. Here in metro, we've seen a proliferation of break-and-enters, particularly against senior citizens. You, yourself, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure on a previous day at a Public Accounts Committee meeting, raised the concern about the effects of violence on seniors in this province. This has become a very high-tech business.

Some rather questionable elements will go out, they'll stake out a community, they'll drive out perhaps a day or two in advance and they'll stake out certain numbers of houses on certain roads in certain communities. They find, well, these folks aren't home today and these are their travel patterns, they work during the day or perhaps there's a certain day they go for groceries or nobody is around for whatever reason. Then, of course, they set up a very elaborate network of communications, using cell phones, using scanners, using people-operatives in this very sophisticated style, so that if the owner decides to come home, particularly in a rural community of Nova Scotia, well, they'll see them five miles down the road. So that gives lots of lead time for the perpetrators to go in, and either ransack the place, they can take whatever they want, with little regard, Mr. Speaker.

The policing services in this province need assistance from this government. They need more financial resources to be able to do their job, and they need more co-operation from the Department of Justice to act not only as a catalyst to make things happen, but as a facilitator, show the leadership that's required to get the job done. They cannot do it on their

[Page 5381]

own. I can give you numerous examples in my constituency, where the disregard for life and limb and personal property has become ever so pronounced. What's even amazing, Mr. Speaker, is the number of break-and-enters in the daytime. At one time it was under the cover of darkness. Now it's become - because they've become so sophisticated in the way that they perpetrate their crimes - that whether it's in the daytime or the evening, it doesn't matter. It's much easier because they can see where they're going and how they're going to get there, and they can monitor people's travel patterns. It's becoming unacceptable.

I would ask the Minister of Justice to be able to do something about it. Sure, we'll support the bill going on to the Law Amendments Committee. There are a lot of good things that can be done, but I would also take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to perhaps press the government to proceed with this issue of binding arbitration, because it not only provides that level of quality of service, but it's a comfort level. It's a comfort level for the people, particularly in rural Nova Scotia, in those jurisdictions where policing organizations have the ability to strike, it will allay the fears - it's the fear of the unknown, it's the fear of not knowing that you are protected.

I recall back in the early 1970s, perhaps it was around 1969, when there was a strike by the Sydney Police Department. Well, at 12:01 a.m., when they were legally entitled to go on strike, it was pandemonium in the City of Sydney. There were picture windows, there were storefront windows - it was amazing, what had happened, the robberies, the violence, the property destruction. We don't want to see that anymore.

Mr. Speaker, this is an opportunity for the government to go one step further, never mind delaying it until the eleventh hour and then create the optics of doing something. Seniors can't afford to be locked in their own home. They cannot rely on a video on how to lock their door to protect themselves. That's not exactly what you would call justice.

The amount of violence that's perpetrated even in our schools - it's almost getting to the point where, as we've seen several weeks ago, incidents of what almost became gang violence in one of the schools here in metro. This is not what we've always known and believed to be a wholesome and safe environment for teaching our children. We have to ask ourselves, and it's not just the issues that happened on that particular day, but what are the causes, what are the root causes of these incidents and how is the government dealing with it?

To date the Minister of Justice is taking a hands-off approach to the growing incidence of crime and violence and robbery in this province, and they are doing very little to address it, Mr. Speaker, and it's time for the Minister of Justice to come out of that little glass tower that he's in down on Terminal Road and do something. There's not a day goes by that you can't pick up any one of the major newspapers in this province and find a story that is about robbery or violence, drugs, narcotics, the use of deadly force with guns and knives.

[Page 5382]

It's on the increase, and I know members of the Tory caucus, particularly many of the backbenchers, have voiced their concerns about this - and rightfully so. Concerns were raised about restorative justice. Well I believe in restorative justice, but does it always work in every circumstance? I don't know. I don't have the background, the knowledge, or the statistical information to say yes or no. I heard one of the members in the House say no, it doesn't, and perhaps someone with more experience in that profession would be able to speak to this particular issue.

Mr. Speaker, we are very concerned about the fact that the government is not doing enough to stem the tide of violence in this province. It's an issue that hasn't been raised extensively in the House. It's been raised but, when you consider the magnitude of this problem, I'm absolutely amazed how the government members have sat quietly. They get up day in, day out and introduce resolutions, but nothing to deal with some of the major social problems and legal problems in this province, particularly in their own constituency. Why not? Are they restricted by the Minister of Justice? It would appear so.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important piece of legislation. It's a good piece of legislation, but we just don't want more paper talk. We just don't want this make-you-feel-good environment, where everything is going along so smoothly and the government is introducing all this legislation that's going to solve the problems. It's not; it's just not going to solve the problems and I'm just absolutely amazed how there's a lull of complacency on some of these major issues and absolutely nothing is being said or done about them. Now we have to think about the seniors whether they're down in Meteghan, or in Digby Neck, or in Cumberland County, or in Colchester County, or in Halifax County, Cape Breton County, or wherever you want to go - when are we going to start doing something about it? That's the question.

So, with that, Mr. Speaker, I will certainly conclude my remarks and allow for further intervention by other members.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think I'll be brief compared to some of my colleagues who've spoken. I have to say my biggest incentive for getting to my feet on this bill is just the way that the policing service affects our lives, and I think we always hope that it'll be in a positive way, that when we need them - and we hope never - that they'll be there. I think in particular, the section on the Police Advisory Boards I found to be particularly interesting. I don't have a clear indication from reading the bill as to the intent by the government on the advisory board. I want to say that if their thoughts are some other level of governance, somewhere that the public could go to express concerns, that this is probably a good thing.

[Page 5383]

The bill does state the function of an advisory board is, ". . . to provide advice to the council . . .", meaning the municipal council, ". . . in relation to the enforcement of law, the maintenance of law and the prevention of crime in the municipality, but the advisory board shall not exercise jurisdiction relating to complaints, discipline, personnel conduct or the internal management of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police."

I want to state that my interest in this is around the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, simply because that's the body that does the policing in a lot of rural municipalities and certainly is the body that does the policing in the Municipality of East Hants. It's not necessarily clear in black and white what the role of the board is. I would say if I wanted to complain about a police officer, I probably wouldn't go to this board, if this is what this clause indicates then there's probably some sense in that. I would certainly go to the staff sergeant, number one, then on to headquarters.

Mr. Speaker, I, like all people, sometimes wonder about the ability of the detachments to carry out their job. I'm really pleased that we have an RCMP detachment in Enfield, have had for just a few years now, because of our growing population, basically a bedroom community. This would fall across the river into the HRM, Fall River area and so on, I'm assuming those people would call that area as well. I have my reservations around the federal government's approach to policing in light of federal cutbacks, and if I am not mistaken, conservation officers used to enforce the migratory game bird Act and that was turned over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The result of that obviously with cutbacks, et cetera, is that if the detachment gets two calls, one is for an infraction involving the migratory game bird Act and the other one is a break and enter, which do you think that the detachment is going to respond to?

By and large there really isn't an awful lot happening in terms of enforcement of these other areas. Initially, when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police took over enforcement of the migratory game bird Act, they set up a particular patrol, a group of officers designated to the enforcement of that Act and then with cutbacks they got rolled into the regular force, and enforcement of that Act kind of fell by the wayside. If somebody had time or if it was kind of a slow day, then you might get reaction to the migratory game bird Act, but you may not otherwise.

[4:45 p.m.]

So, it's the ability of the federal government to look at enforcement as a priority that communities, as they grow, should have a very visible and active force in those communities. I sometimes get complaints from people who call, and get a long time between the call and the response. I'll talk to a specific case which surprised me. I have to say, the good or bad of it can be evaluated, but I guess the surprise that I got was, I went to my local detachment because it's right in the Village of Enfield, my office is just down the road. There was an issue that I wanted to deal with the detachment about, and I went to the door and of course, it was

[Page 5384]

locked. This was after 5:00 p.m., so there's a phone right outside, right beside the door, so I picked up the phone and actually the person who responded on the other end of the line was from Truro.

So after 5:00 p.m., I think in my area, if you call the local detachment, you're going to get Truro, then they're going to get in touch with somebody in the detachment and they'll get back to you. What happened in this case, I'm standing outside the door of the detachment, I tell this person my concern and they say, oh, just hold on, there'll be somebody there in a second. So there actually were people, constables inside the detachment that I really couldn't get to, except through this phone, to somebody in Truro and I'm standing in Enfield, right at the building. I took that to be particularly odd.

I can recognize all kinds of need for security, et cetera, and actually, when you go to enter the detachment, there is a kind of entryway, where you can speak through a small hole to somebody inside and tell them who you are and what you want and then they'll either decide to let you in or not. So, I recognize the need for security and I would think if that seems necessary through the day, then certainly I would think you should be able to enter the building at least to speak to somebody through the glass, after hours.

It's unclear, although I appreciate an effort by the government to allow for community input, but it's really unclear as to what the government sees as the real value in this group. Someone who can speak for the municipality on this board, I see that as a good thing because I know that councillors will be receiving, or probably do on occasion, as I do, complain about what they think is inaction on the part of their RCMP, justifiable or not, or how much credibility you can give to complaints. There will be a body that they could take these issues of governance to and hopefully get some resolve to their concern.

The one point I would like this body to be able to make, is some way to - and maybe through this Legislature - send a message to the federal government that resources on enforcement, I think, are spread a little too thin. Communities echo this time and time again. I think that as much as people appreciate the efforts of the Mounted Police, I'd like to ensure, as with so many things that the governments are involved with, that they actually put the resources in place, not only to address the concerns of the citizens, but to also make sure that those officers who are doing the job have what they need to do the job appropriately. With that, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to seeing this bill move forward and hopefully get to speak to it another time. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have an opportunity to speak on Bill No. 131, an Act Respecting Policing in Nova Scotia. I guess a bit of background first, if I may, just to give some understanding for the record of my work with the police in the past and then a bit about some of the provisions in the legislation.

[Page 5385]

I guess I've looked at it from different levels and I feel honoured, in many ways, to have worked with the police in this province and my work has come as a lawyer, as a prosecutor, predominately. I originally had done work in Ontario as a prosecutor, when I came back here my original work was with the old Halifax City Police before the regional municipality.

Indeed, the member for Annapolis, his brother, who is now the Deputy Chief of Police for the Halifax Regional Police Service, Chris McNeil, was an articling clerk at the time, with the City of Halifax, when I was working there as the prosecutor and I got to know him quite well. He's one of those rare people who becomes a police officer and goes to law school and then goes back to policing and I can say, though - this is a bit of an aside - that he is a great asset to the regional municipality and the police service in Halifax Regional Municipality, and has a bright future in front of him as well.

In particular, my work at that time was mainly with regard to sort of summary offence proceedings in the city. I got to know a lot of those police officers, and I had a lot of respect for the Halifax Police Force and the work that they did. At that time, in the early 1990s, they came through the 1980s - I believe there was a police strike at that time, there had been a lot of incidents around racial disharmony in the city, and that force, I think, in the early 1990s, it can be said, began to really focus on its ability to be a very professional force.

After that, I spent some time working in Dartmouth, predominantly with the RCMP - I will make more comments about them in a minute - but also with the Dartmouth Police Force. The Dartmouth Police Force, as well, had a lot of very good and capable officers who did a lot of extremely difficult work. Mr. Speaker, they, in the end, through amalgamation, I think - look, when they amalgamated the cities, it was a foregone conclusion that the police services would be amalgamated. As a result, we see the benefits that come from amalgamation, the economy of scale, the ability to provide more services. Instead of having three potential canine units, or four, if you look at the detachments in the RCMP area, now maybe we only have one. Again, I'll talk more about harmonization in a minute.

I wanted to get on the record my having worked with the Halifax Police Force, having worked with the Dartmouth Police Force, as a prosecutor, and I very much respected the officers and the work they did.

As the Justice Critic and from the last six and a half years as an MLA - probably, gosh, four and a half of those years I spent as the Justice Critic - I've had an opportunity to meet with organizations throughout this province. One that comes to mind most of all is Springhill. It was only a few years ago that there was an incident out of Springhill, right around the time they were discussing changes to the Police Act, and I believe - I don't want to go into too much detail, because it's been a couple of years and I don't want to misspeak.

[Page 5386]

I do know that there was an incident around the municipal police commission in that town, and the firing of the police chief. It was a major concern in that community. In fact, I could say it divided that community. I remember going to a meeting in Springhill, in the high school, and seeing the division in the community and how difficult it can be. My recollection was specifically around the fact that the municipal police commission was making decisions that many in the community thought were not the appropriate ones, yet there was no ability to appeal those decisions, not even through the minister, let alone through the courts.

Now, of course, you always have the right to challenge a decision of a tribunal through the courts, through certiorari, or through other means of challenging a decision, but there's a fairly limited scope. They're based on questions of law or questions of fact that it was so patently unreasonable - I'm really getting into an area and it's been a long time since I dealt with it, so I'll move on. But the fact is that you do have certain rights through appeal, but nothing written down, nothing, clearly, unless you're willing to hire a lawyer and spend a lot of money that you can actually have an opportunity to take on.

Mr. Speaker, what we saw in Springhill was that there was a need to revise the Police Act. This came from the people of Springhill. They made that clear, and I know the member for Cumberland South as a man, as a police officer in that community, was very well aware of those issues. I've spoken to him about it in the past, in conversation. I know that those issues are still there.

I'm looking forward to this bill, hopefully hearing at the Law Amendments Committee how people feel about it, because this is an opportunity to remedy some of those problems with the municipal police commissions, and whether or not we need to have them appealed or whether we need to limit their mandate, so that they're not directly involved in the hiring and firing or dealing with people on a regular basis. Their role should be limited. We have a chief of police in every community, we have the head of detachments for the RCMP, and their job is to deal with the day-to-day operations of the police department.

Unless we know that there is gross negligence occurring or serious problems being brought forward, Mr. Speaker, I don't think it's the job of a municipal police commission to actually be intervening in those incidents. Their job is to develop polices as to how policing will take place in a community, on a broader scale, on sort of a long-term vision. They shouldn't be dealing with day-to-day operations.

On the other hand, I still believe there's a role for a minister with regard to these municipal police commissions. Let's be frank. Nova Scotia has a different policing regiment than you have in other provinces. In Ontario, you have the OPP. The member for Colchester North, having been a former member, I think it was in - I want to say Pickle Lake. I think that's correct - I remember him telling me that he was in Pickle Lake and they sent him to Brockville. If anyone's been to Brockville, it's not a very big town, probably 50,000 or 60,000 - I remember him saying to me that it was too big and he was glad to go back to

[Page 5387]

Pickle Lake because he liked the quiet of Pickle Lake. (Interruptions) I haven't been to Pickle Lake, I can only tell you I've been as far as Thunder Bay and Kenora and Dryden, but I never made it as far north as Pickle Lake.

That works well in Ontario predominantly because the OPP plays a role as the provincial police force. This bill does mention Nova Scotia Provincial Police, which is a term to many in this province, particularly in Cape Breton when you think about Davis Day and the old Nova Scotia provincial police and what they were brought in to do in Cape Breton in the 1920s - to bust up unions and strikes - the phrase Nova Scotia provincial police has a very negative connotation and one with a history.

It's interesting to see it in the bill as a term. It also says that basically, what we're talking about, is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be our provincial police. Again, I'll talk a little later about the Mounties, but I want to say that I think we have an incredible force in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

But I digress from my original point which is, Ontario has the OPP and in many of the smaller towns or townships, the OPP takes on the job of being the police. In some of the larger cities, they may have a municipal force - I'm not sure where the line is drawn. I know that in Toronto, obviously, they have their own police force or in Hamilton, you might have one for an entire township, but in most of those townships, we're talking 100,000, even in the north, the Township of Algoma or the Timmins area. You're talking a large population base so you have the OPP force or maybe they have their own force.

In Nova Scotia, we happen to have very small police forces in small towns. By small, let's be clear - I represent Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. Cole Harbour has a population approaching 30,000 people, Eastern Passage has a population approaching 12,000. Most of the municipal police forces in this province are for towns much smaller than that. I look at Yarmouth as a town that has 8,000 people, or Springhill - I'm only speculating, but it's probably around 5,000 people; Kentville, maybe 10,000. You have police forces for very small communities.

In those circumstances, you have to ensure - given the nature of policing, given the power and this is about the rule of law, this is about ensuring our police officers understand they have incredible power, but power they're not going to use on a regular basis. Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, you come from the Pictou area, they have, I still believe, three or four police forces there. I'm assuming Stellarton, Trenton and New Glasgow anyway. I don't think the Town of Pictou has its own - I think they use the RCMP. (Interruption) Westville, sorry. These are very small communities, Westville and the others are not very big. You have to ensure this is a system that can work.

[Page 5388]

It has worked well in Nova Scotia, but it has worked well because we have the ability in the Police Act to ensure the police officers understand their role. They have to have the proper training and, in this province, the police officers have been given the training, I think, to do their job very well - municipal, RCMP, city police forces. But, on top of it, we need to know that there are checks and balances and that's where the Police Act comes in. We have to know that when you talk about the powers of a police officer under the Criminal Code or under bylaw enforcement or under the Occupational Health and Safety Act because this bill gives him the power to enforce every Statute in this province. They're a peace officer, they have awesome powers.

We have to have those checks and balances to ensure - particularly in smaller towns where you have smaller police forces and - quite frankly - where everyone knows everyone else. You have to ensure there are checks and balances to ensure that that system does not break down, that the rule of law is properly enforced, that the police officers understand the need to use kid gloves, so to speak, when they're dealing with the powers they have. You just can't in that circumstance. If a police officer in a small town of 2,000 or 3,000 people felt that they had the powers - and they do - and they weren't properly trained or, God forbid, that some of them may feel that those powers need to be used, you could have very serious circumstances involving the breach of the rule of law potentially.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I think it's important that the Police Act be in place to provide those checks and balances. We have these municipal police commissions, that's great, but these municipal police commissions need to ensure that we also have the ability to question - you know, again, in a small town with a small town council, with a small police force, it's very easy for us to see a problem occur and it's important that there be checks and balances. That's what the Police Act does, and the minister needs to have that power. The minister is accountable to this House, the government is accountable to this House, and that will ensure that we have that.

I'm not sure that's in here yet. My scan of this bill does not in any way provide me with a clear sense that there's an appeal process. I don't know if there's anyone from the staff here, but I would like to have some understanding that there is actually an appeal from a municipal police commission if for some reason there was a questionable decision being made. The minister should be able to intervene. It does talk about the minister having certain powers, but I would like it spelled out a little more clearly so people understand that if a municipal police commission gets involved in a matter, if their decision is not based on good law, is not based on the facts, is based on politics, and God forbid that happens, we need to know that there are checks and balances to protect the people in that community.

[Page 5389]

Mr. Speaker, now having said that, I do want to talk about the ministerial powers in this bill, and not getting into details because that's for a later debate. For example, there's a clause in this bill that allows the minister to exempt parts of this province from the provisions of the bill. He actually can, by regulation through Cabinet, pass a regulation that says HRM, this Act does not apply; Pictou County, this Act does not apply. I don't think it has been used, I have no idea. The first thought I had, not to make this too much of a scare factor, because I think there's probably a legitimate reason for the clause in here, but it begins to think about the fact that you're basically taking away people's rights to complain under the Act, take away the ability of the police officers to have to meet certain standards, whether it's training standards, or whether it's standards of what they're able to do.

I'm not sure why the minister needs the power to exempt, and as it basically says, a part of the province. It says not all of it. So, presumably, he could exempt 99.9 per cent as long as 0.1 per cent was allowed to be covered by the Act. I'm not clear why that is and maybe, through this, if anyone from the department is listening, or the Minister of Justice, there's an opportunity to explain that, but there is the ability to exempt certain parts of the province by regulation. That's a pretty awesome power in itself. I talked about police departments, particularly municipal ones, needing checks and balances, I would argue the minister needs checks and balances as well. Of course, he has to go to Cabinet; of course, he has to do that.

I would argue, Mr. Speaker, if the minister wants to exempt certain parts of this province from the Police Act, maybe there needs to be an Act of the Legislature to do that. If there's an emergency situation that requires action, I'm not sure why we need to take away the Police Act. There are other ways of doing that. There are ways of doing that that I would suggest can be operated upon that don't involve exempting the ability of people to complain, or the people to use the powers in the Police Act to ensure their police forces are being properly monitored and are doing the right thing in their communities.

Mr. Speaker, he also has the power to audit and review police departments. I'm not sure how often that happens. I would like to think that it's happening regularly. Again, I hope the department can shed some light on that. It says he may. I understand in legal drafting terms why we use the term "may" as compared to "shall", but I would hope that this is something that's going on. Again, checks and balances involve not only waiting for a problem, but being proactive and I would hope the minister and the Department of Justice and the Police Services Division are and will continue to be actively auditing and reviewing police forces to ensure that things are working properly. Maybe if that clause was in there, the incident in Springhill may not have erupted. Maybe there was a way in which they could have issued an audit. Maybe it was just a decision of the Minister of Justice not to intervene, I don't know, but those incidences are not uncommon and they need potentially to ensure that there are those checks and balances and that includes an audit and review.

[Page 5390]

There's an ability to have a complaints commissioner in this bill, I think that's a good thing. I'm not sure if it's new. I think it is, but I'm not absolutely sure. There's a police review board which, obviously, we've had in the past. I'm trying to think about the gentleman who died in the cells in Sydney and they ended up having a review of his case - Bailey, I believe it was - and that was an inquiry that went on in Sydney back in 2003, I believe, and it was under this Act, it would have been under (Interruption) 2002. The former Minister of Justice is helping me. I don't think I've heard a final decision on that one. These are boards that occur from time to time when there's a serious concern about how a police department worked. That's counterbalance, again, checks and balances. There's a way of looking at this.

I spoke today with a police officer and I said what do you think of this bill? He said I haven't had a chance to look at it in great detail, but he said my concern is that there are people out there on the other side who are promoting frivolous complaints because they've been charged, legitimately. The police decide to charge someone, and they decide to file a complaint under the Police Act, in hopes of bargaining it down. We don't need that. The police officers are doing their job, they're recognizing that there might be a criminal or quasi- criminal offence. If they decide to lay a charge, they need to know that there won't be complaints, permanent marks on their record as a police officer because they are doing their job.

Yes, we need to ensure that where there has been an egregious or a serious violation of the Police Act, or of the rights of a citizen, that there is an ability to complain. I'll draw on the Barristers Act, and I believe some of the other Acts use this as well, Mr. Speaker. They have an internal disciplinary process to determine whether basically, does it meet the smell test? Is there enough evidence for it to go to a disciplinary hearing? They eliminate a lot of the frivolous complaints that way, before it even becomes public. So you don't have the public sort of dragging a police officers name through the mud.

Maybe we need that process here. Maybe there needs to be an ability to have a police officers case, a complaint review to determine whether it meets a certain level of seriousness, whether it's frivolous whether it's vexatious. If it is frivolous or vexatious we will not take it any further. I'm not sure that's in here. Again, if the department can clarify some of this I was briefed, I will say for the record, beforehand. These sort of issues weren't brought up, I'll be glad to have more information. I'd hate to see frivolous or vexatious complaints because an officer is doing his or her job, that this Act not be used as a stick to try and plea bargain - that's not the right thing to do.

On the other hand, it's good to see in this bill provisions to ensure that where there is potentially a serious violation, I would say police officers, where there is a serious allegation want their name cleared as well. In the case of this case in Sydney or in other cases that have come up in the past I'm sure that that has been part of the process, and it's an important part of the process.

[Page 5391]

I want to talk about the RCMP because my area which I represent is what they still call the former County of Halifax, it is under RCMP mandate. It has changed. I was noting the member for Hants East comments about having to call the detachment and get someone in Truro. I was talking to someone the other day who told me that they called their detachment in Sackville, or Tantallon, I can't remember which one in the HRM and they actually spoke to someone in Toronto.

That doesn't necessarily give people a lot of confidence that there is someone on the other end of the line who's going to be able to quickly come and deal with a matter. It's not 911, let's be clear. We all know if there's a 911 call it's gone to a central dispatch if it's an emergency. But there are situations in which you want to talk to someone. I've had this happen to me and it's changed. I've talked to Vern Fraser who is the head of RCMP in the metro area. It's been on my list of things to do to talk to him in more detail. So people understand at least in the HRM, which is my experience.

Let me start by going back a bit first. I have the utmost respect for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I want to tell a little anecdote about being in Kosovo a couple of years ago, and meeting with some of the people who worked for the organization I was working with and they were translators right after the war. The first people who came in to do investigations of mass murder, of mass graves, who did the investigations of allegations of atrocities, a lot of those were RCMP. I'll tell you the reputation of that force in Eastern Europe is second to none, Mr. Speaker.

For a lot of different reasons, historic, cultural - because we have a national police force, it is probably the most respected police force in the world. Because it is a police force for the whole country, and a very large country at that. That has resulted in us having a police force that around the world, when you say the Mounties, or you show a picture of a Mountie, everyone knows it's connected to Canada, they recognize it as a symbol of Canada but also the pride in Canada. It says so much about the RCMP. It's about a police officer, and it's about recognition of the rule of law about democracy in Canada.

I can assure you when people talk about police departments in Russia, they are probably not necessarily looking at them with the same fondness as they are of the Mounties, because they know that the Mounties are a respected police force, a police force that actually does its job but doesn't overstep its bounds. Actually doing it in a way that both protects the citizens from criminals, but at the same time ensures that the rights of citizens are being protected.

That's not an easy line to walk. I can say in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police we have a force that's second to none in the world, Mr. Speaker. They are very well trained and we should be proud of the fact that we have them.

[Page 5392]

Now the member for Hants East, I will correct him on a small point, because he did say the federal government needs to do more to ensure they're funded. Let's be clear, the RCMP in this province are funded by the provincial government. Mr. Speaker, that means that the federal government makes an arrangement, signs a contract with the provincial government, but it's the province that decides how much money is going to be spent and how many officers we're going to have in this province. It's the province, it's the Department of Justice that makes those decisions, and it's the Department of Justice, from those decisions, that decides what we need.

Now, in my own area, how has this resulted? Well, it's resulted in, first of all, I believe we're one of the only jurisdictions left in Canada, now that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has moved to one police force, that still has two separate police forces. In, again, the old City of Dartmouth and the old City of Halifax and in the former Town of Bedford - I hate using these terms, but they are still relevant - you have the Halifax Regional Police Service, an amalgamation of the former police forces. In Lower Sackville, in Cole Harbour, in Ecum Secum, in Eastern Passage, in Tantallon, in Herring Cove, in Hubbards, in Upper Sackville, you have the RCMP, based in four detachments, five, I guess; Sheet Harbour, Musquodoboit Harbour, Lower Sackville, Cole Harbour and Tantallon. They cover very large areas.

We were very impressed with the number of police officers we had. I know for years, as an MLA, when I had to call I had a staff sergeant as the head of the detachment in Cole Harbour, and he had the complete right to make decisions with regard to his force in that detachment. He had like 50 people in the Cole Harbour detachment. That covers probably close to 60,000, 70,000 people. The Sackville detachment, I know, is much larger. Then the Tantallon detachment is probably a good size, as well. The ones in Musquodoboit Harbour and Sheet Harbour are somewhat smaller.

In those detachments you had police forces, stand-alone in many ways. The detachment had the ability, with the staff sergeant, to make decisions about policing, about staffing, about where they would go. We had community liaison officers for every community. Eastern Passage had its own, the Prestons had their own, Lake Echo did, Porters Lake did - they all had their own. What happened?

Well, at some point someone decided it was important that we harmonize. Like everything else, when we talk about harmonizing, it always sounds good until you see how it works in practice. What happened was - I was told a year and a half ago they were going to harmonize. In our community of almost 12,000, we didn't have regular police patrols. We said, look, we want a police officer here 24 hours a day, seven days a week - 12,000 people, is that asking too much, to have one officer on patrol all the time? I know the communities of Lake Echo and Porters Lake are also important, but they're not a quarter of the size of Eastern Passage. Eastern Passage was being treated equally to them, and I said that's wrong. We pushed for the RCMP to bring in 24/7 policing in our community.

[Page 5393]

Well, I will give them credit, we have that now. Now, part of harmonization meant, though, that all those general investigative services, GIS police officers who were in Cole Harbour, doing things there or maybe they were moved around to the other detachments, were taken out, the staff sergeant removed. Now if I have a problem, a concern, a question in the Cole Harbour detachment, I don't go - there is someone in Cole Harbour, he's a corporal now, but the watch commander is one watch commander for all five detachments in HRM. That's a much bigger area, and it's much harder to get in touch with that person and much more difficult to touch base with.

I also have concerns about the fact that I've made phone calls and I've had trouble getting through. I've talked about this with Vern Fraser, and I've said to him, look, there are wrinkles to be worked out. I'm willing to hold my breath and make sure that this system is working, but the fact is that I would hate to see harmonization as an excuse for downsizing. If that's what's happening, then I have some serious concerns. The jury is still out on that one, in my mind, Mr. Speaker. I haven't come to a conclusion as to whether or not harmonization has worked or hasn't worked. I do know we have more regular policing in our community. That's a good thing. We have regular patrols, 24/7, and that's a good thing. At the same time, the community police officers that we had are gone, we have one community police officer for the whole Cole Harbour detachment instead of the four or five that we had. There are questions about whether the DARE Program may have to be readjusted. All these things are issues that need to be looked at.

I will go back to the point that the RCMP is the best police force in the world, and we need to keep them and the services they provide and the training and the expertise that they have. But at the same time, the contracts that are negotiated with the RCMP must reflect the fact that people need to have some assurance. My understanding is that statistically the rate of crime in Canada and in Nova Scotia is going down. The rate of violent crime in Nova Scotia has not been this low since before I was born. Now that says something about violence in our society.

On the other hand, as people like to note, the reporting of violent crime has probably quadrupled or increased tenfold. So we keep hearing about violent crime and we keep thinking we're less safe than we were before, but, in fact, if you look at the numbers, we're actually safer than we were back then, going back to the mid-1960s.

[5:15 p.m.]

Yet, like anything in the legal system, perception is reality, and it's important for the provincial government to know that people feel they have security. Security sometimes is just watching that police cruiser drive by your house once a day; it's understanding that there is someone who is actually going to be out there patrolling the streets. That's not always a concern that is being addressed and it's one I'd hate to see this government - or if it's a municipal government - negotiating contracts with the RCMP that are resulting in fewer and

[Page 5394]

fewer services in the outskirts of the city, which is really the suburbs and into the exurban area, and that's really what's happening.

These places also have issues; in fact, I would argue the issues are as great because it becomes a perfect storm of youth criminal activity, because you don't have the facilities - my community hasn't had a new recreational facility in eight years and there are lots of reasons for that that I'm hoping will change with the new municipal election. But no new recreational facilities, and my community has tripled in size in the past 15 years - no new recreational facilities, but with all kinds of young kids. And now that we have these subdivisions being built that have basically one tot lot for 1,000 houses, these kids have nothing to do.

I received a call yesterday from a woman saying she was upset because the kids were hanging out at the tot lot drinking beer and breaking beer bottles. One tot lot for 1,000 houses in this one subdivision, but I said we'll talk to the police and try and get them to do patrols. But, there's nothing for the kids to do. Our community's trying to rally to try to do something, but the fact is in the more suburban areas where you have rapid growth, that's where you have the problems.

There aren't the positive alternatives for the youth because there aren't facilities - they get bored, they end up getting into activities they shouldn't. That's where you need the police, not only reactively - 24/7 patrols - but also you need the police there to do proactive work in the community, whether it's the DARE program, which I support so fully, or whether it's just actively being in the community encouraging a positive image of the police - things that are very, very important.

If we take community based policing out of the suburbs, which I represent and which other members of this House represent, we're putting ourselves in a position where we're not going to have enough police on the ground. They're not only not going to be proactive, yet reactive, and it's going to cause problems. I'd hate to see us shortchanging our police services, not negotiating deals, trying to cut back, nickel and dime our police services in the suburbs, or anywhere else, and as a result we end up having problems with how can we provide policing and protection.

It is petty crime in many cases. The number of murders occurring in the suburbs or in Nova Scotia is going down, but at the same time it's that petty crime that makes people feel unsafe - whether you're a senior, an adult, another child at school being bullied, you don't want to leave your house if you feel unsafe, and unsafe can mean next to you in a tot lot where the kids are breaking beer bottles at 11:00 at night. These are the things that need to be addressed.

[Page 5395]

I'm glad to see advisory councils are going to be created for the RCMP. My understanding is that there's only going to be one for HRM, though. I brought this up at the briefing. I said that's great if you're in Digby County, because Digby is a smallish county and, because it's relatively small, one advisory council may do. But for HRM, as far as I can tell in this bill, there will be one advisory council for a couple of hundred thousand people covered by the RCMP. Some of Halifax is covered by the Halifax Regional Police Service, but the ones covered by the RCMP will have one advisory council. I'd almost like to see some changes that would allow for, maybe in the Halifax area, one per detachment or something that would allow us to say if we're going to have an advisory council, why don't we have one for the eastern side of HRM from the old City of Dartmouth boundary down to Sheet Harbour? Why don't we have one for the northern part, Sackville, Oakfield, Wellington, Upper Sackville, Hammonds Plains? Why don't we have one for the western side from Bay Road, Tantallon, all the way to Hubbards?

That way, at least, there will be some sense this advisory council could tap into the issues in those communities. We're talking tens of thousands of people in those communities and instead of having one detachment for all of HRM, why don't we have two or three or four detachments, so there's an opportunity for the people in those communities to feel more in touch with their detachment. Because that's who they deal with and I think it's important that be the case.

So, as I said, we'll be supporting this bill at second reading. I do want to hear at the Law Amendments Committee from some people. I'm hoping that people will come forward. It's an opportunity for them, because I would hate to see people not take the opportunity and then find out in a year or two they have concerns about how this is drafted. We can only look at this and determine based on wording what it says, but until you get on-the-ground practical experience with the implementation of a new Police Act, it's always challenging.

I would hope that if people have some sense of concerns, this is their opportunity to do it. I've noted a couple. As I said, there is no appeal process from municipal police commissions, as I can see it right now, and I would like to see something for that. I would like to see more RCMP advisory councils in the HRM area - more than one, a guarantee of more than one. I would like to see more checks and balances on police departments. Also, I'm not clear why the minister needs the power to exempt parts of this province from the Police Act, and maybe if that can be explained. These are things that can be done at the Law Amendments Committee, or, by third reading, hopefully, I'll have answers that I can respond to. So that's my time, Mr. Speaker, thank you for listening.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I really do welcome the arrival of this bill and the chance to speak to it as well. I should say at first that this is an issue that has been of great concern in my area for many of the reasons that my colleague has mentioned, and those

[Page 5396]

are the expansion of a significant urban area and the inclusion of formerly rural areas, something of a disconnect between the RCMP and the Halifax Regional Police Department, and varying, I won't say qualities of policing by any stretch of the imagination, but varying standards by which these are administered.

I think that this is a welcome first step and, hopefully, more than a first step toward the harmonization of services both in my constituency and throughout the province to the degree that it establishes the Nova Scotia provincial police and a police commission, that it establishes the ability in the minister to set standards and define the powers of those bodies, I think it is a very welcome step, but I am concerned, as is my colleague, about the minister's ability to exempt areas from the application of the Act. The degree to which it's possible for the minister to move officers around the province as long as he reimburses the affected municipalities for that is a very significant step towards ensuring that there is a single controlling hand in at least the distribution of police acts, but we must be very careful to ensure that this is used with the degree of respect and caution required in such a large power.

I think the main thing that we look at is that overarching responsibility the minister has to ensure adequate and effective level of policing. Although that does vary across the province, I think that this one thing which I have become aware of in Halifax Atlantic is the fact that the policing of densities of population is not necessarily the same. In my area, Halifax Atlantic as I've said, the Halifax Regional Police Department, with its 403 officers, is responsible through the West Division for the policing of this. The police-to-population ratio is approximately 1 to 600. In other areas, however, other parts of my constituency which are policed by the RCMP with its 162 to 167 officers, and most particularly those coming out of the Tantallon detachment, serve an average of 900 per individual officer. That's quite a discrepancy. It is true, as I have pointed out in the past, the distances that have to be travelled in those formerly rural areas now encompassed by the Halifax Regional Municipality are much, much greater. Certainly we have welcomed the recent opening of a community office, or the recent announcement of an opening of a community office for the RCMP which will be on sort of the eastern branch of the RCMP's Tantallon Detachment. There's still always a lot of distance to be covered and it is an important function of the minister's responsibility, as I've said, to ensure that there is an adequate and effective level of policing provided throughout the province.

One thing, which I would very much like to see included, probably in the Municipal Government Act, but it should be encompassed here as well, is an assurance that there will, in fact, be a similar level of coverage that population density is a factor in determining policing. It's not to say that any one area of a city or of the province is more crime prone than any other, but any rapidly growing area without a concomitant increase in police coverage, is going to be more open to, not necessarily major crime, but the casual crime that accompanies any dense population area. I can say, from personal experience and from relaying to you the experience of numerous constituents in Halifax Atlantic, increasing population density does mean the increasing incidence of minor crime and major crime as well, although

[Page 5397]

luckily we don't have to worry about that quite as much or as often. So I would very much like to see this included explicitly as a factor in development decision, that policing is one of those services which needs to be supported in any new development area.

It's true that each division of the Halifax Police Department has sort of an adopted neighbourhood program and the village constable things and that the RCMP has community offices. Both, however, have suffered from the real need for citizen support, as well, either staffing, there's administrative staff required as well. In some cases, in the case of the RCMP, certainly, community offices have been staffed by volunteers, which seems a terrible burden to place on such a dignified and respected institution, to rely on volunteer staffing to the degree that eventually those offices do close. This is a place where the Minister of Justice can step in, to ensure where there are offices, offices are staffed. It's wonderful to have police officers. It's even more wonderful to have the efforts of police officers coordinated.

In this vein, I think it's rather interesting to look at the sort of different community values that are brought to policing by the different forces. In meeting with the RCMP and with the Halifax Police Department, both of them have told me about the results of town hall meetings and I think it's fascinating to see the different kinds of focuses that are brought. Town hall meetings conducted by the RCMP identified four areas of concern. They were, in order of priority, youth, so-called, visibility, traffic and ATVs. When the Halifax Police Department held its town hall meetings and identified four areas of concern, they were safe communities, healthy vibrant communities, excellence in service and excellence in governance. I find it very difficult indeed to reconcile these two systems, with these two sets of values. Yet, in the policing area it is essential that we do, in fact, reconcile these values because it is always the same population which is in need of police services. Here the minister has an important role to play.

I'd like to take the opportunity to say that the quality of life issues in the urban areas particularly, or in the sort of ex-urban areas, are increasingly important and with that look at the so-called youth issues, parks policing and the use of ATVs and as it is put convincing noise makers to stay away from other people. These quality of life issues are really the bread and butter issues of the police, but they are things that make it possible or impossible to live in a given community. I have had constituents and numerous constituents, who are really falling into the cracks between, into the seams perhaps, which are being knitted together, but only gradually, between the two forces. Those constituents are ready to leave their homes, because of the shortfalls, the inability to actually knit the two together - policing shortfalls.

[5:30 p.m.]

I will say that often those issues do centre around, I won't say all-terrain vehicles but the use of all-terrain vehicles. I have to say that there are a number of constituents who have come to me and they are genuinely frightened by the use in what are essentially suburban areas that had been rural areas but they are becoming suburban areas. It's not the use of all-

[Page 5398]

terrain vehicles, but the fact that they facilitate, sometimes, some of those activities which the police would prosecute if they could, but the police are not always able to get at it. So as well as the actual provision of police services, we need to look at the vehicles with which police can provide those services.

Perhaps with that, I should say this might be a place to bring up one of my own real favourite subjects, which is the vehicles that the police use are an important part of the perception.

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

MS. RAYMOND: Yes.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm just seeking some clarification. The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic spoke in reference to the RCMP priorities, and one of them was in regard to youth. Then she went on further to say youth so-called. Could she define what that particular term is in reference to?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, you have the floor.

MS. RAYMOND: Well, I know how I would define youth, but I'm not completely sure how the population talking to the RCMP meetings were defining youth. But what I did gather was that youth was a form of expressing what in many ways were in fact those so-called quality of life issues as well. When it was gathered under the label of youth - and this is probably not fair at all - people were talking about vandalism concerns and park patrols and so on. But there's no guarantee, by any stretch of the imagination, that we're referring to people tightly defined as youth. (Interruptions)

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

MS. RAYMOND: What I was going to say, and this goes to quality of life issues as well, and it does go to the fact that many people identify youth as a source of their policing problems, is that it's very important - and this bill does address this - that policing be integrated in a positive way as well into the life of the community. I can't tell you how many times people say, I wish we had the foot patrol. The bicycles are certainly a somewhat welcome addition, but I should throw into the mix the fact that there's nothing more beloved, there's nothing to attract the attention of young people more than the appearance of the mounted policeman.

[Page 5399]

We used to have the stables here, and there's now one symbolic horse, I think his name is Justice, who is ridden around the streets periodically, but it's very interesting to see how many children and adults come up to engage with the officer who is on horseback there. I know that the City of Boston has very successfully brought back its horse patrols, not because horseback patrol is necessarily the most effective means of policing, but because it is a very effective means of engaging the community with their policemen in a positive way. When my colleague is talking a proactive approach to policing, I think that's the sort of imagination that can be brought to bringing policing into the community as not a crisis issue.

I hope, too, that this is going to address - there are some very imaginative issues, some very imaginative initiatives which have been brought into play by the RCMP with their city watch programs and so on. Those are very proactive ways of engaging the community, as well, by offering the use of their communications systems for community, public announcements and so on.

Going back to the issue of development density, I hope the minister will ensure that in fact that adequate and effective level of policing does include the requirement to add the pay for, if it's more RCMP officers, then it's more RCMP officers. If it's more Halifax police officers, it's more Halifax police officers. Where the density is, the municipalities and the province in co-operation need to ensure the services are provided.

Another tool which the RCMP has used in the past, and the province may want to look at it, where they are talking about policing outside the urban core, is residential policing. It's usually happening in northern communities but it could certainly be happening just as well in some of the outlying areas of the province. It's where an RCMP officer is actually set to live in a given community. That's another one of those proactive ways in which the police can be integrated with the community.

Looking too at the different scales of pay that are possible, it seems hardly fair that depending on the arrangement between the province and the municipality, RCMP officers may be paid at an extremely different rate of pay. I would hope that this bill will provide for greater consistency in this as well.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to wrap up, but I look forward very much to the comments that will come to the Law Amendments Committee on this because this is an important bill and it has, and will have intimate ramifications for people throughout the province. With that I will close. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am going to speak very briefly on this bill. We all speak about the Police Act coming from our particular perspective, and there is a perspective that I wanted to remark on that we haven't heard from earlier today. My

[Page 5400]

particular experience has been as a lawyer appearing before the Nova Scotia Police Commission or the Police Review Board, the body that hears complaints about police officers. It so happens that I have appeared before the Nova Scotia Police Review Board over the years, both on behalf of a police officer who's been complained against, and also on behalf of the complainant, and then, in my capacity as MLA, I occasionally will get a call from a constituent who is complaining about police conduct.

The point is this - that police system stands and falls on people's belief that if they think the police have been remiss in the way they carried out their duties, there must be an independent review body to investigate and assess the conduct of the police. The difficulty that we have is very simply that the general public does not trust the police commission and the police review board to be impartial. I personally believe that that is ill-founded. My personal experience with the police commission and the police review board is that they are thoroughly professional and that citizens should trust in their processes.

The problem is, Mr. Speaker, that many people don't. In all the consultation that the government has done on this bill, that's a group that never gets asked what they think. The people who get consulted are the police forces, the full-time civil servants who are engaged in the police commission work and the police review board. The people who don't get asked what they think - unless I'm very much mistaken - are lawyers who are appearing before these bodies and the people they represent who have, from time to time, occasion to complain about the police.

Of course, the other group that's not consulted I have to say, are members of this Legislature. The government brings this complex bill before the Legislature which completely revamps the way the police are governed in Nova Scotia. They say among other things, this has been the subject of years of consultation. Well, if it's been the subject of years of consultation, one would think that maybe in a minority government we would get a bit more of a heads-up about what's in it.

When we are told what to expect, it's often on the morning that it's introduced. Or under minority government, the big revamp is that we get told sometimes the day before - sometimes. How is it that we are supposed to assess the merits or demerits of such a complex piece of legislation when it's put on the table and then a few days later we are expected to stand up and debate it, especially if it's been the subject of years of consultation?

So the problem, as I was saying, Mr. Speaker, is that our citizens don't have confidence in the police commission. My first involvement as an MLA was when one of my constituents called and she had a very long, complex, convoluted story about what the police had done to her and her family. I tried to convince her that it was not my job as the MLA to investigate the police. I don't have the resources to look into the situation and decide who was right or wrong, or what happened or didn't happen, but I also see it as my responsibility to let people know what the processes are that are there to help them and protect them. So

[Page 5401]

I tried to steer her towards the police commission but, of course, she had absolutely no faith in the police commission whatsoever. She had some prior dealing with them that hadn't gone her way and so she didn't want to deal with them at all and it's a very difficult situation to be in.

Now, why do I think this is important in the context of this bill, Mr. Speaker? Well, it's because the police commission is essentially being abolished. Or to use the words of the minister, or the Government House Leader, who is speaking on behalf of the Minister of Justice, what they're doing is they're amalgamating the heretofore separate bodies, the police commission and the police review board, which in the existing system carry out two completely different functions. One is the preliminary investigation and early decision making, but if a full public hearing is required, it is the police review board that does it and now those two bodies, which are quite properly entirely separate, are being put together.

Why, Mr. Speaker? Is it because it's going to produce better outcomes for the people of Nova Scotia? Is it because it's going to produce more faith, or Nova Scotians can have more faith in this investigative body? No. The words used by the minister are it will be more efficient. Well, that of course, is government code for it's going to save money. There is nothing wrong with saving money as long as you don't let that trump all the other considerations. Sometimes having an independent and effective police complaints body is worth the money. So if the government is pushing this particular change through because it saves money, well, let's hear how much and how can we be assured that the investigation process will continue to be as effective as it is today because we've got a problem.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the process is effective because I have had some personal dealings with it, both as a lawyer and as an MLA, in my role as advocate as an MLA, I've had some dealings with it and have been quite satisfied with the outcomes. But there are many people, particularly those on the margins of society, who do not have any faith at all and what they see in this bill is - are their protections being increased? Is this review body going to be more effective? Is it going to protect them better? Is it going to be able to get more quickly to the bottom of their complaints?

No, Mr. Speaker, what we hear is, in essence, that it's being done to save money. So I see that as a problem. I see that as a problem, a theme that runs through a number of pieces of government legislation where they say they're doing it for one purpose, but the real reason is because it saves some amount of money. With that, I register my concern. Certainly I agree with our Justice Critic that this bill, comprehensive as it is, deserves to go through second reading, but that doesn't mean that every part of it isn't deserving of much closer scrutiny. I would suggest to this House that, in particular, the complaints process, the new complaints process, deserves much more careful scrutiny before it's approved by this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Question.

[Page 5402]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 131. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I think we'll carry on with Public Bills for Second Reading. I move that Bill No. 135 be considered to be on the order paper for second reading.

[5:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Bill No. 135 - House of Assembly Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move Bill No. 135 for second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 129 for second reading and I so move.

Bill No. 129 - Pension Benefits Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I left off the previous day speaking about the Pension Benefits Act and this particular provision, and I just wanted to recap and remind

[Page 5403]

members where I was when I left off the other day. This particular bill, of course, eliminates the so-called grow-in benefit for all pensioners in all pension plans anywhere in Nova Scotia, provided of course that it meets the conditions for the grow-in benefit to apply.

I had also reminded the House that this very provision had been before the House previously, namely in the Spring, in the Financial Measures (2004) Act, and I had reminded members that one of the things that we had complained about at the time was the fact that the government was loading up the Financial Measures Act with things that simply didn't belong there, they had absolutely nothing to do with the provincial budget, it did not have any impact on provincial finances and yet they were in the Financial Measures Act in an apparent attempt to force this House to approve them, because defeating the Financial Measures Act, or any part of it, is arguably a confidence motion.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. On Friday past, when I was doing my dissertation on this particular piece of legislation, the member for Halifax Fairview challenged the validity of some of the observations I was making in terms of the support for this particular piece of legislation, and during the course of my presentation I suggested that the labour component of HRM fully supported this particular piece of legislation and the honourable member for Halifax Fairview challenged that assertion and demanded to have the documents tabled that would support that, and I feel it only appropriate to table these particular documents from the various labour components of HRM.

From the Halifax Regional Police Association, I will table that document; I will also table the document from the Nova Scotia Union of Public Employees supporting that particular piece of legislation; from the non-union Municipal Employees Association also supporting the legislation; and also CUPE, Local 108 - that's the Canadian Union of Public Employees - with regard to this particular piece of legislation again, and dated as late as October 4, 2004. Mr. Speaker, I think it's imperative that all members of the Legislature have that information and not be misled by the assertion that no such validation was forthcoming.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member makes several points, but it's not a point of order.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Liberals complain about when a government minister does that and then later the same day they stand up and do the same thing, raising a non-existent point of order, addressing something that I never said. But that's the Liberal way; in fact I had reminded members the other day that the Liberals have flip-flopped on this issue since the Spring. It was before us in the Spring and it was withdrawn with the support of the Liberals and I had reminded the member that it's just the latest in a series of Liberal flip-flops - for example, they're four-square against Sunday shopping and apparently their new Leader, or the person who is going to be their new Leader, is against Sunday shopping and they're all for it, so what's their position going to be now?

[Page 5404]

They're against VLTs, Mr. Speaker, very strongly against VLTs, and the guy who is going to be their new Leader is strongly, apparently, for VLTs, so does that mean in the next sitting of the House they're going to stand up and be all for VLTs? The way the Liberals have flip-flopped in this issue about pension benefits is simply emblematic of what we've come to expect from them.

Mr. Speaker, I also reminded members the other day . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Clearly, I've tabled the evidence that was requested by the honourable member during his assertions and his crackling on Friday past, and all of a sudden, he's speaking about matters that are not related to the bill. I would ask, perhaps, if you would rule, and ask if the member would probably either deal with the matter that was tabled before the House here, where all the employees at HRM support this particular piece of legislation, or at least come back to the principle of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for Cape Breton West for his assistance in that. Certainly, I would ask the honourable member for Halifax Fairview to stick to the point at hand, the bill that's presently before the House.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly will. I certainly know what the Liberals are touchy about, that's for sure. Of course this bill wouldn't be before us now if the government didn't have some confidence that the Liberals had changed their position since the Spring.

One of the other things that I would ask all honourable members to consider in my remarks of the other day was the question to which no member on that side of the House had an answer, and a question to which no member on the Third Party side of the House had an answer, and it's the question that you would think would be the most fundamental basic question any member of this Legislature would ask when a bill of this kind is before us, which is, who, exactly, is losing pension benefits as a result of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, which workers, at which companies, in which constituencies are losing benefits as a result of this Liberal-supported bill? You would think that before we pass a bill taking away pension benefits, we would at least know the answer to that question. The minister has not been able to provide an answer. He had the opportunity the other day and passed up on it, which means one of two things, of course. There are only two possibilities, either he doesn't know, which is a matter of great concern, or should be, to this House, or he does know but he's not telling us. That should also be a matter of great concern.

[Page 5405]

As a result of diligent research by the NDP, Mr. Speaker, I would like to let the House know what we've been able to find out since I spoke the other day about who exactly is losing. I don't feel it's terribly responsible of me to vote on a bill stripping away pension benefits until I know whether people in my constituency are being affected, and what they think about it. As a result of diligent research, I would like to suggest this partial list of companies whose employees are losing pension benefits, real dollar amounts, as a result of this bill. This is only a partial list. I don't claim that this is a complete list.

Mr. Speaker, first, Stanfield's - whose riding is that in? Stanfield's employees are losing pension benefits as a result of this bill. How do they feel about this bill? Has anybody asked them? Do we know? I don't know. I would think that the government would want to ask the Stanfield's employees. Emera, the former Nova Scotia Power which now happily goes by the name Emera, which unlike Nova Scotia Power, the name Emera doesn't mean anything to anybody, but that's what it is.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I beg the indulgence of the House here, but clearly the member who claims he's done all his research on this particular bill would know quite clearly from the legislation that's on the books that Emera is exempt from this particular piece of legislation, either present or contemplated.

MR. SPEAKER: That's not a point of order, but it's a disagreement of facts between two members.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it's unclear to me how it is that the member supposes that Emera is exempt from this legislation, but he's very diligent about raising points of order and tabling documents, so let him table the documents. If it's true, I'll withdraw it. I'll withdraw it in a second. If this doesn't apply to Emera, so much the better, it will take a great weight off all our minds.

Okay, Emera. How many of us have Emera employees living in our constituencies? I know that I do. These employees are losing a real benefit as a result of this bill. How did they feel about it?

Third - Stanfield's, Emera, Michelin. Michelin employees - now, if I remember rightly, we have three Michelin plants here in Nova Scotia, one in Pictou County, one in Waterville and one in Bridgewater. Which ridings are those in and where do the employees of those three plants live? Those employees are losing real benefits under this bill. How do they feel about it? Has anybody asked them? Of course, they don't have a union to ask, but has anybody asked the Michelin employees how they feel about losing these benefits? Do they support this? Maybe they do, Mr. Speaker, maybe they do, but I would think the members in whose

[Page 5406]

riding those workers live would want to know the answer to that question before they vote away their pension benefits.

Another one - the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations, which is probably, apart from the district health authorities, the largest employer of health care workers in the province. Those workers are losing benefits as a result of this bill. How many members in this House have NSAHO employees living in their constituency? I know that I do. How do they feel about this? Has anybody asked them? Don't you think it would be prudent for us to know the answer to that before we vote away their benefits? I certainly do.

What's the real issue? What's going on here? Whenever a government says they're trying to do one thing but they're actually accomplishing another, you have to say, what's the real issue? Well, I don't think there should be any doubt that pension plans throughout Nova Scotia, throughout Canada, are under pressure. Because of the performance of the markets and the level of interest rates, some of them are in difficult financial circumstances - some more so than others.

When a pension plan is in difficult circumstances it has, essentially, three choices. It can do something to increase investment returns - which is easy to say and hard to do. Or it can call on all of its stakeholders - the employees and the employers - to increase contributions, another possibility which is not very popular with plan members, I know that for sure. Essentially, the third option is to cut benefits. Those are your three options when your pension plan is having some difficulty.

In some cases, all the pension partners may agree that what they want to do is cut benefits and that's fine. I don't think any member of this House wants to stand in their way when that is in fact what's happening. So why then does this legislation apply to all plans in Nova Scotia, all plans, when it appears that we're only aware of one plan that meets those conditions that I just laid out - namely, all the pension partners have agreed that, having weighed all the options, what they want to do is deal with their financial problems by cutting benefits, namely, cutting out the grow-in provisions.

Why, then, are we not dealing with that one plan, why are we dealing with all plans in Nova Scotia? It's a bit of a mystery. Of course, I'm talking about the Halifax Regional Municipality and more broadly what HRM pension stakeholders are talking about may - I underline that - may be applicable to all municipal pension plans in the province or it may not. We don't have any information before us to prove that one way or another.

If HRM is the issue here, why isn't this bill dealing with HRM? As I said the other day, if this House can consider and pass a bill conveying a 30 foot strip of land in Tatamagouche, then it can deal with exemptions for this particular plan or that particular plan, provided they meet conditions laid down by this Legislature. It appears that by any reasonable test, HRM has met the test. So why doesn't this bill deal only with HRM?

[Page 5407]

That is the essential question that I would suggest each member of this House should be asking himself or herself. If it's about HRM, why are we being asked to strip away benefits from all pension plans?

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

[Therefore be it resolved that this government should move to have the WCB treat chronic pain sufferers with dignity by providing the services they deserve.]

[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

WCB - CHRONIC PAIN: SERVICES - PROVIDE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to say a few words tonight in the late debate regarding the chronic pain situation at the Workers' Compensation Board. It's over a year since the federal court struck down the offending provisions in the old Bill No. 90, in particular, Section 10, that discriminated against workers with disabilities in this province. What did this government do? Did this government run to the aid of these affected workers? No, Mr. Speaker, what it's done is turn its back on those workers. It's literally put aside, turned a blind eye to a Supreme Court decision.

If you listen to the leadership down at WCB, they'll say, we fixed the problem. There's no problem anymore. It's all done with. We've stopped using the offending sections. They may have done that, but there's literally hundreds of Nova Scotians who are suffering because of this government's inaction.

Mr. Speaker, this time last year, this government, this very minister brought forward Bill No. 20, and where it is is anybody's guess. I don't know if the cleaner got it, or whatever, but it's certainly not coming forward. It's stuck over in the Law Amendments Committee, and this minister does not care enough about injured workers to bring it forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would suggest that to make a comment like that is unparliamentary, and I would ask the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre to withdraw that, please.

MR. CORBETT: I'll withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 5408]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we have real problems with injured workers in this province. It's no more highlighted than by the decision of the federal court. This is one of the things, if the minister is going to engage in this debate, this is one of the questions that minister has to answer, why have you taken over a year and ignored a federal court order? Why have you and your department either done that on your own or have allowed the folks down at WCB to ignore that?

Mr. Speaker, for the board to say that we've satisfied the federal judgement by not carrying the offending pieces of legislation forward and not putting the burden on those people, we're doing it in a different way, is not accurate. It's not accurate, because there are whole groups of people excluded benefits by way of Bill No. 90. Bill No. 90 took a group of workers and said, okay, if you don't have an appeal in the appeal system by this date, you're ineligible for chronic pain. What we're going to give you is some work-hardening, we're going to give you four weeks, and send you back to work.

Now this group out here has been sitting now with a resolve by the federal court, but with a government with no resolve. The government will not go in and act and do what these people have been told to do. Mr. Speaker, this is not the first group to come and say, the way you treat chronic pain sufferers is bad and it's wrong. No, a committee that travelled the length and breadth of this province, the Dorsey Committee, the Dorsey report said the same thing, said what you are doing with people with chronic pain is not right. Fix it. That was two years ago. This government still hasn't fixed it.

Mr. Speaker, why do we have to, day after day, be allowed - and these are not my words, but the words of the federal courts - to be discriminated against. There are large pockets of this province being discriminated against, and I don't know what the minister's rationale is around that. Now there were certain groups that said, and primarily it came from the board, again, that look, if we give you what you want on chronic pain, rates are going to go up. Well, here it is - you're blaming the injured worker again. There has been no resolve to chronic pain, but rates are going up. Rates are going up on South Street.

Then when I asked the minister last week, well, okay, rates are going up, Mr. Minister, how come a large segment of employers in this province, namely call centres, a large group of those, are exempt? The minister shrugged his shoulders and says I'll get that information for you. Well, it's a week later, Mr. Minister, and I still don't have it. In essence, this is what is wrong with the system. Yet we keep going on, not even putting a Band-aid on it, it's a bad piece of duct tape we're putting over this, it's not even a Band-aid. Yet the minister will bury his head in the sand and say it doesn't exist, we have governance problems

[Page 5409]

down there which have not been substantively dealt with. The minister stands on the sidelines again.

Mr. Minister, what is it going to take? It's a federal court order to clean up that place, but you ignore it. You must be worried about it. You come from an industrial background. You must understand what these people are going through to try to look after their families. You also must understand that, you know, here we have WCB's, one and only paper they have ever done on chronic pain and what was the one and only version of chronic pain? What did that paper tell them? It was basically a very sports-like attitude about this. It was, tell the worker to jump over the board and skate it off.

You know, Mr. Speaker, there are injured workers who are 55 to 60 years old. Quite honestly, they aren't like the young hockey players that were in the NHL who could jump over the boards and skate it off. These are people who have faced the rigours of the heavy industrial work life of this province for many years and it's an insult for the board to say get out there and skate it off. But with that said, the board, in its own language, says you've got a window period of about four to six weeks to get that person off chronic pain or you will lose him for a lifetime.

So what's going to happen when this government, the light finally goes off and says, you know, we're going to stop listening to these people down on South Street and we're going to come up and we're going to be on the side of the injured workers and we're going to come and we're going to do a piece of legislation. So what are they going to do - because we've got so many people out there now who are suffering from chronic pain that cannot be taken back in because of their inaction because again, like I said, if you look at the four to six week area they give them, they're passing it. They're more than 45 weeks past it now because of your indecision on the court decision last year. So what we have - are these people suffering?

So I think tonight, Mr. Speaker, the reason we bring this forward is, through you, to get the minister to answer some of those questions. I hope he will stand up and say that we do have a model for chronic pain that will work, one that is reflective of the people involved, all the stakeholders, not just the board, a real one that describes what those people, the users of this system and the people who pay the benefits and the premiums in that system, what they said, not the executive council around a board table on South Street said, but from injured workers and from the owners of businesses in this province who pay in. They're the ones. What the board is coming back with is not reflective of what was said at all of those hearings and the minister should know that.

The minister should know that it's the employers, the injured workers, the unions, and the other various employers' groups that say we've got to make this thing work. For too long we've been suffering with this thing. We've had at least four or five major changes in that Act, Mr. Speaker, that have to be combined and synthesized in a workable way that gets

[Page 5410]

people, when they're injured, back to work in a timely manner, not what's going down there, which is making chronic pain sufferers worse instead of better.

So I'm asking the minister tonight, through you, Mr. Speaker, that these are things that have to be done sooner than later and bring Bill No. 20 back and let's fight it out here on the floor. Don't leave it gathering dust in some other chamber.

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, there are a few things I would like to point out with regard to this issue and I guess one would be that over the past year government and the Workers' Compensation Board have been working very hard to develop a system to address chronic pain claims for workers' compensation. This is no small task. It certainly has required a lot of resources, a lot of time, a lot of input and a lot of discussion with all those people involved. We've been working to establish a system that's both fair and sustainable and of course they need to go together in order for this to work.

Last Fall the Supreme Court of Canada found Nova Scotia's legislation and regulations to be unconstitutional. They asked for fairness, equal access and individual assessments and we've since implemented a system that is fair. If you have chronic pain as a result of workplace injury, you may be eligible for benefits. The benefits are based on the best, most widely used scientific guide available and that's the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, or referred to as the AMA Guides 5th Edition. We took a lot of time looking at what options were available and this was the least restrictive. This was the best option available to ensure that injured workers were assessed fairly.

It ensures that injured workers are assessed and have access to services as quickly as possible. It ensures the greatest number of injured workers will be eligible for benefits and that was our goal, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the maximum number of injured workers with chronic pain, would be eligible for those benefits. The system also provides for equal access. Through this system, chronic pain is now recognized as a compensable injury. Just like any other workplace injury and no matter what your original injury, you now have the opportunity to receive a chronic pain benefit. This system provides for individual assessments. It's a very important portion of this. We want to make sure that individuals are assessed to determine what their levels of disabilities are. If you suffer from chronic pain as a result of a workplace injury and are eligible, you will receive an individual assessment by a board to determine the level of the benefits based on the pain-related impairment.

Being assessed with the pain-related impairment or PRI, is significant for an injured worker. It not only makes them eligible for financial compensation, but it also opens up access to all of the services available through the workers' compensation system, including such

[Page 5411]

things as additional medical aid, coverage for prescription drugs for pain or vocational rehabilitation. These chronic pain regulations ensure equitable application of the rules.

I'm pleased to say the Workers' Compensation Board has put a team in place to address chronic pain claims and will begin to render decisions later this month. Gail Boone is the head of this new transitional services team. Many of the team are also new to the Workers' Compensation Board. They have come with significant experience from the health and social sciences fields. In addition, Dr. John Acres, from the Sydney area, is the full-time medical advisor for the team. He is a well-respected specialist and will bring a fresh new perspective to the resolution of chronic pain claims.

Needless to say, the transitional services team has a big task in the months ahead, reviewing approximately 4,000 claims. I understand the transition team has already been meeting with injured worker groups to discuss the process and answer questions. I'm pleased to hear that recent meetings in Cape Breton went well from what was reported back to me.

It's been estimated that it will cost about $220 million to provide benefits to injured workers with chronic pain for the 20-year period since 1985 and an additional $11 million each year into the pockets of Nova Scotia's injured workers. This is added to the more than $153 million in benefits paid out in 2003, to support injured workers and their families. Mr. Speaker, I think it would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to say, prevention is the answer in the future and we have to work extremely hard to ensure that we have fewer injured workers who will need benefits.

This is a significant program that we have, governed by the employers and the industry of the province and as such, I'm sure they must have some questions about how this new benefit will impact the system financially. Obviously, the Workers' Compensation Board and its Board of Directors are responsible for setting rates, and they will be reasonable and responsible in their approach.

Having a new system to address chronic pain claims is an important decision for injured workers. Injured workers, together with employers and labour, make up the principal stakeholder groups for the Workers' Compensation Board. This system is for them, and it will be implemented with their participation.

[6:15 p.m.]

Over the past year, the Workers' Compensation Board has shown it's commitment to building a fully consultative approach to planning. This initiative will be no exception. Stakeholders must take greater ownership, have better information and have more input into the direction of the workers' compensation system. Enhancing board memberships will help to ensure that all stakeholders play a greater role in government's planned changes to the system.

[Page 5412]

Mr. Speaker, I think we are all here today appreciating that changes are necessary as we move forward. We have looked at those, and we intend to implement changes that will be beneficial to all those stakeholders involved in the system. As you may recall when government first responded to the review of the workers' compensation system we said that our role in the system is primarily to set the framework for governance. The governance of the workers' compensation system must be on solid footing as the system evolves and improvements continue. I asked the deputy minister, and the chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board to look at governance issues to monitor to ensure announced changes are working well and inform me if they feel future changes are required. Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of work that has taken place with the chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board and the deputy minister. They had a relatively short timeline. They've looked at governance issues across Canada and in other jurisdictions, and they are working hard and have worked hard to come up with a discussion paper to look at what options are available out there and what will make the Workers' Compensation Board more responsive in the future.

In recent weeks the discussion paper was released to stakeholders regarding the governance issue. The governance issue has been one that has come up over and over again since I have been involved with this file. It is something that we have reviewed, it is something that needs to be reviewed on a regular basis with any kind of a structure similar to the Workers' Compensation Board. They've outlined some options and they will be discussing them with the stakeholders in the coming weeks.

That's one point, again, that is extremely important, Mr. Speaker, that the stakeholders have input into this process and the stakeholders are well-represented on the board of directors of the Workers' Compensation Board. When these discussions have been completed, I look forward to the results that will come up. There have been ongoing discussions with these individual groups as the process has moved forward. This is a very large undertaking, this is a very large and very important process, and we want to make sure that it is done properly.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the injured workers, the employers and the labour representatives who have participated in the many meetings and discussions that have led to the new chronic pain benefit. I know it wasn't easy. I know there were a lot of emotions involved. I know there was a lot of spirit involved. I know there were a lot of people who had the best interest of injured workers in mind. This is a fair approach that all workers since 1985 who developed chronic pain as a result of their workplace injury receive equal access to the compensation system. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, this is indeed a very delicate topic. It's a topic that many people have lived with in their homes and lost their homes over, families broke up

[Page 5413]

and all kinds of very serious issues for people who have been diagnosed with chronic pain. Chronic pain is very difficult to identify and it has a very negative, long-term effect on many Nova Scotians.

I'm finally glad to see that the government has come up with their new regulations to move this forward and, hopefully, give some of the people in the province an opportunity to move their cases forward and come up with real compensation that will help them get on with their lives. Unfortunately the things that have happened in the past are probably not going to be able to be reinstated - people have lost their homes, their marriages have broken up and other serious things that have happened to families.

It disturbs me though, the government brought this bill in not long ago and indicated they were bringing this legislation forward so they could move forward on the Supreme Court ruling. All of a sudden when we started really debating the bill, the government realized they were in trouble with this bill. They wanted universal coverage for everybody and that would have hurt the small businesses because the really small mom-and-pop operations would have had to pay workers' compensation immediately, while in the meantime the big banks would walk away again scot-free like they have at the present time instead of them being assessed and going into the system and especially when they have a group of pretty low-risk cases that come forward from the banks as compared to some of the heavy industries we have in the province.

So they brought regulations in to do this. They didn't really want the reforms in the Workers' Compensation Act that probably should be put in place so they can go through and a worker who is injured knows they will get the kind of treatment that they should be getting from the Workers' Compensation Board. It would truly be an insurance program for those workers.

On the other hand, they brought the regulations in. What's this going to do to the employers and the economy in the province? We realize it's over $200 million they're going to have to come up with, that's an estimate, probably more of a guesstimate than an estimate. How are they going to fund this unfunded liability that's been created by the Supreme Court ruling? They also have to come up with $11 million after that as this proceeds and goes forward - 4,000 cases, could be substantially more than $200 million and it could be substantially more every year than $11 million.

If that's the case and if it moves forward - and I'm not saying at any time that the workers don't deserve a really good benefit so they can look after their families. That's not what I'm saying here. I'm saying it has a cost to the economy, it has a cost to the economy that workers are injured. Workers have to be compensated for those injuries. They also have to be cognizant of the point that the money has to come from somewhere so if you take it from the existing industries and you grow their cost of doing business, all of a sudden they become not competitive anymore in the global workplace and the global market our industries

[Page 5414]

have to work in, especially if they're displacing imports or if they're in the process of coming up with new products they would like to export or, indeed, just doing a service in the community that's so badly needed.

Every time we add a small tax, whether it be through the Workers' Compensation Board or through property taxes, income taxes - which we've seen this government do here not long ago - it costs the economy. The economy slows just a little tiny bit and it's a long time before you see these things accumulate to the point that it creates a crisis. By that time, it's too late to fix it so you really have to look at these things.

I know many, many people - I used to be associated with the NACPANA - North American Chronic Pain Association of North America - that really worked with chronic pain, worked with Dr. Clark at the pain clinic at the QE II. This is a serious, serious illness, one that doesn't go away. Typically, when someone has a back problem and has chronic pain as a result of the back problem or other problems, then this problem is with them for their lives. It may mean that they can get up and function normally for a day, it may mean they can do that for an hour, maybe once a month, once a year. It's no way to have to live.

Then if you had the real serious problem of whether your drugs are going to be paid for, whether there's some way you're going to be able to pay for those, the therapy that maybe is outside the MSI system - then you have a really big problem. Then you also mentally get down and your pain gets worse. That's already a proven fact with chronic pain. So it's difficult to look at this and not understand why the government didn't bring the bill forward to the Legislature for full debate. It really should have been brought here for full debate because the long term of this is it's an easy way for the government to get out of this and say, okay, we'll make regulations, we'll fix it that way, and we'll worry about it down the road.

Well probably these guys won't be around after the next election, so they don't worry about it anyway. What's going on is whoever the next government is, they're going to have to fight to straighten this situation out and, by the time they get to that point, the situation is going to be worse. As it progresses, it has a difficult time catching up with it.

Therefore it's important that this is addressed and addressed properly, and I don't think the regulations at the end of the day are going to solve the problem. They're a short-term quick fix to get the government out of the Legislature with this bill that definitely wouldn't be passed here in the form they brought it forward. I think it's time that the whole thing was brought to the forefront and people could sit down and discuss it in detail - and with that I will turn the rest of my time over to my colleague.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm quite pleased that the honourable member has introduced this resolution because it gives an opportunity for our caucus to

[Page 5415]

clarify some misapprehensions about the bill that was approved back in 1998-99. Number one, if the bill was so bad, why is it that we've adopted another chronic pain policy without another Act of the Legislature being proclaimed? So clearly it had nothing to do with the Act, it was the policies of the board . . .

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I'm not sure what this specifically has to do with the resolution, but I would hope the member, if he's going to intervene even for a brief couple of minutes, would ensure that the facts are pretty clear, that Bill No. 90, we told him from the first day we spoke in this House - I remember sitting almost in this very spot saying that that bill was unconstitutional, it will be defeated by the Supreme Court of Canada, and when it's defeated we'll be back here debating it again. We had problems with Bill No. 90, and we have a right - and I wish that member would actually understand that after five years.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, they can say what they want, but the reality is it was a policy of the board and that's what the Supreme Court of Canada took issue with, because otherwise why would we have another policy without another piece of legislation? So, obviously, it's not an issue with the legislation. This group is the same group who voted against the workers, especially the injured workers, when this bill was introduced, and I will table evidence to show that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Let's be clear, we voted against Bill No. 90. We voted against Section 10 B, which was a section that was passed in Bill No. 90, and Section 10 B, in a 9-0 decision, and almost unheard of in the Supreme Court of Canada, was knocked down by the Supreme Court of Canada. That's what this government, when they were the government, decided to pass.

MR. SPEAKER: That's not a point of order, it's a disagreement of the facts between the two members.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West, you have about one minute left.

MR. MACKINNON: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. When non-Nova Scotian firms had a six-month holiday from paying Workers' Compensation premiums in the Province of Nova Scotia and I wanted to put Nova Scotian workers on an even playing field by bringing them down to a five-day provision, what did the NDP say? No, let's give the non-Nova Scotian firms another six-month holiday. But we got it approved with the support of the Progressive Conservatives, we generated an extra $14 million for the injured workers in the Province of Nova Scotia - no thanks to the NDP who voted against the injured workers of the province.

[Page 5416]

Mr. Speaker, that is public record and I will table the evidence. They did not support the injured workers when the opportunity came. They're looking for more money for injured workers, yet when the opportunity came they voted against them, and now they're here crying wolf. They can't have it both ways; that is nothing short of double talk. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for late debate has expired. We will now revert back to second reading of Bill No. 129.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

[Bill No. 129 - Pension Benefits Act.]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to say a few words about this bill, and what I find interesting when we talk about this bill is some people will have you believe that, really, the only great impact this bill will have is on the municipalities. That's the only area, and so go forward and sign off on it, and if you don't support this bill, if you decide not to support this bill, then you're for raising taxes and putting extra financial burdens on municipalities.

[6:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that's just not so. This bill was truly part - and I don't want to go too far down this road, again - of an omnibus bill, the Financial Measures Act back in the Spring, that the government of the day, at that time, wouldn't stand by. They said, no, we'll withdraw it, we never meant it to be there. But, lo and behold, we're here today debating this very bill. Before we get too far into the substance of the bill, I think we have to realize the importance of everybody's retirement savings funds, whatever they are.

Mr. Speaker, just down over the road here today, we have a tremendous court battle going on over excess revenues in a fund that's winding down. That fund is with the Cape Breton Development Corporation. This was a fund that when the federal government closed down Devco could have taken the excess funds, the government of the day, that's still there, basically, the same group is there, could have said, what we're going to do, this is a hard-pressed economy and what we're going to do is take that $30-some million and share it equitably among the people who paid into it, the retirees and their widows.

But no, the federal government, instead of being Robin Hood ended up being King John. They've basically gone and said, look, we want all that money. We don't want to share any of it with the workers and the widows of Cape Breton. (Interruptions) Yes, I'm being corrected - Prince John. What we're going to do is make you fight for this. We're going to

[Page 5417]

make you go and hire lawyers, and get your unions involved, we're going to have to fight you for this.

Mr. Speaker, where does that leave those folks today? They're working on pensions and they're just barely getting by. People, many of them widows, are living on their own, and this is no windfall for them. It would just be a little bit more comfort in their golden years. Instead, they have to go and rely on the graciousness of other groups to come to Halifax and sit in Chambers here with a retired justice and to fight their own government for money that was theirs. I would say the money involved is less or just maybe a little bit more than one-third of what the ad scandal cost - the Liberal ad scandal.

Mr. Speaker, if it was good for that, I'm certainly sure that this would be money well spent for those families who live and reside in my community. But no, we're there. Now the reason I bring that up is because it is, it's a point that if we're going to invest in pension funds, there's a certain amount of unknowns that you buy into. You're buying into, hopefully, a system that your investments will create a pool of money when you either get to retirement age or close to it and can manoeuver out of it that you can live comfortably. Well that's good and then we try to work towards it. Then there's another group who are in these groups that can buy plans without grow-in.

Mr. Speaker, that's what we find with this bill. Now, the government will have you believe the biggest problem that they're facing and have to get rid of is - the plans include a group of people who will never be able to access this fund because the likelihood of those people going under are minuscule, very small.

Why are we here today complaining about this provision of a pension fund and why weren't we here five years ago? Well, the reason is because of the way the markets have been acting. When places like Hawker-Siddeley, when they wound down, this provision was a literal godsend to those families. These were people at a time, when Hawker-Siddeley was shutting down, who were in an area of extreme high employment, where their real employment was not available and maybe some of them, just maybe some of them who were able to access a grow-in section of it were to get part-time work or something that could elongate what would be in their salary. If we pass this today as it stands, if we pass this to cover all the pension funds that are contemplated under this Act, then those people lose that.

Mr. Speaker, another group was the Ultramar workers over across the harbour, another group who had fairly good wages, were working in a bit better climate economically than the folks in Pictou County and other areas were, but nonetheless had found themselves in that real hard spot in their lives of being in that area which I find myself, under 55, but over 50. What you have is - I know we're not allowed to discriminate against workers, but when you go out and you market yourself in that area, especially from coming from an industrial background, they don't want that style of worker. A lot will look for the young guy who is 22, 23 years old, for a couple of reasons. He's probably in better shape. His ideas are a little

[Page 5418]

bit newer and he brings a lower wage package. So it's hard to market yourself, but a grow-in provision allows these folks, again, to kind of diversify and change their lifestyle a bit to top up and to be allowed to be part of an economic society, and that's what we're talking about here.

If an employer shuts down his operation, there's a right the employee should expect, through no fault of their own, they should have the right to be able to sustain themselves in the economy in a meaningful way. If we take this slowly on the narrow-minded way the government moved forward, then we're all in trouble, because what we will end up being is, we'll get rid of this for everybody because there was a little problem over here. We're not really even convinced that the problem is unsustainable over here because what we're looking for is, as the markets move - and I know the markets in this instance are tied somewhat to interest rates - if they both move in a manner that's appreciative, then these funds may grow themselves and we may be back here debating sometime in the not too distant future the ability of people and these funds that would have a premium holiday, where they may say, look, you don't have to pay premiums anymore, it's so funded so its pension funds are that.

Mr. Speaker, many of us in this Chamber have probably invested in Registered Retirement Savings Plans. Do you panic when your plan - you're in a 10-year plan, and your portfolio is doing well - when at about year four, it starts to drop? Is the sky falling? Do you go out and try to rejig the whole thing? No. Most financial analysts will say you hang in there, because it's an average over a long length of time.

The minister brought this bill forward. He really didn't do - to my estimation - any kind of wide consultations, either with the private sector or with other groups, other parties that I can tell, in any great way. I know members of our caucus met with the Superintendent of Pensions. I don't know if the Third Party did or not. Nonetheless, it seems to be coming up time after time in discussions here, its impact on municipalities. Let's look at it from that perspective. Why don't we just narrow it down? Does this bill deal with the impact of these grow-in funds on municipalities? No, the minister wants to leave this window wide open. It becomes, because of a lack of consultation - it gets our suspicious nature going. Why?

Now, I've been told by one member of this House, there's another group out there that's adversely affected by these grow-in funds, and that's the Diocese of Antigonish, the church and so on. They're negatively affected. Again, we have to look at that and say, okay, let's shed some light on it. One can easily say, Mr. Speaker, that the Diocese of Antigonish was never going to be wound up. Well, we don't know that. We see, right across the peninsula of Halifax, in many places in Cape Breton, parishes being amalgamated, churches shutting down or not being used as much.

So is there some point that the Holy See will say to the Catholic Bishops here in Canada, the Catholic Bishops are going to say, look, we don't need three dioceses in Nova Scotia, we only need one, the Diocese of Halifax, and we'll run it all out of there? We don't

[Page 5419]

need one in Antigonish and we don't need one in Yarmouth. Let's do that. So, in effect, the two wings could be wound down. That would help some of those workers. That would help the ones who are direct employees, I would suspect, of the Diocese of Antigonish. I don't know how individual contracts would affect parochial workers in various parishes across the province.

But, nonetheless, these are all problems that are facing us in this bill that the minister has brought forward. Now, the minister brought this bill forward last week, and said, in his press release or in his press conference, in answer to one of the media personnel, do you have support for this, and he said, yes - I'll paraphrase him - the other two Parties support us. Well, that's just not factual. At no point - we hadn't seen the bill until that morning. As I said to you, we met with the Superintendent of Pensions, and we heard what that person had to say, but at no point did we say that we would be supporting this bill in whole or in part.

This is the problem. Yet, the minister - we go to the minister and say, okay, you administer what, through there, about 140 plans. So, what we're looking for from the minister is, break it down, who's affected. We've brought out some of the groups that are affected, we've brought forward Emera and Stanfield's and Michelin as some of the ones that are out there. There may be other smaller ones. We don't know what the impact is going to be on those employees. We don't know what impacts would be on - okay, Emera is one with unionized employees. I would think that this legislation would supersede what they have in their collective agreement. So all of a sudden this is something that workers worked long and hard on to secure, in case, whatever, Emera closes a very large chunk because the legislation says, in whole or in part closure. So what happens to these people?

[6:45 p.m.]

They're saying, no, no, no. I know your unions and your folks negotiate long and hard, but it's gone. I can't say for the people at Stanfield's or Michelin, but maybe they have some kind of employee organization that, while not qualified under the Trade Union Act, may be recognized by the employer who does some sort of bidding or discussion with the employee. Through the years of bringing this forward, the employer agrees with it. They see it as a cost, but nonetheless, they move forward.

All of a sudden they come in and say we know that you have this in here, but you're gone. So, it hurts these workers. What this is about, with the real exception of having to pay higher premiums - I understand where that's at - but, in some ways here, unless we have further investigation, we may very well be looking at using a maul hammer here to kill an ant.

What we have to say is, in collective bargaining, when we put tough rules in around layoff provisions and the penalties that will be incurred by the employer if you lay off large groups of people, they're not there so much to move the day forward. That type of language is put in collective agreements to say, we both agree with you, we're both on the same page

[Page 5420]

here, we don't want a worst-case scenario. But if a worst-case scenario befalls us, we want the landing to be as soft as possible.

That's what I say about pension funds with grow-in provisions. That's why they're there. They shouldn't be taken away at the whim of government because in a period when the market isn't doing as well, interest rates are where they are, that we should be doing this. I think we have to look at it with a much more longer view than this. If it were being looked at with a long view, theoretically, they would have passed this bill in the Spring. They're seriously reversing their position from less than five months ago.

We have to ask ourselves, yet again, why is this bill in front of us? Maybe like some of the other caucuses today, we have met with folks from Mercer Financial and the group that represents the participants in the pension plan here in HRM about their worries. I think what they're saying are real serious worries. We agree with them. We're willing to work with getting these rectified.

But rectified at what cost - at other workers being put in a position that was never contemplated and was never necessary? We know what the cost is going to be at HRM, clearly because it's jointly administered with both management and labour working together on this. That's not the real problem here. The real problem is, when pressed, when the minister is asked who is going to be hurt, how many employees, he simply shrugs his shoulders. These are questions that I think have to be asked. How will this adversely affect the workers of Stanfield's? How will that happen? The minister won't tell us this. The minister says, I don't know. Why don't you do that? Why don't you go out - I've got a few days to spend in here, and a few weeks and a few months to spend in here. Let's find these out before we go make a decision.

I don't know what type of pension provisions our friends in the Truro area get when they leave Stanfield's. I hope they're good. I hope that between a good joint labour-management group that they've come up with a package that's good for them all. Mr. Speaker, we don't know whether this is going to hurt them. What we are talking about here, is heaven forbid, if the financial stability of that company was affected - it's a prime example - they're a beacon of light in an industry that's been crippled by Third World domination in manufacturing of clothing, and they have survived.

Stanfield's have survived, Mr. Speaker, in that harsh market because of high-quality goods and a very good workforce. Don't kid yourself, every day that business in the textiles sector is under attack by places that pay slight wages. If, as hard as the management and the owners of that mill can work to keep those people working, and they do their darnedest, through no fault of their own the international market pressures are so great that they go out of business, that companies like Wal-Mart decide, because they rule the retail market, that you know what, we used to buy T-shirts from you at X amount of gross, and now we are only

[Page 5421]

going to pay Y, so where does it go? Even that sector, of hard-working entrepreneurs of the people of the Truro area at Stanfield's, would have a hard time sustaining.

That's the reality of it. If that pressure is allowed to happen and the grow-in provision is exonerated from the pension funds, then what happens? What happens, Mr. Speaker, is we have people being taken out in their prime earning years, with no real growth in their pension funds.

This is not a factor and I can't say it enough, it's not a factor of Stanfield's being a bad business. As I said before, it's an icon in Nova Scotia, and it's an icon in North America. It's one of how long can you sustain the international pressures that are put on it? What happens? Because we have brought in such a large bill with so many holes in it that we've taken away some rights for those workers because of someone in a Third World country knitting a T-shirt for X amount, and we can't compete anymore.

That's what this bill would have the effect of doing. We are not talking about that, Mr. Speaker. Let's even go to one that people will not see this Party as being the greatest friends of - Michelin. What I am is a friend of workers. And again, as long as those people are there, it's obvious what my personal feelings on Michelin are as a management group, they do, from what I'm told, make good tires. That's part and parcel of a good workforce.

They were right in coming to Nova Scotia - I think Nova Scotia sold itself somewhat short but - I'm proud of the Nova Scotia workforce. I'm proud whether it's there or it's in Cape Breton, or it's in Amherst or Springhill. Anywhere, Mr. Speaker, anyplace. The reality is that Michelin is a large international producer of tires. The same tactics that drew them to Nova Scotia, may drive them to South Carolina. Isn't it up to us, since we brought them here, to keep the grow-in provision, so that those folks can enjoy the best possible pension that they've been able to lever from their employer? Or, in fairness, being granted to them by their employer. If we take this from them by way of legislation, these folks lose it.

When someone asked earlier today, when one of the other members was up, the member for Halifax Fairview, where did you get these names of Emera, Stanfield's, Michelin? Well it was the Mercer people, the Mercer Financial Group that told us these are some of the companies that have grow-in plans. That was three more companies out of 140 that we got from them, and what we got from the minister, with the exception of some municipalities, was zero in the line of private corporations that would be affected by this.

Mr. Speaker, what we would hope to show in this is, look, certainly, if a case can be made for municipalities exiting this fund, then let's look at it and deal with it on that level. But in the absence of government coming forward and saying, here are the other groups in there, what it tells me is that there's no plan with this bill. They have not told us there's five people more, there's six people, here they are, and here's how they'll be affected. No, it's really buying a pig in a poke, and that's wrong.

[Page 5422]

If government wants support from our Party on this, my message to government is quite simple, open up, let's really see how this is going to impact working women and men in this province. We don't want workers not having adequate coverage from their pension plan because some Third World nation comes in and floods our market with cheap underwear and Stanfield's is shut down.

Mr. Speaker, that's what I'm saying. That's why these things are in here. Plans like this just don't come together and someone decides to put in a grow-in plan. There has to be a reason for it. The minister has lost sight of that altogether. He has to look at the wholeness of the plan, but he's looking at a singular - he is dragging everything else in behind him. If we have problems - I can't say this enough, Mr. Speaker - with municipalities and the pressure it will put on their taxation level and the pressure on giving their services to the constituents, then let's get at that. Let's do that one. Let's straighten it out. But don't take away rights from workers just because you have to get at one section. It's much like having one leg that has gangrene and you cut both of them off. This is what this minister is basically doing here. Let's get rid of the good leg, too.

Mr. Speaker, this helps workers, so why not keep it? These are the questions, the minister has to come forward to explain to this bill. As I said from the get-go, there was some misinformation around this bill. Somehow for him to tell the media that we supported this bill, the only thing we did with this bill was we had a meeting with the Superintendent of Pensions. We talked to the lady at the time, and we told her some of our concerns around it, and wanted to know some answers. The next thing you know, we're having a bill briefing. There were no answers around the amount of people in the plan.

Mr. Speaker, I will be taking my place shortly, but I wanted to get those problems on the record. It's important that the minister understands them, through you. These are real fundamental problems that if this bill is allowed to go forward in its form, it could have devastating effects on many good companies, many good workers who really don't see this as a problem, but because of outside economic pressures, if their employer has to stop or reduce business dramatically, they will see themselves without a benefit that they would have had the day before this bill passed. I think it says to the minister, do the right thing. You are also the Minister of Labour. Look at this, protect the workers, do the right thing when it comes to protecting the municipalities, but make sure you're doing the right thing, and don't bring them all in with a trawl net, use a line.

[7:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to stand to speak on this bill. It's a very serious concern for the businesses that aren't aware of what's happening here at the present time and the employees of the businesses who work for those companies. The

[Page 5423]

grow-in benefit - and I'm going to use an example of Halifax Regional Municipality and I think this can apply to not just the Halifax Regional Municipality but every company that's covered by this process. I've got some facts and I will table this at the end when I'm finished here that I would like to table for all members to see and be aware of. There has been a lot of fearmongering going on by the honourable members in the NDP and a lot of misconception that has been put out there that, hopefully, we'll be able to clear up with some facts, not just ideas that they may have, or had not bothered to take the time to find out what is going on here.

I'm just going to use the municipality to start with. First of all, I'm going to let the municipal taxpayers know what the impact is to every property in the municipality. We have about 130,000 properties in HRM that are taxed right now, property tax on them. Those are the people who are going to be paying the bill for this grow-in benefit, and this grow-in benefit is going to cost the regional municipality - and I'm going to talk about the employees later - $12 million the first year, and every year after that for a number of years it's going to cost them $6 million, actually five years altogether.

Now, with a $6 million a year cost, it's going to equate to 2.2 cents per $100 of assessment property tax increase. That's a property tax increase that you and I as property owners in the regional municipality is going to have to pay. In the first year it's going to be 4.5 cents; 4.5 cents in the first year to pay this bill. Now, what that equates to on a $100,000 home is, in one year, just one year - and it has to be doubled this first year - would be $23, and the first year would actually be $43 where it hadn't been done in the past year because the municipality was hoping this would not be put in place. The average home assessment in the regional municipality is $141,000, and that equates to $32 per year over the five years but, again, the first year is $64. That's what it's going to cost the taxpayer. So basically what's happening, the NDP is saying that they want to put the property taxes up for everybody in the regional municipality to pay for this, okay. I want to make that very, very clear. That's what could happen, and very likely may happen.

Now, the other alternative in this is to reduce services. The other thing is, if they had the $6 million to spend, the $6 million that would have to come up from somewhere, here are some of the things they could buy with $6 million. Everybody remember - and if my colleagues opposite here had done the research, they would have had this information as well. I believe it was presented to them today and they just didn't bother mentioning it because it didn't suit their agenda. The things they could buy with $6 million - 15 new transit buses. That means 15 new bus routes, more service for the busing in the regional municipality, which is desperately needed.

That $6 million is 40 per cent of the capital budget for repairs to roads. So, they could take 40 per cent of the budget for repairs to roads in the regional municipality and the roads would all fall apart. They're having a hard enough time keeping up with it now. It would almost finance the complete cost of the Finance Department in the regional municipality.

[Page 5424]

Think about that. Eliminate everybody who works at the Finance Department, then you can't collect your taxes any more or do anything else.

If you had $6 million - we were talking earlier about having more police officers, it would mean 75 new police officers that you could hire - 75 of them. It also means you could also put in 75 new playgrounds. I can tell you, I was a regional councillor for a number of years and a new playground in a community is a very important thing. It's very, very difficult to put these things in place. (Interruptions)

I didn't hassle the NDP when they were talking. I left them alone. I would ask them not to do that for me because they might want to hear the facts. It's quite interesting. This has come forward from the regional municipality and the pension administrators. (Interruptions) Well, you should have read the document. Anyway, if you'd like to make a point, why don't you stand up and make your point. (Interruptions) Okay, that's what's going to happen to the taxpayers and the service in the municipality. It could potentially happen.

Remember, all these things are doubled in the first year. You could put in 150 new playgrounds in the first year for what it's going to cost, instead of 75. You could buy 30 new transit buses instead of 15. So it goes on and on. You're looking at a possible tax increase, a substantial tax increase, or reduction in services or some things you could buy with the $6 million. The option would be to the municipality, but there's definitely a cost there. There's a long-term cost and it would hurt the municipality and the taxpayers in the municipality.

Now, the real kicker is, the employees. Evidently, the NDP didn't learn how to read or they don't understand what's going on, but they had the employees with $30,000 a year average income, has increased the contribution of $1,200 per year. That's $1,200 per year on a $30,000 salary. You can imagine going home to your husband or wife who has to stay home and look after the children and saying, guess what? We're going to have a $1,200 cut in my pay this year because this grow-in benefit in the pension plan - which is really no use to us anyway because the municipality is going to be around long after I'm gone and all of us here are gone - it's going to mean $1,200 out of our household budget. That's $100 a month. That's a big impact, especially if you're making $30,000 a year.

That's a net decrease in take-home pay of $900 a year. That's a lot of money. It's very interesting to say, the NDP's been over there saying how it's going to negatively impact all the people. It's going to negatively impact them all right. This is such a complex issue, I don't believe the companies and the employees of the companies really understand how negative this is going to be on them.

I'm going to give you a letter here from the Halifax Professional Firefighters. There have been other letters put forward. I'm just going to read this into the record.

[Page 5425]

"Subject: Pension Regulation Changes

We represent members of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) who are members of the Halifax Regional Municipality Pension Plan ("Pension Plan"). The Halifax Regional Pension Committee ("Committee") is seeking relief from the onerous requirements of the Pension Benefit Act ("PBA") in respect of the pension plan solvency and, in particular, the elimination of the applicability of the "grow-in" provisions on the PBA to the Pension Plan, and other municipal plans in the Province. These provisions are causing financial hardship to our membership."

They forgot to mention that, they have this document.

"The requested exemptions will provide flexibility to municipalities without compromising the security of pension benefits.

We are writing to express our support for these initiatives and ask that you address the matters raised by the Committee.".

This is signed by Phil McNulty, President, Local 268, IAFF. I'd like to table that. So, it goes on to say that employees are going to be affected. They're going to be negatively affected by this and it's going to have a major impact on them. Now when you really start looking at the effect of this, not only is it going to affect them immediately, but it's going to affect them in the long term. In the long term, it's going to affect people, potentially, who are already on a pension. They could reduce their benefits to help pay for the increased cost on this to the program. They're going to have to build bigger reserves, so therefore when the people come to retire down the road who have paid the higher premium, their benefits actually could be lower. These are things that haven't been told. They come along here and they've been saying how it's going to negatively impact all these people in the province and there aren't that many companies in the province this is going to affect.

So, when you look at this and you see the cost to the municipality - to the taxpayers of the municipality, not the municipality - the cost to the employees within the municipality. This is an example and I stress this is an example, what about Dalhousie University? What about Acadia University? What about Université Sainte-Anne and some of the others? Municipalities would have this program in place. The worst of this is, we're led to believe by the honourable members opposite here, that this is a horrible thing and it cannot be put in place.

Well, it can be put in place because you negotiate this in an agreement with your employer between the employees, but at least they would know then what the cost is, they're willing to pay the cost and they're willing to move forward on a voluntary basis. That may be a very wonderful thing to do in some industries in some places, but this has to be

[Page 5426]

eliminated at the present time to protect these things. Anyone who has a company that has this, or an employee of a company, who has this, you want to check on your cost, you want to see what kind of a impact it has on your long-term pension, when these things are put in place.

There is a decline in people paying into pension plans in Canada and this would decline it even further. I deal with so many people in my area and other areas I've represented who are living on a very small fixed income and then the whole problem comes back to the province and the federal government. They need affordable housing. The NDP is always asking for affordable housing. Where do you think it comes from? It comes from the taxpayers. I agree, we need better affordable housing, more affordable housing, but if we had good pension plans in place, for all Nova Scotians, we wouldn't need those special programs and another burden on our system and the people would be prouder and they'd be able to live and enjoy life a lot easier than they do now. So we really have to push these things.

There was some doubt expressed by one of the members of the NDP about HRM's ability to manage this thing, HRM's benefit. Maybe they said maybe they could make better investments and so on. Well, HRM doesn't manage HRM's pension plan. The pension plan is run by a committee of union, employees and staff from HRM, completely independent from regional council, completely independent from administration of the Regional Municipality. It's done the way it should be done. They administer their own program and they do an exceptionally good job. They've merged five or more pension plans to one. They've taken the considerations of all the different plans and worked out an agreement that's been very well accepted by all the employees and this is really an employee-driven - and it should be - program. So the employees are coming and saying, take this away, but we're being told that no, it's not the employees. It's going to destroy the employees and nobody is going to get ahead with this thing.

So they want to check their facts before they decide to move this and say it's such a horrible thing to happen and it's not going to really help anyone in the area. This has to be changed. It has to be changed in the immediate future and I stress again, I don't believe the companies out there and the employees of those companies understand the impact it's going to have on them and it has had on them, that could make their benefits a lot better and indeed help them.

So, with that, I'm going to close my remarks. Thank you, very much.

[7:15 p.m.]

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I have a number of comments I wanted to make on Bill No. 129 which is to remove the grow-in benefits from the Pension Benefits Act.

[Page 5427]

First of all, I think that the government has done the right thing in bringing this amendment back to the House. In the Spring session it had been one of many clauses included in the Financial Measures (2004) Act. In fact, there were 53 clauses in the Financial Measures (2004) Act and at that time both the NDP and ourselves had said that the process was wrong and that a change to pension should be looked at on its own merits and separately and that is exactly what the government has done by bringing this bill forward now. I think that that is the right thing and I would like to thank them for doing so.

The reason that it's important that we look at it independently is because that allows us not to have it just swept by and not understanding the implications, but actually having an opportunity to look at them. I think questions that have been raised by the NDP, some of which were overly alarmist, have caused us to look carefully at how many companies are involved and what's exactly involved in this. It was mentioned about our role as legislators and that it is our role to get all the facts, as much as you possibly can, and then move forward to make decisions that are in the best interests of Nova Scotians. We have to measure the cost and the benefit of all measures that come before us and try to do what we think is best for the majority of people.

In the case of this bill about grow-in benefits, I think everybody fully understands what benefits are these days. The actual number of pension plans that were referred to is 140. Now, what we were told was that of those, roughly 80 per cent are defined contribution plans. If that, in fact, is the case, then we're talking about possibly 30 give or take, 30 plans that are defined benefit plans, and among those plans there are obviously municipalities, hospitals, universities, that really the benefit they're being called on to pay for is never going to be realized. They're not going to have to face insolvency and we know that even as they change form, there's a commitment to keep them in place whether it be municipalities or universities, or hospital boards. So they are not going to become insolvent and yet good money is being taken out of the government coffers, out of the pockets of their plan members, to cover for that eventuality, to cover that risk that will not be realized.

In the case of HRM, which has received the most attention in this debate, the case has become urgent and that's one reason why I applaud the government for bringing this back because when it became obvious that HRM is in a financial crisis as a result of this, the government has moved and brought it forward. Now, there seems to be no question that public sector organizations should not be held to this particular clause for grow-in benefits because it is being asked to put a ton of money aside for no benefit whatsoever. So let's look briefly at the HRM example.

We're told that they have, in fact, any organization that's found to be underfunded, has only five years to cover that shortfall and in the case of HRM, they're unfunded to the tune of about $60 million. So that equates to $6 million a year that over five years they'll have to put aside just to cover that eventuality. Since they postpone that by one year, hoping that this grow-in benefit would be gone, this current year they're going to have to put aside $12

[Page 5428]

million. We've already heard what the impact is for their plan members. They'll be losing literally thousands of dollars that they will have to pay into the plan to keep it solvent and that's out of their pocket, after-tax dollars, discretionary dollars that they have very few of, are going to now go into covering a risk that doesn't exist for them. So it is a crisis when $60 million has to be found from plan members and from HRM in such a short period of time. I think that we can all agree that in the case of public sector organizations, this clause is wrong and should be eliminated.

So the question might come up, why are we doing the elimination of grow-in benefits for all organizations? What's the rationale for taking it out for private sector organizations as well? (Interruptions)

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

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I think it's noteworthy to go to the fact that model pension legislation has been drafted just in the last year alone and that was drafted by the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities. So pension supervisors from across the country got together to come up with what they felt would be draft model best practices for pension legislation. It's very noteworthy that there is no grow-in provision provided for in that model legislation. The reason for that is that it is a rare thing in Canada to begin with. Only Ontario, the only other province besides Nova Scotia, has this benefit.

It was introduced in the 1980s when times were very good and when business was booming in Ontario and, for some reason Nova Scotia chose to follow suit at that time and make it a requirement for defined benefit plans to have this provision for grow-in benefits. No other provinces, even provinces that have significant wealth and a lot of industrial companies, none of them have followed suit. Bear in mind that there is nothing at all in removing the grow-in benefits from the Pension Act that prevents companies from having grow-in benefits.

If unions or employers and employees want to negotiate that kind of a benefit, it's available. It will continue to be available if it's in somebody's collective agreement or especially negotiated. What we're saying is it doesn't need to be a standard clause in pension benefits. Again, only those companies that offer enhanced early retirement benefits to begin with will have any need to call upon the grow-in benefit if they were wound down. Very few companies have these enhanced benefits. Even if they have a defined benefit plan, which we said might be 20 per cent of our total pensions, even if they have that defined benefit plan, many of them will not have an enhanced early retirement clause. If they don't there's nothing for these employees to grow into, so to speak, if the organization were closed down or wound down.

[Page 5429]

It becomes more and more a benefit that only a small number of people could ever possibly have access to or need. If you have enhanced early retirement benefits, you'll still get them. The grow-in benefit doesn't accelerate this. They will be available to most employees anyway. What we are finding is more and more pension plans are being wound down or converted to defined contribution plans, because they are simply too rich. People just cannot afford them any more. A lot of organizations as we heard earlier don't have defined benefit plans. Which are the best plans, the best protection for people as they approach retirement. We know that very few, I believe it's 29 per cent of Canadians, currently have a pension plan at all.

We are in a country and in a position where very few people are getting the protection that they need through their work in being able to contribute to plans that will protect them when they become retirees. I wanted to table, while we are talking about this, another document that comes from the universities explaining their position and their reason why they would like to see this removed. In talking about it, they said there are a number of universities and you'll note that not all of them have defined benefit plans. I think people consider universities a good group to work for.

Of the universities in Nova Scotia, Dalhousie, Acadia, Université of Sainte-Anne, and the University of Kings College have defined benefit plans. They're saying again that the underfunded nature of these plans and the fact that they are really at risk because of the grow-in benefits, that that is causing them considerable concern. Universities like Dalhousie are saying they foresee a significant deficiency on the next filing. It said funding the shortfall at Acadia University over five years would result in a burden of approximately $2.6 million per year, in addition to the normal annual contribution fees for the plan.

You can see that even our universities are going to be called on to have a lot of additional costs as a result of grow-in benefits. We all know who pays for additional expenses at universities. That falls back on our university students. They are already paying the highest tuition in the country. I don't think we need to create a situation where there is any more financial pressure placed on universities. And again, for what benefit for what will they ever receive?

I would like to table that just so that it's a matter of record that the universities are also, as we well know, adversely affected by this, or certainly those that are covered by this legislation. I think it's really important to look at who is involved and who is not. There are a lot of exceptions already. We were going into the question of why should the Public Service and private sector organizations be exempted from this provision. If we are going to be amending the Pension Benefits Act as it is and taking out grow-in benefits for, let's say, just HRM or just one or two universities, it opens up the question, what is good public policy, and is it good public policy to then look at the other companies and organizations that are affected?

[Page 5430]

Yes, it is, it's good to measure that, because we know that the cost of this grow-in benefit is creating a real burden, a serious burden for all of these organizations, and a detriment to business to offer defined benefit plans and even a detriment to reinvesting those monies that they would otherwise have into new jobs or into the expansion of their facilities.

I think, in a province like Nova Scotia, we need to do all we can to improve and enhance our industrial base and to encourage companies that are here to reinvest in Nova Scotia. When we have provisions in our laws that are richer than those in other jurisdictions, it's a detriment and it discourages people from participating. I think that overall we want to see more employees covered by pension plans and more people who get these benefits, not fewer, and not creating a situation where pension plans are converted to define contribution, or changed in some way, which does happen, as everyone knows.

This grow-in benefit has been defined as a Cadillac provision, and that's why it's available in so few places, or made mandatory in so few places. But remember, again, it's not going to become something that's unavailable in Nova Scotia - if an employer can afford it and if a union or an employee group can demand it, and that happens to be agreed upon, fine, it's available. There are other jurisdictions in Canada where it's certainly applied, but not made mandatory, and it's the mandatory nature of it that we have a problem with.

In the long run, what we want to do is create a situation that's best for all Nova Scotians that improves our climate for workers and for business, and that certainly removes the restriction that right now is just creating a financial burden for no benefit. As I say, HRM is the face of this grow-in benefit when you look at why it's totally unnecessary for public service organizations. Again, I think it's important to reiterate the kind of costs that are going to come out of HRM's pockets, and that means an increase in taxes - and I think you have to look at that every time.

I think that when we look at that there are so many of us who represent HRM ridings right here in the House of Assembly, and if you look at the constituencies that we represent we'll be talking about significant extra taxes in order to raise another $12 million this year alone. So in their coming budget of 2005, HRM taxpayers will be asked for an additional $12 million for no enhanced services, for nothing improved, but simply to set aside this money in an account against the risk that is non-existent. That doesn't make sense to the plan contributors, to their members and, as has been mentioned, all of the unions of HRM are unanimously in support of seeing this benefit taken away. They don't want it, they don't feel there's any benefit, and they know that it's taking thousands of dollars out of their pockets, and out of the services that HRM can provide.

So we're either going to see, even in terms of HRM's plan, a great reduction in the benefits their plan members will see, or they'll have to agree to huge increases in their contributions towards that plan, and that just isn't reasonable in their case at all. Again, I think we have a responsibility as HRM representatives to protect the taxpayers that we represent,

[Page 5431]

because it's all the same person. Whether we're talking about a municipal service that's being offered or a provincial service, we're talking about the same taxpayer at the end of the day, and that taxpayer is overburdened in every sense. What we want to do is try to minimize that.

It's kind of interesting that this amount of money, just for a house that's valued at $140,000, we're talking about a $35 a year additional cost. I know in my riding of Halifax Clayton Park, the average home is around $200,000, so it's that much more in Clayton Park. Even if we took that to be $35 out of everyone's pocket, every property owner, the 130,000 registered property owners in HRM, all paying extra taxes for no benefit, I think that's unconscionable; I think that it's wrong for members here to have hypothetical, sort of conspiracy theories that are driving them, really, to take a dogmatic position that is in direct opposition to the people we represent.

Everything here has been very upfront in terms of the cost and the impacts on all the Public Service institutions, and when we look seriously at the private sector organizations, we know that the benefit will still be available, nobody is taking that benefit away from anybody in any organization; again, it's simply not going to be a mandatory requirement.

[7:30 p.m.]

I have to refer somewhat to the conspiracy theory that seems to be going, about Mercer and the fact that they use their envelopes for HRM correspondence. I found that really quite humourous because in speaking to the plan members, they say they have no full-time staff and that the pension plan at HRM is a joint trustee plan, it is not administered by HRM; HRM staff themselves do not administer and take care of all the day-to-day work of this. So they, in fact, do have consultants who do the work for them and work with them, but they are a very well-informed pension committee, very intelligent, very well researched.

They have an excellently managed plan and they have representation from management and unionized and non-unionized employee groups and all of them unanimously have said that this should go, that this provision has to go. So, as I say, having no staff of their own, they do have third-party administration and I think that it's a little bit far-fetched to suggest that it's part of a worldwide plot that begins here in Nova Scotia, to eliminate grow-in benefits, which again, only exist in one other jurisdiction in Canada, that being Ontario and again have not been enshrined in model pension legislation that has just been developed.

So, what we see here is an amendment whose time has come and the urgency is there for us immediately here in HRM, but looking forward, the urgency is for all organizations because I don't think we want to be the representatives who sat in the Legislature while all kinds of defined benefit plans wrap up and decide that they're not going to be offered any more to workers in Nova Scotia. It's unreasonable to assume that we could have the richest

[Page 5432]

benefits, richer than any other provinces, richer than the model pension legislation that's out there.

I think we have to look at what's best for the majority of workers and I know that whether they were in a public- or private-sector organization, people want benefits and they want to have protection, but they don't necessarily want to pay gigantic premiums. They have many other pressing needs. They probably have to pay for home heating fuel and perhaps if we look at the increase in taxes next year, it might be just about equal to the home heating fuel rebates that we'd like to see happen.

I'd also like to table another letter that we have that was in support of the HRM pension committee and their request to have this removed and it comes from the retired pensioners and I'll just leave that with you for the record as well. It's a similar one, it says that it is causing financial hardship to our members. As I say, I think this is the tip of the iceberg. What we know is that as other funds hit the same wall and become underfunded as a result of this provision, they're all going to face the same financial crisis. So surely we can have the good foresight to look ahead and realize that really almost nobody, we can't even name any groups that have benefited in recent times. (Interruption) I think that has been addressed.

As I say, there are very few that would ever come into the situation where they would get this and most of them - in fact, Ultramar was mentioned a little while ago, it was my understanding that Ultramar had very special provisions set up for severance for the people who were working there and that would have been part and parcel of the severance packages they negotiated. It really was irrelevant that there were grow-in provisions in Nova Scotia, because in an instance like that when you have a credible employer, they generally have provisions for that sort of thing. I think the same thing is true with Sydney Steel, that there were special provisions made for severance for people who were losing their employment.

So, I think what we see, in some cases, is this is absolutely redundant and another thing that's really important and points to some hypocrisy in the NDP ranks, I'm afraid, is that all the union-administered . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think the honourable member knows the word hypocrisy is unacceptable. Perhaps you may want to reword it.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry, I wasn't aware of that; however, I apologize. A contradiction, perhaps, in their thinking would be a better way to put it.

MR. SPEAKER: That's a little better.

MS. WHALEN: An inconsistency perhaps, but I'd like to point out that the multi-employer pension plans and that is, those pension plans that are managed by unions are already exempt from this, as is the Public Service Commission, as are certain other

[Page 5433]

organizations. It's my understanding that Emera is exempt from this also under their legislation. So what you have now is a piecemeal effect where individual groups, whether it's HRM, or the universities, or Emera - which is one of our largest employers - coming forward and saying to the government, please exempt us. Just take us out and there'll be no problem.

Well, now is the time to simply eliminate this benefit because it simply doesn't apply and is not good sense and it is not model pension legislation. It just isn't. I don't believe Nova Scotia should have it on their books, so now's the time to deal with both aspects, public and private sector, and once and for all say this is not a benefit that we need to legislate. Again, it's available to companies or groups should they require it. With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to close my remarks. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. If I recognize the minister it will be to close debate.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I certainly would like to thank the people who participated in the debate. It was lively and certainly gave a lot of information to the floor. I look forward to following this bill through the Law Amendments Committee. At this point in time, I would like to close second reading on Bill No. 129.

MR. SPEAKER: The question is for second reading of Bill No. 129. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: There are still a couple of things to do. I'd like to have the approbation of the House to revert to Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 5434]

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

Bill No. 111 - French-language Services Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 132.

Bill No. 132 - Amusement Devices Safety Act.

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today in this Legislature because of an important happening in my riding over the Summer months. We all like to go to amusement parks all over this province. We have one that was built by the province at Upper Clements Park. The safety of the children using these rides were very important to me, as I was there. There was a young kid, a constituent of mine, Arlene Oakley, her son, the water that's recycled back up to the slide, sometimes these pumps have to pump the water back up and they suck the water back up. Actually, there were two children who drowned in Texas earlier this year, they were caught in the recycling pump and they were drowned. This case in North Sydney, the young boy was caught in the recycling pump and his leg was severely damaged. It took over 40 stitches, 32 on the outside and 8 stitches on the inside to close it up. He is nine years old.

That wasn't the scary point for the family, the point for the family was that he was underwater and they couldn't get his leg out of the machine. Somebody was holding his head above the water while he was drowning, trying to keep him up so they could shut off the pump so they could get his leg out. He was torn up pretty good at this time.

[Page 5435]

I spoke to the lady afterwards and realized, at that time, there was no way for the inspector to shut that machine down right away, or shut down that amusement ride at that time, that he would have to go back and make up a report. I felt that he should have the power. That's what this bill does, it gives him the power to shut down that ride for the safety of the children and the people using those rides. I find that very important.

Also, it looks at the penalties, the penalties for the person, it looks at the penalties for the owners of the amusement parks and also the liability insurance. It was very, very low when I looked at this, it was down to $100,000, so now this would bring it up to $1 million, and I think that's very important. I just think that this bill would give the inspector more power. Hopefully, he'll be able to keep our children safe at these amusement parks, and lots of common sense to make sure that when these children and adults use these rides that they're safe at all times.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to rise in support of the bill and congratulate the member for Cape Breton Nova for bringing it in. I think it's an excellent bill. Sometimes some of this legislation is necessary, and it's not brought here, more by omission than by design sometimes, then we find certain incidents take place that give rise to us considering bills of this type. I would also like to congratulate the government and the Government House Leader, in particular, for calling the bill, and to inform the House that our Party will be supporting this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova it will be to close the debate.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I now move second reading of Bill No. 132.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 132. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 5436]

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, this concludes the business of the House for today. At this time I would like to recognize the NDP House Leader to set the time and the business for tomorrow, and to adjourn the House for this evening.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the hours tomorrow will be from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. We will be calling, after orders of the day and the daily routine, Bill No. 124 and Resolution No. 2542. I have already presented copies to the House Leaders of the other two Parties. I move adjournment of the House for this evening, and to reopen tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned.

[The House rose at 7:42 p.m.]

[Page 5437]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2758

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Awards; and

Whereas Sunflower Natural Foods of Antigonish received the award for Business of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Sunflower Natural Foods and all recipients of these awards.

RESOLUTION NO. 2759

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community; and

Whereas Sergeant Max Hartley was recognized for being the first police sergeant in Halifax Regional Municipality of African descent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Sergeant Max Hartley and honour his service to his community.

[Page 5438]

RESOLUTION NO. 2760

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977 the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Winnel Jackson's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Winnel Jackson and honour his service to his community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2761

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lions Clubs of Nova Scotia hold an annual Drug Awareness Poster Contest for Grades 4, 5 and 6 to help elementary school children increase their knowledge of the dangers of drugs; and

Whereas each school sends their best three posters to compete at the provincial convention; and

Whereas Chelsea Owen of Chezzetcook won third place in the provincial contest;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Chelsea Owen and commend the Lions Club for their drug awareness programs in Nova Scotia.

[Page 5439]

RESOLUTION NO. 2762

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977 the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Marshall Williams' name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Marshall Williams and honour his service to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2763

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977 the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Milton Williams' name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Milton Williams and honour his service to our community.

[Page 5440]

RESOLUTION NO. 2764

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977 the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Cedric Upshaw's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Cedric Upshaw and honour his service to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2765

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977 the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Jason Reid's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Jason Reid and honour his service to our community.

[Page 5441]

RESOLUTION NO. 2766

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977 the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Lawrence Tench's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Lawrence Tench and honour his service to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2767

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977 the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Craig Upshaw's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Craig Upshaw and honour his service to our community.

[Page 5442]

RESOLUTION NO. 2768

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977 the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Paul Crawley's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Paul Crawley and honour his service to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2769

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community; and

Whereas Constable Winston Jackson was recognized for being the first police officer from North Preston of African descent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Winston Jackson and honour his service to his community.

[Page 5443]

RESOLUTION NO. 2770

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community; and

Whereas Constable Layton Johnson was recognized for being the first Halifax City Police officer of African descent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Layton Johnson and honour his service to his community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2771

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community; and

Whereas Constable Sinclair Williams was recognized for being the first Dartmouth Police officer of African descent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Sinclair Williams and honour his service to his community.

[Page 5444]

RESOLUTION NO. 2772

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Dennis Kelsey's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Dennis Kelsey and honour his service to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2773

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977 the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Desmond Lambert's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Desmond Lambert and honour his service to our community.

[Page 5445]

RESOLUTION NO. 2774

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Jules Edy Laraque's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Jules Edy Laraque and honour his service to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2775

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Sergeant Don MacLean's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Sergeant Don MacLean and honour his service to our community.

[Page 5446]

RESOLUTION NO. 2776

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Donna Lee Paris name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Donna Lee Paris and honour her service to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2777

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Jason Shannon's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Jason Shannon and honour his service to our community.

[Page 5447]

RESOLUTION NO. 2778

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Dean Simmond's name has been added to the wall.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Dean Simmonds and honour his service to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2779

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Andre Thompson's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Andre Thompson and honour his service to our community.

[Page 5448]

RESOLUTION NO. 2780

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas since 1977, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has served as an educational centre and museum for Nova Scotians, recognizing the achievements of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas on March 20, 2004, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia honoured Halifax Regional Police officers of African heritage; and

Whereas a Halifax Regional Police Wall of Recognition was created to acknowledge their contribution to our community, Constable Brian Johnston's name has been added to the wall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Brian Johnston and honour his service to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2781

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Awards; and

Whereas High Tide Eco. Management Limited of Lantz received the award for Hauler of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate High Tide Eco. Management Limited and all recipients of these awards.

[Page 5449]

RESOLUTION NO. 2782

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the Resource Recovery Fund Board handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Award for the Best Community-Based Project to the Connector Clean Up Project between North and East Preston; and

Whereas Clean Nova Scotia, the communities of North and East Preston, Halifax Regional Municipality, and the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works, all combined under the direction of Ms. Tina Cane;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ms. Tina Cane and all the individuals who have worked so hard to truly make a difference in our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2783

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Awards; and

Whereas Cheapy Tire, King Marketing Limited of Dartmouth received the award for Tire Retailer of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Cheapy Tire, King Marketing Limited and all recipients of these awards.

[Page 5450]

RESOLUTION NO. 2784

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Awards; and

Whereas Glace Bay Recycling Limited of Glace Bay received the award for ENVIRO-DEPOT TM of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Glace Bay Recycling Limited and all recipients of these awards.

RESOLUTION NO. 2785

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Awards; and

Whereas Region Six Solid Waste Management received the award for Region of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Region Six Solid Waste Management and all recipients of these awards.

[Page 5451]

RESOLUTION NO. 2786

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Awards; and

Whereas Grace Proszynska of Valley Waste received the award for Individual Excellence in Waste Reduction;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Grace Proszynska and all recipients of these awards.

RESOLUTION NO. 2787

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Awards; and

Whereas the Eco-Efficiency Centre of Dartmouth received the award for Waste Reduction Education;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Eco-Efficiency Centre and all recipients of these awards.

[Page 5452]

RESOLUTION NO. 2788

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Awards; and

Whereas Touch on Wood of Sydney received the award for Innovation in Waste Reduction;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Touch on Wood and all recipients of these awards.

RESOLUTION NO. 2789

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Awards; and

Whereas ChemEx Dalhousie University of Halifax received the award for Industry Steward of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate ChemEx Dalhousie University and all recipients of these awards.

[Page 5453]

RESOLUTION NO. 2790

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry as well as residents through numerous stewardship programs and promotions; and

Whereas on April 27, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environmental Awards; and

Whereas Acadia University of Wolfville received the award for Institution of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Acadia University and all recipients of these awards.

RESOLUTION NO. 2791

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lions Club of Nova Scotia holds an annual drug awareness poster contest for Grades 4, 5 and 6 to help elementary school children increase their knowledge of the dangers of drugs; and

Whereas each school sends their best three posters to compete at the provincial convention; and

Whereas Adnea Brown of Preston won first place in the provincial contest;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Adnea Brown and commend the Lions Club for their drug awareness programs in Nova Scotia.