The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04/05-78

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, MAY 3, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Mr. Gerald Sampson 6860
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Mr. W. Estabrooks 6860
Educ.: Post-Secondary Funding - Restore, Mr. D. Dexter 6860
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Mr. H. Theriault 6860
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3594, Asian Heritage Mo. (05/05) - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 6861
Vote - Affirmative 6861
Res. 3595, C.B. Golf Destination: New England Publication -
Endorsation, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 6861
Vote - Affirmative 6862
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 183, Wildlife Act, Mr. Gerald Sampson 6862
No. 184, Provincial Finance Act, Mr. K. Deveaux 6862
No. 185, Student Fitness Act, Mr. W. Gaudet 6862
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3596, VE Day Commemoration - Fed. Opposition Leader: Respect
- Show, Mr. D. Dexter 6863
Res. 3597, C.B. Hall of Fame: Inductees - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 6863
Vote - Affirmative 6864
Res. 3598, Van den Hoek Fam.: Veterans Honour - Thank,
Mr. W. Langille 6864
Vote - Affirmative 6865
Res. 3599, Kent, Ian - Mexican Paralympic Medals, Mr. K. Deveaux 6865
Vote - Affirmative 6866
Res. 3600, Forests (N.S.): Importance - Recognize, Mr. L. Glavine 6866
Vote - Affirmative 6866
Res. 3601, Stirling, Tony - Kiwi Market: Success - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 6867
Vote - Affirmative 6867
Res. 3602, White, Melvin (Meb): Retirement - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 6867
Vote - Affirmative 6868
Res. 3603, Bilodeau, Julien - Auto Design: Achievement - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 6868
Vote - Affirmative 6869
Res. 3604, Lighthouse Publishing Ltd.: Lun. Co. Bursaries - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 6869
Vote - Affirmative 6870
Res. 3605, Walk to Sch. Wk. (2004): Participants - Congrats.,
Ms. J. Massey 6870
Vote - Affirmative 6871
Res. 3606, EMO: Emergency Preparedness - Urge, Mr. H. Theriault 6871
Res. 3607, Northumberland Strait Lobster Season: Participants
- Commend, Mr. J. DeWolfe 6871
Vote - Affirmative 6872
Res. 3608, Family SOS/Coldwell Bankers: Day Out Proj. - Congrats.,
Ms. M. Raymond 6872
Vote - Affirmative 6873
Res. 3609, Gov't. (N.S.) - Roads: Bicyclists - Safety Ensure,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 6873
Res. 3610, Brookfield FD - Anniv. (60th), Mr. B. Taylor 6874
Vote - Affirmative 6874
Res. 3611, Health - Lib. Health Critic/Glace Bay MLA:
Contradictory Statements - Resolve, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6875
Res. 3612, Compost Awareness Wk. - Waste Diversion: Plan - Support,
Mr. L. Glavine 6876
Vote - Affirmative 6877
Res. 3613, Milford Haven Home - Fundraising: Donors - Thank,
Mr. R. Chisholm 6877
Vote - Affirmative 6878
Res. 3614, Gould, Heidi: AIDS Advocacy - Thank, Mr. Parker 6878
Vote - Affirmative 6878
Res. 3615, Health - Mental Health Professionals: Tribute - Pay,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 6878
Vote - Affirmative 6879
Res. 3616, Tobin, Ethel - RBC Local Leaders Award, Hon. A. MacIsaac 6879
Vote - Affirmative 6880
Res. 3617, Community Links: AGM (13th) - Congrats., Ms. M. More 6880
Vote - Affirmative 6881
Res. 3618, Special Needs Allowance: Telephone - Addition,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 6881
Res. 3619, Sackville Heights JHS: Boys Hockey Team - Championship,
Hon. B. Barnet 6881
Vote - Affirmative 6882
Res. 3620, George, John C. (Jack): Volunteerism (50 Yrs.) - Commend,
Mr. J. Pye 6882
Vote - Affirmative 6883
Res. 3621, Queens Gen. Hosp. - Renovations: Hosp./Fdn. - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Morash 6883
Vote - Affirmative 6884
Res. 3622, Higgins, Brian: Commun. Serv. - Recognize,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6884
Vote - Affirmative 6884
Res. 3623, Gov't. (Can.) - CPP: Changes - Request, Mr. R. MacKinnon 6885
Vote - Affirmative 6885
Res. 3624, St. John Ambulance (C.B. 390 Div.): Vols., - Recognize,
Mr. G. Gosse 6885
Vote - Affirmative 6886
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 786, Health - Biomedical Waste Treatment Plant: Min. Constituency
- Desirability, Mr. J. MacDonell 6887
No. 787, Environ. & Lbr. - Biomedical Waste Landfill:
Pockwock Watershed - Testing, Mr. L. Glavine 6888
No. 788, Prem. - Accountability: Refusal - Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 6889
No. 789, Gaming: VLTs - Ban, Mr. D. Graham 6890
No. 790, Hum. Res. - Dep. Min.: Bonus - Evaluation, Mr. D. Dexter 6891
No. 791, Hum. Res. - Dep. Min.: Bonus Info - Accuracy,
Mr. D. Dexter 6893
No. 792, WCB - Board Members: Snowbirds Exclude, Mr. K. Colwell 6894
No. 793, TPB - EAs: Bonuses - Approval, Mr. K. Deveaux 6895
No. 794, TCH - Dep. Min.: Bonus Info - Secrecy Explain,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6896
No. 795, TPW: Apple Blossom Sch. - Signage, Mr. L. Glavine 6898
No. 796, NSBI: Bonuses: Min. Awareness - Lack Explain,
Mr. H. Epstein 6899
No. 797, Energy - Offshore Ind.: Promotion - Failure,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 6900
No. 798, Com. Serv. - Prog. Cuts/Bonuses: Decision - Explain,
Ms. M. More 6901
No. 799, Educ. - Preston: Class Action Agreement (1975) - Table,
Mr. K. Colwell 6903
No. 800, NSLC: Executive Bonus - Percentage, Mr. G. Gosse 6904
No. 801, TCH - Magazine Article: Negativity - Reverse,
Mr. S. McNeil 6905
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. G. Steele 6907
Hon. D. Morse 6911
Mr. Gerald Sampson 6915
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:38 p.m. 6919
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 p.m. 6919
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Agric. & Fish.: Agric. Dev. - Pursue:
Mr. L. Glavine 6919
Mr. M. Parent 6921
Mr. J. MacDonell 6924
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:29 p.m. 6927
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:09 p.m. 6927
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 177, Financial Measures (2005) Act 6927
Mr. W. Gaudet 6927
Mr. F. Corbett 6932
Adjourned debate 6938
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., May 4th at 2:00 p.m. 6938
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3625, Emerg. Response Charity Hockey Tournament: Participants
- Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 6939
Res. 3626, Lowther, Mabel - Oxford Centennial Nominee of the Yr.,
The Speaker 6939
Res. 3627, Mattinson, Amanda: ORHS Winter Carnival - Sr. Princess,
The Speaker 6940
Res. 3628, Mitchell, Pte. Michael - Marksmanship Award,
The Speaker 6940
Res. 3629, McClelland, Christie - Toyota Earth Day Scholarship,
The Speaker 6941
Res. 3630, McCullouch, Alex - Oxford Youth Soccer Award,
The Speaker 6941

[Page 6859]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Ms. Joan Massey, Mr. Daniel Graham

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park:

Therefore be it resolved that this government actively promote and pursue agriculture development in Nova Scotia.

It 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 Victoria-The Lakes.

6859

[Page 6860]

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by Nova Scotians concerned about the high and ever-rising cost of post-secondary tuition. I have affixed my signature thereto.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition encouraging this government to reduce tuition fees, signed by 118 young men and women from throughout our province. I am proud to say that I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause of which reads:

"Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia to:

� Make a considerable re-investment in core funding to Nova Scotia's post-secondary institutions"

There are 120 signatures, and I have affixed my signature as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by Nova Scotians concerned about the high and ever-rising cost of post-secondary tuition. I have affixed my signature thereto.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

[Page 6861]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 3594

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

Whereas since 1993, Canadians have celebrated May as Asian Heritage Month; and

Whereas celebrations in communities across Canada will help to highlight the importance of our Asian heritage to this country; and

Whereas by designating this month, we are given a chance to look more deeply at the contributions of our citizens of Asian descent here and across Canada who have helped to shape our country into a rich cultural mosaic;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize May as Asian Heritage Month, and encourage Nova Scotians, and indeed all Canadians, to learn more about this important culture in order to promote a better understanding and appreciation of the Asian Canadian community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3595

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

[Page 6862]

Whereas Cape Breton has rapidly become known as a golfing paradise; and

Whereas no better example of this was the strong endorsement from a New England golf publication earlier this Spring as readers named Cape Breton one of their six favourite international golf destinations; and

Whereas the publication described Cape Breton as becoming one of the world's great golf destinations;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend congratulations to Ted Stonehouse, Chairman of Cape Breton's Fabulous Foursome golf courses for his exemplary work, while recognizing Bell Bay Golf Club in Baddeck, the site of this year's Canadian Amateur Men's Golf Championship, scheduled for August.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 183 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 504 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The Wildlife Act. (Mr. Gerald Sampson)

Bill No. 184 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 365 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The Provincial Finance Act. (Mr. Kevin Deveaux)

Bill No. 185 - Entitled an Act to Promote Physical Education and Fitness in Schools. (Mr. Wayne Gaudet)

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

[Page 6863]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 3596

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

Whereas today and all this week, the people of the Netherlands and all the residents of Europe are marking the 60th Anniversary of Victory in Europe, VE Day; and

Whereas the Canadian liberation of the Netherlands makes the commemorations in that country particularly important for our veterans, and for Canadians of Dutch ancestry; and

Whereas the federal Conservatives are so anxious to defeat the government that they have refused pairing or scheduling of votes that would permit MPs of all Parties to join veterans and their families in Europe this week;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the federal Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues to show respect for the veterans and for the sacrifices of all those who took part in World War II by ensuring that the parliamentary participation in VE Day commemorations does not affect votes this week in the House of Commons.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3597

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

[Page 6864]

Whereas the Cape Breton Hall of Fame will be inducting new members at a Gala Sports Awards Dinner on May 28, 2005; and

Whereas track and field athlete Roy Appleton, boxer Ed MacKillop, golfer David McDonald, the 1971-72 Glace Bay-Sydney Metro Bees, the 1977 Donald "Diz" MacNeil curling rink and builder Bill Sidney will be inducted; and

Whereas all of these inductees have helped build the history of sport in Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate all the inductees in this election to the Cape Breton Hall of Fame and thank them for sharing their talents and achievements as sports icons in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3598

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

Whereas That Dutchman's Farm in Lower Economy will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Netherlands liberation on May 5th; and

Whereas the van den Hoek family are the owners of That Dutchman's Farm cheesemaking facility and restaurant where they've been holding celebrations for the past decade for veterans and their families; and

[Page 6865]

Whereas a light lunch will be served and the Truro Royal Canadian Legion choir will perform;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the van den Hoek family and friends for recognizing such an important day and involving the community in this fantastic celebration.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3599

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

Whereas Ian Kent has had a distinguished career as a businessman, athlete and coach, including his work as coach of the Dalhousie University Men's Soccer Team; and

Whereas Mr. Kent, a resident of Eastern Passage, recently competed in the Mexican Paralympic Open Table Tennis Championship in Toluca, Mexico, in both singles and doubles play; and

Whereas Ian Kent won the gold medal at the Mexican Open Championship in the singles competition and a silver in the doubles competition;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ian Kent on the medals he won at the Mexican Paralympic Open Table Tennis Championship and wish him further success in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 6866]

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. 3600

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

Whereas May 1st to May 7th is National Forest Week and this year's theme focuses on the boreal forest; and

Whereas the boreal forest is important to Canada's economy as a source for forest products and fulfills important environmental functions; and

Whereas these forests act as a filter for much of our water, a habitat for wildlife and plants, and a major buffer against the effects of greenhouse gases through its role in the carbon cycle;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the importance of Nova Scotia's forests and the role they play in our environment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 6867]

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3601

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

Whereas Tony Stirling of Mac Berry Farms in Centreville can boast to be the only producer of Arctic kiwis in the Atlantic region; and

Whereas Tony Stirling sells this exotic fruit directly to the Sobeys grocery chain; and

Whereas Tony Stirling says growing kiwi has been an intriguing and rewarding challenge that has helped add diversity to his farm;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Tony Stirling on his ingenuity and success in the kiwi market and commend him on his courage and foresight to work on diversifying his farm business.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[12:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3602

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

Whereas a commitment to a single employer provides for a continuity of experience over the course of years; and

[Page 6868]

Whereas this experience, if tapped, can greatly assist successive managers as they find their feet in their new positions; and

Whereas Mr. Melvin (Meb) White recently retired from the Department of Transportation and Public Works, Noel depot, after 23 years and 11 months;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Meb White on his many years of contributing to the maintenance of the roads in his district and wish him the best for his retirement years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 3603

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

Attendue que Julien Bilodeau de la Baie Sainte Marie de la municipalité de Clare a été reconue par Motortrend International Design 2004 pour son talents dans la désin industrielle de l'automobile; et

Attendue que Julien Bilodeau a égalements recue des honneurs du Michelin Challenge Design, 2005; et

Attendue que les talents de Julien Bilodeau son promoteurs pour une belle avenir dans le secteur du désin de l'automobile;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée exprimes ses félicitations et transmets ses meilleurs veut.

[Page 6869]

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

Whereas Julien Bilodeau of la Baie Sainte Marie in the Municipality of Clare has been recognized by the Motor Trend International Design 2004; and

Whereas Julien Bilodeau has also been recognized by the Michelin Challenge Design 2005; and

Whereas Julien Bilodeau has high skills in the field of auto design and is a promising star in his field;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Julien Bilodeau on his outstanding achievement and wish him continued 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 Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3604

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

Whereas graduation time is drawing near and many students will be looking forward to their post-secondary studies; and

Whereas Lighthouse Publishing will be rewarding Lunenburg County graduates by providing five $1,000 bursaries to qualifying students; and

Whereas one bursary will be provided to a student graduating from Park View Education Centre, Bridgewater Junior/Senior High, Forest Heights Community School and New Germany High School;

[Page 6870]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Lighthouse Publishing for helping to further the educational opportunities of Lunenburg County students.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3605

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

Whereas 100 schools across Nova Scotia participated in International Walk to School Week from October 4th to October 8th last Fall; and

Whereas it is estimated 25,500 students walked or wheeled to school along with their parents, school staff and community members; and

Whereas the act of walking or cycling is both good for the person and the environment by reducing gas emissions from cars;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all those who participated in Walk to School Week in the Fall of 2004 and thank them for doing their part to help our environment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

[Page 6871]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3606

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

Whereas this week is Emergency Preparedness Week; and

Whereas since Hurricane Juan and White Juan, Nova Scotians are more aware of the need for emergency preparedness; and

Whereas our Party is proposing an emergency alert system called Reverse 911, which would offer Nova Scotians another backup communication service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge Nova Scotians to become better prepared for emergencies and that government seriously consider the implementation of a Reverse 911 emergency alert system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3607

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

[Page 6872]

Whereas as I sport my famous lobster tie while recognizing Northumberland lobster is the best anyone can eat, the Northumberland Strait lobster season in District 20-A opened yesterday morning and will run through until June 30th; and

Whereas lobster is the highest exported species of seafood from Nova Scotia, but the success of the industry is not done without the hard work undertaken by the many individuals fishing lobster over the next eight weeks in the Northumerland Strait area; and

Whereas just last week Nova Scotia seafood exporters were in Brussels, Belgium at the European Seafood Exposition in an attempt to establish new markets;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend the courageous work of individuals now participating in the Northumberland Strait lobster season and wish them many successful catches.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3608

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

Whereas poverty takes a physical and emotional toll on all families involved; and

Whereas the Spryfield Family SOS has long supported families living in urban poverty in the Spryfield area; and

Whereas in recognition of Mother's Day, Family SOS and Coldwell Bankers have joined together to offer a day out of makeover and leisure for three young mothers who wouldn't otherwise have the chance to relax in ways many other women take for granted;

[Page 6873]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Family SOS and Coldwell Bankers on their cooperation in this "Day Out" project, and wish Devona McIntyre, Patricia Cain and Sabrina Sexton a thoroughly enjoyable Mother's Day, and hope it heralds a new era in their families' lives.

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3609

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

Whereas our province's government boasts about spending money on the improvement of our roads, even though so many continue to be neglected; and

Whereas the Spring and Summer months are bringing warm weather and bicyclists will be out in full force; and

Whereas the family drive or bike ride will become an off-road experience on many of the main streets in our province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage this government to act now to ensure that families and bicyclists can enjoy the outdoors this Spring and Summer without worry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 6874]

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3610

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

Whereas the Brookfield Fire Department in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is celebrating their 60th Anniversary at a dinner this Saturday evening; and

Whereas Brookfield Fire Chief Rod Neilsen and his department provide an invaluable service to the community, while working relentlessly in raising funds for pieces of equipment desperately needed on the fire ground; and

Whereas the Brookfield Fire Department has a proud and historic link to residents in and around the Brookfield area while offering mutual aid service to other fire departments and brigades at a moment's notice;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of the Brookfield Fire Chief Rod Neilsen and all Brookfield firefighters as they celebrate their 60th Anniversary this weekend.

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.

Just before we go on to the next one, there is quite a bit of noise in the Chamber and it is really difficult to hear the resolutions and I would ask honourable members to take their conversations outside if they need to talk, please.

[Page 6875]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3611

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

Whereas on December 3, 2004, the Liberal Health Critic released a report which recommends, on Page 12, that the government set and meet wait time maximums even, "If this requires the government to send the patient out of their county, province or the country"; and

Whereas on May 2, 2005, yesterday, the MLA for Glace Bay criticized plans to make it easier for Nova Scotians to avoid a long wait by going to another county for diagnosis or treatment; and

Whereas the Liberal recommendations for out-of-province treatment is the most expensive option, yet the Liberals say health care is too expensive;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Leader should ask the Liberal Health Critic (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor. No, don't start over. (Laughter)

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on the Therefore be it resolved, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would be more than happy to start over.

MR. SPEAKER: No, that's fine. Therefore be it resolved.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Leader should ask the Liberal Health Critic and the MLA for Glace Bay to meet and resolve these contradictory statements on wait times and perhaps even speak with one voice on important health issues.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 6876]

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to introduce to the House today a group of Grade 12 students, and those students are important if you know what I mean, from Eastern Shore District High who are with us today, touring the House, and also visiting a number of sites in Halifax. With the students is Mr. Dennis LeBlanc who is no stranger to this House and his lovely daughter, Amanda. So we're very pleased, students and Mr. LeBlanc, to have you with us here today and later on I'm going to meet you before you leave and pass out some pins for you. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3612

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

Whereas adding compost to your garden improves soil structure and provides nutrients for your plants; and

Whereas composting in your backyard or through curbside organic pickup helps reduce waste; and

Whereas only two regions are presently meeting the 50 per cent goal of solid waste diversion - Halifax Regional Municipality at 59 per cent and the Annapolis Valley at 50 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support a more aggressive plan and timeline to reach the goal as we celebrate Compost Awareness Week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 6877]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3613

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

Whereas a Guysborough area committee has launched a campaign to purchase a $75,000 van to transport residents of the Milford Haven Home for Special Care; and

Whereas the campaign is off to a good start with a $20,000 contribution from the Doyle bequest, a fund left by Erinville brothers - Lou and Phonse - to benefit the elderly of the municipality; and

Whereas Councillor Blair George is urging the Guysborough Council to do its part and has started off by donating $100, stressing this van's importance to the residents freedom and mobility;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the Guysborough area committee and the council for their fundraising efforts and also for their commitment to the many residents with special needs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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 6878]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3614

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

Whereas Heidi Gould of Sylvester, Pictou County, a recent graduate of the nursing program at Saint Francis Xavier University, recently returned from a six month community development initiative in Botswana, Africa; and

Whereas while there Ms. Gould worked in a sexual and reproductive health clinic for youth in a small village called Kanye and was sponsored through the Coady International Institute's Youth in Partnership Project; and

Whereas her daily work brought her face to face with the HIV/AIDS pandemic in a country with an infection rate of 37 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Nova Scotia Legislature thank Heidi Gould for her work and advocacy on the war on AIDS and wish her continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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. 3615

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:

[Page 6879]

Whereas throughout our country May 2nd to May 8th has been designated as Mental Health Week; and

Whereas one in five Canadian adults will experience a mental disorder in their lives; and

Whereas almost 1.5 million children and youth in our country will suffer a psychiatric disorder with less than 20 per cent receiving therapeutic intervention;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature pay tribute to the professionals, both in our communities and in hospitals, who provide invaluable care and support to those with mental health disorders.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3616

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

Whereas RBC Insurance, Hockey Canada and the Hockey Hall of Fame recognized outstanding community leaders across the country who dedicate their time to supporting grassroots hockey as part of their RBC Local Leaders Program; and

Whereas Ethel Tobin of Antigonish has been a volunteer with the Antigonish Junior Bulldog Association since 1968, assisting the club in whatever capacity necessary in her support of grassroots hockey in the community; and

Whereas Ms. Tobin's commitment and dedication was recognized when she was chosen as Nova Scotia's recipient of the Local Leaders Award;

[Page 6880]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ethel Tobin on her RBC Local Leaders Award.

[12:30 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 Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3617

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

Whereas Community Links supports member organizations that promote healthy communities and improve the quality of life for seniors in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Community Links includes 175 community, regional and provincial organizations across the province; and

Whereas Community Links is the proud co-sponsor of the Nova Scotia Network of Canada Volunteerism Initiative;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Board of Directors, staff and member organizations of Community Links as they hold the 13th AGM May 13 to May 14, 2005 and wish them continued success supporting volunteer actions and community development in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 6881]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3618

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

Whereas research and our own experience make us realize that a telephone is a basic necessity for any individual participating in today's society; and

Whereas it is extremely hard and perhaps impossible to secure employment if one does not have a telephone to contact potential employers; and

Whereas Nova Scotians receiving Employment Support Income Assistance need a telephone to set up interviews, remain in contact and even participate in telephone interviews;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the addition of a telephone to the special needs allowance for people seeking employment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 3619

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

[Page 6882]

Whereas the Sackville Heights Junior High Boys Hockey Team captured the Capital Region Junior High Boys Championship; and

Whereas coaches Wayne Wigginton and Michael Yeadon worked and continue to work with this team to improve their hockey skills and teach them how to be team players; and

Whereas this is a team of bright young men with bright futures ahead;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending along congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High School Boys Hockey Team and their coaching staff.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3620

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

Whereas volunteerism is a mainstay of many community organizations which play an integral role in the delivery of much needed programs and services to our citizens; and

Whereas John C. (Jack) George has dedicated more than 50 years of volunteer services in the Dartmouth North community; and

Whereas Jack's years of volunteer involvement included organizations like the North Dartmouth Recreation Council, the Farrell Benevolent Society, the Canadian Red Cross, Mini Mobile Blood Donor Clinic and the Independent Order of Foresters, Court of the Lakes Chapter;

[Page 6883]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature commend Mr. John C. (Jack) George for his half-century commitment to volunteerism in the community of Dartmouth North.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3621

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

Whereas renovations were completed over the past few months at the Queens General Hospital; and

Whereas the renovations included the creation of a new and separate triage area and improvements to the nurses' station; and

Whereas this work could never have been undertaken without the tremendous support of the Queens General Hospital Foundation and Chairman Yorke Tutty;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs congratulate the staff of Queens General Hospital and the Queens General Hospital Foundation for their perseverance in making needed changes a reality to better serve residents of Queen's County at a time when they require medical attention.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 6884]

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. 3622

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

Whereas recreation must remain a priority for the health and well-being of all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas volunteers are vital in our continuing commitment to recreation; and

Whereas Timberlea resident, Brian Higgins, has provided leadership for the youth basketball in the Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea communities for the past 15 years;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize Brian Higgins for his exemplary dedication with thanks for his many years of valuable service to the communities of Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 6885]

RESOLUTION NO. 3623

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

Whereas the contributory Canada Pension Plan was established in 1966 for the benefit of workers and their families; and

Whereas presently there are more than 10,000 Nova Scotians who have been working for 40 years or more and have paid into the Canada Pension Plan since its inception; and

Whereas many of these workers are completely exhausted and require social justice other than being put through a lengthy disability appeal process;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly request the federal government to make changes to the Canada Pension Plan so as to provide those workers who have 40 years of workplace service or more, the option to receive a Canada Pension Plan benefit regardless of age.

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. 3624

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

Whereas the Order of St. John has a long history of providing humanitarian aid throughout the world; and

[Page 6886]

Whereas three members of the 390 Division of the Cape Breton St. John Ambulance Brigade were honoured for their combined 40 years of service with the St. John Ambulance Brigade, providing emergency first aid at numerous events throughout Cape Breton; and

Whereas Gardiner Young and Stewart Leforte were both invested as serving members of the Order of St. John by the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Patricia Hornsby was promoted from the rank of serving member to the rank of Officer of the Order of St. John;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the Legislative Assembly recognize the invaluable efforts of all volunteer members of the St. John Ambulance, in particular the dedication and commitment of the Cape Breton 390 Combined Division.

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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'll ask for a recess for approximately 10 or 12 minutes.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The House will recess until 12:50 p.m.

[12:39 p.m. The House recessed.]

[Page 6887]

[12:52 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The Oral Question Period will begin at 12:53 p.m. and end at 1:53 p.m.

The honourable member for Hants East.

HEALTH - BIOMEDICAL WASTE TREATMENT PLANT: MIN. CONSTITUENCY - DESIRABILITY

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, last night over 300 people attended a public meeting on the planned biomedical waste treatment plant in Mount Uniacke. Residents are concerned about the health hazards posed by transporting and treating biomedical waste in their community, as well as contamination of soil and air and the implications of infectious material being transported through their community each and every day. My question for the Minister of Health is, would the minister be interested in having the facility in his constituency?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have a hospital in my constituency, and hospitals produce medical waste, so we would have to be responsible and consider whether the facility would be safe. That is what's taking place now. There is an environmental review, and that environmental review will address many of the questions that have been raised. If the environmental review gave the okay, I would certainly support its location in Antigonish or in any other part of the province.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the minister that we don't have a hospital and I'll trade you. The Minister of Health is quoted as saying final approval will only come if the company meets environmental requirements. Well, that's cold comfort to the residents in Mount Uniacke. This is the same department that allowed the Digby Neck quarry to proceed against the wishes of the community. So my question for the Minister of Environment and Labour is when will his department actually put teeth in its legislation to offer protection to communities like Mount Uniacke?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we certainly have a regulatory regime that looks after the environment currently. It's comparable to other areas in Canada, and we're pleased with its direction.

[Page 6888]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, well, I'm not sure if being pleased with the direction of going in a circle would make anybody happy. Let's not forget that this very same Department of Environment and Labour also allowed human waste to be spread on farmland until public pressure finally convinced the minister to take action, only after the waste had already been spread. So my final question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, when will he finally admit that environmental requirements are more of an anthill than a hurdle?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I'm not quite sure how to answer the question, however we do have a regulatory regime in place. We certainly are constantly upgrading and redoing regulations. With regard to the spreading of biosolids, we have new and updated guidelines that allow for the safe spreading of that material.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - BIOMEDICAL WASTE LANDFILL: POCKWOCK WATERSHED - TESTING

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. The residents of Mount Uniacke are upset at the department's decision to award a five-year conditional contract to Medic Delivery to dispose of 2.3 million kilograms of biomedical waste each year. They are concerned that your department chose to have the materials shredded and sterilized and placed in a landfill site close to their homes and the Pockwock Watershed. My question to the minister is, what tests have been done to ensure the safety of these residents surrounding the Pockwock Watershed?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, at this point in time we're in the initial stages of this and there has been no request that has come to the department and there hasn't been a review done at this point in time.

MR. GLAVINE: Well, this company and their methods have yet to even pass that environmental assessment by your department. When is the full environmental assessment, to protect the residents of Mount Uniacke and the Pockwock Watershed, set to begin?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, the environmental assessment would be set to begin when the proponent put something in to the department and at this point in time that hasn't occurred.

MR. GLAVINE: The residents are clearly opposed to this landfill. They have valid concerns which must be addressed immediately and to ensure their safety and the safety of nearby Sackville River and Pockwock Watershed. My final question to the minister is, will the minister give his personal guarantee that the process is safe and these residents will not be knocking on the department's door in a few years with problems of water contamination?

[Page 6889]

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, if a request for an environmental assessment comes in we certainly will investigate and review and if an approval is given, it would be given because we have deemed it to be safe to the community and to the province.

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

PREM. - ACCOUNTABILITY: REFUSAL - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: My question is through you to the Premier. Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians expect their government to live up to certain standards. They expect the government will be accountable for its actions, and it will openly account for the taxpayers dollars it spends. What they don't expect is to have to ferret out information about how the government spends their money. Unfortunately, that is exactly what's happening as the government continues to force us to use the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act when it comes to bonuses.

Through that Act, our office has established that there were well over $1.1 million in bonuses paid out to staff of government departments and agencies last year. My question for the Premier is this, why do you continue to refuse calls to be open and accountable with Nova Scotians' tax money?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The government is committed to rewarding those public servants who have performed in an exemplary way for the people of the province. We make the amounts of those performance bonuses known, they're all published.

MR. DEXTER: The Premier is seriously misinformed again, Mr. Speaker. His responses in this regard are ill-advised and weak. He knows that he is standing to defend the indefensible. There are $526, 000 in bonuses to middle managers across Civil Service, $96,000 in bonuses to Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation executives, $136,000 in bonuses to NSBI Staff, $80,000 to managers at the Trade Centre, and all of this was revealed, Mr. Speaker, only through freedom of information. Why does your government force Nova Scotians to go to the Freedom of Information to find out how you're spending their money?

[1:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm collecting my thoughts here, but it's my recollection that the senior officials who have received pay for performance, that is available on a Web site.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Premier could tell us the last time a nurse in this province received a 25 per cent bonus? Last Friday we learned that deputy ministers got $239,541.34 in bonuses last year, while ministers' political assistants received

[Page 6890]

over $37,000 in bonuses. The only reason this information was disclosed was because of last year's public outcry. My question to the Premier is, when will your government mandate that all bonuses across every government department and agency and board will be routinely disclosed and published?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has very detailed information about a subject which he accuses the government of keeping under wraps - I presume that he went to the government Web site and got those exact numbers that he just related to members of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

GAMING: VLTs - BAN

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Since the launch of the grassroots citizens group GAME OVER VLTS.COM! on April 12th, more and more Nova Scotia families are showing courage and coming forward with stories on the Web site telling how these machines have damaged their lives. These people are coming forward to say your plan for VLTs doesn't work, it won't help them. Their frustration with this government's half-baked, half-measured plan is outweighing the stigma of addiction, so anger is replacing embarrassment. My question for the Premier is, how many more courageous people have to come forward and tell their stories on GAME OVER VLTS.COM! before you do the right thing and ban these machines?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can inform the member for Halifax Citadel that we have a gaming strategy that is going to, in a very positive way, impact the issues that he, on a regular occasion, brings to the attention of the House.

One of the interesting things, Mr. Speaker, is what the member opposite would have you believe is that by the government banning the machines that the machines simply won't reoccur. Nothing is farther from the truth. For example, if we did that, we wouldn't have something that was reported - and I have here the 2003-04 Report of the Gaming Foundation - on Page 18 and Page 19 is a list of the organizations that have been supported by funds that are transferred to that foundation as a result of the government regulating gambling. If we didn't do that, these funds would not be available for these organizations.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, that's an outrageous response in these circumstances because what the Premier is saying is that we're going to treat the symptoms instead of dealing with the cause. Laura Greener is one of the Nova Scotians who believes that the Premier's plan doesn't work. Hers is one of the new stories that went on GAME OVER VLTS.COM! Laura is sitting in the Speaker's Gallery today. Laura Greener has lost her marriage, she lost her job, she's lost her home, and she has almost lost her dignity because of her addiction to VLTs, but she is here today with a message and she is here today with a

[Page 6891]

question. The question is for the Premier, did you and your government really need her money?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it was because of stories like the one that the member for Halifax Citadel brings to our attention, and many others that have come to the attention of the government is what motivated government to bring in a more responsible approach to gaming in this province. But if you look at the results at those jurisdictions that have done what that member is recommending we do, you can come to the conclusion, as we have, that it simply doesn't work, what he proposes doesn't work. What we are proposing and doing is working and will work, and it will work very effectively.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I've said it over and over, about the cherry-picking of results, virtually every jurisdiction that we could reference clearly indicates that it's possible. This Premier has made no mention of locations like Hawaii, Utah. He just chooses to cherry-pick from a few police officers, but let's talk about Laura Greener. She's showing the courage in being here today, and she almost went to jail because she stole from her employer to feed those machines, to feed her addiction to VLTs and, perhaps more profoundly, to feed this government's addiction to VLTs. My final question is for the Premier, how does your plan help families, families such as the Greener family, destroyed by your government's VLT policies?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, while I don't know the Greener family personally, the details we have been provided indicate the tragedy that has occurred in that family. But, listen, because we are the regulators of gambling, the foundation has been able to finance organizations such as the Open Door Homeless Shelter Society, the addiction services of DHAs, Recovery House Society, Alcare Place, Freedom Foundation of Nova Scotia, addiction services of other DHAs, Recovery House Society, Freedom Foundation of Nova Scotia, and so on. Two pages of organizations that are funded by funds that are a direct result of our retaining control over gambling that would not be available to Nova Scotians if we gave up control. They would become funds available to a few self-made millionaires in the Province of Nova Scotia. And we won't have that in Nova Scotia.

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

HUM. RES. - DEP. MIN.: BONUS - EVALUATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question, again, is through you to the Premier. The Premier has said in the past that the government needs to pay large bonuses to keep staff from going to the private sector. In fact, in this very House last Spring he said the following, we do believe that a pay-for-performance initiative will, in the longer term, fully benefit the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, they will get full value for their money. Getting value for money is one of the things that concerns taxpayers greatly. They want to know if a person working for government gets paid a salary and a generous bonus on top of it, that they've

[Page 6892]

earned it. So my question for the Premier is this, will the Premier tell the House, has every deputy minister who received a bonus earned it through a process of job evaluation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'll refer that to the Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, what I would like to tell this House is that pay-for-performance recognizes managers and non-unionized employees' development and contribution. Nova Scotians have come to depend on our civil servants to provide services. This is why pay-for-performance was put into place, it recognizes that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier had to go to his minister because he doesn't know the answer, and here's probably why. I'm going to table, for his information, a copy of the contract with Deputy Minister of Energy Dan MacFayden. It had, written into the contract, a "12.5 per cent guaranteed pay-for-performance payment in 2002-03". This is a bonus of $9,726 for nine months' work, regardless of performance. Not bad work if you can get it. This is in addition to his salary of $117,000.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition is competing with his own members. Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DEXTER: Never competing. They're urging (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on the question, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is this, why did the Cabinet approve a contract that had guaranteed, and trapped them into a guaranteed, $10,000 bonus, regardless of the performance of the deputy minister?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Official Opposition may feel that there is value in not being able to reward people who perform in an exemplary fashion. We disagree on that. We need and deserve in this province the very best, and we will do what it takes to have the very best here in Nova Scotia.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this had absolutely nothing to do with the performance of the deputy minister. This has to do with the performance of the Cabinet. I want to suggest that they're just not being forthright with the people of this province. Either the members of Cabinet who approved this contract were sloppy, or they were willfully ignorant of its contents. Either way, it's not very flattering. So my question to the Premier is this, will he

[Page 6893]

finally admit that this system for awarding bonuses is flawed and order a moratorium on the practice across government agencies pending a review?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we do have a problem and it's not the one that the member opposite is bringing to the attention of the House. The problem we have is for us to attract the kind of leadership that we need in the Province of Nova Scotia in competition with the private sector because very often, the private sector does outbid the Province of Nova Scotia. We will do what it takes to get the kind of leadership in these positions that we need.

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

HUM. RES. - DEP. MIN.: BONUS INFO - ACCURACY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the ends do not justify the means. As we have heard in this House already today, this government believes that the information they have been forced to release on bonuses is complete. We have already determined that this is not the case and I'd like to point to another example. I'd like to table information received through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that shows that the Deputy Minister of Education received a $4,050 payment in 2002-03, in addition to his $140,000 salary. This bonus payment was made contrary to the statements made publicly by both the Premier and the supposedly complete list of deputies' bonuses released by them in July 2004, in which, Mr. Cochrane, by the way, was listed as ineligible. So, I want to ask the Premier, why did your government provide inaccurate information to Nova Scotians and members of the House about the bonuses of deputy ministers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition would conveniently have Nova Scotians perhaps forget that when these contracts are signed, they're made public. The public sees the contract.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it gets worse because what is detailed in the e-mails is a cover-up. These e-mails that I have just tabled show that there was a deliberate attempt to misinform Nova Scotians about the Education Deputy's compensation. This is what one of them reads, "I am wondering now about whether we might indeed leave off Dennis's anomalous PFP amount . . . This would then have Dennis as 'not eligible' for Senior Officials PFP . . ." The Premier's communication director responds, "This is a problem - we always maintained that Dennis was not eligible due to being a contract employee. The Premier has also indicated as such to the media." My question is, why didn't the Premier simply admit that he was wrong and disclose accurate information instead of trying to spin this for the public?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can say to the member opposite is that we make the contracts available. Nova Scotians have an opportunity to examine what it is we are doing with taxpayers' money. That's fair and just.

[Page 6894]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, staff in the Premier's office were trying to mislead the public of Nova Scotia. The arguments that the government is making in favour of their policy simply doesn't bear up to scrutiny. We have now at least two instances that we've been able to ferret out where the government provided inaccurate or incomplete information to Nova Scotians about deputy ministers' bonuses. Again to the Premier, when will your government commit to stop the spin and provide accurate routine disclosure and publication of all bonuses across government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite is suggesting that he did not see the contract of the Deputy Minister of Education or contracts of the Deputy Minister of Health then it's simply because he didn't care to look at them. Mr. Speaker, they have been made public.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

WCB - BOARD MEMBERS: SNOWBIRDS EXCLUDE

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, at least one member of the Workers' Compensation Board is a snowbird. Gary Dean is retired in Florida but has been reappointed to the board, although there are many qualified people who live in the province year-round. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, will the minister undertake to make sure no more snowbirds sit on the board?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, when people put their name forward to be on the Workers' Compensation Board, we certainly do a thorough investigation and we look at their credentials. We typically determine that they're a resident of Nova Scotia and, if appropriate, we appoint them.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, that answer doesn't surprise me in the least. It is also my understanding that more than one board member has literally called in his contributions to the board meetings from Florida, and has collected full per diem rates for the meeting while soaking up the sunshine - maybe on the beach. Will the minister direct the Workers' Compensation Board to end the practice of call-ins to board meetings at full pay?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, as I've said on this topic before, I certainly wouldn't want to diminish the contributions these board members can make to the board, and if they happen to take vacation from time to time, I certainly don't want to get involved in any way to inhibit that.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it looks like the minister doesn't care if people live in Florida.

[Page 6895]

It has come to our attention that the Workers' Compensation Board is planning to increase the per diem rates for the board members from $150 a day to $500 a day. This would mean snowbirds such as Gary Dean would be able to earn $500 a day for phoning in his contribution to the board meeting from Florida. Will the minister intercede and stop the Workers' Compensation Board from increasing the per diem for board members, especially for those who live outside the province?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I think, as the member opposite would appreciate, that is a decision that would be made by the board. The board is an arm's-length agency and I do not have direct control over those types of decisions.

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

TPB - EAs: BONUSES - APPROVAL

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Treasury and Policy Board. This pay-for-performance scheme the government has designed - I think we've heard from the Leader of the Opposition earlier today it clearly is not fair, it's not open and it's not accountable, and the biggest problem with the program is the way decisions are being made in secret.

I want to give an example of that. I'm going to table a document that we obtained through freedom of information. The executive assistants, political staff to the ministers, they receive bonuses, but who makes the decision on whether or not they get a bonus? The minister who employs them. That's the only person who gets to decide the level of bonus that staff person gets. No Public Service Commission, no separate individuals. So my question to the minister is, how can he claim there's an objective process for reviewing bonuses for senior staff and political staff when we know the ministers themselves are making decisions on behalf of their own staff?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, that question is quite incredible. Obviously, it is the employer who makes the decision about whether an employee is doing that. In fact, the objective decision is that of the employer - the employer of political staff is the minister. The minister makes the decision and who is more accountable than the minister himself?

MR. DEVEAUX: I am shocked that minister would stand there and claim that a minister who hires his own political staff should be able to make decisions on bonuses when we're talking about taxpayers' dollars being issued, being paid out without any objective review process, without any objective policy, without any accountability on behalf of how the minister is issuing those cheques.

[Page 6896]

Mr. Speaker, $56,000 over two years was paid to 18 political staff for the ministers and we know there are probably 24 other staff, political staff as well, but we don't know how much they received in bonuses. My question to the Minister responsible for Treasury and Policy Board, Mr. Speaker, is which political staff are eligible for bonuses, and will he table all the bonuses provided to all political staff, in the last fiscal year, today?

MR. BAKER: As the member indicated in his question, we provided the amount being paid to the executive assistants to the minister, it's on our Web site, Mr. Speaker. We're clearly not hiding it, on the contrary, we're making it available to every Nova Scotian who wishes to click a mouse on the Internet.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I've encouraged the other two political staff hired by this government to click and find out how much those 18 EAs are making in bonuses because evidently those 24 other political staff are not eligible for bonuses. Mr. Speaker, this minister knows, he's a lawyer, what conflict of interest is and I would suggest to you when a minister solely is responsible for deciding bonuses for his or her own political staff, that there's a conflict. I want to ask this minister, when will the minister admit that the pay-for-performance scheme is flawed and it must be reviewed across governments?

MR. BAKER: Again, to the member, quite clearly we are not trying to conceal what is going on, on the contrary, we've gone out of our way to publicize that for all Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, I am darn proud of our political staff, they deserve what they're paid, they work very hard for frankly a lot less than they'd get elsewhere. Mr. Speaker, the process is transparent for Nova Scotians.

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

TCH - DEP. MIN.: BONUS INFO - SECRECY EXPLAIN

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question's for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. This government believes there's nothing wrong with their system of awarding bonuses to senior staff. The Premier has made it clear that in his opinion, taxpayers will get value for the money when it comes to staff bonuses. In fact, last Spring in this House, the Premier said that the people of Nova Scotia needn't worry, everything was on the up and up.

Mr. Speaker, last Friday we saw the latest round of bonuses given out to deputy ministers or at least to most deputy ministers. It turns out that the former Deputy Minister of Tourism refused to provide her consent to release her bonus information and that glaring highlighted list is there and I will table it at this time. Can the minister explain to this House why his former deputy minister was permitted to keep this information from the public?

[Page 6897]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'd refer that to the Minister of Treasury and Policy Board.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would know, we have a duty in Nova Scotia to follow the law, including the law that protects the privacy of individuals. The law requires that individuals be notified about the disclosure of private information. Every other deputy minister gave their consent and we published it. Ms. McKenzie used her legal right to not give that consent and therefore we were not in a position to release the information.

MR. ESTABROOKS: That explanation just doesn't wash. I'll table a decision released by the Freedom of Information Review Officer, Darce Fardy last Spring. In this decision, he is unequivocal about his view that this kind of information is not protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I ask the Minister of Tourism, who is responsible for his deputy minister, will he commit to tabling the amount that his former deputy minister received as a bonus in 2003 before the end of today's business?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'd refer that to the Minister of Treasury and Policy Board.

MR. BAKER: As I indicated to the member earlier, the former deputy minister did not give her consent to the release of that private information. The private information, in the view of the government, is information which would disclose the nature of her job evaluation. That was her legal right, she chose to do that, that is the answer.

MR. ESTABROOKS: The legal beagles at work again. Mr. Speaker, it really is incredible that these two ministers are going to expect Nova Scotians to listen to this answer. A cheque for up to $13,000 could have been cut to this deputy minister last year and the public has no right to know about that? What does that say about Nova Scotians, what does that say about openness and what does that say about transparency? Will the Premier order the minister to disclose his former deputy's bonuses to Nova Scotians by the end of this business day?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister responsible for Treasury and Policy Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, earlier in Question Period the Premier indicated that one of the reasons for pay for performance was to ensure that good people stayed working for the Province of Nova Scotia. Well, obviously, Ms. McKenzie was a good person because she got hired by the Government of Canada and I suspect for far more than the Province of Nova Scotia pays.

[Page 6898]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

TPW: APPLE BLOSSOM SCH. - SIGNAGE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw attention to some special guests in the gallery this afternoon - the principal, Mr. Charles Friesen, of Apple Blossom School.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. No introductions during Question Period, please.

MR. GLAVINE: The principal of the school on the Black Rock Road in Grafton is here with some of his students. (Interruptions) These school children walk and bike to school every day and they do so on a busy road. There are no signs on that busy road warning motorists. So my question is, why does the Department of Transportation and Public Works discriminate against private schools and the children by refusing to put up proper signs?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as I have told the honourable member, certain criteria have to be in place before we put up those types of signs indicating that motorists should slow down for schools. One of those is that the speed limit should be at the maximum of 50 kilometres per hour.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, there are private schools all over Nova Scotia. The children who attend those schools should not be treated as second-class citizens by the province. It's a simple request, will the Minister of Transportation and Public Works change the regulations that are out of touch with the needs of these children?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, without having criteria in place, it would mean that a babysitting service, for instance that has three or four children that they babysit, would be eligible also for the signs if they have infants on their premises and we do not intend to do that. I have told the honourable member, I think just about three or four days ago, that we are revisiting that particular school and determining whether or not the criteria in the case of the Mennonite school can be accommodated.

MR. GLAVINE: Well, that gets me a little bit closer, but I will proceed. Almost every day we have school children visit the Legislature and the members on the other side of the House greet them warmly, but in this case the government could do a lot more. This isn't a matter of money - signs just don't cost that much. So will the Minister of Transportation and Public Works take this opportunity to prove to these school children that they do matter and work to change the policy?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I assured the honourable member, as I said I think it was approximately four days ago, it was last Wednesday I believe during Opposition Day, that we would be looking at that school again and we'll be doing that.

[Page 6899]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

NSBI: BONUSES: MIN. AWARENESS - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question will go to the Premier. Late in March our office learned that NSBI executives received over $136,000 in bonuses last year. This information came to light through the freedom of information process. When it comes to matters like this, the current government generally ensures that we in the Opposition and the public are the last to know. In this instance, however, it appears that it was the minister responsible for NSBI who was the last to know. It was, in fact, incredible that the minister said he found out about the $136,000 in bonuses, including the $35,000 paid to the CEO, by reading an NDP press release.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier just how is it possible that these bonuses were given out without the minister's knowledge or Cabinet approval?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the acting minister. (Interruption)

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Coincidence, Mr. Speaker. The answer is quite simple. The Act permits the board of directors to make that decision.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I will table for the House the criteria that are used by the NSBI board to assess the CEO's performance before deciding to give him a $35,000 bonus, that is in addition to his $148,000 salary. The decision on this bonus was made by five private sector board members of NSBI and - you know what? - some of the companies owned or controlled by those individuals were eligible for money or assistance from NSBI itself. So I would like to ask the Premier whether he believes it's reasonable that people who are in a position to receive financial assistance from NSBI are turning around and giving bonuses to the CEO?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the significant accomplishments of this government was and is the creation of NSBI to attract people who have a proven track record in business to contribute, voluntarily, significant portions of their time in the interest of the public good here in Nova Scotia. While the member opposite may question the amount that they have decided to reward the CEO, he has no right to question their integrity or their commitment to the province, which is what he is doing.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, conflict of interest is a structural question. Leaving this decision up to them, those individuals with no government oversight or approval is, we say, irresponsible.

[Page 6900]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier will he rein in NSBI and mandate that Cabinet approval of all bonuses being considered at NSBI becomes the rule?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia have an opportunity on a regular basis to judge the value of Nova Scotia Business Incorporated. Their track record has been exemplary in serving the people of this province. The people have every right to know the amounts of the bonuses and that's why these amounts are known. The public knows where the money is being spent and the public will make the judgment as to whether or not the money is being well spent.

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

ENERGY - OFFSHORE IND.: PROMOTION - FAILURE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, continuing with the Premier. Back in 1999, energy companies, including EnCana, were committed to $1 billion in exploration off our coast. That commitment is half of what it was then. The industry is rapidly going backwards, licences for exploration have been abandoned to the tune of $50 million. At that time there was only one offshore energy project and, six years later, there still is only one offshore energy project - a Liberal-initiated project, I might add. (Laughter) Well, they can laugh, but that's the truth. Sable was a project brought in by the MacLellan Government. These people have brought no projects to this province since they've assumed office.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday John Hogg of EnCana was speaking to the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, where he said the lack of drilling activity off Nova Scotia indicates government must do things differently. My question to the Premier is, could the Premier indicate to the House why he has failed to foster a thriving offshore industry?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the initiatives of the government, nicely shepherded by our Minister of Energy who is not with us today because he happens to be in Houston doing exactly what the member opposite is suggesting the government should do, promoting our industry and encouraging offshore drilling. One of the things that we have been able to achieve through the Energy Round Table and with a good working relationship with OTANS, the Offshore/Onshore Technologies Association of Nova Scotia, and the Government of Canada, is a simplification of the regulatory review process, something that will shorten the time that it takes from application to the beginning of drilling - and I believe that that is a monumental step forward, something that has been endorsed by the industry.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, six years, no initiatives, no projects, and he correctly states that the minister is in Houston. He must be getting some sun over there, because he's not doing anything else. At one time the Premier used to go. I might remind you that it was the Premier who mentioned the minister was in Houston, not me. Anyway, despite the efforts to hire more people in Energy who could actually help the

[Page 6901]

offshore, the Premier has done nothing for five years. The $830 million cheque from the Liberal project called Sable, which may come to Nova Scotia, will be the last cheque, unless exploration and development get underway. The Premier has sat on his hands for five years, in the energy sector, and has done nothing. My question is, when can we expect something more from the Premier than excuses?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite right in pointing out that there have been a number of unsuccessful wells drilled offshore in Nova Scotia. They, obviously, still have much to learn about the geology of the seismic findings in our offshore. But there is drilling planned, there will be wells drilled this year, there will be wells drilled next year. When those wells start coming in, we will have an offshore that I believe will be of tremendous benefit to the people of this province in decades to come.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the performance of this government in the energy-related activities as it affects our offshore can be summed up in one word, failure, it's failure, there are no projects, cancelled licences, we have an Energy Department that doesn't even know why they exist in this province. We have an Energy Department that's doing absolutely nothing in this province. As I said here in debate yesterday, the Minister of Energy has the best job in Nova Scotia, because he doesn't have to do anything. There's nothing going on here. We're paying an Energy Department. We have no projects, and no hope of any projects in this province. My final supplementary is, will the Premier finally take action that would see an expansion rather than a retraction of our offshore industry?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is aware, and members of the House are now aware, that the minister is in Houston promoting our industry. He is doing exactly, this week, what that member is suggesting.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind members not to bring the House's attention to the presence or absence of members of the House.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

COM. SERV. - PROG. CUTS/BONUSES: DECISION - EXPLAIN

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The plight of the homeless in Nova Scotia is well known. The struggles faced by single parents and others on income assistance have been repeatedly raised in this House, yet this government has refused to meaningfully address the issues. In fact, just last week they made cuts to the Home Repair Program, rural and Native housing, and continued the freeze on rent supplements. Instead, the department looks after its own, last year they paid out $61,750 in bonuses to middle managers, and over $13,200 to the deputy minister. Both of these totals were the highest of any department in government. I ask the minister, why does

[Page 6902]

your government cut programs for the most needy, while giving thousands in bonuses to your staff?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I hope the member opposite has a chance to go over these questions during the estimates, because these are clearly budget-type questions. I will point out that last year, with an increase of $28 million, we had the second-largest increase of any department in government, and the third-largest at $22 million, this year. We are watching out for vulnerable Nova Scotians, and this government is putting the resources in place to take care of them.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, they are lining up at the door of the MLA offices, because they're crying out with need, and this department is not meeting that need. So let me put this in context. Only this minister would see that there's nothing wrong with this striking inequity. The bonus received by the Deputy Minister of Community Services, $13,280, would pay for 14,831 cans of tuna, or as the minister recommends, 10,232 bags of pasta for children living in poverty in this province. So I ask the minister, how can you justify paying your deputy this much money, on top of her already generous salary, just for doing her job?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there's certainly a lot to choose from in terms of the member's questions, but it's rather interesting that the Official Opposition when they were running in the last election, and indeed when their Leader was contesting the leadership, did come out with a list of priorities and not one had anything to do with the people served by the Department of Community Services. So I think they should look to themselves first before they go criticizing others.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, everyone in this province recognizes that our Party supports vulnerable people. Citizens and community organizations receiving financial support from the Department of Community Services, have been begging for help in meeting increased costs. These individuals and groups make do with less, while this minister pays out more and more in bonuses to his staff. So I ask the minister, when will you start placing priority on the people who need the money most instead of giving it to those who need it the least?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, in addition to my comments that I made about the increases to the budget of the Department of Community Services, I would like to also point out that while the member opposite has been feigning concern over the increases to the basic personal allowance in the Employment Support and Income Assistance recipients, we never heard anything from that Party asking for us to increase them. In fact, not only did we increase them for the first time in years last year, but we've increased them again and as long as we remain in government, we'll continue to increase them.

[Page 6903]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

EDUC. - PRESTON: CLASS ACTION AGREEMENT (1975) - TABLE

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, on October 14, 2003, I asked the Minister of Education in this House, to table the 1975 class action suit agreement between the residents of Preston, the government and the school board. His comments were in Hansard. After almost two years, the Minister of Education has failed to fulfill his promise to table this important information regarding the education in the Black community. Would the minister commit to tabling that information again today?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, yes I will.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, actually on behalf of my community, I'm insulted by the answer. Almost two years later, in the Black community (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Preston on his first supplementary.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, almost two years later, this minister has refused to table this important report on the Black community. The other members may laugh about the Black community on the opposite side of the table here, but without a good education, residents cannot hope to compete in the job market today. The residents in my riding of Preston tell me that there are many elements of this class action suit which have never been implemented to this day, and it appears this government is not interested in even listening to this, and are laughing about it. Will the minister finally table a copy of this class action suit and commit to following through on all the recommendations in that agreement immediately?

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I understand the question from the honourable member for Preston on behalf of his constituents. My response on that particular day was that if it can be, then I would do it. I will go and have staff, right now - you're going to see somebody nodding their head pretty soon who is going and see if we can find that. I will endeavour to table it by the end of the day, if it can be.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, after the major joke was over, people laughing at the Black community, that's exactly what it was, in this House. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member, I believe, is taking out of context what's happening here in the House. From where I'm sitting, I see no one here laughing at anyone. I believe the honourable member is taking that out of context. I would ask him to put his final supplementary, please.

[Page 6904]

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I'll put it in context. The residents of the Preston area were told, before this class action suit, they were not allowed to go to school if they couldn't answer some predetermined questions put forth by the government and the school board, and that is fact. As a result of many regressive processes, many adults did not have the opportunity to receive a proper education in the Black community, and that's in my lifetime and your lifetime. It appears that this government is not interested in a proper education in the Black community. Will the minister commit, again today - I want to hear it again because it didn't happen the last time - to follow through on all the elements of the class action suit and ensure they're done for the betterment of the Black community, and ensure the people in the Black community get a proper education today, which it didn't have the opportunity for years ago?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the province is committed to implementing the BLAC report, and it will appear in estimates that it has committed considerably more resources to the implementation of the BLAC Report. Again, I really am not familiar with the class action suit of which the member speaks. I will review it and will table it for this House. I expect that many of the items in that would have been addressed 10 years ago when the BLAC Report was tabled.

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

NSLC: EXECUTIVE BONUS - PERCENTAGE

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Premier. We have a great deal in this House today about the shameful practices by some Crown agencies in awarding large bonuses to their executives without any public disclosure. One of the agencies in question is the NSLC. Last Fall we revealed that on the May 2nd and 4th weekend the executives at the NSLC were celebrating. They were happy about receiving a share of $96,000 in cheques handed out to them by the board. The Acting President, Ken Barbet got a $35,000 cheque. These bonuses were given out after, in some cases, only being on the job for six months. Will the Premier inform this House, what is the maximum percentage of salary an NSLC executive could earn in a bonus?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Acting Minister for NSLC.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the NSLC board reviews the question of bonuses for the president, in accordance with his contract. In this case that was what was done, and the board made a decision about what bonus to award to Mr. Barbet.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, six months on the job, nice bonus. It's certainly good work at the NSLC, if you can get it. When Ken Barbet was moved from acting president into the job on a permanent basis, his contract provided for a salary of $135,000. In addition to this, the bonus amount he is eligible for tops out at a stunning $40,500. My math - that

[Page 6905]

represents 30 per cent of his salary. I'll bet you many people in my riding would love to be eligible for a 30 per cent bonus. So I ask the Premier, why do you believe it's okay to give such a well-paid individual the opportunity to earn an additional $40,000 in bonuses, just to sell beer?

THE PREMIER: I'll refer that to the Acting Minister for NSLC.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member shows an appalling lack of knowledge in the history of Nova Scotia. For too many years in this province we looked at the NSLC as just people selling beer. In point of fact our government has made many reforms, including the creation of the Liquor Corporation, which has changed the NSLC from an unresponsive organization, not useful to Nova Scotians, to one that provides good returns to Nova Scotians with great service and great products that assist our tourism industry.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, it really boggles the mind listening to that minister attempt to justify this practice. We all know who the president is and we all know he got his job on his ability. (Interruptions) What Nova Scotians are looking for is transparency, which they're not getting. What most Nova Scotians are looking for is real government oversight, which we're not getting.

Mr. Speaker, through you, my question again is to the Premier. Will your government finally come to terms with the fact that Nova Scotians do not support these executive bonuses being awarded in secret?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the line of questioning is quite entertaining. The member opposite gets up and accuses the government of not being transparent and accuses the government of secrecy. He asks a question of the minister and he already had the answer because he, like any Nova Scotian, has access to the contract, and then he reads from the contract. The government will provide the information, the contracts are being made available - what could be more transparent than all of that? So there is no secret here. We are paying people to do a good job because it is worth it to the people of Nova Scotia to have a good job done.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

TCH - MAGAZINE ARTICLE: NEGATIVITY - REVERSE

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, part of the new tourism campaign for the Province of Nova Scotia asks the question, can a paved road be the path to enlightenment? Well, I would like to enlighten the minister as to the condition of our tourism infrastructure. An article that was distributed in a magazine dedicated to Harley-Davidson riders basically says stay away from Nova Scotia. So my question is, what is the minister doing to ensure that the damage done by this article is being reversed?

[Page 6906]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I happen to have a May issue of the Thunder Press and these are actually two articles in response to the article that the member is referring to speaking very highly of Nova Scotia, our scenic beauty, our people and, even in some cases, a bit of our roads, as well. I will table that.

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

The honourable member for Kings West on an introduction.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure today to introduce, for the second time, the Principal of Apple Blossom School, Mr. Chester Friesen, also with him today a teacher, Mervin Toews and also Elain Friesen and the children from the Mennonite school in Black Rock. If they could rise and receive the warm applause of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of members of the House to the west gallery where we're joined today by my constituency assistant, Bill Matheson, and also a very special out-of-province guest, Cathy Kline, who is accompanying Bill, who is a Masters of Social Work student at the Dalhousie School of Social Work. Cathy is studying here from the Province of Saskatchewan where she has worked as a social worker for more than 13 years. So I would ask Cathy and Bill to rise, and we extend a warm welcome to them. (Applause)

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

[Page 6907]

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: 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 into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it's a privilege to rise at this point to do something which is unusual in the House, that is, to have the opportunity to speak about any subject really that happens to be on our mind. What I would like to do is, I would like to use my 15 minutes to get on the record a number of issues that are important to the people who live in my constituency.

Mr. Speaker, Cowie Hill is a very fine neighbourhood of modest homes, and one of the things that adds to the beauty of Cowie Hill, apart from the glorious views out over the Northwest Arm and over to the Halifax Peninsula, is the fact that all the electrical wiring in Cowie Hill is underground, which adds a very fine aesthetic quality to that neighbourhood.

Now, this neighbourhood of modest homes - very hard-working people - is under threat from Nova Scotia Power, because the underground electrical system is due for a replacement and Nova Scotia Power has indicated that they will not replace the wires underground. The only thing Nova Scotia Power will pay for is to take the underground wiring and put it above ground. In other words, destroy the aesthetic quality of the neighbourhood, to destroy one of the features that makes Cowie Hill what it is.

Nova Scotia Power says if the residents want to continue with underground wiring, they're going to have to pay for it. The cost estimates range anywhere from $2 million to $3 million. When you divide it between all the homes in Cowie Hill - 400-some homes - it adds up to a substantial amount of money, which very few of the homeowners are going to be able to afford. Some of the residents representing all the homeowners have filed a complaint to the Utility and Review Board. Well over a year ago the Utility and Review Board scheduled a hearing in order to hear the complaints to determine who will have to pay for the replacement of the underground wiring.

I'm pleased to say the Halifax Regional Municipality has indicated their intention to get involved before the Utility and Review Board on behalf of the residents of Cowie Hill. It is time that the Province of Nova Scotia did the same thing. I hope to have the opportunity next week to address this question to the Minister of Energy during Question Period. The good residents of Cowie Hill whom I am pleased to represent, could well use the support of the province in their fight for underground wiring.

[Page 6908]

During Hurricane Juan, the power in Cowie Hill was only out for an hour or two when other parts of my constituency had the power out for three, four, five days - some for as long as two weeks.

This issue deserves to be resolved in the favour of the homeowners of Cowie Hill and it's something I'm going to be working on with this government to get them involved the way the city government has been.

I'm pleased that my constituency of Halifax Fairview includes one-third of Long Lake Provincial Park, a very beautiful wilderness park which I share with the member for Halifax Atlantic and the member for Timberlea-Prospect. It so happens the part of that park that I represent is by far the most travelled part of the park. As development has occurred along the western edge of my constituency, more and more people are living closer and closer to the park and, of course, use of the park has gone up.

That has created a problem because the park is currently without a management plan. Although it was declared as a provincial park in the mid-1980s, the park has never had a management plan. In fact, the Department of Natural Resources actually discourages use of the park because there are no trails, there is no way without a management plan to protect and promote the park adequately. It leads to the dilemma that hundreds, thousands of people use the park, but the Department of Natural Resources doesn't want them to.

This problem was only exacerbated after Hurricane Juan because as there was throughout much of the rest of Halifax Regional Municipality, many trees came down in the park. Ever since then, the park has been officially closed. Hurricane Juan was in the Fall of 2003 and the park has been officially closed since then. But, hundreds - if not thousands - of people continue to use the park and it is not at all clear what the Department of Natural Resources' attitude towards this use is.

For heaven's sake, it is a wilderness park. People don't expect groomed trails, they don't expect things to be perfect. It's not unknown for people to have to walk over and around logs that have fallen across the trail naturally and it's very hard to understand the attitude of the Department of Natural Resources. They appear to want this wilderness park to be perfect before they allow anybody in. Now, Mr. Speaker, when this was in the news last year, the departmental spokesperson was quoted saying that the signs are really only up to discourage people from entering, that it's not the official position of the department that people shouldn't actually go into the park. They simply want to send a signal that they are not assuming any liability for any injuries that people may suffer.

[Page 6909]

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it is time, it is long past time, that the status of Long Lake Provincial Park was clarified. The people in the area use it, they love it, it's a beautiful park, apart from Point Pleasant Park, it is the closest wilderness park to the downtown core of Halifax. It is a wonderful asset, a wonderful resource. I am pleased that it is, at least, partly in my constituency. The Department of Natural Resources needs to do more to clarify its status, and clarify it so the park can, again, be the duo it could be.

Mr. Speaker, in my constituency there is a lake called Chocolate Lake that has existed for a very long time. A little known fact about the lake is that it's not a natural lake, but in fact, a lake created by quarrying that happened over the past 200 years. It's been there for a very long time, it has seen many industrial facilities around its edges, now, it's entirely residential apart from one hotel property on the shores of the lake. One of the things many people assume is that the name Chocolate Lake comes from the colour of the water. Almost everybody I talk to just assumes that's why they call it Chocolate Lake. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the reason it's called Chocolate Lake is because there used to be a Chocolate Factory on it's shores back in the 19th Century. That factory is long since gone but the name has stuck.

There is, I'm very pleased to say, a new and very active community association. People who live in the area that drains into Chocolate Lake have formed a Chocolate Lake Community Association under the vary able leadership of Dr. Anna-Marie Hatcher and Mr. Graham Reed. This association has managed to mobilize the community to care for the lake, to look after it. One of the things they're very concerned about is runoff from the Fairmount Ridge development. I've spoken in this house before about Fairmount Ridge, which was a contaminated site, for over 40 years, there was indiscriminate dumping of industrial waste on the property that is now home to Fairmount Ridge. Now the developer had a plan, which was approved by the Department of Environment for the cleanup of that site. So that's not really the problem, I'm not suggesting that there is a problem. Where they may be a problem, is runoff from the site because that runoff will run downhill under St. Margaret's Bay Rd. and into Chocolate Lake. It is not clear to the residents of the watershed area, that the Department of Environment and Labour is adequately monitoring the environmental impacts that have resulted from the development of that site.

The Department of Environment and Labour must do more to assure residents that there will be no adverse impact, especially that there will be no long-term adverse impact in Chocolate Lake, which has been used for many years. Going back decades and longer, it has been used as a Summer recreational area for swimmers. Many people use that lake for swimming and they need to be assured that there are no toxic runoffs posed by the Fairmount Ridge development. The Department of Environment and Labour, unfortunately, seems to have taken the view that they do not owe it to anybody to explain what's going on in that site. The only reason the residents of that area know what's going on is because over the past

[Page 6910]

several years, I have relentlessly pursued this through Freedom of Information and otherwise. Personally, Mr. Speaker, I think it is a shame that the only way that the residents know about the environmental impact of a development in their neighbourhood is because their MLA has to go through the Freedom of Information process to get the information and distribute it. The Department of Environment and Labour can do better and must do better.

Mr. Speaker, in my constituency of Halifax Fairview, there is very little provincial highway. I can't say that I'm sorry about that because when I talk to other members of this house, especially the rural members, the number one issue they tell me, that their constituents raise with them, is the state of our roads. I'm pleased on the one hand that that's not the major issue my constituents bring to me. I am sorry to say that the number one issue by far, that my constituents bring to me is problems in the Department of Community Services, but we'll leave that for another day.

One provincial highway that is in my constituency is Northwest Arm Drive and, Mr. Speaker, it does pose some problems for the residents. It was built as a high speed highway. It is a very wide divided highway that encourages people to travel at high speeds and they do. The posted speed limit is 80, but many of the cars travel at higher speeds than that. The difficulty is that all the new development in that area has occurred along the east side of Northwest Arm Drive so that road has essentially become a commuter road where people are turning in and out of subdivisions and the two don't mix. You can't have people moving at slow speeds turning into and out of their subdivisions on a high speed highway. It simply doesn't work.

Mr. Speaker, as I raised in Question Period recently, the intersection of Walter Havill Drive and Northwest Arm Drive is the most dangerous intersection in the entire central region. That's not just me saying that, that's the staff of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. The accident rate at that intersection is double the provincial average and the staff in the central region know of no other intersection with a higher accident rate. This is an intersection that was only built a few years ago so clearly there have to be some questions about how an intersection could be built with such design flaws.

With the help of one very active resident, a gentleman by the name of Jim Connolly, we have doggedly been pursuing the department to acknowledge the problems at that intersection and indeed along the length of Northwest Arm Drive. We believe that we have convinced the Department of Transportation and Public Works' staff that this is a priority, that they have to fix that road, they have to fix that intersection, Mr. Speaker, because the residents of my constituency deserve to be able to turn into and out of their neighbourhood without fearing that they're going to be in a collision and somebody is going to get hurt. It's going to happen sooner or later. Something needs to be done quickly and what we need to find out during the estimates debate is whether in fact the department's own recommendation that this be a priority item to be fixed has been funded in this year's budget. It is very important that the Department of Transportation and Public Works address this issue.

[Page 6911]

Mr. Speaker, in my constituency of Halifax Fairview there is a street called School Avenue. It is closer to a major highway than any other street in the entire central region and they have had an ongoing problem with jake brakes as trucks use their noisy engine brakes to go down the hill and I'm pleased to say that from the very time that I was elected four years ago, I've been working on this and with the assistance of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, slowly, a bit at a time, we have been working on solving this problem. Just today, not an hour ago, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works gave me a copy of the final noise study on the remediation efforts that have been made to date, but more needs to be done. Those people, the people of Fairview, if they're going to live next to a highway, deserve to have the noise levels as low as they can possibly be.

Mr. Speaker, I've had an opportunity to address some of the issues in my constituency. Thank you very much for the time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk to something that I think is of great interest, particularly to the residents of HRM, because it pertains to some of the efforts that we've made over the last six months to address the issue of homelessness and, specifically, leading up to the establishment of Pendleton Place and what we and the other shelters in the area have learned from this and what we are going to be taking forward as the result of the creation of Pendleton Place.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that Pendleton Place had a predecessor, it was the Brunswick Street United Church, and actually the reverend of that church, Rev. Gus Pendleton, has been a great friend to the less fortunate in the Halifax area and, in fact, anybody who came to him for assistance. As part of his concern to further broaden the church's contribution to helping the less fortunate in the area, the Brunswick Street United Church took on a grant which is funded by the federal government. It's called the Skippy Grant and they were approved to open a seasonal homeless shelter.

Mr. Speaker, I think I have to say that I learned quite a bit from this, they learned more than me, is just how difficult it is to provide services to homeless people because of the multiple challenges that some of them face. Speaking with one of the people who was involved with putting on this program at the Brunswick Street United Church, she indicated that they did have difficulties. They were not anticipating some of the challenges, the behaviour challenges from their guests and that they would not be prepared to offer that service again. Unfortunately, this information did not flow readily back to the department. It was not funded by the department, but I knew of the success at Pendleton Place and I knew that they had a more open policy for extra behaviours that would not be tolerated by some of the other established shelters. As a result of that, they got quite a diverse group of people who would come, but with them came some challenges, so they were not prepared to do it again.

[Page 6912]

When I got wind of this, I had a discussion with Mayor Peter Kelly, because Mayor Kelly is very interested in the plight of the homeless and we have met many times before this and discussed that and affordable housing and other issues that we share. On November 25, 2004, the mayor and I convened a meeting with representatives from Community Services, Halifax Regional Municipality and community representatives. More than two dozen community groups actively involved with the care or providing of assistance to the homeless, participated in the meeting. Included, among others, were: Community Action on Homelessness, Metro Non-Profit Housing, Metro Turning Point, The Salvation Army, Adsum House, Barry House, the YWCA, Phoenix Youth Programs, and many others.

I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, it's a humbling experience to be in such a room because these people have made it their life mission in many cases to assist the homeless and other people who face the challenges that come with homelessness. You can learn a lot from them. We had a great discussion. That's when I learned a little bit more about the challenges faced by Brunswick Street United Church and it was clear that there was a consensus that a shelter which was more open to people who are called, hard to house, was needed in HRM.

I had no hesitation accepting their advice and committing the department to search out such a facility and I want to take particular notice and pay credit to the representative there on that day from Barry House, which is operated by St. Leonard's Society, Shirley O'Neil. Shirley, I think, had anticipated that there was a need for this and she had already had preliminary discussions with her board in case it came up. She stepped forward and she offered to bring forward a plan which she herself wrote and I think there were many long hours burning the midnight oil. She brought it forward, and again, by reading that plan I would tell you that you could learn an immense amount about the challenges that serving the homeless entails for any emergency shelter. She had it down to the smallest nuances to make sure that everybody's rights were appropriately protected and within the confines of the various laws of the land, it was done to the finest detail, and I wanted to publicly acknowledge Shirley O'Neil's contribution here today.

So it was decided that a shelter would be opened. It was going to be headed by the St. Leonard's Society. They put together the business plan. Various locations were checked out and, ultimately, the church on Brunswick Street, St. Joseph's, came forward and offered the use of their basement.

[2:15 p.m.]

Once that decision was made, and bearing in mind the initial meeting was November 25th, people rolled up their sleeves, the St. Leonard's Society was busy getting the supplies they would need to run this, hiring staff, and, again, hiring staff for a homeless shelter is not just about going to HRSD and seeing who might be looking for a job, this is a very specialized area. You have to know your clientele, and you have to be able to deal with things

[Page 6913]

like a history of violence, mental health, addictions problems, and in fact all those traits are present in some of the people served by all the shelters.

So in addition to the great work done by the St. Leonard's Society and the province committing $230,000 in operational funding for the six months which was to end on April 30th, there were also renovations and furniture costs for the new shelter. The St. Leonard's Society, as I've said before, agreed to staff and operate the shelter. As Jerry Smith, Executive Director of the society, pointed out, there was a strong sense of partnership between government and the community in making this happen. There was so much co-operation from all levels. And that is very true. I must commend all the organizations that worked together on this, in trying to improve the lines of communication between the various shelters and the new temporary shelter, which was to become Pendleton Place.

On December 16th, the department announced that the temporary shelter would be in place by December 24th, the shelter would provide beds and breakfast for up to 40 men, women and youth over 16, who may be unable to make use of available beds at existing shelters for a variety of reasons. Those reasons, again, go to what we call hard-to-house, because some of their behaviours that unfortunately led them to be barred from the other emergency shelters, because, I would suggest, they did not have the supports in place to handle some of these more challenging guests.

The shelter would be staffed by 20 workers, Mr. Speaker. Think about that, 20 workers. The ratio had to be high, because we were dealing with the more challenging of the homeless. Many of these workers have expertise in dealing with some of the more complex issues of homelessness, including mental illness and substance abuse. Although it would not provide programming support, staff would help with access to services as required, and this certainly happened on a number of occasions.

The shelter would be located in the basement of St. Patrick's Church on Brunswick Street in Halifax, and would operate daily between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. until the end of April. On December 22nd, due to the yeoman efforts of not only the St. Leonard Society but also the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority, which worked long hours to transform the church basement into a fully-functional shelter, and volunteer organizations like the Community Care Network, the shelter opened two days early.

That was good news, Mr. Speaker, and it was at that time that the shelter was given its name, after the former pastor and his wife of the Brunswick Street United Church, Rev. Gus and Lorna Pendleton. Thus it was named Pendleton Place, and what a great honour to such a great couple, who have given so much to North End Halifax, who had opened the first out-of-the-cold shelter at the Brunswick Street United Church, but not, as I pointed out, without some challenges.

[Page 6914]

Over the next four months, Pendleton Place would provide beds, breakfast and shower facilities for close to 40 homeless individuals each night. While it was operating near full capacity, however, other shelters were experiencing a decline in usage, and in some cases significant vacancies.

What I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is that we had excess capacity in our emergency shelter beds, which is where you would want to be, you would never want to be short. But, again, you also want to be responsible with those limited funds that you have, so you could do the most for the homeless people in Halifax. This was evident in the monthly statistics that shelter operators provided to the department. For example, the two men's shelters, Metro Turning Point and the Salvation Army, had an average vacancy rate of a little over 42 per cent, or 50 vacant beds throughout the Winter. The women's shelters, Barry House, Adsum House and the YWCA had an average vacancy rate of a little over 52 per cent, or approximately 25 vacant beds. Phoenix House, which is there to serve youth from age 16 to 24, had an average vacancy rate of about a little over 9 per cent for young males, and a little over 16 per cent for young females. So clearly that gave us some direction as to where we needed to augment our shelter capacity.

As a result, at regular ongoing meetings between Community Services, the city and shelter operators it was determined that the needs of the homeless could be met within the existing shelter system. All groups committed to work together to make the best possible use of existing resources and provide enhanced supports for those with mental health and substance abuse problems and, indeed, with a history of violence.

In a news release issued yesterday, May 2nd, shelter operators made some of the following statements:

Major Wayne Loveless, Executive Director of The Salvation Army, which provides shelter to homeless men said, "We believe a higher level of co-operation among shelter operators, along with government support, will allow us to serve those who were staying at the temporary shelter as well as other homeless individuals."

Sherri Lecker, Executive Director of Adsum House said, "The women's shelters are committed to doing our best to accommodate the women and female youth coming from Pendleton Place. We have also improved communications and are using our established referral process to ensure there is a bed available for any woman or female youth looking for a place to stay."

Tim Crooks, Executive Director of Phoenix Youth Programs, who works with homeless youth ages 16 to 24 years old said, "We are collaborating with Community Services, Halifax Regional Municipality and other service providers to provide better support for vulnerable youth. We are committed to ensuring that youth have not only a place to stay, but also access to important programs and support services."

[Page 6915]

That's the key, Mr. Speaker. That's what we have absolutely discovered was not there before. In addition to strengthening existing resources, Community Services is providing funding for additional staff at Metro Turning Point; the Department of Health, along with the Capital District Health Authority and the IWK, will expand the shared care team and the mobile crisis team to provide additional support to the emergency shelters.

Now that the end of April has arrived Pendleton Place is closing, as planned; however, it will continue to operate day to day until plans are finalized for the few remaining individuals staying with them.

We are very pleased to work with the St. Leonard's Society, particularly Shirley O'Neil to provide an important service for some of the homeless in Halifax this Winter and I think we have all learned from the experience and have greatly enhanced the co-operation and the supports that are available to serve the homeless in HRM. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I honestly don't know where to begin, so I think I'll start taking you on a little trip down through the riding of Victoria-The Lakes. On April 14th, Area Manager Barb Bailey and I travelled the roads in Victoria-The Lakes section, which is encompassed in CBRM, and that way we took a first-hand look at the roads.

Mr. Speaker, one road in particular - all of them were in bad shape pretty well - but one was wheel-rutted so bad I took the opportunity to put a two-by-four in the back of my truck and took a measuring tape and put the two-by-four across the wheel rut and measured six full inches of depth, and that wheel rut runs in the vicinity of close to a kilometre on both sides, both shoulders of the road, and that would take a tremendous amount of asphalt just to bring the wheel rut up to the level - far greater expense than before it could ever be paved under the RIM program. That was April 14th.

We travelled up Route 223, the backbone of the Island, through George's River, Scotch Lake, Frenchvale, Leitches Creek, Upper Leitches Creek - right through to Grand Narrows. Just as recently as yesterday I was informed by a resident who lives on Route 223 and I have reported previous times of people with broken belts, then it escalated to people breaking rims, valuable aluminum rims - $500 each rim - and yesterday the resident bottomed out in one of the ruts in Route 223 and completely tore the oil pan off the bottom of the engine of the vehicle. It left them totally stranded with no oil in the vehicle and they had to stay there until somebody came along and helped them out. That's the condition of roads that is pretty well the norm in most of the areas of Victoria-The Lakes.

On April 15th, the following day, with area manager Charles MacDonald from Baddeck, we concentrated on the roads in Victoria-The Lakes North of Smokey. We travelled down there and I cite the fact that we talked of rural economic development, we

[Page 6916]

talked different things for rural communities. I look at the plight of the ski hill - the highest hill in Nova Scotia to ski on and the road to approach it is in a deplorable state. How can you expect people to damage their vehicle to go on a pleasurable skiing trip? They're just not going to do it.

These two area representatives, I must say, were very cordial and I realized after travelling with them they're doing the best they can with the extremely limited resources they're given and my biggest compliment must go to the workers. To work under such trying conditions, to be cut back into the bone and given very little to work with and when they have a situation that needs immediate repair, they must rely on workers from different depots to get a crew large enough to go out and resolve the problem.

When you hear a report to the Department of Transportation and Public Works that, oh, well, Mr. Sampson, we'll put that into the claims division. Well I informed the resident and the resident is very satisfied and calls the claims division and I've investigated that only to find out no one has ever been paid a claim from the Department of Transportation in the area I represent.

We're seeing contracts come forward - yesterday, today and probably there will be some more called for tomorrow - not contracts, but calling for tenders, and this is May, they'll be still calling for tenders in August. They'll be awarded in September, we'll have contractors scrambling between cold, wet weather in October and November trying to complete the job.

What I suggested previously, when we talked about rural economic development, if those tenders were called, September, October, awarded in November and December, then those workers would know, number one, that they are going back to work as soon as the highway opens in the Spring. The contractor, whether he has a older vehicle, an older pavement-spreading machine, he now knows that he has one, two, maybe three tenders he has won and he can plan for the future. Planning is the ideal thing here, Mr. Speaker, because what has to happen is that the contractor is now confident he can afford to invest in upgrading his equipment, the workers know they're going back to work therefore they're not fearful and they will spend the extra dollars on their family in preparation for going to work. So, it adds stability to the economy and it is rural economic development, Mr. Speaker.

But when there's no plan, when you have no idea what you're going to do from year to year, that is total mismanagement. Anybody and everybody involved in economic development of any kind in community development, in organization of any kind, will tell you that you should have a plan, a 10-year plan. You should know where you want to be within five years and where you definitely intend to be in 10 years and if you don't have that, if you don't have organization, you have nothing.

[Page 6917]

[2:30 p.m.]

To go back to basics, you plan your work and you work your plan, Mr. Speaker. Why would we create Road of the Week? Seventy-five per cent of the calls that come into my office are about roads. After a heavy rainstorm, or a snowstorm, two solid days after that, the calls are nothing but road related because now the potholes are covered with snow or hidden because they're full of water and the people are striking them. They can't see them in order to turn away from them. Way back when I was a councillor in Victoria County, I brought up the idea of illuminating the Seal Island Bridge. I requested and suggested when that bridge was shut down for its major infrastructure upgrade, what a perfect time to install lights on that bridge. The lanes were shut down, the contractors were there, there were traffic lights in place, and a matter of installing some illumination.

The third largest bridge in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, we have navigation lights on it, we have lights at the approaches that, as councillor, Victoria County gave me permission to put them there, but nothing from the Department of Transportation and Public Works as of yet.

Mr. Speaker, we have the Cabot Trail and we have the Bras d'Or Lakes Scenic Drive - roads, bridges and ferries involved - and that's about the extent of where it goes. Signs are put up, permanent signs, posts put in the shoulders of the road with a sign saying, bump. That, to me, shows no plan to remediate the problem. North of Smokey, on the 15th with area manager, Charles MacDonald, I know there are numerous signs that show that there's a bump in the road or that for the next kilometre or two it's a rough section, but when you look at a sign that says rough section next 27 kilometres, that speaks volumes. Come North of Smokey with me and those people, I'm telling you they're resilient, they're strong, they're tough, they're extremely more patient than most people ever would be to put up with those kinds of conditions.

There's a situation that I brought to the attention of the department and I have an inkling that it might possibly be looked at in this budget and I hope I'm right. I haven't got a crystal ball but, anyway, I'll wait to see if it happens. Mr. Speaker, it is at Exit 12 when you're heading west, going down Kellys Mountain, you have to make your right-hand turn to take the Englishtown Ferry and you're three-quarters into that turn before you can view the flashing lights that indicate that the ferry is not operating. What is happening is people are turning into that intersection, seeing the lights flashing, and immediately swinging back out into the through lane. If there happens to be a vehicle passing down the mountain in the through lane, they pretty well sideswipe one another and the incidence of near accidents is escalating all the time with the increase in the traffic. So I'm hoping that that will be remediated.

In late debate here in this House, Mr. Speaker, what's the most common topic that is suggested? (Interruption) Roads.

[Page 6918]

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Because they're in a devastating situation, that is why. We heard the honourable member for Halifax Fairview, who spoke prior to myself, state that jake brakes - Mr. Speaker, I've had pictures in the paper, I have had articles, and when I say the paper, I mean the Cape Breton Post, it's my local newspaper down in Cape Breton, and I've brought pictures back from my critic road trip and showed them pictures of, no jake brakes for the next mile or two, or the next number of kilometres. I've submitted those to the Department of Transportation and Public Works. I resubmitted them the second time and still I'm waiting for one small area, it's seven-tenths of a kilometre from the gravel pit to Highway 125, coming down the road from the Frenchvale area to get onto Highway 125, where trucks are travelling continually, 24/7. The loud noise, the cracking and banging of some of these vehicles is enough to wake the dead and yet there are no results.

Is it mismanagement? Is it poor planning? Is it underachievement? I'd hate to be derogatory, but I have to agree, I think it's all of the above. Mr. Speaker, where's the policy that is to eliminate this?

The honourable minister will admit and in his own figures, the Capital Department of Transportation Program is behind $3.4 billion. We have a problem, what's the solution? The solution that I see presented here is that by 2011, it's going to escalate to $4.3 billion. If the problem is not going to be solved, it's going to be allowed to escalate. That to me, again, is total mismanagement. You have no plan, no five year plan, no ten year plan, no one year plan, Mr. Speaker. No plan to resolve the situation. I'm wondering if there's such a word. We hear people saying that you should be proactive but I'm wondering if I said that, to me, this seems to be a policy to be pro-regressive. Is that an oxymoron? Is that some kind of play on words? It seems to be the intention to continually and definitely act regressive. Mr. Speaker, I'm saying that this is a policy to be pro-regressive.

On Saturday past, I attended the annual meeting of the Little Narrows Development Association. I've been at several of their meetings since the inception to create an economic development plan for the area. Their community centre is located a short distance from the Little Narrows ferry. Mr. Speaker, number one on their list; roads and the ferry. The St. FX. Extension Department; roads and ferry they have listed for them also. Mr. Speaker, it's just continually 24/7. I have workers that are so conscientious, that have gone out, taken planed off pavement, used pavement, heated it with propane torches, put it in a bucket, ran out, and put it in the pothole before it got cold, the cold patch they were using would not stay. That's how conscientious they are, and that just shows how far down that they have been stripped of the facilities to work with. My compliments to the workers, Mr. Speaker, for having the fortitude to hang in there and try to do the best job that they can under such trying conditions. Mr. Speaker, I could go on and on and on.

[Page 6919]

To reiterate, no plan, I don't know why some of the workers are still there. I do know one thing, from the Bras d'Or Depot, there has been five workers who have resigned and some of them have left and gone out West because they just couldn't handle it anymore, the uncertainty of being called back to work or the uncertainty of not getting work. Last season, in particular, there were workers that had 20 to 25 years of experience with the department and were not called back. I don't see how that's fair to those workers, who are good quality people. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks and thank you very much.

[2:38 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. James DeWolfe in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

AGRIC. & FISH.: AGRIC. DEV. - PURSUE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Just by the luck of the draw, the name of the honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park was associated with today's topic for late debate. I'm not sure if there's a lot of agriculture in Clayton Park to be quite honest about it. I'm sure in terms of late debate, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is probably glad that we've got off the roads theme and headed on a topic that certainly is very important to my riding and very important to the province, and that is the value of agriculture to the Nova Scotia economy.

I'm not sure if over the past five or six years of this government, and perhaps governments for some time have recognized the true value of agriculture and the economic stability and the growth that it plays to rural areas. Rural Nova Scotia has indeed been going through very challenging times. Just this week I looked at the unemployment rate in the Valley, and at the end of March it actually was at 9.7 per cent. So it shows that we are suffering in rural Nova Scotia, and I feel that agriculture can be one of those areas that can breathe some new life into rural Nova Scotia.

One of the things that our Party is taking a look at, and are strong advocates of - and not in any way to diminish the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries - in fact is to have a stand-alone Department of Agriculture and, of course, then in turn, a Department of Fisheries.

[Page 6920]

I think that's the kind of emphasis and that's the kind of thinking that farmers would then see that government is with us, government is behind us, they're going to be a major player in helping the industry go forward.

In fact, very often it is the farmers who bring pressure upon government to move. It was very interesting that when I arrived here at the House in September of 2003, five months had elapsed since the beginning of the BSE. It was the member for Hants East who introduced a motion for debate on the BSE crisis and, in fact, it was the very first topic that I spoke about. I guess you remember your first speech here, or first time you speak in the Legislature, and it was on the BSE crisis, because it had become very familiar to me as I made the rounds among the agricultural community of Kings West.

So it is too bad that government has to be moved by the pressure of farmers. As I said, the BSE was a case in point and very often, throughout the past couple of years, government has generally used the federal program over and over as opposed to saying we have a crisis here, we need to have a Nova Scotia solution to this crisis. In fact, once again, that would demonstrate clearly to farmers that government is a willing, able and capable partner to move forward. It is one that continues to, I think, come back and resonate with the farm community and is still very, very much on the tip of their tongues any time we're talking to farmers because on 50 per cent of the farms in Nova Scotia, and in I would say all 18 counties, in fact, ruminant farming is a small part or an essential part of the farm operation. So it is a big aspect of farming. In that regard, I thought I would use this opportunity to sort of take a look at farming.

As we often do here in this House, we try to put a face on a business, an industry, a cause, and one of the people who was actually prominent in the BSE debate and question, and went around the province on the task force, was Anthony Van Oostrum and Anthony, as my colleague for Kings North also knows, in fact, I think he resides in the member opposite's riding and his son farms in my riding. He was one that was reaching that point in his farm life - he has been a big player, without question, in the beef industry, throughout the Valley and indeed Nova Scotia.

The thing that perplexed and really hit Anthony was the fact that here were the prices going down, the desire to use his land base as a future cattle farm was now, of course, in jeopardy because of the BSE. In fact his land today, doesn't carry the same value that it did. He raised a really important question in the farm community, in my view, and that was what about the future of this land, one of Canada's prime pieces of agricultural real estate. We have Class A soils on the Valley floor and they do need to be protected. He started to talk about well, here my farm was going to be my retirement, it now has substantially less value. What about a land bank? What about a way of registering the land with the province and getting a satisfactory compensation that would look after my retirement years. Also, the legacy that he would leave would be to keep that land for the future in agriculture. So Anthony sort of drew

[Page 6921]

upon the crisis to challenge us as to how we can keep the land when it can no longer provide an adequate income and a way of life.

Another farmer whom I met in recent weeks is Larry Loose and Larry is the kind of person that I see as the face of the future in apple farming, orchard farming, in the Annapolis Valley. I was certainly glad to see in the budget that there's at least a small amount being set aside or is in the budget for orchard renewal, I think that's a very positive step. Larry was a farmer, because he believes in innovation, in seeking out new ideas, best practices, and wanted to see one of the real pioneer companies in the Valley, Scotian Gold, which he joined about 10 years ago, he wanted to see that company embrace farmers in sort of a co-operative approach. That's what Scotian Gold has developed with about 25 to 30 orchard farmers now tying themselves into Scotian Gold, to buy their rootstock, their fertilizer, their pruning implements, and then, in turn, will sell their apples to Scotian Gold, which will provide them with marketing opportunities. Larry believes the future perhaps is in specializing and he was the farmer, or the apple specialist, that brought the honey crisp apple to the Valley and honey crisp is probably going to become the apple of the future in our area.

One other farmer I would like to take a moment about, I don't have much time here, is Vernon Saunders, a 72-year-old farmer who still has a thriving mix farm operation, and his big concern since he doesn't have sons to take over the farm, he's wondering about the future of his farm in relation to where will the market be? Where will I market my crops? And the other one farms succession because it is very difficult to get young people in the farm industry and that is certainly one of the challenges that the province will face and the agriculture industry has to face.

So I'd just like to wrap up my short time here by perhaps saying that one of the good things that has happened this year was an education summit and I think the same kind of idea perhaps for agriculture to get the best in the province to come together and look at staking out a future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I want to read the resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that this government actively promote and pursue agriculture development in Nova Scotia."

I would admit to the honourable member who introduced this resolution that I would have some sympathy if it read that we do more to promote and pursue agriculture development in Nova Scotia or we continue to promote and pursue agriculture and development in Nova Scotia. As it stands, the resolution implies that this government is doing nothing to promote and pursue agricultural development in Nova Scotia, that it's inactive.

[Page 6922]

This, of course, would be news to the member's federal cousins up in Ottawa who signed an agricultural policy framework with this government. It looks at developing agriculture in the areas specifically of: branding, of renewal, it talked about the Orchard Renewal Program, of business risk management, and of food safety. It doesn't sound to me like we're doing nothing, we're inactive.

We don't even need to go to the honourable member's federal cousins, we could go back to his provincial forebearers. In a memorandum between a deputy minister and former Minister Sandra Jolly on municipal reform, one of the benefits they saw in municipal reform back then was, "More efficient government by reducing the artificial distinction between towns cities and rural municipalities, reducing the incentive to build outside cities and towns." So, if Sandra Jolly, of the honourable member's forebearers, if he's talking about the need for a rural development, he obviously needs to do some rural development since the Liberals were the ones to institute municipal reform with a stated goal of undermining rural development. In fact, they were very successful at it.

If you look at the statistics for the rural counties in Nova Scotia, you'll find that the honourable member's forebearers of the Liberal Party were extremely successful in undermining rural development. So, I find it a bit hypocritical the member would stand up here and talk about the need for rural development, for agriculture development, in light of what his Party did back in 1993 to municipal reform with the very stated goal of undermining the rural economy, of undermining rural life in the province. I'll table this document, Mr. Speaker.

Back to the policy framework. The province and the federal government have signed an agriculture policy framework. Specifically they're looking at branding, renewal, business risk management and food safety. The department is involved in this field, it's involved with crop insurance, field extension services, and product development. The honourable member admitted they we're involved in an Orchard Renewal Program, said it has had a few dollars thrown at it - $250,000 is more than a few dollars. I know the fruit growers are very happy to get this money and are excited about it.

Again, this doesn't sound to me like we're doing nothing, it sounds like we're involved in various things: the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board, the honourable member would know that's a very active organization trying to support and help farmers with capital.

The work on the U.S. border reopening. I've been at meetings with Agricultural Ministers and with our own Agriculture Minister in Ottawa, where this was the topic of discussion, how much effort was put into trying to open up the borders into supporting our beef producers in the meantime.

[Page 6923]

The encouragement of investment and immigration. Again, does this sound as though we doing nothing? Inactive? We're looking at bringing in investment in immigration and many of these immigrants - some of these immigrants, at least - will be involved in the farming community and help enrich the farm life of this province. A promotion of brand Nova Scotia, a Taste of Nova Scotia to encourage people to buy Nova Scotia products, again helping our farmers.

The support for education in agriculture at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. Those of you who have been at the Nova Scotia Agriculture College are aware of the wonderful programs that are there. Many of the farmers in my community, their children have gone to the Agricultural College and they've come back and they've used many of the insights that they've received at the college to help further the work of agriculture. Again, the province is involved and supporting of this very worthy educational institution. That doesn't sound like we're inactive, it doesn't sound like we're doing nothing. In fact, it sounds like we're doing something very important.

[6:15 p.m.]

It's important for 4-H development. The honourable member wasn't in the House when we first were elected, but there was discussion then about 4-H. The members all joined together. The honourable member for Guysborough, I remember, and myself, we made a strong case for 4-H development, and the government has funded 4-H development. Young people receive very valuable training in various products, I've been to various 4-H fairs in the Canning Arena. The various 4-H groups compete against each other, and they learn at a very early age some very important lessons in taking care of animals, in growing crops, in working together and in farming - in farm safety, too, at the 4-H.

There's an emphasis in 4-H - and the women's institutes have picked this up - on farm safety, so that when these young people become involved in driving the machinery, in working the machinery on farms, they'll do so in a very safe way. Again, the involvement we have in funding 4-H does not sound, to me, like we're doing nothing. It sounds to me like we're doing something, a very important thing.

A new venture that I want to talk about, to dispute the honourable member's resolution, is the Bio-Resources Techno Venture Centre at the Agri-tech Park. This is a very important initiative, Mr. Speaker, because one of the things that we know we need to do in the agricultural sector is we need to move up the food chain, as it were, and add value-added products - so not just a primary product, but add on to it. One of the prime examples of someone doing this successfully in my area is the Rand family, who have created a cheese factory, Foxhill Cheese.

[Page 6924]

This is a wonderful way of adding value-added products. They've taken the primary product, and they now have this wonderful store. I was at the opening of it. They sent out about 100 invitations, expecting maybe 100 - 200 people at the most - they had 700 people on that opening day who came in to buy the cheese. It's a wonderful cheese. If you're ever up in the Port Williams area and you want to buy some cheese and you want to buy some really good cheese, go to the Foxhill Cheese House. You'll find it a treat, and you'll go back there time and time again.

This is what this organization is going to do. It's going to help various farmers to move up that value-added chain because the more we move up that chain, the more money we'll retain in the province, and the better off our farmers will be. I could go on and on, Mr. Speaker, about all the various things that this government is involved in that helps agriculture. The resolution really makes no sense as it stands. As I said before, if it said we could do more, I could buy that. We can do more and we should do more. If it said we should continue to do what we're doing, yes, let's continue. But to claim that we're inactive in supporting agriculture is patently false and somewhat hypocritical coming from a member whose Party had the stated interest in municipal reform of undermining the rural economies of our province, as I've stated before.

So the honourable member's resolution falls. It can't stand, because we are doing things. Now there are areas that we should do more in, and I was hoping to hear some of this, but I didn't hear it. I raised this issue myself in late debate, that we should be doing more in. We need to be more aggressive with the retailers. Our farmers need to have a place to sell their products. If they don't have a place to sell their produce, then it doesn't matter what we do, we're in trouble and the farmers are in trouble. Another area that's worthy of debate, that should have some debate, is protection of farmland. That's certainly an area that would be worthy of debate.

But I didn't hear any of these fresh ideas coming from this member. I didn't hear anything, really, of substance in terms of what we could be doing more of that we're not doing now. We're doing many good things now. We can do more. So the resolution, as it stands, I submit again, falls, because as it stands it says we're doing nothing and we are very active. We can always do more and hopefully, we will do more.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to make a few comments. I want to say, to the credit, I think, of the member for Kings West, I don't think he took quite so adversarial an approach as the honourable member for Kings North, who just sat down. Heaven knows, the member for Kings West certainly had lots of room to manoeuvre, if he had intended to attack the government on any claim they might make about how they've acted to support agriculture. I did read the document from a former minister, Sandy Jolly,

[Page 6925]

under the Liberals. It is kind of a mind-twister about reducing the incentive to build outside cities and towns and then in brackets it says, which imposes long-term servicing costs.

Actually there's something I would like politicians to turn their minds to, Mr. Speaker, is the idea that by keeping people in rural Nova Scotia, in rural Canada, we can actually reduce those servicing costs. People who live in rural Canada live there, number one, because they like it. They like the rural environment. They'll live there quite comfortably with fewer services than people - because of large numbers - in urban areas require. I mean it's not a question that we like to have them, but you have to have them. I live on a gravel road in a fairly rural section of a fairly rapidly growing urban area, you know, no sidewalks, even though I pay for sidewalks three miles away in the Village of Enfield, and I see that as a safety issue and I don't mind that at all, but certainly if I could have garbage collection and fire protection, I'm very pleased to live where I live. I cut my own firewood, try to grow a bit of a garden, as much as I can do that, and I have enough space that I don't have anybody really on top of me.

So that's the world I've chosen to live in, Mr. Speaker, and I worry about the ability to keep rural Nova Scotia and rural Canada as a vibrant place for Canadians to want to live and to be able to live and raise their families. I will table this. This is from Statistics Canada, "Nova Scotia's total gross farm receipts were $460 million in 2000, while operating expenses reached $389 million. While factors such as the commodities they produced, the prices they received and the weather they had to deal with made each farmer's situation different, in general, expenses rose slightly faster than revenues. Five years earlier, at 1995 prices, receipts were $384 million and expenses were $328 million."

So the picture for agriculture in Nova Scotia, the census counted 3,923 farms in Nova Scotia in 2001, down 11.9 per cent from 4,453 five years earlier. When I asked the minister during budget estimates about his vision, did he have a vision for agriculture in the province, he really stumbled around trying to give me an answer to that question and it made it pretty clear to me that the minister had no vision for agriculture. For the potential of agriculture to bring sustainability and security to families and communities in this province, the minister had no vision. I want to say that if the province doesn't look at rural Nova Scotia and agriculture, in particular, and the members had mentioned about the value-added side which I was glad to hear them say, that agriculture has the most potential to sustain communities, to generate wealth, to keep young families there, and there has been absolutely nothing for the most part done by this government to ensure that and since 1999 there has been nothing but cuts and abuse to that department, not to mention to rural Nova Scotia generally.

Now, even if we take the member for Kings West, he talked about his first speech in the House, the emergency debate on the BSE issue, and it's probably appropriate that he would raise that because Nova Scotians spend $80 million bringing beef from outside the province to feed us here, Mr. Speaker, $80 million on that one commodity, and if we were to realize even part of that by access to our own market here and price to farmers.

[Page 6926]

The member for Kings North has gone down this road a bit about local products and the problems or difficulties at the retail sector, $80 million in one commodity in rural Nova Scotia and what that would mean to keeping young families there, keeping a school open, being able to attract a doctor. Those members from Kings County should recognize that Kings County is an example of what agriculture can do as a base for an economy and government should look at that and see how much of that can we apply to other areas and any notion of economic development, you should start with your strengths. You should start with the resources that we have and how can we build an economy based on those resources.

That's something that I don't see happening. I see cuts, federally and provincially, the Nappan Research Station, Production Technology at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Instead of investing in agriculture and investing in research, we're going in the complete other direction. Even those jobs, there are a lot of men and women who go through the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and they get jobs in the private sector, they all don't go back to the farm. Those people have formed a basis of an economy connected to agriculture that provides salaries into the economy and helps as another component for sustaining those communities.

It wasn't my intention to stand here and hammer the government, I've done that on occasion. I want to say that I was pleased after the beef rally last Fall that the government came forward and helped the beef and producers of other ruminants. I don't think I ever stood anywhere publicly to acknowledge that so I want to take this opportunity to do that so members are aware that that was important for me to say that.

There are people who are trying to do other things in rural Canada. There was an announcement the other day in Manitoba, they've opened up a wind farm and actually, along with the private side, investment and the initiative to try to make money, help from the government, but also for farmers, for landowners who actually are being paid for having those wind turbines on their property. They refer to it as - I'll just read the first sentence, Mr. Speaker, "Premier Gary Doer today joined the community of St. Leon to officially start harvesting Manitoba's newest crop, wind harnessed through the commissioning of the province's first wind-turbine generator."

So, there are those things that other jurisdictions are doing. We do have to look at programs for new entrants into the industry, some type of inner-generational transfer to get older, retiring farmers out and younger farmers in. There is potential in this industry, but somebody has to have a vision and see there is potential there and come up with programs to affect that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The time allotted for the debate has expired.

[Page 6927]

At 6:30 p.m. the House will resolve itself into a Committee on the Whole House on Supply.

[6:29 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker, Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[7:09 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made considerable progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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. 177.

Bill No. 177 - Financial Measures (2005) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak on Bill No. 177, the Financial Measures (2005) Act. This bill is to support the government's budget that was introduced several weeks ago. This bill is like an appendix to the budget. This piece of legislation ensures that the different measures that are introduced in the budget act as the authorization that the government needs in order to implement them.

Mr. Speaker, as you're well aware, governing under a minority government puts additional pressure on the Premier and on the government. The government recognizes that they need support from the Opposition in order to get this budget and this Financial Measures

[Page 6928]

(2005) Bill through the House. This Tory minority government knows that if this bill doesn't pass, the government is defeated. The same thing applies to the budget.

Mr. Speaker, I remember back in 1999 when the Liberal minority government's budget was defeated by the Opposition. You know what happened then - the House was dissolved immediately. There was no tomorrow. The House was dissolved immediately, an election was called. So again, what will happen this time around? Time will tell.

Mr. Speaker, the most interesting part of this bill is the debt management fund and the commitment to ensure that the $830 million offshore fund can't be used to balance the budget. In other words, the budget must be balanced without the offshore funds. While the intention is noble, Mr. Speaker, that is not what this government is doing. The reality is that $830 million is a key part of this budget, and without the offshore money the surplus would be razor-thin at $6 million. If that's the case, then why is the government claiming this budget has a $63 million surplus. If this bill becomes law, then government must change that part of the budget. It's simply smoke and mirrors, just like the debt reduction plan.

Mr. Speaker, the debt reduction plan is a sham. It will take until 2009 before the debt goes back to the levels of today. So, how can that be? How can the government say it's putting $830 million on the debt, but the debt will still grow by $90 million this year? Here's what we have - government claims a $63 million surplus, the debt is growing by another $90 million, and supposedly the $830 million offshore money is going to the debt.

Mr. Speaker, I would like the government to explain that to Nova Scotians. How can the Premier say the $830 million is going to the debt, but the debt keeps growing? Try to explain that one to the people of Nova Scotia. I sure can't, and I'm quite sure there are not too many people around here who can, including the Premier himself. After all is said and done, this government is still borrowing $340 million this year - $340 million. So my question is, when is this going to stop?

[7:15 p.m.]

The Premier promised back in 1999, and then again in 2001, that the debt would stop growing. In fact, Mr. Speaker, let's look at what the Premier said about the debt, and we'll let Nova Scotians decide whether or not he told the truth. On April 17, 2001, the Premier told this Legislature - and these are the Premier's words - "Mr. Speaker, what I will confirm is that a year from now this government will introduce a balanced budget, and from that day onward the debt of this province will no longer grow." That was on April 17, 2001. Did the Premier break his promise? To me, it certainly sounds like he did.

Let's look at what the Premier said on March 25, 2002. The Premier wrote, in his article in The ChronicleHerald, on that day, "To be sure, there are some people who suggest that government should continue borrowing on its debt and spending beyond its means. I

[Page 6929]

don't believe there is merit to this argument. Such an approach might feel good today, however we need to ask ourselves who pays for it tomorrow." Those were the Premier's words back on March 25, 2002. Yes, Mr. Speaker, who pays for it tomorrow? That has been raised here time and time again.

Mr. Speaker, this is the best opportunity in 30 years to stop adding to the debt and start paying it down. This Premier is blowing that opportunity for a whole generation. It's funny that back in 1999 the Premier wouldn't support our budget back when we were in a minority government because it added to the debt. He voted against the budget because it added to the debt. Well, since this Premier came to office, the debt has grown by $2.5 billion, after he said he wouldn't add to the debt.

Again, $2.5 billion is the entire Health budget this year. Again, $1 billion more has been added to the budget of the Department of Health.

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova on an introduction, please.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: I thank the honourable member. I'd like to bring your attention to the west gallery this evening. We have young people visiting from Ottawa, taking in the procedures. This is Evan van Estes and Erica Thornton and I'd like them to stand up and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guests from Ottawa and hope they enjoy the proceedings. Welcome.

The honourable member for Clare, thank you very much, you have the floor.

MR. GAUDET: I too want to extend a warm welcome to our guests in the gallery.

As I was saying, since this Premier came to office, the debt has grown by $2.5 billion after he made a personal commitment he would not add to our provincial debt.

Let's look again at what the Premier told The ChronicleHerald on New Year's Eve, 2001." On June 18, 1999, the Conservative caucus voted against the budget with a $600 million deficit. I told Nova Scotians that in good conscience I could not support more debt." Those were the Premier's words.

So the Premier now, in good conscience, does he stop adding to the debt? Just the opposite. The Premier does not have one iota of credibility when it comes to the debt of this province. He broke his promise and he has already misled Nova Scotians time and time again.

[Page 6930]

Looking at this bill, there is another section that certainly attracts attention. It's a tax credit for families. It's a tax credit that amounts to a $15 saving per child who is registered in a qualified sport or recreational activity. This is a good measure, but it's only a half measure. Let me explain. This tax credit raises a number of concerns. First of all, who decides what is a designated sport? Or yet, what is a recreational activity? A couple of things come to mind, does horseback riding qualify? Taking music lessons, does that qualify for this $15 savings? Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister will provide us with a clear designation on what qualifies for a designated sport or for recreational activity.

Also, Mr. Speaker, who will administer this tax credit? Is it the Department of Finance, or is this program going to be handed over to Sports Nova Scotia? Also, what plans are in place to ensure this program is inclusive? I hope and I'm sure every member of this House hopes that every child in Nova Scotia may benefit from this new program, but unfortunately they won't. This tax credit only applies to families that pay income tax. So is that fair? Some families will receive this tax credit, but others won't.

Mr. Speaker, this tax credit reminds me when the Tory Government decided to hand out those $155 cheques before the last election in 2003. The Tory Government said then that anyone who paid income tax in Nova Scotia in 2001-02-03 would be eligible for the rebate. Unfortunately, as you are well aware of, over 400,000 Nova Scotians were not eligible to get that $155 cheque, these were the people who needed it the most. Again, with this tax credit, what does the government decide to do? Some families will get this tax credit and some families who could also benefit from this tax credit will not get it. As I said, this is not fair to these families or even yet, to these children. I hope that the government reconsiders this tax credit, and makes it available to every child in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, another section of this bill amends the film tax credit. I was pleased to see the film tax increase, but again, it does not match the one that the Province of Manitoba offers, and yet, further than that, the incentive to the film industry outside of Halifax are not adequate. Again, our film industry has lots of potential to grow, but in order to grow, our film industry needs to be able to compete with its competitors.

Mr. Speaker, the biggest disappointment is that there are no tax measures to stimulate the rural economy that was promised back in 1999. But like most other promises, it was also broken. This bill highlights the series of disappointments, rather than accomplishments. What we have is a government that has lost its way from what it had promised back in 1999. What we have is six years of missed opportunities, six years of neglecting our educational system, six years of increased fees and taxes, six years of neglecting our roads - and I could certainly talk about the roads in our riding in the Municipality of Clare. There are many roads and many bridges that need some serious attention - six years of watching our offshore industry just slide away, six years of no growth in the tourism sector, six years of skyrocketing tuition, and six years of rural depopulation, watching our small communities slowly die. Where is the investment in rural Nova Scotia?

[Page 6931]

This budget tries to make up for six years of lost opportunity. Mr. Speaker, the question on the minds of members is whether this government deserves our support. Our Party understands the choices that government must make. The difference is, however, our Party had $1.8 billion less in revenues than the current government does, $1.8 billion less. The Sable Project laid the foundation for growth throughout the first six years of this government. Where is the incentive to grow our offshore? We heard the good member for Cape Breton South last night, talking about the offshore industry. We have one project, the Sable Project. We don't have an industry, we have one project. Without the Sable Project, we wouldn't be debating this potential for $830 million in additional revenue.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, many Nova Scotians, I'm sure, are asking themselves, what happens? What happens if the $830 million offshore fund does not come in? That has been an ongoing debate for probably four weeks now. Everyone has been following the events in Ottawa, but I can tell you nobody knows, not even the fortuneteller on the government benches, what's going to happen in Ottawa. Nobody knows if that $830 million offshore fund is going to be received by our provincial government. Nobody knows. But we keep hearing, oh, we have commitments, we have letters. Nobody knows what's going to happen.

But people are asking, what's going to happen if that money does not find its way to Nova Scotia? That's a very good question to ask. If that money does not find its way to Nova Scotia, how is this going to affect our debt? Currently, right now . . .

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I was just wondering if the honourable member for Clare was saying the Liberal Government was not going to honour its commitment. I know, certainly, the Progressive Conservative Party intends to honour its commitment.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the honourable minister knows quite well, the Leader of the federal Liberal Party, our current Prime Minister, Paul Martin made a promise to the people of Nova Scotia. It was a promise kept, not the series of promises that we've been hearing from this Premier that have gone, that this Premier promised Nova Scotians, that he was not going to add to the debt. Maybe next time the Minister of Education rises on the next question, maybe he could provide us with clarification on what the Premier meant back in 1999 when he said he would not add more to the debt. Here we are in 2005, and we've added another $2.5 billion to the debt. Again, it might be interesting to hear. (Interruptions)

Does the honourable member for Yarmouth have a question? Maybe he has a question. No?

Mr. Speaker, again, nobody knows what's going to happen. Will there be a federal election? I don't know. If there is, Canadians will decide. I think everybody hopes that that $830 million offshore fund will come to Nova Scotia, but what happens if it doesn't? Will it come? I've seen many promises over the years, many promises made and many promises not

[Page 6932]

kept. You just have to talk to the general people on the street, and I'm quite sure you'll hear an earful on what people out there think of politicians making promises.

[7:30 p.m.]

Again, I truly hope that Nova Scotia does benefit from this offshore deal, and we will get our $830 million but, of course, we have to ask ourselves, if this money does not come in, how is this going to affect our debt? This year our debt is supposed to grow to $12.471 billion. That's a huge debt. If this money does not come in, how is this going to affect our budget. If this money does not come in, how is it going to affect our forecasted surplus of $63 million. Again, if this money does not come in, how is this going to affect the funding announcements that were made in this budget.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, the government is receiving more than $0.5 billion in extra revenues this year - more than $0.5 billion. This government is borrowing this year an extra $340 million. Yet they claim we're going to be finishing this current fiscal year with a $63 million surplus, but the debt will still grow by $90 million and that's with the $830 million offshore fund. Our Premier has said more than once that he would not add to the debt, but he continues to do so year after year. Our Premier has said he would not burden future generations with more debt, but yet he does. So we can be sure our children will be paying this government's debt for years to come.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak tonight about Bill No. 177 and, you know, it is the second part I guess of the confidence bills that are before this House for this government and, obviously, the first being the budget and now Bill No. 177 initiates a lot of what was in the budget. I'll spend most of my time tearing the budget apart rather than building it up. No, I'm just being flippant, but what I want to do though is to make sure that our case for or against this budget has to be balanced. It's much like the budget itself, not only in financial terms, and that's what sometimes governments lose sight of, it's just the financial balancing of the books and not the social balancing of the books.

We live in a province that is quite diverse, not only in the Highlands of Cape Breton and to the South Shore, and to Cumberland County and metro and the Valley region for the agricultural area, farming and fishing, Mr. Speaker, but we're a diverse province because of our economic situation. We are not a one size fits all economic region. We have by all estimation a very strong and vibrant economy here in the metro area and that's good. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that. I would say that in some terms they're using the kind of hub and spoke system of economic development and, obviously, metro being the hub and the spoke's growth, but that model, if you will, does not really apply in a diverse province like Nova Scotia. It just doesn't fly. The spokes can't stretch that far.

[Page 6933]

So what you end up having is areas of this province with really poor economies and so, therefore, a budget should not be focused inward on an area like metro and say, oh, this is going to work for everybody. Well, it's not. The idea of what we can do with what we've got has to be laid out. If there were a plan, as we were told going into this budget that this budget was - if you will - a vision, the vision should be able to tell us that we're going beyond the thriving economy of metro and we're going to lay out how we're going to really turn the corner in economies of the areas of this province where I come from.

We're devastated. Some people say we're an economy in transition and I don't say this. This is not something that I blame on governments - previous or today's - but it's just the fact that we live in an economy that has been devastated. There's not a greater snapshot of that economy than the massive out-migration of our young people. If you want a yardstick in which to measure which way your economy is going, look at which way your youth are going and our youth are going south and so therefore, our economy is going south.

That's what I find hard to rationalize around this budget. I try to say, why would I support this budget? What's in this budget that helps my community? I have a community and there's nothing in Bill No. 177 that says this is why you should support this. On a daily basis I get people coming in and telling me they had just received a letter from Access Nova Scotia telling them that they owe this government money because of an overpayment from Community Services.

I'm saying, how do they expect these people of very small means to pay these bills back? These are people with great pride that always had great pride in the fact that they paid their bills. But because of dire economic circumstances, they don't have the financial wherewithal to do this anymore. So they get this really innocuous letter from their government saying, you owe us $4,000 because you happen to be in a car accident and got a settlement of a few thousand dollars and now we find this out and you have to pay this to us.

These people didn't take this money and hide it somewhere. They didn't try to mislead anybody, it wasn't even money that was gotten by great providence - it was an injury inflicted on them. It was money to help them get through their pain and suffering. But, government says, no, we want that back, we want that dollar for dollar. So this innocuous letter will come to them and tell them that also you can expect in the very near future a letter from CCRA and this letter will tell them that we will garnishee any refunds from your income tax and we'll garnishee maybe your GST rebates.

Why do we place burdens on the poor like that? There's no answer for that in Bill No. 177, there's none at all. There is an answer in there for those who are of the greatest means, the large corporations. I see that there. If it was fair, that wouldn't make me outraged. I would not be upset if everybody was growing exponentially in this province. I would say,

[Page 6934]

that's good, growth is good, but there are a lot of people in this province who aren't participating in this growth.

I tell you about individuals in my community again where Community Services has gone back to the 1960s - almost 45 years - saying that you owe us money. Now, that begs a couple of questions, not the least of which is if these people were in any way, shape or form defrauding the system for 45 years, how in the heck can you take 45 years to figure it out? Boy, do you know what? Maybe we should get them working for the Department of Finance, if they can hide numbers that good for that long. But that's not the reality of it. These are people that all of sudden, they will get a notice from government saying you owe us money, with no explanation, no real quantified, qualified idea of how they've come up with the rationale for the amount of money that's owed. So we have a problem there. Our lowest wage earners, they're not even wage earners because they don't even reflect on the tax rolls because they don't pay enough to participate in the taxation system.

That brings me to some of the considerations that are in Bill No. 177 and from time to time I might wander into the body of the bill, Mr. Speaker, I certainly know that if you feel that I've gone too far, you'll drag me back to reality and say that I'm not allowed to do this. But when we talk about some of the things in there, and allowing families, which would amount to a $15 rebate for participating in sporting venues such as hockey, I suppose or soccer or whatever, these people of the most modest means will not participate in that rebate because they don't pay taxes. It's similar to the infamous $155 cheque that was allowed out there before the last election and if you weren't on the tax rolls, you weren't eligible. So who really did it help? That is a real problem.

This bill, Bill No. 177, I cannot say enough about its lack of vision for people in poverty. We can talk about people that are poor, we can talk about people that are living at or near poverty but these are people that are fully well engrossed in poverty because governments have failed to react and to help these people. So I have to ask myself, why would anybody want to support this piece of legislation? Why would my community expect me to come up here and represent them and say, this is it, this is it exactly, this is our budget, this is a hope for us? (Interruption) That's not it. One of my friends across away says it's a good budget. But for whom? Is it a good budget for everybody? No, it's not, Mr. Speaker. It's a good budget for a slim number, a very slim number that this budget is universally good for.

So, Mr. Speaker, this is what you have to ask yourself and all members should ask themselves this question. Is this bill a good bill for the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital? Is this budget going to help alleviate the problem around the closure of the emergency room in New Waterford? It's closed more often than it's open. I would say, no. We put extra money into health care, but where is it? Where does it go for doctors? Where is it going to help doctors in areas where there is, basically, what we would call class 4 hospitals that are in underserved areas, I would say the Inverness Consolidated Hospital, Sacred Heart

[Page 6935]

Hospital, the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, Buchanan Memorial, all those hospitals (Interruption) Well, Strait-Richmond is not in the DHA that I belong to but if the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage wants to throw it in, I'll lump it in too, because I always want to see a smile on his face. (Laughter) So, we'll throw that one in very gratuitously for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. He's looking after his good friend from Richmond, I'm sure.

Mr. Speaker, these hospitals are the ones that have real problems with emergency room doctors because what they are is they're hospitals without large population areas and very few doctors to service the area. What happens is a lot of these doctors aren't paid an hourly rate but a fee for service. This fee for service becomes a problem because you're asking a doctor to cover an area - we'll use a number, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. - to try to operate their clinic, if you will, and service the emergency. A doctor can make more money by sitting in his office than going over and doing attendant care at the emergency room. So what you have now are these areas that I've talked about and so emergency services are harder to access for these people.

[7:45 a.m.]

One has to realize that these are the people who are most in need of emergency care because what a lot of these people are, because of some areas with doctor shortages, they're people who do not have a full-time physician and, for whatever reason, and whether you agree with it or not, they use the emergency room as their doctor's office. That's what happens. Seniors, that's where they go and that's why it's important.

So the idea of the Canadian triage assessment system really isn't relevant in these hospitals because by and large you're not going to see a lot of the types of services that you see in a tertiary care hospital, or in a regional hospital, that you would see in one of these level four hospitals, Mr. Speaker, which is referred to as CTAS, Canadian Tertiary assessment system, what you see coming in are people with flu, strains and sprains. They're not considered high level intense care so a lot of times DHAs and the Department of Health do not see that system as one that we should locate a full-time emergency doctor to because the rate of incidents is low and the score on the CTAS level is low. So, therefore, we don't really want to pay somebody large dollars in an hourly rate.

So what we'll do is we'll go to a fee for service and that fee for service causes a different pressure for these places because all those hospitals I mentioned previously, Mr. Speaker, are hospitals with large elderly populations. It has been traditional, the argument about provinces going to Ottawa looking for health care dollars, the first thing they say, and I agree with them, they go to Ottawa, they say you cannot give us dollars for health care based on population.

[Page 6936]

If you look at the population of Alberta, what you have to look at there, obviously it's much greater than Nova Scotia, but the idea that the ratio of seniors to young people is much less than it is here with an aging population. So what we do here, although our population is lower, the people who are in a primary area of extra giving or extra dollars spent in health care, we have an overabundance of them and that's what we have to look at. I don't think when budgets are proposed, and this goes back to what I said before about Bill No. 177, it's not universal in its thinking, it doesn't realize places like New Waterford, Baddeck, Neils Harbour, Inverness and Cheticamp, Richmond County, that we need to spend our dollars differently there.

Whether they take leadership and do something really honest and discernible about nurse practitioners, is that the way to go, and engage those communities and we talked in this bill about spending money in that direction, is that the way to go? We don't know, Mr. Speaker, because the government is not engaging the population. It talks about its vision. It talks a lot about its vision. It purported that vision before it let the budget out, but it didn't tell us anything on it. I would like to have seen this in Bill No. 177 and, by extrapolation, in the budget, but it wasn't there. I'll move off health care for a bit.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about how it was purported to be an education budget. I've engaged the minister in Question Period on this one, and I've engaged him again in estimates on this. I've told him that any time I get a public opportunity to talk about a school for the Town of Dominion, I'm going to use it. If I didn't stand in my place every time I had the chance to speak about the disastrous thing that happened to those people in the Town of Dominion, I'd be remiss and I wouldn't deserve to stand here and represent them if I don't at least talk about it and pursue that with as much vigour as I can.

Mr. Speaker, they lost a school that was the centrepiece of their community. Not because enrolment wasn't there, not because the school wasn't meeting the expectations of the community, not because the community didn't want it, but because of the accident of being built over an old coal mine. It then incurred subsidence. I'm sure that's an issue that you can understand from the areas of this province that you come from, with its rich coalmining history. I think it's a way we fool ourselves in talking about coalmining as a rich history, because it's often more tragic than it is rich. I think out of that adversity, it makes us all a little stronger. Maybe that's the way we coach it, we say it's rich, but it truly was.

Mr. Speaker, again I say to you, you know this as well if not better than I do, about the tragedy of coalmining. This was another tragedy, not like taking tragedy but it was a tragedy of proportions that really devastated a community that saw itself as a small community that saw this as much as it saw its rink, as it saw its churches, it saw this role as being so pivotal in the community. We have these things, but yet we've lost it.

[Page 6937]

What governments will tell us today is, there's an excess of classrooms in Glace Bay, there's some in New Waterford, which are not untruths. The minister is being perfectly honest, but I keep saying the point the government misses on this is what schools mean to the community. We just can't say that schools are here and here, and pay no regard to what it means to the community. That's where I go back to budgets have to have, obviously, the financial component to it, but it has to have a social component to it. So we know that we're investing in our communities, that in years to come if what federal government money being spent in Cape Breton, if they're telling us we're turning the corner, well then, you know what, put your money where your mouth is. Let's build a school there, so when that economy does make that big turn, that they can turn themselves right into a school. The school will be there to educate the children.

Mr. Speaker, what we're seeing here, by denying that community a school, you admit that you don't need community schools, you'll just use the existing facilities and move on. That's wrong in a lot of ways. We don't see that type of vision for communities and, indeed, for education in Bill No. 177 or, indeed, in the budget. What we have to do is say, well, I'll move off and maybe shortly I'll adjourn debate and come back another day, but I want to talk about labour capital funds. Now this is a far piece off of what I just talked about, but what it is is labour capital funds are funds that are, again I'll use the phrase, community, they are community-based funds in a lot of ways.

When you look at it, if you were to go into the body of this bill and look at it, how government is trying to regulate these, it's in a very negative light. When I first read it, that was my reaction, why would government be so negative about labour capital funds. When you get it explained to you, you realize what it is it's really a mechanism they're looking forward and I agree with it, I support it, it's a mechanism that would go in and be able to punish the funds or right the funds rather than - the only option that was open before was to shut the funds down which was really not a good thing. You would wipe it out and it would give government the control to come in and say - I shouldn't say it gives government, the regulatory body - the right to come in and look at the funds and say we're going to levy out some penalties here, but we're not going to shut down the fund because that's counter-productive.

If the bill is to go forward, that's a positive thing. These are things that we see in Bill No. 177, from a financial perspective, I'm not as confused about this government's direction financially, my real problem with this government is more socially where they're going to go. That's a road - you talk about unpaved roads and that's where I'll go when I get some more time. At this point, I think the hour is drawing late and I would move adjournment for this evening.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 177.

Is it agreed?

[Page 6938]

It is agreed.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow being Opposition Day, the honourable member for Clare will tell us what the business is for tomorrow and the hours.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will be calling Bill No. 151, the Water Royalty Act and Bill No. 170, the Income Tax Act. For our Opposition Day business tomorrow, the House tomorrow will sit from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 7:57 p.m.]

[Page 6939]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3625

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas emergency personnel from all over Pictou County recently took part in the Emergency Response Charity Hockey Tournament; and

Whereas the tournament this year raised funds for the pediatrics ward of the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow; and

Whereas official opening ceremonies saw pediatrics patient Davon Atwater drop the puck between New Glasgow police officer Donnie MacDonald and Westville firefighter Sean Watters, with Aberdeen nurse Alice Fortune and Westville councillor Dave MacKenzie looking on;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate everyone involved in this year's Emergency Response Charity Hockey Tournament, while raising funds for the pediatrics wing of the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow.

RESOLUTION NO. 3626

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Mabel Lowther of Oxford, Nova Scotia, was presented with the Centennial Nominee of the Year award by the Town of Oxford; and

Whereas the Centennial Awards were presented at a tea held at the Oxford Lions Community Centre on Thursday, January 27, 2005; and

Whereas the awards were given out to residents of the town who went above and beyond in volunteering their time and effort to the Town of Oxford and its residents;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mabel Lowther on receiving this award, and wish her continued success and prosperity over the coming years.

[Page 6940]

RESOLUTION NO. 3627

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Amanda Mattinson of Oxford, Nova Scotia, daughter of Earl and Cheryl Mattinson, was crowned Senior Princess during the 2005 ORHS Winter Carnival on February 8, 2005; and

Whereas Amanda is a Grade 11 student who enjoys music and singing and likes to enjoy life to the fullest; and

Whereas Amanda was honoured to be selected as part of the ORHS Royal Family and is proud to represent her class;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Amanda Mattinson on being crowned Senior Princess of ORHS and wish her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3628

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Pvt. Michael Mitchell and his team members of the Springhill Marksmanship team recently took home first place from the Cadet Nova Scotia Provincial Marksmanship competition in Halifax; and

Whereas the Springhill team, representing Springhill 1859 RCACC, scored 1,481 points out of a possible 1,600 points to win the competition; and

Whereas the competition has qualified the Springhill team to participate at the national level as one of the two teams representing Nova Scotia cadets at the National Cadet Marksmanship competition to be held at Valcartier, Quebec, in May;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Pvt. Michael Mitchell and his team members on this outstanding achievement and wish them continued success in the future.

[Page 6941]

RESOLUTION NO. 3629

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Christie McClelland is one of 15 Canadian students deemed worthy of a prestigious Toyota Earth Day Scholarship; and

Whereas Christie was presented a cheque for $5,000 and a scholarship certificate in honour of her achievement in environmental community service, academics and extracurricular participation; and

Whereas Christie maintained a mid-90s average throughout high school while balancing that with her love for the outdoors and undertaking several important initiatives within her school and community: she was instrumental in organizing the Northumberland Trail Education Initiative, showing her rare maturity in her understanding of environmental issues; she is the editor of the yearbook; she is a school representative with the math league; she is on the school's track, basketball and soccer teams; she volunteers in her community; and she is an accomplished musician with both the piano and guitar;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Christie McClelland on receiving this prestigious award and expect great things from her in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3630

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Alex McCullouch of Oxford, Nova Scotia, was presented with the Centennial Youth Soccer of the Year award by the Town of Oxford; and

Whereas the Centennial Awards were presented at a tea held at the Oxford Lions Community Centre on Thursday, January 27, 2005; and

[Page 6942]

Whereas the awards were given out to residents of the town who went above and beyond in volunteering their time and effort to the Town of Oxford and its residents;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Alex McCullouch on receiving this award, and wish him continued success and prosperity over the coming years.